Thursday, September 4, 2014

Cycle Wild Goes To Still Creek

Riders drizzled in to the cafe, a dozen in all.  Ken called, in a panic and sounding tearful.  "I'm in Clackamas!" I'd mock him over and over for taking the green train instead of the blue.  He hurried and rode to Gresham and was only fifteen minutes late after all.

A very lightly loaded mixte was parked out front.  Turns out it was Larry's, who wasn't part of our group, but who recognized me from meeting on some other ride.  I traded him a pair of colored valve caps in exchange for running to the post office to drop off a Netflix movie.  

Ed loaned me a two-way radio, "in case of trouble" and I handed out cue sheets.  We requested riders help us to help them by leaving their bike somewhere visible if stopping and warned them we couldn't keep track or chase down riders who went ahead of the group.  I may add this to my regular ride leader speech and kiss chasing inpatient folks goodbye.

By 9:00, we were rolling eastward.  It promised to be a scorcher and this time, Mother Nature stayed true to her word.  Before we knew it, we were blowing by Dodge Park, and the Kid, who has requested a new nickname that I cannot remember for the life of me, was entering a magical land known as Bonk World.  Elif and I welcomed him back to the land of the sane by insisting we all stop on the way uphill and breathe and grab a snack.

We enjoyed the wonders of Shipley and Marmot and the Barlow Trail until at last we arrived at Zig Zag.  We skipped eating at my favorite store, since they didn't have beer, and instead went to the pizza joint across the street.  This place was heaven.  Beer, lemonade, pizza, fries, salads, whatever you want.  Lots of pitchers of cold water.  Electrical outlets!  Pinball machines.

Finally after a quick stop at the Welches store, where I handily procured Raddlers and Ramen, we began our foray into the wild section of the ride - Still Creek Road.  I wish I'd had the energy to climb and climb and climb and see it all, but we were tired and it was hot so we stopped at the second camping spot we found.  I promise to go back with a faster bike and less stuff and more time one day.
There was just enough space for campers to pick a flat spot and set up.  Everyone went right to work.  I tossed my Raddlers in the stream to cool and pitched my sweet little quarter dome together up on a nice perch, which I shared with Jim.  David's face was a familiar one - he'd been on the Panther Creek trip last year.
Elif was super fun to ride with, sporting black tape to help her knees, which looked like big stylish tattoos.  New to loaded touring, she brought some of the best stuff.  Cheese and apples to share.  A tent that we all could've slept in.  I gave her my disco ball, as dancing seemed much more possible in her palace than in my cozy little hovel on the hill.
Campfireless, due to a high danger of forest fire, we sat in a circle and swapped stories and snacks and swigs of whatever Nathan brought.  You can always count on Nathan to up the fun.  His phone had some sort of party app on it, which featured bright lights and sirens that were surprisingly entertaining.  We moved a big log aside, thenceforth referring to it as "bad log" and dumping stuff on it, kicking it and doling out general abuse for no reason.

Ken and I both rode mountain bikes, even if most of the roads were paved.  Me for no other reason than I thought it would help me enjoy riding sweep, which it did.  Ken as a shakedown for his own Oregon Outback adventure, which starts very soon.  As a side note, Ken and I enjoyed a lunch rendezvous where I got to re-live my Outback trip and share my maps with him.  I hope that no one will ever again get lost in the two spots where I got lost!

Sunday morning I woke up to the sound of birds singing.  Not campers.  Not zippers.  Not pots and pans clanging.  I poked my head out and saw that all of the tents were still in place.  Could I be the first one up?  A historic moment!  I gathered my breakfast supplies and headed over to the creek to start making my coffee.
Everyone was up after all, and sitting creekside, their conversation dampened by the pleasant white noise of the small rapids.  Nathan bought a pound of bacon and cooked all of it.  We sat there for almost two hours, enjoying the most fun and leisurely camp breakfast I've ever had.  Finally, we packed up and split up into a meander back group and a get the heck back to town group.

The get the heck back to town group found Vista Loop Road and, much like the poppy field outside of the Emerald City, almost stayed there.  Blackberries, apples, views like crazy.  We didn't want to go on, but we did.  We split again, into a jumping the train group and a get the heck back to town group.  The town group almost beat us back and Josh taunted me via text.

Then, most of us happily reunited at Velocult, dirty and fat and happy as if we'd been gone for weeks instead of just a mere weekend.  These Cycle Wild trips are a special place within themselves, and it's amazing to be a part of it.  Thanks you guys.  Literally.

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