Tuesday, April 28, 2009


It was 46 degrees and raining when I left the house this morning. The air smelled like apple blossoms, fresh grass and dirt, but it felt like home. I started somewhere in southeastern Portland. Somewhere ... where, I didn't know. I didn't know that it mattered. I haven't been to Portland since the 90s and I've never had any talent for feeling my way through a city - map, directions or nothing at all. So I figured I'd ride blindly into the late-morning chaos and I'd have to end up somewhere ... where, I didn't know.

I wandered south for a while, picking my way through connecting bike routes and trying to stay cognizant of where I had been. Finding my way back in a strange place is always a big concern for me. It never comes naturally. About an hour passed just wandering the streets of the greater Portland area and figuring I'd never find my way out of strip mall suburbia. That's when I stumbled onto the Columbia Gorge Highway. A lucky find for sure. I was suddenly immersed in a deep canyon with light traffic and spring exploding everywhere.

Once the highway threatened to drop down to I-84, I veered off on an even smaller road ... Larch Mountain Road. The rolling hills along the Sandy River became a steady climb. Lots of logging roads intersected the pavement. I ventured out a couple of doubletrack roads, but they were severely muddy to the point of terminal tire suck. And, anyway, I was more interested in figuring out where this Larch Mountain Road went. I hoped it would be somewhere high.

I went up until the road became impassable at 3,500 feet. Oh yes, I did find snow.

I ended the ride with 84 miles and 4,700 feet of climbing. I guess I haven't really been keeping track of my recent mileage, and may not for a little while. It's been hard to quantify my rides since I left in Juneau because they've been so interspersed with travel and everything else that has been going on. I consider biking my down time, time to reflect and try to make some decisions. I forget that I'm still technically working out, and never really think about it, so I can honestly say that I'm not sure whether I've been feeling physically strong, normal, or weak. But it's been rewarding to travel so many new places on two wheels, especially when fate spits me out somewhere like this.