A three speed ride to St Johns: 28 Sept 2020

Hello, folks. Yes, it is currently Three Speed October! I’m not going to write in detail about all the rides I do as part of the challenge, just ones that are significant. Enjoy!

It’s been a year and a half since I lived in the Woodlawn neighborhood of NE Portland. Upon moving to North Tabor (still NE, but might as well be SE for all intents and purposes)* I knew I’d miss some aspects of living in that far-flung neighborhood, namely, the access to the areas of the North Portland Peninsula. I realized that I wouldn’t be going out that way as much. From my old place to St Johns was about six miles one-way, from my new place it’s double as much.

So I relish the opportunity to get out to St Johns by bike. And two weeks ago, the opportunity arose: I had to pick up some film from Blue Moon Camera. This shop holds a justifiable mythic status by the film photography community, so it bewilders some of those folks when they learn that it isn’t my regular shop. That’s mostly because of the distance, twelve miles from my house. (Citizens Photo, where I get my film processed, is just about two miles from my house and also cheaper.) But weirdly enough, Blue Moon has some good prices on 35mm film that even beats the big mail-order camera places.** So every once in awhile I’ll place an order and head up there.

Now being that this was #threespeedoct2020 I of course had to ride a three speed! But which one? I have three right now. The Heavy Duti is a little too beastly for a minimum 24 mile round trip. The Raleigh Superbe would be fine, but I wanted something a little more sprightly, a little more “aero” for a potentially breezy day. So I pulled out the Robin Hood. I haven’t ridden this bike that much this year, so this would be a good time.

I took off mid-day on Monday. The first part wasn’t as exciting, biking through the too-familiar. Irvington is nice, but it feels like it takes forever to get through that hood. Things perked up as I headed north on NE Rodney Avenue and skirted the west side of my old neighborhood. Piedmont is full of beautiful homes, many that would put ones in even tony Irvington to shame. I took a pause on the Vancouver Avenue Viaduct to take in the view. This was a regular spot when I lived out this way, but it’s probably been a year since I’ve been out here.

Another reason why I brought the Robin Hood is it has the Panaracer Col de La Vie tires. These supplish and widish (40 mm vs the standard 35-37 mm of 26″ x 1 3/8″ wheels) tires with a brick tread do better on rough surfaces than Schwalbe Delta Cruisers. And the next few miles of the ride were along the bucolic levee-top path beside the Columbia Slough, a path that was formerly paved but now deteriorating. Great Blue Herons plied the shallow slough waters, low after a long summer. The cottonwoods and alders were starting to turn gold.

Soon I was in the heart of the St Johns neighborhood. I picked up my Blue Moon order and immediately got some pizza and beer at Signal Station Pizza. I was hungrier and thirstier than I thought. I was about fifteen miles in, and the day was warmer (and drier) than expected, with a high topping 85F/29C.

The ride home was a bit sloggier. I was probably slightly dehydrated too, and the lack of public water at parks due to COVID wasn’t helping the cause. I took many a break at scenic spots, like the view from the Open Meadow School, affording me a vista of the Burlington Northern railroad bridge over the Columbia River, or at Peninsula Park with its fading rose garden. The can of San Pelligrino Limonata I purchased at Signal was mighty tasty then!

Eventually I made it home right at sunset. I put 29 miles on the Robin Hood, and felt it, especially since I haven’t been riding as much this year. The Robin Hood did OK, but needs to be serviced. I think I should replace the locknuts on the rear hub, as the wheel shifted a bit when I torqued it up hills.

And the ride made me miss heading out that way. I’ll tell myself I should come out here more often, but in reality I know that’s going to be hard. It’d be easier if I could take transit part-way, but I’m still not comfortable getting on public transit in these pandemic times unless it’s the last resort. Out-and-backs to St Johns mean 25-35 mile rides, and for me, those are day rides. Yet that doesn’t quell my desire to head out to Kelley Point…

Rough Stuff, N Seneca at N Oswego, St Johns28 Sept 2020

*For those of you outside Portland: Burnside Street divides north and south. But the Banfield Freeway (I-84) which parallels Burnside to the north acts as a bigger barrier. So the parts of NE that are south of I-84 (which isn’t that much) feel more like SE than NE.

**For example, 36 exposure rolls of Kodak ColorPlus 200 and Kentmere 400 (black and white) are just $4.50 at Blue Moon. At B&H, they’re $5 and $5.19 respectively.

2 thoughts on “A three speed ride to St Johns: 28 Sept 2020

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  1. 29 miles on a 3 speed in the heat of day is a good accomplishment. I bring lots of full water bottles on my rides due to all the local parks water fountains are shut down. Keep up the good work.

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