Daylight Savings Magic

It’s like magic: we move the arbitrary clock hands one hour ahead, and suddenly I can see the other people who bike through Washington Park at the same time as me in the evenings. I recognize these people only by their blinky headlights and the way their voices sound when they say “hello” in the dark; now that I have all these other visual cues–smile, colorful clothes, type of bike, way of waggling the fingers in salute–I have no idea who I’m seeing. With the brash and beautiful tumble into spring, I get to re-learn a whole new set of commute buddies.

I know that right now it’s only a matter of rearranging when daylight happens, but every new day it’s perceptibly brighter, a little more enticing to stay out.

Daylight savings: a whole new perspective on the people I share a commute with, and officially the season of taking the looooooong way home. I’m psyched:)

A bike adventure question for you

Those of you who are perceptive may have noticed a while ago that I mentioned an upcoming bike trip in Utah. It’s true! Come the end of this month, I’ll be flying down to Grand Junction, CO then embarking on three weeks through Utah: Arches, Moab, Canyonlands… there may even be some family bike adventure in there too! (Stay tuned for if I manage to meet up with my bitty bro, since we both independently planned Utah trips for almost exactly the same time frame:)

I’m beyond psyched. Like way beyond psyched. Like get-giddy-and-smiley, giant-goofy-grin-when-I-think-about-it psyched. My living room has spent a lot of time with this sort of thing:

utah trip planning

…as I try not only to figure out where I want to go and what’s feasible but also (Edward Abbey, I’m looking at you) what kind of flora and fauna I’m going to see, what new things are out there to learn in this crazy desert landscape.

So excited. So beyond excited.

Here’s my question, though. Since I’m flying down, I’m going to send my bike ahead of me to The Bike Shop in Grand Junction. How does that work with bags? Basically I’ve got my two panniers and then another bag that I’ll put on top of my rack–one bag, you might notice, over the allotted carry-on bag limit for a plane. I don’t really want to check my panniers, so I suppose I can carry those on and check the supplemental bag, but I’m wondering if any of you have any thoughts about this.

Has anyone ever shipped a bike ahead? What did you do with your gear? Any thoughts about best practices? It seems hard to really fit gear and bags into a box with my bike. Should I? Or is it better to take them on the plane?

Gosh. I’m so excited that even logistics stuff like this gets me all giddy. heh. But yeah, hit me up with any suggestions or thoughts. I’m planning to send my bike on the 18th or 19th, so if you have any burning thoughts, the sooner the better:)

Portland, we’re really lucky

Today, I feel blessed.

We live in a pretty dense part of Portland–okay, not New York dense and not even downtown-Portland dense, but dense enough to support a great bus system, dense enough to be able to walk to many different grocery stores, restaurants, even my doctor, dense enough to feel like a city.

And despite that, on any given day, without setting foot in a car, I can run in the woods.

Mt Tabor is a great stop-gap woods run: it doesn’t feel particularly remote, but there are still excellent trails and it’s a migratory bird hotspot, plus it’s about a 7-minute bike ride (or 12-minute run) from my house.

With a little more time investment, I can bike to Tryon Creek State Park or so many different access points to Forest Park, or I can run from my work right into Hoyt Arboretum and Washington Park. Any of those actually feel like woods: no roads to be heard or seen, just the doug-fir, cedar, ferns, and, right now, more new springtime birds every day.

Today, I found my early way to Lower Macleay Park, along swollen Balch Creek, around and around in the misty woods–past the Audubon Society of Portland, up to Pittock Mansion, around and around and up and down, nothing but the squelch of mud under my feet, the songs from pacific wren and spotted towhee and even a barred owl that hadn’t yet tucked itself in. The Indian plum is starting to flower, as is the red-flowering currant. The rain, when it started in earnest, was almost warm on my face. I ran and ran and ran, so in love with the world and its springtime waking.

Portland, it is amazing that this happens right in our backyard. It is amazing that I can be out for hours in what feels like the deep, dark woods, and yet be only a 35-minute bike ride from my front door. We are so lucky to have what we do.

I fricken love this city.

Stub Stewart: First bike camp of 2014!
(Or, an exercise in being wet:)

Rain? What rain?

Despite a forecast that looked pretty crappy, this weekend I was determined. I’ll be taking a 3-week trip through Utah later this month (more on that later!:), and before I go it seemed prudent to test out my new bikey camping setup–since I’ve never really traveled without a trailer, I mean, and I wasn’t sure if two panniers would actually cut it for the kind of bike adventure I have in mind.

This weekend is when I had two consecutive days off, so for a test run this weekend it was, weather be damned.

bike overnight camping setup(The setup. Yeah, I know, not a very informative picture, but still:)

The perfect place for a test camping trip? Stub Stewart State Park, of course–it’s only about 47 miles from my door if I take a detour to the Beaverton Farmers Market (which I did, of course, for some fresh provisions:). It has a super awesome, incredibly peaceful hike/bike-in campground that only costs $6 per night in the off-season. (If I’d really wanted to stay dry, I could have instead rented a cabin–but those are something like $45, and they wouldn’t have given me a chance to practice my wet-handling abilities:).

Also, while I was at it I wanted to go running, and there are miles and miles of trails there. Perfect!

camping setup stub stewart(Home, sweet home)

The tarp in the above picture was a fun, last-minute experiment inspired by the weather forecast. It was actually really nice, since it provided a dry staging area to pack up my stuff in the morning deluge. But other than the tarp, I tried to bring about the same sorts of things I would bring on any longer trip: extra clothes, tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, food, water filter, extra shoes. Even though it was only overnight, I brought a lot of stuff–in part because I wanted to have lots of dry things (I hate being perniciously wet!) but also because I wanted to try to emulate a longer trip to see if I could actually carry everything.

I think I can! I’ve been nervous about only having the one rack in the back, but also loathe to deal with another rack and set of bags right now. It turns out I think I’ll be able to fit everything I need into my two bags plus some stuff strapped on top of the back, no front rack or extra bags required. If anything, it’ll force me to be super judicious about what I bring, which is always good.

Also, biking with panniers (rather than a trailer) might be my new favorite thing. I’m still getting used to the fact that my bike when propped up will not necessarily balance the way I think it will, and I’m a little awkward at putting the darn things on, but I love the feeling of everything on my bike instead of trailing behind me. I feel so self-contained!

stub stewart(the horse area of Stub Stewart as seen from my hike, mist-erious;)

As for the rain? There was a lot of it. Happily, it let up by the time I got to Stub Stewart, so I could set up in the dry and was even able to take a long evening hike without getting more than misted on. It was cold, cold, cold–more so because of the damp–but I was pretty cozy in my sleeping bag. And despite being drenched all day today and bringing home basically everything wet (as we speak, my tent is re-set up in my basement to dry; my other things are spread everywhere for the same reason)–despite that, it was a lovely time. And I’m feeling good about my upcoming longer adventure with this bike.

So I’d say this was a great way to kick off the bike camping season of 2014:)

Oh, and the moral of the story? If it’s only an overnight trip anyway, any weather is bearable:)