|The Long Haul Trucker reposes at Horsetail Falls|
I awoke butt-early on Saturday morning (April 7th). 5:30 am is way earlier than I need to get up normally. But I intended to meet Tomas in Gresham at 8am, where we'd have breakfast at a corporate diner chain. I could have taken the bus or MAX lightrail, but opted to ride the 13 miles from my house to Gresham. It was cold that morning, 32F/0C. But clear and no black ice and very little frost to worry about. And I got to see the rarest of sights (for me), the setting full moon over the West Hills!
The ride was uneventful and mostly quiet. I got to Gresham at 8am for breakfast. Tomas was running late, as the bottom bracket on his mountain bike self-destructed in the last couple miles. But rather than scrub the trip, Tomas got his sweetie Audrey to deliver his other bike via Zipcar. Whatta gal! After b-fast, (9:30am) we rode over to the Cleveland Ave MAX station to meet the other riders. We had eleven (including Tomas and us): Amy, Andy, Tomas, Tim, Erinne, Kirk, Russ, Laura, and Bill. Andy, Erinne, and Kirk would only be riding with us part of the way, so eight for camping!
The ride was pretty good. The biggest issue was the stiff easterly wind. While it was sunny and warm (high 63F/17C), the east wind was blowing at 15-25mph, creating a good headwind for much of the way. It felt like we'd almost get blown off of Crown Point! (The next day heading back, this would translate into a strong tailwind.) And because it was such a nice weekend, the first real nice one of spring, the Historic Columbia River Highway was crawling with people--and drivers. Thankfully there wasn't much conflict, but there was more traffic to deal with than I wanted to.
We hit up the usual spots on the way to Ainsworth State Park, where we would camp: Women's Forum, Crown Point/Vista House, Latourell Falls, Wahkeena Falls, Oneonta Gorge/Tunnel, Horsetail Falls, and of course Multnomah Falls which had hundreds of tourists. Due to the busy nature of the stops, we spent less time than we would normally do, and made it to Ainsworth around three pm. We found two empty sites in the walk-in spots, but one couple was leaving their spot so we also took that spot. (My philosophy is that we should take up as much space as we could in order to make sure that the other spot didn't get filled by douchebags. If some other bicyclists showed up we would have let them camp with us or given up one of the spots.)
We made food and hung out by the fire until past dark, talking and listening to the drunken young hipsters cover some questionable songs in the adjoining site. (Seriously dudes, I know that covering "What's Going On" by 4 Non Blondes is ironic and all that, but I've heard that song enough for one lifetime, thankyouverymuch.) A few hours after we got there Todd Boulanger from Vancouver rolled on in and he joined us. It got cool overnight but not that cold, great sleeping weather.
I awoke around 8:30am on Sunday morning (April 8). Another nice day, with a high of 68F/20C. Everyone else was up and almost ready to go, so they took off in advance of us, while Todd and I had a leisurely breakfast and rolled out of Ainsworth around 11am. After a quick stop at Multnomah Falls (less crowded than yesterday), we opted to take the faster, more direct route back to Troutdale (easternmost city in Metro Portland along the Columbia): I-84. Yep, a freeway. While it's never exciting to ride on a freeway, the twelve foot shoulder, flatness, and strong tailwind made the ten miles of freeway riding go by fast. I was keeping a speed of 18-22 mph (30-35 km/hr), which for me is a pretty big deal. The only glitch in the plan was Todd got ahead of me and forgot to get off at the exit we agreed on, so I had to track down a payphone (my cell was dead) to get in touch with him.
The final twelve miles home was solo and uneventful. I stopped at a city park in Wood Village where a ladybug decided to hitch a ride on my Carradice bag. I got home around 3:30pm, wiped out. The distance each day was about 32 miles and I wasn't that loaded with stuff, but I'm a bit out of shape when it comes to this long-distance riding. I need to go on more rides. And more camping excursions. Now if this nice weather will stick around...