Monday, September 12, 2011

35 miles on the West Side

The forecast for Sunday in Portland was 95F (35C), so I decided to get the bike ride in early. I woke up at 5:30AM and took the family out to the local Elmer's pancake joint for breakfast at 6am. I enjoyed my Saturday market skillet with egg whites and green tea. We unloaded the bike and my family drove home.

It was a chilly start with temperatures in the mid 50sF (12-14C)...you have to love a temperate climate. I ended up stopping at a gas station in the first half mile...the back tire felt kind of squishy so I filled it, then onward.

Thanks to a number of lightning-caused fires in the Cascade mountains, the morning sky was tinged red and the smell of distant smoke was with me:


I had a nice quiet ride through the Tualatin Hills Nature Park encountering a couple of wild rabbits in the open areas. I proceeded southward through a few power line parks making my way towards the flanks of Sexton mountain and Cooper mountain. With names like that, it is no doubt that some climbing would occur. Here is a look back from part way up the hill:


My trip calculator indicated 580 feet of climbing and I believe it. There were a few ridges and gullies as I weaved between the two peaks. Finally, I headed north towards and worked my way to Greenway Park and the Fanno Creek Park and watershed. Just as the heat of the open road was just gathering into a palpable presense, I found Fanno Creek and a foliated reprieve:



After a couple of miles riding the thin, green line between Beaverton neighborhoods and the industry near highway 217, I finally reached the end of the park trail and wound my way towards downtown Beaverton. I worked my way back to the Tualatin Hills Nature Park. Along the way, I rode through some old(er) growth firs and pines. This particular area has an affinity for pines not generally found in Western Oregon so it is a bit of a novelty:


Continuing on through the wetlands area, I heard a thrashing in a thicket while riding along a boardwalk over what would be swamp for 9 months of the year. I stopped and rolled slowly to find a doe who wasn't expecting me. Pausing a bit longer, I noticed two fawns following close behind. My grainy phone camera took the following picture:


The morning was warming up and I found myself working through my 2 liters of water a bit quicker. I emerged from the nature park and worked my way through a few miles of power line parks. Here is a view north towards my next destination from a temporary apex:


After weaving my way through a busy business district with few trees and burgeoning heat, I turned westward making my way through suburbia and into the inner farm belt. I approached a country road near a highway that makes a nice, free vantage point for a couple local airshows at the Hillsboro airport as I found out by accident on a night ride last year. On this occasion, a wheat field was planted in clover and left to recover near this point:


The freeway I mentioned gets busier each year, so the forlorn dead end I frequent before turning around has piles of gravel, pipes and restricted areas all working towards expanding the highway:


Continuing back eastward, I meet up with another power line park which skirts soccer fields before diving through an easement at the local golf club:


This picture was take at the apex of the last power line park looking down the hill I climbed:


I worked my way home through surface streets for the last few miles. The lack of vegetation along with the ascension of the sun made the last half hour a warm, sweaty finish with more grabs of the water bottle. 35 miles later, I pulled into my driveway ready for it to be over and to cravenly hide in front of the air conditioner sipping ice water...it was a nice feeling.

With a custom ankle brace and an inoperable knee problem, I feel fortunate to have been able to lose the weight necessary to ride a bicycle for 3.5 hours with minimal pain. I am a far cry from my rotund, lethargic, and, frankly, unhappy self of two years ago. I feel very lucky to have found the right needle in the right haystack to help myself...I hope the same for all who suffer and keep looking for a way to feel better.

2 comments:

Pandabonium said...

The breakfast looks tasty and good fuel for your bicycle's engine. Very nice ride, with some great scenery. I especially enjoy seeing the various trees and the deer are especially cool.

I'm glad you can ride like that now and enjoy yourself more. Bicycling can be a great way to exercise, with little impact on the joints, but it also takes a bigger investment in time than some other activities. I should get out on my bike more and not just use it for running errands.

What kind of "trip calculator" do you have? It tells you how far you've climbed? Cool.

Don Snabulus said...

I agree about the time investment...at 10-12 mph, a ride such as this takes a full morning or afternoon. Sometimes it is hard to find a block of time that large.

I use Map My Ride for most of my calculations. They (or Google) seem to have most of the bike routes scoped out in my area, so it is fairly quick work to map out the ride. I really should join up with them.