I've taken this loop many times in the last seven years, too many to count. But it remains one of my favorite longer rides and I try to get out there at least a few times a year, to see the seasons change through the landscape and to enjoy a ride relatively free of traffic and signals.
I am slower now than I used to be, the result of no longer prioritizing racing and "training" in my life. But I still enjoy these longer rides when time and energy are on my side.
Temp: low 50s, occasional light drizzle, slight breeze.
Wardrobe: thin wool tights with knickers over them, wool socks; wool jersey, arm warmers and light jacket over that; thin wool cap under my helmet; ragg wool fingerless gloves. I carried some raingear with me but never took it out.
I stopped along the way to admire the scenery and take some photos. The Columbia Slough was pretty and I saw a LOT of waterfowl, including hundreds of geese and a few great blue herons along the banks. I enjoyed maintaining a moderate pace and found that I had more than enough energy to handle the uphill climb to the top of the Marine Drive bridge over the slough. I did note some discomfort at the beginning of my ride and again when i set out after my lunch stop in St. Johns; but reasoned that sometimes its really okay to feel some discomfort from the elements. Being out in the elements is part of bicycling, so why not accept it? I warmed up enough after a mile or two that the damp and cold didn't bother me again.
Random thoughts drifted in and out of my mind, including the recognition that nearly all of these rides are done alone. My friends who love to ride like to go faster and farther than I do, and I'd hold
them back even if they were too nice to say so. My partner has ridden this route with me exactly once, early in our marriage when she was far more active than she is now. I doubt I will get her to ride it again. She is not nearly as active as I am and it seems like that will be the way it is for the long haul. So I ride alone, to enjoy the scenery and look for birds and feel the cool air on my cheeks, and to revel in movement.
One thing I noticed is that my "quasi-rando" bike, while still very heavy, fits me really well and makes riding with drops enjoyable. Would I like a lighter bike? Sure, but not enough to pay a ton of money for it. I preefer the feel of a steel frameset, and for the time being I'm fine with paying a considerable weight penalty for the sake of comfort and fit. The Sekai, with its low-slung, compact geometry, took the drop bars pretty well and allowed me to have a drop-bar bike with very short reach. It also allowed me to have that drop-bar bike and still run 26" (559 ERD) wheels, thus avoiding having to store a second wheel and tire size at home. perhaps one day I'll be able to ny up for a lighter frameset that gives me the same compact fit. For the time being, I'll be content to ride e sekai and just try not to overload it with too much stuff. If I want to do any bike-camping it will be on the upright Rivvy.
On the way back from St. Johns it began to drizzle pretty steadily. By the time I got home it had become a light rain. I didn't bother to stop and pull out my raingear; I wasn't far from home and figured I'd enjoy the hot shower more when my ride ended. I was right. Home now and feeling deliciously relaxed and ready for a restful evening. A lovely 22 mile loop.
Here are a few photos. More can be found at https://www.flickr.com/photos/bethness/