But still feeling the pull and the desire to do even a short trip by bike, I decided a couple weeks ago to crank out my own sub-24 hour overnight. I hadn't done one of these in several years -- back when I was in MUCH better shape and still tracking my mileage every day. But I had the gear, I had decent legs, and I figured that if I could arrange to pitch my tent in my sister's yard, I'd get in what for me was a decent ride each way and a night alone under the stars, an "Urban Edition" tailored to meet my needs and let me exercise the wanderlust that still tugged at my heart. So, with Sweetie's encouragement and my sister's enthusiastic "YES!", I arranged it, and signed up for the remote Swift Campout. Since the Jewish High Holy Days would effectively prevent me from riding during the "official" dates, I told the nice folks at the Swift Campout registration page that I planned to do it earlier, and report here afterwards.
I left Saturday afternoon around 4, with the plan to meander on residential side streets and N-S alleys until I arrived at my sister's place in Parkrose Heights.My normal route there runs about ten or eleven miles. With traffic and a few stops along the way, I planned to take around two hours or so to get there.
Remembering how much I'd overpacked for my week-long campout back in 2004 (which I never finished), I decided to see how little I could get away with and still be comfortable this time.
I also gave myself permission to have a dinner of snacks out of my sister's kitchen, to save time and energy.
I set out with my bike loaded nicely, but not too heavy to carry down the front steps of the house. In my saddlebag went my very little tent, a change of clothes, a warm shirt for the evening, a little camp stove and fuel tablets and some reading material. In the front basket went my hiker-bike bag and a 3/4 ThermaRest pad, plus some snacks to grab easily along the way.
Riding with this light load was not difficult at all. I enjoyed meandering along tree-shaded residential streets, stopping here and there to take pictures of interestingness.
The weather was perfect, with highs in the upper 70s and overnights lows projected around 50F. I'd be comfortable but not freezing.
A few pictures along the way:
At left: A gorgeous sunflower, one of dozens blooming along the way.
Below: A porch in Roseway
Rose City golf course.
Below: I've had this little pocket map of Portland's Bikeways since 2014. It's slightly outdated but still useful, and I like its small size. Also, the few ways to cross I-205 and I-84 are still few and far afield, so I find it useful to glance at it and get an idea of how I want to go, depending on time of day and traffic flow.
Fewer trees, smaller, plainer houses and a lot of browned, unmanicured grass.
Below: Also a few old, dead cars here and there.
I choose the short bridge Glisan that is fairly flat, knowing that I'll have to come all the way back north to get to Parkrose Heights. It will add probably 2 to 3 miles to my ride, but it's a nice evening and I'm in no bug rush.
Along the way, I see more signs of how Portland's homelessness has mushroomed in the past few years, with tents parked at every possible location and debris left over from various police sweeps. It saddens me to pieces, but I have no idea what to do about it other than try to elect officials with the political will to steer us away from the most brutal aspects of capitalism. Individually, we can try to get to know our neighbors and help each other in small ways, and work very hard to make sure we don't become homeless ourselves. It's a long, hard slog.
I set up my tent on a soft bed of unmowed grass out of sight from the street. It's a tiny thing, a cheap kids' tent I got for five bucks
when I needed one foa three-day charity ride I did back in 2007. For once in my life, I can be thankful at NOT growing as tall as my sister and cousins; at 5' 7" (and shrinking!), I fit in the tent diagonally with room for my things on either side.
Bed turns out to be less comfortable than I've hoped. Reading for awhile is nice with a small flashlight; and gives me some deep things to ponder as I prepare for the High Holy Days (which begin in less than a month!).
I toss and turn and sleep in big gulps of time, stirring awake to turn over. The pad is reasonably comfortable, but getting in and out of such a tiny tent (which I need to do twice, thanks to Mister Gut) is really hard on my aging, arthritic joints. I pause to stare at the stars overhead before ducking back down into the little tent. I understand why my Sweetie had given up on tent camping several years ago, and I wonder if it's time for me to consider more glamorous options going forward. I return to bed and sleep fairly well after that until almost 8:30.
After a quick breakfast of coffee and two pieces of last night's pie (which I've opted to save for breakfast), I pack up and ride home, taking a more direct route and stopping less often.
Below: Tents crammed into a small area between the turnoff for 82nd Avenue and the onramp to I-205.
Boulders under the 82nd avenue overpass, placed here after homeless campers were swept out by police. The boulders were placed there to prevent people from returning.
Coffee break next to Rose City golf course, which was pretty busy in spite of the shutdown. Most of the golfers on the course were solo or in pairs, and very few were wearing masks.
At 57th and NE Sandy, I stop and look in all directions, enjoying views of a sweet little flatiron building and a glimpse of downtown.
In spite of all the challenges and problems, I love my city and hope we can make things better here.
Below: the reality of bike camping with Crohn's disease. Sometimes I have to go and so I ride up and down residential streets and look for a porta-potty. Thankfully, lots of people here can afford to remodel because there are several to be found. The trick is to find one that doesn't have a padlock on it. I luck out not too far from home.
I got home around 11:30, unpacked and put everything away, hung up my bike and stretched a little bit.
By the time that was done, I felt utterly wiped, and glad to be done.
Now, at 10pm, I'm showered, fed and ready to sleep. A good ride, and even with the limitations involved I had a great time. I'll do it again.