Sunday, August 30, 2020

Sub-24 hour overnight, Urban Edition (see also #swiftcampout)

Inspired by friends who seem to have no issues cranking off a bike overnight whenever the mood strikes them, and by the 2020 edition of the #swiftcampout going entirely solo/socially distant, I had always decided that Crohn's and arthritis would make things too complicated for a real camping trip anymore; my bathroom needs and the the risk of a bowel emergency out on the open road were simply more than I had the energy to deal with, especially in the Summer Of Covid -- when safe public restroom options would be far fewer.

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:
Above: Plateaued hills up to Alameda Ridge; and a subtle reminder of why every day is precious.
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.
Once I figure out how I'll I'll get over the freeway mess, I head south to Glisan, walk my bike a few blocks up the very sttep incline, get on and resume riding into mid-Multnomah County.
Fewer trees, smaller, plainer houses and a lot of browned, unmanicured grass.

Below: Also a few old, dead cars here and there.
When I get to where I want to cross over the freeway, I have few choices that won't be a little dicey, or that will take me somewhat out of my way.
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 make it to my sister's place after two-plus hours of meandering. There's still enough daylight left to enjoy putting my feet up on the back patio and set up my tent before it gets too dark.

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.
As the sky darkens, dinner is announced. I've messaged ahead of my arrival saying I didn't really need a full-on dinner; but my sister has made a delicious dinner of flank steak, baked potato and glazed carrots. How could I refuse? With a bottle of ginger beer to wash it down, I feel sated and, after a couple hours of lovely conversation (punctuated by tiny sips from my little flask of homemade citron vodka), I'm ready for bed.

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.
Left: Crossing back over I-205 at head west. Rocky Butte overlooks it all. I did not have the energy to include Rocky Butte in my trip this time, but hope to get in a day ride to the top before the weather turns too cold and wet.

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.
In addition to a recently cleaned toilet, I also found leftover paint set out front, free for the taking. Knowing that I needed to re-paint a few bare spots at home before the rainy season, I found a reasonable shade of blue and a can of Killz. Mixing the white into the blue would give me a close enough shade to deal with the back side of the house, and hope that next summer we can afford to paint the whole thing.

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.

1 comment:

Nancy said...

You are an inspiration Beth. I enjoyed reading about your day of touring in your town. It was quite interesting and the photos give a good feel for your town. Thanks for writing and taking us along for the trip. I might just have to figure out some kind of sub24 myself! Good to have a sister nearby who provides such a great dinner ;’-). Take care and keep riding and writing.