Rites of Spring 2007
(or: A Little Karma, A Little Coffee)

(To see all the photos, click here.)

It's been a few days since the Rites of Spring ride, and I still can't believe it. I don't know if we could have had a more perfect day for riding, save for one detail... but I'll get to that.

I had been watching the weather predictions all week, not quite believing my eyes. They were all saying that it would be clear, with the temperature between 60 and 70. I was thinking that if the day turned out close to the predictions, we were in for a very fine day indeed. I kept thinking that my Karma bucket would fill quickly.

I had my doubts, though, since it was foggy when my wife and I left the house. Undaunted, we stopped for coffee before riding to Gateway to meet the group. We got there about 45 minutes early, but there were people already unloading bikes. Several of the recumbent gang were there... Tweety had Toys-R-Us fluffy flowers growing from her handlebars and rack pack, while Dale was unloading his e-assisted EZ Sport and Sylvia was putting her trike together. We started chatting, and more riders started arriving. And then more riders. And more... and more.
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When 10 o'clock rolled around, we had an impressive crowd of different bikes and riders, ranging from the recumbent trikes to Louie and Becky's Cannondale tandem to Jim Schultz's Bike Friday. Somehow we got herded into posing in a line against the curb and 7 or 30 pictures were taken. 


I did my melodramatic best to recount the history of the Rites of Spring ride, including the range of weather conditions that we've encountered. As I was doing this, the sky was getting brighter, with blue sky just barely starting to peek through. I also tried to explain the "rules" for the SlugVelo riders, since I knew there were a few. I don't think I did a real good job, but then I'm not Beth. (Thank God for that!)

As people started rolling out of the parking lot, the overcast was starting to break and I was beginning to think that lots of good Karma was rolling my way. I resolved to not get too optimistic, though- I've been bitten by the Karma police before. Nevertheless, I took my position at the back of the pack, knowing that quite a few people ahead of me knew the way and that we'd be able to catch any problems as we rode. 

Unfortunately, all "Slugvelo" discipline went out the window after the second stoplight. Most everyone was off and pedaling (a couple 'benters were fiddling with their brakes), so I stayed behind and rode with Jim Shultz, since he was tailgunner for the pack and seemed comfortable there. The leg along the I-205 path was quite comfortable and smooth. We didn't even have to wait for much traffic as we crossed the streets heading south. With the sun poking through, I began to think that I was swimming in good Karma.

The 'benters that were behind Jim and me passed us in a massive whoosh before we headed east on the Springwater Corridor. We rode along gently- Jim had said he wasn't up to much more than 11 miles, so I didn't want to push the pace. We chatted as we rolled along, and we had a heck of a conversation- I think we were intent on solving the world's ills. Truthfully, I'm not much of a talker, but the pace, the day, and the companion had me yakking like a drunk on a cheap date. 

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As we rolled along, we passed a family picking up trash beside the trail and the flock of sheep behind Powell Butte. There were a fair number of other riders, but no one seemed to be in much of a hurry. Jim had indicated that he was familiar with the area, so he turned off at Jenne Road, and I sped up a bit. When I got to Gresham City Park, a couple of the Slug riders were still there, and they said that almost everyone had already left on the next leg. 

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Everything seemed to be under control, so I said goodbye to a couple of the Slug ladies who said they were going to explore the area before heading back to Gateway. I picked up Dale and his E-assist EZ recumbent for the next leg to Troutdale. It was warming up, and Dale's E-assist helped us increase our pace enough to get a cooling breeze going over my face. We cruised down Stark Street, past Mt. Hood College, and down to the Sandy River. Along the way we passed a few waterfalls at full flow- I wanted to stop and jump in (not! I had lots of momentum.). 

The cruise back up the Old Gorge Highway was uneventful, but scenic. Really scenic. Really, really scenic. So scenic I forgot to take pictures. Even though this is ground I've covered dozens of times over the years, this was the prettiest I've ever seen it. Between the waterfalls on one side and the bloomin' trees on the other, I was getting cross-eyed trying to stay on the road. I was beginning to think that too much good Karma was just enough.

Dale and I caught up with Don as we rode along, and we formed a recumbent train to Troutdale. With only a slight bobble for torn-up pavement at the Troutdale bridge, we all pulled in to the Troutdale General Store at about the same time. Most of the rest of the folks were still there, sitting inside or out, munching on goodies or sipping coffee. I forgot to count, but there was barely enough space left on the sidewalk to walk by. 

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We all re-fortified ourselves with delectable goodies and coffee from the General Store, and then got out and started rolling again. I stayed close to the tail end- Don was showing signs of "early-season" fatigue, and there wasn't a tailwind to help us out. There was no wind, in fact... really unusual for Troutdale. No matter- the temperature was perfect, and there seemed to be no reason to push the pace.

The cruise along Marine Drive was gentle and almost quiet, despite the traffic. We formed a loose group of about 6 riders, stretching out and then re-gathering, kind of inchworming along. The main group had reformed at the entrance to the I-205 path, but most of them left by the time the tail end of the pack pulled in- and a good thing too, since we would have created a heck of a traffic jam had we all stayed. A couple folks told me they were heading home at that point and thanked my for the ride.

The rest of us stood around admiring the view once again, then the slower riders started trickling down the path. I stayed there, just chatting, when a recumbent tandem pulled in- it was Jeff & Michelle, the www.TandemRide.com people. They were out getting their first taste of Spring, and were doing the same route as us, only starting out in Gresham. So we chatted some more!

The leg south back to Gateway comfortable, and I didn't catch up to Don and Dale until the last hill before the parking lot. They had both stopped to catch their breath- Don was pooped, and Dale's e-assist had pooped out. No matter, I let them regain their strength for the last bit and met them at the parking lot. More chatting ensued while everyone packed up to leave.

Since I still had a few miles to ride home, I decided to head to Starbucks for one last cup of coffee (yes, that's 3 cups in one ride). I sat outside next to my bike and contemplated how good the day had been. Weather- perfect. Companions- perfect. Bike- perfect. Since I didn't have anything going on for the rest of the day, I decided to take the long way home.

I went back south to Burnside, then east to 122nd, then back north. Maybe I should have gotten a clue from the dark clouds coming in from the north, maybe I shouldn't have had that last cup of coffee, maybe my Karma bucket got filled too full and exploded, but...

I got a flat.

Yep, professional bike mechanic Jeff, with his brand-new tires, got a flat on the most perfect biking day in years. Somewhere, the God of Bicycle Repair was laughing his head off. 

I fixed the flat and finished the ride without incident, but I resolved not to tempt the Fates again. From here out, I will only lead bike rides on rainy days. So there.


(To see all the photos, click here.)