After a not-really that cold, but fairly wet winter, we got our first taste of spring in these parts. And it has been much appreciated.
You may wonder what exactly constitutes “spring-like” in these parts, especially if you saw me gallivanting around the peninsula on March 11th. “That looked like nice weather”, you may think. And it indeed was nice weather. But it wasn’t exactly spring-like. It only got up to about 52F/11C. While that might scream “spring” to someone from a colder/snowier clime, we get many dry days with highs in the mid-40s to low 50s throughout the winter. It doesn’t feel like spring until it gets up into the upper 50s or above. And that’s what it did on Friday March 17 and Saturday March 18.
On that Friday Emee and I had to do a site visit at Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden down near Reed College. It’s a lovely place but I hardly ever get there, especially since they charge admission. 1 I don’t know when the last time I was down there, but I do remember an early-morning Coffee Outside in early 2015–early enough that we were able to sneak bikes into the garden. 2 Anyways, we locked up our bikes and took a tour of the garden. We saw plenty of geese (of course), possibly a nutria, a cormorant, and a bald eagle!
There was still daylight left, so we rode over to the Woodstock neighborhood (well, mostly, as there’s about a block of steep trail we walked up) and had early dinner and beer at Double Mountain Brewery. Their main location is in Hood River, which we always stop at, but we rarely come to the Portland location. It’s probably because we rarely go to Woodstock, so it’s “off our map”. And sitting outdoors, enjoying the high temperature of 64F/18C, I wondered when exactly was the last time I hung out here? The business district along SE Woodstock Blvd has quite a bit of stuff, but not much in the way of “destinations” for me. But we saw plenty of people walking about when we there–it’s a vital hub for the neighborhood and for Reed College.
After a pause to buy Girl Scout Cookies, we rode home, 11.1 miles of riding total. Not bad.
Saturday rolled around, and there was a PDX Coffee Outside at Col. Summers Park. This is a easy park for me to get to, just 3.5 miles away. So I made two Coffee Outsides in a row! I don’t know when the last time this happened. I even broke out the Esbit Coffee Maker, which I haven’t done in quite a bit. (Those pour-over packs are just too easy.) There was a good three dozen or so folks at this one. Most of the folks departed around 11 AM to head to the Bike Swap Meet at Baerlic Brewing. But I wasn’t going to go–I need to get rid of parts, not get more. And it’s too dang beautiful outside to go to an indoor swap meet.
But where to ride? I needed to stop by my Post Office and drop off some exposed rolls at The Shutterbug downtown, but after that I had no itinerary. I figured that I’d just ramble home somehow. I was expecting a ride in the 10 to 15 mile range, but I ended up getting much more. I wanted to check up a couple parks on the south side of downtown for the upcoming Tweed Ride, so maybe head to Sellwood via the west side?
After a pause at Lair Hill Park, I decided to not use the Willamette Greenway waterfront path, but stay “uphill” and parallel S. Corbett Ave. I found a new-to-me “hobo path” on the S. Water Ave alignment–neat! They also put a sidewalk on a block of what used to be a dirt path along Water. Man, it’s been a long time since I explored this area! So since I was already up there, why not ride to the end of S. Slavin and see if anything’s going on? Perhaps they started building a path here to Barbur Blvd. Nope, Slavin ended into nothing, just like before.
I crossed the Sellwood Bridge, catching a glimpse of an operating steam locomotive on the OMSI-Springwater line. (Apparently it was the Polson Logging Company 2-8-2.) A quick lunch was picked up at New Seasons and consumed at Johnson Creek Park. It was apparent that I was heading eastward now, so taking the Springwater Corridor as far as I wanted to go was the plan. There were lots of people enjoying the path today. Yeah, the roadies were probably pissed, but whatever. I ended up going as far as Foster Floodplain, then I took the alternate southern route to Leach Botanical Garden and then got back on the Springwater to SE 128th. I turned north, using what’s called the “130s” bike route, which has become a favorite. 3
But then as I crossed SE Holgate Blvd, the pull of Powell Butte was felt. I paused and considered the options. I had already ridden 25 miles (40 km), much more than I thought I was going to, and it was still about 7 miles to go. I’d already be getting a great ride in without Powell. 4 But Powell Butte is so close, and when was the last time you were there, Shawn? September. And that was the only time you got up there in 2022. Powell Butte is in the Top Ten “Places I like to bike to, but go infrequently” List. When would I have the next opportunity to get up there? And most importantly, I was feeling pretty good. I wasn’t tired or sore yet. In fact, a couple of hills that left me panting at the top the last time I was out this way didn’t really affect me. I can do a little bit more riding.
The grind up Powell Lane was still a grind, but not that taxing. There were plenty of people out and about on the butte, as the day peaked at 68F/20C, the warmest of the year so far. I was hoping for some wildflowers, but it’s a bit too early, especially since that late February snow probably delayed things. What I saw instead was a coyote, all nonchalant in the late day sun on the path ahead of me. I’m guessing that the coyotes who reside on or around the Butte (and I’m sure there’s quite a bit) are getting more used to humans. Well, I hope the folks walking little dogs today had them on a leash…
After getting my fill of the view from the top (Mount Hood and St. Helens looked very good, and there was still quite a bit of snow on the Cascade foothills on the Washington side) I bombed down the paved access road that ends at the SE 162nd Ave and Powell Blvd intersection. From there, I made my way north on the 150’s bikeway then west along the Mill-Main-Market corridor, a generally pleasant neighborhood routing through postwar suburbia. I paused in Montavilla for food and beverage, then got home just a bit after sunset.
I clocked 38.3 miles (61.6 km) today, just about a half-mile longer than last week’s adventure! Without even planning it, today’s ride is the longest of the year. I need more rides like this if I want to get back into shape and do all the bike adventures I want to do this year. And while I haven’t ridden that many days in March (this being the sixth ride so far), what I’m lacking in quantity, I’m making up in quality!
1 There use to be free days during the week during the off-season, but they’ve stopped it.
2 I’m sure they wouldn’t like the stoves, either.
3 Though now thinking about it, it might actually be the “120s” route. These routes meander a bit, it’s hard to tell.
4 Something that was also factoring into the decision: I only brought one water bottle with me on this ride. Normally I’d at least have two, but because I wasn’t “planning on a big ride” I didn’t. My hope was to refill the bottle at the fountain on the butte. Of course, it was turned off, argh. I made it home okay, but now I should just bring two with me more often than not.
The garden is free on Mondays year-round.
Man, I love how instead of anyone talking about anything else in this post, they fixate on this one detail. 😏
Anyways, yes, Mondays used to be the free day at Crystal Springs. Around 2020 they stopped doing free days due to vandalism. So I assumed that they were over for good. Apparently it’s come back. That must be fairly recent.
Ha, it’s cuz we’re ALL ABOUT THE FACTS;)
Isn’t it supposed to be “heh”?
I think the Rhododendron Garden is still free on Mondays! At least, a few weeks ago on a Monday I got in for free;)