A pretty good day for a bike ride: Sunday March 12

Man, this winter. Even people who claim to luv Portland’s damp winters are pretty sick of the rain and the cold by now. We’ve had the coldest winter in a quarter-century, and every month is breaking the record for rain. Dry days have been scarce, and having two dry days in a row is too much to ask for.

But spring, spring is definitely coming. It’s starting to finally get warmer, ever so slightly. Which means those when those dry days happen, they are getting pretty nice. Friday March 10th was nice, but I had to work. But Sunday March 12th? I had off. Oh sure, I have a million things to do this week before I leave for my California vacation, and sure, I’ll have plenty of time next week to bike care-free around the sunny and warm Bay Area.

But goddamn it, I need a bike ride NOW.

So I put everything on hold, and just a bit after noon, I got on the Raleigh Superbe, and got riding.

Where to? Well, I’ve been fascinated with the milestones along SE Stark Street. Y’see, Stark follows the Willamette Baseline, and because of that, was one of the first “highways” leading out of town. Sometime in the mid nineteenth century, someone put up stone mileposts along the way, for fifteen miles out. Surprisingly, more than half of them survive! I’d seen the three extant ones east of 82nd many times (MP 2, 4, and 5 for those of you playing along at home.) But east of 82nd? I hadn’t seen any yet. So what better time than now, when it’s sunny and 60F/16C?

And saw these milestones I did! There were six to see MP 6, 7, 9, 11, 13, and 14. Now, Stark Street is a pretty crappy street for biking, esp. west of 162nd where it is a busy multi-lane thoroughfare lacking a bike lane. I stuck to parallel streets there, then got on Stark near 162nd to finish the rest of the quest. Yeah, even with the bike lane, it wasn’t exactly pleasant (and there was a moment where I thought I might die at the intersection with Burnside.) But I was more concerned with the milestones, and also the weird and random shit one sees out on these busy East County thoroughfares. If I led a bike ride out here, I’d stick to quieter roads where possible.

It was about 5 pm by the time I made it to the end, Milepost 14. The original plan was to head over to Powell Butte to watch the sun set and moon rise (full moon!), but the descent down into the Sandy River valley was too tempting, so I went that way. So I got to the beginning of the Historic Columbia River Highway. I haven’t been out that way since at least summer, and just the taste of the highway was tantalizing. But it was too late in the day for a jaunt to Crown Point, so I’ll save it for another nice day. Hopefully we’ll get another one!

Instead, I rode towards the Columbia. The goal now was Chinook Landing Park. The sunset was pretty good, moon rise, not so, since there were too many low clouds on the east horizon. It took awhile before the moon cleared them. At that point, I was on Marine Drive westbound, to home. I was a bit worried being at least ten miles out from home, since it’s pretty dark out this way. But my B+M Eyc headlamp with vintage 1968 Sturmey-Archer Dynohub worked great at illuminating the path ahead. And it was just so damn peaceful out. A great end to a great day.

At the end of the day, I had biked 52 miles, all on my three speed! And it felt fine. Oh Superbe, you are so superbe!

Now we just need another nice day…

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