Summer and bike touring in the time of coronavirus

NE 46th “Avenue”, The Cully. 4 May 2020. Konica C35 EF, Kodak Ultramax 400 film.

Memorial Day Weekend. For those of us in the US, this marks the “start” of summer. So what that Solstice is almost a month away? This is the time for good weather, for going on holiday. June is typically okay around these parts, with some rain to remind us High Summer (typically Independence Day to Labor Day) hasn’t started yet. It’s a good time to be in the Northwest.

Emee and I took a wee bike excursion on Sunday May 24th. I brought her down to Knapp Falls, her first time. It’s guaranteed to be the least touristy water-falling feature in a fifty mile radius, since most folks don’t know it exists. No one was there, of course. It’s the type of place great for these pandemic times.

I definitely need to do more bike rides, cleave out the space and time to do so. With longer days and better weather, there’s more reasons and less excuses to do so. There needs to be more 20 mile rides to random spots around the metro area. It’s good for my body and mind. And these little tastes of adventure make me ponder what touring is going to look like this summer.

The Portland Metro Area hasn’t even entered Phase One of the gradual re-open. And I hear talk that campgrounds in Oregon State Parks will start reopening slowly in June. They won’t take reservations for more than two weeks in advance, which makes sense in this unsure environment. I haven’t heard anything about hiker/biker sites and how the pandemic situation will affect them.

I will make no grand plans for summer camping and touring. At this point anything is better than nothing. But I do hope to do as much as I can. As I said last month, I’ll stick close to home this year–maybe nothing more than a three-day bike ride or three hour car drive from home. I probably won’t want to involve more logistics, like trains and buses, just yet. And since everything seems to be up in the air, I want to be able to get home relatively quickly if cases spike again and they advise everyone to stay at home.

Thankfully, I’m spoiled living here in Portland. Within this three-day-bike ride radius (lets say somewhere from 150 to 180 miles from my front door), I have so many, and so many varied options. I can go out to the Coast again, explore the Willamette Valley (I’ve been meaning to do a valley tour again), get up towards Mount Hood, out through the Gorge for a bit, and into Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Gifford Pinchot is a potential treasure trove of routes, a place that I’ve only lightly explored in my almost 20 years here. This could be the summer of really getting to know all these places that end up on my touring lists. I need to to do this instead of ending up heading to places like Bend instead, because it’s shiny and “exotic”.

Will I do more bush camping? I don’t know. I know a few people have already gone out and bike camped this season by doing that. I like the concept of bush camping, but never really enjoyed being out in the woods by myself for the night. Or trying to stealth camp in a more populated area and having to get out at sunrise. I much prefer camping in the woods with another person, or at a designated campsite. This hang-up about bush camping is something I’ve been wanting to get over for awhile, maybe this is the year to try?

What about you, gentle readers? What are your bike camping/touring plans for 2020? Or are you going to sit it out? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

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