An end of February State of the Bike Address, and plans for warmer bike adventures. (Plus: Snow in Portland)

From a snow ride in February 2018. We got much more snow this time. Even though selling the Raleigh Crested Butte was the right decision, as it was never, ever going to fit me correctly, I still miss it from time to time.

I type this missive on Thursday evening, February 23rd. Portland has just been hit with a “surprise snowstorm”. The weather forecast yesterday initially called for maybe a light dusting of snow, instead we got a recorded ten inches at Portland International Airport, the second highest one day rate since they started recording data in 1939. This isn’t the first “surprise snow” I’ve seen here in Portland, there was the “we didn’t expect this” snow of December 2009 and another one during the early days of this blog in December of 2005.

Today was sunny and cold, with a high just around freezing, and some wind gusts that caused near whiteout conditions in the neighborhood. Tomorrow isn’t supposed to be much better. A thaw should start in earnest on Saturday when the high reaches 42F/5C. In short, the snow will be around for a little while.

I don’t mind seeing snow once or thrice a winter. As someone who grew up in a snowy clime, an occasional snow is a respite from our damp and mild winter. But I don’t want more than that. And I’m not that fond of snow that happens in later February, as I’m more about spring at this point. Over the years I’ve noticed that the later February snow moved from a rarity to something more common. And snow even after that has become more of a thing: We got one in March of 2020, as pandemic started (making the world even more eerie than it felt.) And last year we got a freak April snow that did some decent damage, since leaves were on trees. Also interesting: these later-and-later snows seem to come after winters that didn’t see any snow up until that point, or not much. This year is no exception to that rule, as we only really got one snow before, right before Christmas.

One thing I really don’t miss about snow is shoveling. Sure, I could do what most of my neighbors did and not do it. You can get away with that here. 1 Not in Connecticut, where I grew up. There were a couple winters where I lived at a house with a fairly long driveway and I was the designated snow shoveler: My stepmom wouldn’t do it, my stepsiblings were disqualified due to invented reasons by my stepmom (which boiled down to “because they’re women” or in the case of my lone stepbrother, because he was younger than me), and my dad was off-limits as he was 41 and “might die of a heart attack”. The “die from heart attack while shoveling snow” was a big trope in the 1980’s. I know it did happen, but like many tropes it was overblown and like many things my stepmom did it was simply a way to fuck with me. I thought about snow shovels and heart attacks while I cleared my driveway, front steps, and sidewalk, as I’m now 47, older than my dad was back then. Thankfully the snow wasn’t super-deep, I’d estimate six inches, and not super-wet either. And my heart survived.


And since it’s snowy out, I doubt I’ll get in any riding anytime soon. This bums me out a bit, as I’ve been doing pretty good in biking regularly. According to my notes, I biked 18 days in January. I’ve been pretty good about biking at least four days a week, which I feel gives me balance. And since I dressed up the Bantam, I’ve been wanting to bike a lot more.

But the last time I got in the saddle was the previous Thursday, February 16. I was out on the coast sans bike from Friday through Monday (more on that soon), Tuesday I was on light rail because I had to go up to the World Forestry Center for work, and yesterday the snow started. It may not be clear by Monday, which is the day you’ll most likely be reading this. And today I hop on a plane for Salt Lake City for a week of work (in Park City) and relaxation. I could bring the Brompton, but it’ll probably be pretty useless in snowy and cold Park City (ah, the irony: I leave snow to go to more snow.) I hope to hop on a bikeshare bike or two when in Salt Lake City, so there’s that. And there’s plans to do a couple hours of fat biking in Park City. (Maybe getting on one will encourage me to buy one at some point?) But it’s pretty safe to say that I won’t bike any more this month, which will leave me at just ten rides, less than half the month. I’m not thrilled, but what can I do at this point? Just try for more down the road.

And “down the road” is what I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. Last year I had hopes of a decent amount of bike touring/camping that turned out not to happen. The big reason was I did not make time for more bike adventures. If I want to make sure that I do all the stuff I want to, I have to make time for it, otherwise it’ll get backburner’d due to my busy life. To help this, I created a special adventure planning calendar so I can block off dates for all the adventures I want to do, bicycle and otherwise.

So far I’ve blocked off four different weeks scattered from May through September for “bike tours” of some sort. And while I block out a week at a time, it doesn’t mean that all my tours are going to be a week long. The first one I hope to do in May, right before Memorial Day, is a short (three to four day) one through the Columbia Gorge. The Gorge is a place I love to bike, and would make an appropriate “warm-up” tour, especially because of the abundance of transit options I can tailor the length to suit my feelings. I blocked off a week in July that might be used for a tour of the Palouse to Cascades State Trail in Washington, particularly the western part over Snoqualmie Pass. I attempted a tour here once in 2014 on my Raleigh Wayfarer that had to be aborted, so I’ve been wanting to get back. I typically travel around my birthday in August, so we may go back to the San Juan Islands. And post Labor Day is a good time to tour the Oregon Coast–the weather still good and traffic/people go way down. I haven’t toured south of Reedsport since my first coast tour in 2006, so perhaps it’s time to go back?

I’m sure I’ll pepper the touring season with a few overnights as well. I’d really like to do something, like, now, but due to my busy calendar–I’ll be home for only two weeks in March, there’s another big trip in later March that I’ll talk about soon–the first overnight will most likely happen in April. For Pedalpalooza I want to do my Midweek Gorge Ride and Camp like I did last year, and also want to add at least one more group overnight camping trip. I’m thinking about doing it on the first weekend of June which is typically Adventure Cycling’s Bike Travel Weekend. I’m leaning towards Battle Ground Lake as a destination for that one. I’ve been wanting to do more group bike camping adventures since Cycle Wild hasn’t been around for the better part of a decade. Perhaps if things go well and I have the energy I’ll add another one. We shall see.

I know I might not accomplish all my bike adventure goals, but even if I do half of what I hope, it will be something. And it will be fun.

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1 I shoveled on Thursday, after the snow stopped. (It’s fairly pointless to shovel while the snow is still coming down, especially if it’s blowing, as it was on Wednesday.) It was still soft and powdery on Thursday. On Friday the compacted snow on streets and sidewalks had hardened and glazed over, so that’s not the time to shovel. Of course, this is when my next door neighbor finally decided to shovel their walk. (They’re from California.)


4 thoughts on “An end of February State of the Bike Address, and plans for warmer bike adventures. (Plus: Snow in Portland)

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  1. I recently reviewed some of my old photos and found that we in the Central Europe had a lot of snow in similar times as you.

    Also, noticeable amounts of snow are usually at the end of February or during March or even April.

    This year was an exception as we also got snow just before Christmas. (but it was gone in a few days and we had usual muddy Chruistmas, unfortunately)

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