Getting used to summer biking again

The weather has gotten very summery this week. We are not completely “out of the woods” as it comes to rain, as the forecast for Saturday and Sunday promises wetness. But the dry season will start soon, and we’ll see highs from the 70s to 90s F and little in the way of precipitation until later September.

I always look forward to summer, though I’ll tire of it come later August. For now, I’m getting in the mood for being outdoors in the hotter months. With this comes some preparation and changes in mentality. I want to enjoy myself and not burn to a crisp. Out come the long sleeved lightweight button-up shirts (which I lovingly call my “Old Man Action Shirts”), straw hats, bandannas around necks, and sunblock. Oh yeah, and more water, which is even more critical now, since the fountains and spigots in parks have been turned off due to coronavirus.

This week I’ve been re-exploring the east side cemeteries, in preparation of future ride planning. One of the benefits to most of the cemeteries I visited is the leafy canopy make them shady. I’d need shade since it’s full-on sun. Wednesday (May 27) reached a moderately hot 84F/29C, and Thursday (May 28) hit a positively scorching 91F/33C! The “proper” strategy would have been to ride early and be home before noon. Of course, I’m not “proper”, or can get up early. So my rides were mid-afternoon affairs, when the heat of the day was at its stongest.

Still, I coped. Thursday’s ride was the longer one, about 18 miles. After I hit up my last cemetery in deep SE, I decided to high-tail it down towards Johnson Creek. I haven’t been down this way in a long time (though I’ve been around Johnson Creek closer to I-205 recently). I have been avoiding the Springwater Corridor path since “stay at home” became a thing, as I didn’t want to have to deal with a busy trail. Thankfully, the heat meant most people were off the path. (One benefit to being out in the heat of the day?) And the areas around Errol Heights Park and Tideman Johnson were definitely nice and shady.

Johnson Creek looked particularly inviting today. I’m glad that I was wearing my “summer uniform” of shorts and sandals, because I found a nice spot beside the creek to hang out for a bit and dip my feet into the cool, refreshing water. Other folks had the same idea, a small family was picnicking and playing in the creek underneath the Springwater path bridge.

From there, I climbed out of the valley, crossed the Reed College campus (Reed Canyon was looking particularly lovely) and found my way to SE Gladstone St and SE 28th Ave. Here was a rare treat: a mountain agave was blooming, the “flower” stalk shooting up about sixteen feet high! I’d been hearing about this phenomenon all month, but had not made it over this way. I was worried that I’d miss it. And I guess a hot day was the best time, as there were no crowds to speak of. Yes, people in Portland will come out in droves to see an agave bloom. But it is sort of a big deal, as we don’t have many agaves (this ain’t Arizona) and this particular specimen, a mountain agave, is even rarer. The fact that it’s blooming at all is a big deal.

And now was a good time to head home: the heat was now starting to get me and my water supply was dwindling. I made it home fine. I’ll be more use to the heat in the next month. For now, I’ll take it easy, slow ambling rides, plenty of breaks in the shade. Hope you fine folks survive the summer months as well.

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