Monthly Archives: March 2013

A bikeless adventure…?

Well, everyone. I’m about to head off for two weeks of adventure, and here’s the crazy part: I’m not biking there, I’m not taking my bike at all, and I don’t even have any set plans to bike. What?!?

Honestly, I’m not sure how I’ll hold up. heh. Luckily, I’ll be meeting my mom and some of her friends in Bend/Smith Rock to go climbing, and I’m sure as heck bringing my running shoes. And I’ll go to California to see a really good high school friend as well as my family (including a new baby cousin I haven’t met yet!:). And I’ll be taking lots of mass transit in between everything, which always makes for good adventure. So it’s all fun things, but it’ll be a little crazy to not have my bike at all–if nothing else just for the sense of being able to get around that it affords me.

So if you don’t hear from me much for a bit, it’s because I’m slowly going insane without enough exercise or freedom to get places on a whim.

Heh. Yes, I suppose it’s possible that I should just get over myself. But two weeks is seriously a really long time for me not to ride. Hopefully the rock climbing and running will keep me sane.

What about you guys? What do you do when you’re not biking?

Hagg Lake: awesome day trip from Portland

Did you know there’s an awesome lake not too far from Portland? It looks like this…

hagg lake

…and this…

hagg lake picnic

…and at the north end like this…

hagg lake north

It’s a pretty rocking place–not only beautiful but also complete with many picnic areas, running/hiking/mountain bike/equestrian trails, a few boat ramps, fishing, swimming, and all sorts of fun stuff. You can even have alcohol there, if that’s how you roll (check out the Washington County Hagg Lake FAQ for more info on this and other pressing concerns). It’s also the home of the Hagg Lake Mud Run, a pretty fantastic race–and, coincidentally, one of the reasons that I actually know about this lake in the first place.

There’s an aproximately-10-mile road that completely encircles the lake, a lovely ramble of rolling hills that winds in and out from the shore.

And did I mention that it’s not actually that far from Portland? If you take the MAX to the end of the line in Hillsboro, it’s only about 14 more miles to get to Hagg Lake. Actually, here’s the route I took, a different and slightly longer way back because I hate going the same way twice:)

View Hillsboro MAX to Hagg Lake and back in a larger map

Even taking the longer way back to Hillsboro, it’s only about 43 miles–it could be as little as 35 if you went directly there and back. Or 60 something if you decide you don’t want to pay for the MAX twice in one day and just bike home:)

The riding is mostly nice, too. The 5 miles from Hillsboro to Forest Grove aren’t super pleasant due to traffic that is fast and loud, but the shoulder’s wide and that part of the ride goes by fairly quickly. And as for Highway 47, it’s easy to stay off it for most of the time, taking pretty and pretty obvious side roads like “Old Highway 47.” Most of the riding is countryside and nice in its own right, even if you weren’t heading out to Hagg Lake.

Once the weather gets warmer, I could totally imagine loading up my lunch, suit, and towel, hopping on the MAX, and taking a pleasant little day-trip jaunt to go swimming or boating (yes, you can rent boats there). Or if you can’t wait for the warmth, go now and take advantage of the hiking or mountain biking. It’s pretty rad.

Cycling year-round (or, why biking through the winter makes you a happier person)

Okay, I know there are only so many posts about spring and flowers and other frou-frou I’m-so-excited-about-life shit that you can put up with, but bear with me for a few seconds. Because yesterday, while I was biking around in the crazy sunny-raining-sunny-hailing-darkdarkdark-sunny spring weather, I realized something.

It was somewhere between scoping out the waterfront cherry blossoms again–both in the sun…

waterfront cherry blossoms

…and in the pre-downpour overcast…

waterfront cherry blossoms II

–and seeing an amazing double rainbow over the Willamette River.

waterfront rainbow

Somewhere between those, I realized that biking gives me a much bigger sense of appreciation about these things than I might have if I’d gone the buy-a-car route. And that sense of appreciation is what propels me to spout off again and again about how gosh darn excited I am all the time (how do you guys stand it?;)

So my theory is that biking year-round makes me a happier person.

It works like this. Relying on my bike means that I am intimately familiar with all the vagaries of Portland weather. All winter, when it’s dark and cold and wet, I’m pulling on extra layers and my rain pants and my beanie and my thick gloves and stuffing extra clothes in my backpack for when I get to wherever I’m going and have to change. I re-conceive of my normal packing scheme so I can fit all those damn extra clothes in my backpack. I recharge the batteries for my lights again and again and again and learn to love (or at least stop noticing) the hideous smell of wet gloves. I replace brake pads at an astounding clip.

Granted, I love being out there, even in the worst of weather, but by the time spring rolls around and I’m cleaning the pernicious gunk off my drivetrain for the 50 millionth time since December, I am so excited for any indication that better weather is coming. I’veĀ put in hard hours of often crappy biking to earn that springtime. (Or rather, it’s not that the biking is crappy, it’s that it takes so much more initial motivation.) So by the time any hint of spring appears, I’m so darn excited about it that I walk around with a giant goofy grin on my face basically permanently. And I take lots of pictures of flowers. And I want to write about it all the time.

So sorry if you’re getting tired of flowers and springtime and puffy clouds. It’s just because biking all year has made me appreciate the finer points of life:)

Things you might see while biking: offerings to Vera Katz

For those of you who don’t know, Vera Katz was the first woman Speaker of the Oregon House of Representatives as well as mayor of Portland from 1993-2005. Since 2003 there’s been a statue of her sitting along the side of the Eastbank Esplanade:

vera katz

There are often various additions to the statue like this one of book and blossoms. Sometimes she’s wearing a hat–a beanie, perhaps, if it’s cold, or a pretty brim-ful hat on a nice day. Sometimes she has food in her lap. Once I saw an umbrella opened and somehow propped above her head.

This offering seemed particularly appropriate on this first official day of spring:)