Thursday 6 May 2010

The “Green” City

How is it that we can have a great day cycling, yet take no scenic photos? Well, we suppose it was because our 79-mile off-piste ride from the coast at Tillamook heading inland to Portland was just plain ‘Cycling Perfection’ (CP). The scenic route from the coast to Portland is glorious. It hugs the meandering banks of the cascading Wilson River through the emerald green Tillamook State Forest, all the way up to 1,600 ft. And despite being in Logging Country where logging trucks pass by every 15 minutes or so, there was minimal car traffic and the road surface was made up from tiny little hands that pushed us along all the way, which was lucky for us as we set off just after 10am and we knew we’d be up against it to get into Portland before 6pm.

Feeling good and without a care in the world we were effortlessly climbing up hill. After checking the Gamines, we noticed that we had been spinning for 25 miles without a break “…wow those energy bars are pretty good”. As if by magic, just when we needed it (food and a toilet stop) most, we came across a café and general store, smack bang in the middle of the forest, the only one for miles around. We sat down eating bagels, peanuts, chocolate and slurping Latte whilst having a wonderful chat with Roseanne (the manager) about Mountain Lions, Bears, Coyotes and all the scary wildlife one could find roaming free in the forests of Oregon state. She also informed us that our next 10 miles would climb up to 1,600ft, after which we faced a descent all the way down into Portland. Refreshed and armed with this valuable local information, we returned to the road excited and anxious.

It wasn’t long till we reached the top of the mountain to begin our 13-mile descent dropping 1,200ft into Gales Creek. We zipped up all the openings in our cycle gear, adjusted our helmets and prepared ourselves for the rapid descent. Anthony assumed his tight tuck position, dislocated his shoulders to reduce drag and was hysterically giggling at the prospect of breaking his land speed record. In his mind the countdown began: “10mph, looking good …20mph, concentrate …30mph, keep elbows in, knees tight” … then an almighty SNAP! THWANG! TICK TICK TICK! …you guessed it: Anthony’s spoke broke and we still had 42 miles to go; the record breaking attempt was thwarted! Kat had to console Anthony …he was crying like baby. Eventually, we accepted our fate and decided the only option was to limp into Portland.

On balance the rest of the ride was OK! The rear wheel held up and our moving average speed wasn’t reduced too much. Everything was OK until we hit the outskirts of the city, when Margaret and Audrey decided to take us down a route that seemed fine at the beginning but then led us onto an 8-lane highway with nowhere to go. The 10ft fence that lined the side of the very busy highway kept the perfectly formed cycle path on the other side in clear view. It was only 6ft away but out of our grasp; it was tortuous to say the least! At breaking point and no longer able to take the torment of cycling for miles on a scary 8-lane highway with this dedicated cycle path starring at us from behind a wire fence, Anthony finally said “F this for a game of soldiers, we’re climbing over that fence”. We stopped, perched ourselves up against the barrier to freedom, dismantled our bikes and threw them over. Next, Anthony put his hands between Kat’s legs, “Not now sweetheart” Kat objected, and helped her over with a gentle lift. Then, with Kat safe on the other side, Anthony delved deep, remembered his training from PE class aged 13 and vaulted over with ease. We both sighed with relief as we put our bikes back together.

Relieved, yet still anxious that we wouldn’t find our way through the spider web of one-way systems, cycle paths and parks, our prayers were answered by “Are you guys touring?” the voice of Anona, on her way back into Portland from her office in Hillsboro. Anona, being the Guardian Angel she is, cycled with us, navigating through the complex ‘paths of perfection’ and straight to our destination. If it wasn’t for Anona, we would still be trying to find our way to our hotel (which is great, btw, and we’re looking forward to our extended stay/holiday in Portland, OR).

Before we sign off we’d just like to say thanks for all the recent generous US donations, including Kristin’s rather sizeable one. Oh, and a big ‘Hello’ to Ben, our waiter for the night, and now our latest Follower.

Us x

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