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Wednesday, January 04, 2012

My New Years 2012, where April and I ride out to a cabin in the woods (again)

New Year 2012 went down pretty much the same way New Year 2011 went down: riding our bikes to Stub Stewart State Park in the Oregon Coast Range. The Stub Stewart trip has become an annual Cycle Wild New Year's tradition. We were supposed to meet up at 10am on Saturday morning (Dec 31st) at the west end of the MAX line in Hillsboro, Portland's western suburb. However, it was only 22 miles (35km) of riding from there to the park. April and I had done this ride so many times before, and there was an ample amount of daylight. So we opted to leave late.

And this was a good thing. It had rained on Friday and then the temperature dropped dramatically overnight. So those riders who left early were greeted with black ice. There were a few spills. Since it had thawed by the time we left the house around 11am, we didn't have to deal with that. It was still pretty cool all day, though.

The MAX ride to Hillsboro was uneventful, and we started our ride around 1pm. It was a peaceful trek. The first half of the ride uses lightly used rural roads (read: farmlands and nurseries). The second half is exclusively on the Banks-Vernonia State Trail, an old logging railroad turned bike path. In the middle is the town of Banks where we supplied up for the two days.

While the roads out here are quiet, there are some people who don't want bikes around.

This small sign can be seen on Wilkesboro Rd about a mile SE of Banks. At first one might think, "Yeah, uninsured drivers suck!" But the size and the low placement of the sign isn't directed towards motorists, but bicyclists. And that's who the sign is talking about. Any ambiguity in its message was dispelled when some other riders passed by on the Verboort Populaire Ride in November, and the homeowner came out of his house, shouting: "GET OFF OF THE ROAD! YOU ARE NOT INSURED!"

Anyways...we got to the park around 4pm. Cycle Wild had rented four cabins and there was 20 of us, so five per cabin. Most people on New Year's Eve hung out at the fire pit, though there was movie viewing as well. I wouldn't know, I was too far gone at that point and sleeping it off. Yes, I slept into the New Year. And vomited shortly thereafter. Go Shawn! (It didn't help that a group from another cabin was loudly and drunkenly "singing" "What's Up" by 4 Non Blondes at the time of my regurgitation. If I needed any help doing the deed, hearing the song that signified all that what was wrong with "the Grunge movement" while  simultaneously signaling the death knell of said movement would have helped it along.) But hey, looking on the positive side of things, the years I have rang in the New Year with retching featured significant changes to my life, usually for the better. So maybe this is a sign of something "epic" for 2012?

New Year's Day (Sunday) was the chill day. Most people hung around the cabins, making food and talking. Some folks attempted to ride the muddy mountain bike trails with their touring rigs, with comical effects. Some rode 10 miles down the Banks-Vernonia Trail to Vernonia for beer and restocking of supplies. While some took a walk in the woods. That's what we ended up doing.

We all had to depart the park on Monday, January 2nd. Everyone left at random intervals. April and I left in the last group (of course) which included Matt and Kristy, Erinne and Kirk. While the weather remained dry for the rest of the trip, we had to deal with rain on the return ride. So it was a good idea to stop and break in Banks for mediocre Chinese food. The rest of the ride was good, and we got back to Portland before dark.

And while we're talking about bike "camping" (and I use quotes since we had cabins so no tents, but still had to bring sleeping stuff and cooking stuff) and all that, I figured I'd talk a little about gear.

A joke I frequently made on this excursion is that a Cycle Wild trip can automatically turn into a photo shoot for: Klean Kanteen, Trangia stoves, Surly bikes, Showers Pass rainjackets, and/or Ortlieb bags.
Tomas looks off into the middle distance.

But as April says, these things have been proven through time. Especially my Trangia stove. Initially when I purchased one before the Cross-Con Trip I was intending the spirit fueled Trangia to be the back-up stove to my canister fueled Varga. But now the Trangia has become my "go to" stove, and the canister fueled one sits in my camping supplies box.

Right before leaving, I purchased a new pan, this MSR Flex Skillet. During the tour we had a generic non-stick camping frying pan that worked so-so. If we used it on the Trangia it would burn the pancakes we like making for breakfast, and if we used it on the Varga we worried about balance. But the MSR sits nicely on the Trangia and cooked the pancakes nicely. A success!

I also picked up a Bleuet solid-fuel stove. It's basically a Esbit stove made by someone else. I also decided to bring my GSI camping moka pot for this trip and use the Bleuet stove for it. It's pretty bulky but I don't mind bringing it on a one or two night trip. Unfortunately it wasn't a good combination, as I had to use almost two fuel tablets to make a cup of coffee.
No coffee yet?

You live and you learn.


  1. If you are a homeowner, with a standard ISO homeowner policy (HO-3 or similar), you are insured on your bike for liability. Tell the crumudgeon that the next time he runs out yelling about insurance.

    Insurance Adjuster

  2. And then remind him that a bicyclist isn't NEAR as likely to cause damage by inattentive or impared (well,ok...) riding,AND that the LAW says it's your road too,AND that if it weren't for bicycles,there would be no roads (or cars,for that matter,learn his history for him),and if that doesn't shut him up...ok,I'd better hush...sorry,I dislike morons (God however must love em,He made so many...),LOL! :P

    Sounds like you had an awesome New Years,even if sleeping at the stoke of it :)

    The Disabled Cyclist

  3. Insurance Adjuster and Disabled Cyclist--Of course, all of what you say is true. But I don't think this gentleman is the type to be "reasoned" with. Possibly the best response to his yelling was from my friend Elly. She just yelled back, "God Bless You, Sir!" when he ranted at her.

  4. The best response to an unreasonable curmudgeon is a proudly displayed digitus medius.

    Esbit stoves are wonderful...once you start using a wind screen. The very first time I used mine I couldn't get 2 cups of water to boil no matter how many fuel tabs I fed it. Even a light breeze will render the thing useless. A trip to the supermarket yielded one of those thick foil turkey pans or some such, which I promptly cut into strips. I bent one strip into a circle and connected the ends with stove pipe tape. The wind screen need not be taller than the stove. With the screen mine will boil 2 cups of water faster than any alcohol stove I've tried. If I'm fast on the pour, I can make a cup of coffee and a packet of ramen noodles with one tab.

  5. Scott-Thanks for the tip. We did have a windscreen, but only one and were mostly using it with the Trangia. I should pick up another one and see how it works with the Esbit. Hopefully that will do the trick, and it's not that the aluminum on the Moka Pot is too thick or something.


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