Sunday, October 22, 2006

Another recipe for fun with a bicycle

Sunrise with Bicycle


* 1 big hill near you where all the really nice houses are
* 1 insulated container of hot water, seasoned to taste
* 1-2 bready products
* 3-4 warm items of clothing
* 2-wheeled contraption (tandem good if doubling recipe)
(optional: 1 or more volcanic peaks, dormant or otherwise)

Rachel and Joe's procedure (adjust based on local conditions):
Set alarm clock for 5:30. Wake up frightened by loud reggae music. Heat water and season with tea leaves in insulated container. Add to tandem with the 1-2 bready products and 3-4 warm items of clothing. Pedal all ingredients except big hill and volcanic peaks over the Sellwood Bridge and up into the hilly neighborhoods to the west. Park bike on suitable corner, deploy warm clothing, tea, and bready things. Wait patiently for sun to rise. Oggle Mts. Hood and St. Helens. Enjoy!


Saturday, October 14, 2006

My new commute

I wish I could explain why the six miles from our apartment to downtown Portland put a silly grin on my face twice a day. But, those that would understand already know, and those that don't understand, well, just wouldn't. In person, when I tell people more or less what my commute is, they either nod and smile immediately, or ask the unanswerable question: "That must get old, huh?"

My schedule varies, but most likely I'm loading up the bike in the early afternoon. From gurgling Johnson Creek, I climb up through city streets and descend to the river. I consider the wind, my mood, and how presentable I need to be in half an hour before nudging the downtube shifter into a gear for the ride. The Springwater-on-the-Willamette bike trail takes me the next 3.5 miles or so. The trail is smooth asphalt with a center dividing line and only one road crossing the whole way. There's ample time to watch for herons, listen to the woods, or just ponder the whoosh of tires on pavement. On a nice afternoon, I may meet or be passed by 20 or so other cyclists, an even mix of exercisers and travelers.

At the trail's end in a cement yard, I connect with the Eastbank Esplanade--a wide sidewalk, more or less--that ferries me under the roaring I-5 bridge and ramps onto the more sedate Hawthorne Bridge. The bridges are tricky points for cyclers in Portland, but this is one of the better ones. Wide sidewalks on either side are lined (with textured paint that won't get slippery) for bikes on the left and peds on the right. After taking in the views from the bridge, I ramp down to a bike lane on the street, and then ride the last mile or so in city traffic up the hill to my bike locker (more on that later).

I reverse the trip starting sometime between 7 and 9:30 at night. The trail is nice during the day, but I especially appreciate it at night. One of my pleasures in Missoula was riding dark, quiet roads at night. I get the same experience (minus potholes and occasional pickup trucks) on the trail. The section through the Oaks Bottom Refuge is especially haunting on the night leg. The bluff pushes the road away up above and leaves just the damp air and river sounds in the bottom. Slicing through this stretch on a smooth six foot ribbon of asphalt--often with no one for a mile in either direction--it is hard to remember I'm in a city of a million people. Even harder to imagine why half the city doesn't get to work and back this way. It is good to see those nods of understanding from other cyclers, though.

More to come...