Monthly Archives: June 2012

Portland-Ripplebrook-Portland 200k

Are you in Portland this weekend? I have a bike recommendation for you! The Oregon Randonneurs Portland-Ripplebrook-Portland 200k is happening on Saturday, and it’s sure to be a rockin good time:)

I had a chance to ride this route not once but twice! Well, one and a half times: the first time work obligations and a paving project along Faraday Road conspired to make me leave out the part where you actually get to Ripplebrook (cutting out 50 miles or so). But that’s really the most scenic part so I’d definitely recommend not skipping it:)

(Joseph was nice enough to come with me the second time I took this route; here he blends into the scotch broom along 242 with his yellow jersey:)

(this may have been my favorite part along the out-n-back portion to Ripplebrook, if only for the potential river-crossing amazingness it represents:)

The basic idea for this route is to get out to Boring on the Springwater Corridor, then head to Estacada on some quiet back roads; from Estacada it’s a lovely, woodsy, rivery jaunt along Highway 242 to the Ripplebrook ranger station. Once you turn around, you pass Estacada and return to Portland a different way, through Barton and Oregon City. (If you’re interested, you can see the actual route details here)

(lovely, lovely along the Clackamas River near Oregon City)

Both times I rode this route, I was tempted by random side trips and exciting off-route options. Perhaps the most notable was the Oregon City farmers market, which happens on Wednesdays from 3-7. Though I went by too early in the day the first time I took this ride (I did cut off 50 miles, after all), when Joseph and I came through it was definitely farmers market time. We took the requisite detour:) There are also tons of little strawberry stands and other lovely things along the road. Though I’d meant to ride fast the first time, I was sucked into the slow, picture-taking, detour-making, curiosity-slaking meander of new places (or old places seen with new eyes). And when Joseph and I went out, it was sort of the same deal. I like speed, but I liked this better:)

(who can argue with beautiful, farmy back roads?)

Plus, I had to scope out the Trolley Trail, which I’d ridden by on my way back from Eastern Oregon and sworn to explore later. It’s a pretty rad path, and definitely worth a ride (and maybe a write, later).

So yeah. Go ride it on Saturday in the company of lots of lovely randonneurs. Or just print out the cue sheet and ride it yourself some day you have off. If it’s Wednesday, I know a place you can get some great produce:)

(Interested in pictures? Click here for my first ride; here for my ride with Joseph)

Warmshowers: awesome bike travel resource

For the last three nights, James and I have been hosting Pete, a self-described red-bearded Welshman traveling around the Pacific Northwest on a tank of a $30 bike that he bought and fixed up when he flew in to Portland. It must be a Warmshowers adventure!

I wrote about Warmshowers before when we hosted another fellow, but it seems like a good time to revisit this super awesome bike resource.

Here’s what happened: Pete sent me an email through the Warmshowers site, having seen that I lived in Portland and had an extra bedroom and shower to offer, asking if he could stay for a few days while he fixed up his bike and got ready for his tour. Since I love this kind of thing, I wrote back with our address and a hearty affirmative on the staying here.

James and I went out to dinner with some friends on the evening he was due to show up, so we just left him a note on the front door and unlocked the side door so he could let himself in. Since he’s from the UK, he doesn’t have a phone here, so it seemed the easiest way not to leave him standing around in the dark waiting for us to return. When we got home, the note was still on the door and everything else seemed as it was before, so we assumed he’d just found somewhere else to stay and hadn’t told us–but funnily enough, the next morning, when we heard the toilet upstairs flush, we realized he’d been there the whole evening, fast asleep.  heh. How often does someone live in your upstairs for a whole 10 hours or so without you knowing it?

Anyway. Warmshowers reminds me how much I love people. When I travel-bike around, I’m often annoyed that the whole world seems to be owned, and that you have to pay someone for the privilege of sleeping somewhere (at least, if you’re sleeping above-board and not in a national forest:) So I’m super into any sort of community/network that hooks together people who need space and people who have space they’re willing to share. This seems like a good model of living in general: get the people who have extra together with the people who don’t have enough, and let them share.

Plus, purely from the house-sharing end, I love having people here who are on their own adventures, and I love being able to share Portland and our little slice of life with them. Pete’s off on his grand tour now (though he left a few things behind at our house that he’ll pick up again on his way back)–I wish him the best, and I hope for more warmshowers visitors this summer touring season!:)

bike vocabulary

Yesterday, I went with the Community Cycling Center to teach a Create-A-Commuter workshop, a 5-hour class where adults who are enrolled in various employment programs get a new bicycle built especially for them and equipped with a lock, rack, lights, and hand pump. They learn about the rules of the road, how to fix flat tires, and all the stuff that will help them be successful commuters, the idea being, of course, that by providing low-income adults with a reliable means of transportation, we’re helping empower them to get to where they need to be in a low-cost manner.

It’s pretty amazing, honestly.

But that’s not what I want to talk about. Yesterday’s workshop was at IRCO, the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization, and the sheer number of languages that the people in our workshop spoke was astounding. It was a whole different experience, giving a workshop in English and having it be simultaneously translated by several different people into many different languages that I absolutely did not recognize. I got to try to translate into Spanish for a man and his daughter who sort of understood English but had a hard time speaking it to ask questions. And in the meantime, there were two women–one from Haiti and one from the Congo–who spoke French, so I got to talk to them too.

Speaking a language is one thing (and when it comes to Spanish, definitely halting and slow for me), but it’s a whole new deal when you’re trying to use a specialized vocab set. I realized I have no idea how to say things like “bicycle rack,” “chain,” “brakes,” or “seat,” much less “frame,” “handlebars,” “pedals,” or “gears” in Spanish, and I had a good time learning from the father. (I hope I was as helpful to him with my halting Spanish as he was to me:) But it made me think about what the other side is like. Say you’re a refugee with this new bike, and something is wrong with it–how do you explain to someone what’s going on when you don’t have the vocab? I had a hard enough time, in the context of a bike class where nothing is even wrong and people are really motivated to understand me, explaining what we were talking about. How frustrating would it be to try to explain yourself to someone who’s maybe not so motivated? We’ve given these people bikes; now how do we keep extending our services to make sure they can take care of their bikes and themselves even if they don’t speak English as well as they’d yet like?

I guess there’s no easy answer to that, but it made me appreciate the finer nuances of really getting by in another language, when you get to the point where you know more than just the conversational vocab and can actually dabble in the words that may not come up otherwise (and that you certainly don’t learn in a textbook).

And it made me really want to get better at other languages. It seems so silly to be limited to one when there are so many people in the world, even in my little community, who speak others. I do pretty well, I guess, but it could always be better. And this workshop made me think I could definitely be better when it comes to talking about bikes:)

Eastern Oregon bike adventure!

Well. I’ve been back from my two-week (12 days, really) bike adventure to Eastern Oregon for a few days now, and have been absolutely at a loss at to how to write about it. Partly, I’ve been trying to create a map that I could post showing my approximate route, but I’ve been arguing with Google maps and, for all the work I’ve put into it, still don’t have a map to show. So partly I haven’t written because I’ve been (unsuccessfully) holding out for a map.

Also, I’m partly at a loss as to how one encompasses twelve whole days of amazingness into one wee blog post. This trip was phenomenal. Despite some pretty craptastic weather at times, there is nothing that beats getting up, getting on your bike, biking/hiking/seeing new things all day, and then bedding down somewhere beautiful in your tent at night, just to get up the next day to do it again. SO AMAZING.

(the sun rises on Smith Rock State Park on my 3rd day)

I have so many stories of wonderful people, fantastic biking, inspiring hikes, ridiculous weather (how many times did my rain fly freeze solid?!), absolutely breathtaking scenery… it’s impossible to write about it all in one go. On the other hand, I think a lot of it is worth writing about. So I think I may go the way I did with my trip down the California coast, back-posting about each day as I have time for it (but before I forget the details:) So stay tuned about more specifics.

In the meantime, I have posted my pictures over yonder on flickr. There are many of them (way too many to hold your attention I’m sure;), all accompanied by mini travel narrative. Feel free to whet your appetite over there for as long as your picture-viewing stamina holds out.

(just another day on the John Day River:)

As is usually the case, most of the people I ran into were pretty surprised that I was out there by myself. Older women especially seemed really psyched about it, though, which was sweet–like I was living the emancipation they didn’t get to enjoy when they were younger. And bike travel always makes me remember how much I like people. I get shy, especially when I don’t necessarily have to interact with people as was the case for much of this sparsely-populated trip. So it’s nice when folks want to know where you’ve come from, where you’re going: an instant ice breaker and excuse to chat. Being an obvious bike traveler is a great way to meet the utterly lovely people in the itty-bitty towns that you’d never really stop in if you were driving.

I kept track of how much money I spent so I could get a real idea of how much bike travel costs. Ready? For 12 days of vacation, food, lodging, everything, I spent a whopping total of $134. Most of which was food. That’s probably way less than I even spend just living my normal life in Portland, much less “going on vacation.” Granted, sleeping in a tent in undeveloped national forest land (which is free) is my idea of fun for a vacation–I know it isn’t everybody’s. But damn! It definitely makes me think that long-term bike travel is more feasible than I thought.

And now that I’m home? I can’t believe that was 12 days of travel. It was over in a blink, and there’s so much more to see. I’ve already got ideas for twenty million more trips I could take. But on the other hand, I’m also so happy to be back in Portland. I feel like my city has already wrapped around me like a comfortable blanket, full of the things and people I love. You know life is good when you’re happy when you’re away and you’re equally happy when you’re back.

(this helped me feel pretty welcome, too:)

So yeah. Stay tuned for more if you’re interested in the actual details of an Eastern Oregon bike adventure. Maybe I’ll even have a map someday:) And again, pictures are here if you want to check those out. And while you’re waiting, get the heck out there on your bike, your feet, whatever it is that helps you enjoy the world around you. I know I’m enjoying the feeling of my spunky little bike sans trailer:)