Saturday, April 30, 2016

A Good Day For Knee Socks, or, An Epic Ride

Built in the 1930s, this old Pacific rail line once connected the Oregon coast and Portland.  Flooded and repaired, flooded and repaired, it was finally abandoned and left for nature to grow over it. 

As we set out to ride this future rails-to-trails project that morning, I thought riding on the pilings between the tracks would be the worst part of the day.  I was wrong.  By the end of the day, any section of clear pilings to bump over felt like pure luxury. 

We invented a new term that day: bushpacking.  Our credo: "you don't have to ride a bike, but you must bring one".  The bike was useful in helping me navigate steep climbs on foot, including a muddy cliff with a knotted rope, and it also made a nice water and snack carrier.  Otherwise, it was almost completely useless on this epic adventure. The word epic is often overused, but in the case of this particular adventure, it was perfectly appropriate. 

One rider carried a machete, but the woods were too thick for it.  We scrambled and rested, scrambled and rested.  One treacherous creek crossing featured a deeper than apparent current that almost took my bike away, and gave me a bloody ankle. 

Finally, we could go no further.  We hadn't seen the tracks in some time, and had been scrambling over boulders between a loud rushing river and a steep stone cliff.  There was nowhere else to go, so we turned back. 

We found a gravel road we hadn't seen before and hoped it would take us out of the river valley and back to civilization.  It did, but only after a 45 minute walk up an extremely steep hill.  I had been craving even one solid minute of bike riding all day and was pretty sad when we found a rideable surface that didn't have a rideable grade.

Finally at the top, and nearing dark, we mounted up and rolled east.  Sitting on the saddle never felt so good.  The vistas were incredible and we quickly undid the day's miles in an hour. 

Back at camp, we were glad to have the most ginormous wet wipes you've ever seen - made by Epic, these sponge-bath-quality towels feature natural ingredients.  I'm mentioning them here because they sent me a case with a request to review.  The results?  5 stars and feeling clean after this epic adventure which would've been a great day to wear knee socks.

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