Monthly Archives: December 2012

A wintery weekend ride to Astoria

Well, as promised, an explanation of the last post. Biking from Astoria to Portland doesn’t really comprise that much elevation gain, and yet here I was:

highway 202 in the snow(I did not expect snow on this road. Nor did I expect it later on the Banks-Vernonia trail)

That’s why it might have been a nicer day to snuggle up in a warm, cozy house than spend 10 hours on my bicycle. As I’ve told some of you, the only hour and a half where it didn’t rain on me was the hour and a half it snowed on me–making for a rather wet, quite cold day of riding.

Just FYI, 10 hours is a really long time for me to get from Astoria to Portland. For perspective, going from Portland to 10 miles shy of Astoria and back on the Olney Gothic Logger 300k took under 14 hours. So it was a long, long day, and not because I actually took any breaks, since I was kind of too cold to get off my bike for long (plus, breaks are less fun when you’re drenched and standing around in the rain:) It just was kind of a trudge with all the snow. And rain. And wind.

So yeah. That’s why I was a little popsicle.

BUT! This was simply the rather epic end of a lovely weekend. I had Thursday and Friday free from work, so opted to bike out to Astoria and stay at the same lovely Rose River Inn Bed and Breakfast that I stayed at last time I was there. Pam, the woman who owns it, is super sweet and will cut you a deal if you’re out there by yourself in the winter. So I had a lovely (and dry!) ride out Thurday, then a super cozy place to stay for two full days of exploring the city before I had to come home.

It felt really nice to get out of the city, even just 100 miles away. And Astoria is seriously becoming one of my favorite places. It’s a really nice city to explore on foot, since it’s full of old roads that dead end for cars but allow pedestrians through on treacherous little staircases or super steep paths. Like this one:

astoria staircase

It makes for really good exploring, since every direction feels like an adventure. And I even got lucky enough to have a day of sunshine on Friday! I was fully prepared to get rained on for my entire trip, but sunshine? So nice!

astoria ships(ships on the Columbia River, sparkling in the sunshine)

So it was a lovely little adventure, even if the last day of it was crazier than I expected (who knew that too much snow made your chain stop working, for example?:) A big thanks to David, who braved the elements to come out and meet me halfway–even if we didn’t actually end up meeting since the Scappoose-Vernonia Highway in the middle was impassably snowy for a bike:) And thank goodness for these little adventures I can intersperse throughout my year. This kind of thing truly keeps me sane.

Need more pictures of lovely Astoria and the ride out there? Find all of them here!

when a bike ride is not what you expected

Today would have been a much better day to, say, snuggle under a blanket with a book and some tea than it would have been to bike from Astoria to Portland.

Just, y’know, theoretically.

More later, maybe, once I wring out my entire wardrobe and thaw myself out:)

what does one do with old brevet cards?

I was surprised the other day to get an envelope in the mail with a return address of Oregon Randonneurs. First of all, I didn’t even know there was a rando mailing address; secondly, what could they possibly be sending me, anyway?

It turns out it was the brevet cards for all the rides I’d done this year:

(it may not seem like much, but those cards sure represent a lot of miles:)

In retrospect, someone probably did tell me at one point that these would get mailed back to me (I guess that’s why you put your address on the back of them), though of course at the time I didn’t think to retain that information. So it was a total surprise when they showed up in my mail, safely returned to me like little bikey homing pigeons.

I looked at them, then unceremoniously dumped them into my recycling. Was that somehow disrespectful to the effort they represent? Does anyone actually do anything with these cards? Save them for posterity? Wallpaper a choice room? Should I be treating these relics with more respect? Let me know, oh wise randonneurs:)

Bringing the bike revolution to Sacramento

Okay, not really. James and I bringing our bikes to Sacramento and biking all around does not actually engender a bike revolution. But it was still pretty awesome.

(downtown Sacramento as seen from our bikes on the super awesome River Walk)

Generally going home to Sacramento means a lot of driving, simply because that’s what everyone does in Sacramento. With its tangle of sprawling suburbs and the fact that our families are spread to various far-flung ends of them, Sacramento just screams “get in your car!” But I was determined to not let that be the case this time, especially because with Thanksgiving in the mix, I was really not psyched about the idea of spending the week eating and sitting on my ass. That combination makes me grumpy.

So! With a borrowed bike rack strapped to our 42mpg rental car, we (sort of) brought the bike revolution to Sacramento. And actually, it kind of worked. We spent a good day biking around Natomas (one of those Sacto suburbs) with James’ mom, who surprised me with her gutsyness when it came to interacting with car traffic. This lady had us going over on- and off-ramps to I-5, Highway 99, and all sorts of other crazy roads, and then led us fearlessly into the Sacramento airport, where no one has yet dared to bike. Well maybe someone has, but the absolute dearth of anything to lock one’s bike to–seriously, nothing–made me think that whoever designed this airport definitely did not believe that anyone would ever bike there. Which is not that surprising, due to the aforementioned total crazy clusterfuck of roads you have to take and high-speed merging traffic you have to navigate to get there. It really made me appreciate the super easy approach (and the variety of different approaches) to the airport in Portland.

Nevertheless, it gave me a huge thrill to bike to the Sacramento airport, if nothing else because I’ve always wondered if it’s even possible to get to the there without a car. It turns out yes, it is, but kind of not really.

(James and his mommy all smiles on the way to the airport! –And yes, that pleasant-looking road in the background is actually I-5!) 

We also managed to convince my mom to bike from her house in Carmichael (another one of those Sacto suburbs:) all the way down to Old Sacramento and downtown Sac on the American River Bike Trail. This is something I’ve always wanted to do but somehow never did completely, though it turns out without knowing it I’d already gone most of the way. It’s a super lovely ride along the American and then Sacramento rivers, and it turns out there are all these other path spurs that extend outward from the American River Trail that I totally didn’t know about. If I’d just unknowingly landed in the middle of Old Sac with my bike and spent the day exploring, I would have thought that Sacramento was the bike-friendliest place ever. Which is a funny realization for me, since from my mom’s house–where I spent most of my time in Sacramento, after all–it seems like one of the bike-unfriendliest places ever. I wonder if this is sort of like growing up in Gresham or something, where biking sucks, and then taking a visit to downtown Portland or the inner east side with all its crazy bike lanes and friendly infrastructure. It was kind of an amazing discovery.

Oh, and mad props to my mommy for basically getting on her bike cold and still managing to ride–happily, even–about 40 miles over the course of the day.

 (it helped, I think, that it was an amazingly gorgeous day. Go mommy! :) 

So yeah. It was quite lovely to have our bikes in Sacramento. Not only did it make the week seem more normal, like it was just part of our daily life where we get to the places we want to go via our own power, but it also gave us a chance to do active things with our family–always a plus. This only serves to further convince me that I kind of want to have my bike with me every time I travel, to anywhere:)