September was a blur of activity. My daily mileage was good but something was different. My school schedule has changed drastically. Now school starts a full hour later than it did last year and the subsequent 20 years of my career. I used to leave the house at 6am but now it’s 7ish. There’s traffic like I’ve never seen in all the years I’ve commuted to school by bike. Now there are four cars at the four way stop and there are trucks and motorcycles everywhere. Deliveries are being made and FedX or UPS trucks are everywhere, or that’s how it feels. The road is not my own every morning. I’ve tried four different routes to determine which one has the least amount of traffic. But where cars are few, school buses are in my lane. Yes, school buses in the bike lanes! I figure by the time I get to the end of October I won’t be as outraged by it all. Maybe by then I will have it figured out. I really should live in Copenhagen or Amsterdam.
The last day of the month and I wanted to go out for a moutain bike ride and catch some falling leaves. The air was heavy with fog and some drizzle but then it cleared up and I was shedding some layers. Another month of riding full speed ahead. Because despite the schedule changes and traffic, my bike rides are my zen. Plain and simple, it’s my bliss.
Get out there and ride! You’ll love it, but be safe!
In the words of Anne Morrow Lindbergh, “The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach — waiting for a gift from the sea.” I think you can say the same thing about a bike ride. A day of riding a bike to the beach is its own gift. I wanted to ride to Mission Beach and as I started to plan the ride with the help of my cousin last week we noticed that we’d have to be on a road that didn’t seem bike friendly. Google Maps gave us three routes and all of them included Friars Road.
Not to be deterred, we decided we’d park at De Anza Cove and ride over to Fiesta Island. As we were loading the bikes my cousin’s neighbor came over to talk. He mentioned the Mission Bay Bike Trail. After Googling it we decided to stick with our plan of parking at De Anza Cove and follow the signs for the path. An adventure!
Wikipedia says, “In the San Diego area, the Mission Bay bike path is an easy, 3 mile one-way to 19 mile loop path along the shore of beautiful Mission Bay. Location: Mission Bay, near SeaWorld. Distance: Between 3 and 19 miles depending on the routes taken.”
I’m in! Dan was excited to put some miles on his new bike. I wanted to ride to Mission Beach. The plan was to eat lunch at Rocky’s Crown Pub. That was the only plan.
We took off. Lots of sharrows on East Mission Bay Drive. We started out early and the traffic was light. You can hear cars coming up behind you and there’s plenty of room for bikes even if some of it is parking spaces. The skies were overcast and perfect for a day of riding.
There’s a slight curve in the road as Fiesta Island Road takes you on an extension of the path and it opens up to showcase sandy sights and a warm breeze. Definitely a nice side trip. I had to stop and see the horses.
As you can see, I’m very happy with Fiesta Island. We parked our bikes and walked up a mound of sand to see a huge field of well, more sand.
This is an area where the Over-The-Line game is played. Over-the-line is a bat-and-ball sport game related to baseball and softball. News to me, but later in the day…
at Rocky’s Crown Pub I saw this photo on the wall (Danny pointed it out). Looks like a quite an event. The path turns into Pacific Highway which sounds scary, but it isn’t. There’s a traffic light and you need to stay in the lane and it becomes Ocean Beach Bike Path.
You’re parallel to the freeway and there’s was a strong headwind, but overall I was all smiles. What an amazing path! Good job, San Diego!
The path goes on and ontoward the Sunset Cliffs but we were focused on our mission. I’ll have to explore the rest next time.
The signs to Mission Beach. Everything is well marked and overall the path was clean and easy to ride. All the hairy details on the Google map we looked at were solved by this brilliant bike path and some city planners some years ago. Again, nice job!
A myriad of bridges and curves make the path interesting. Every turn is another photo opportunity. As you look left to right, each view just as exquisite as the last. I’m sure there are times during the week when it is busier, but there weren’t many people out on Wednesday morning, and it felt like a private tour.
I saw a pelican flying overhead and wanted to get a picture but knew I’d be too late. Sometimes you have to be in the moment and soak it in.
Happy to share the path with skateboards, roller blade and anyone else. It does help to have a bell to remind peds you are on the left.
My Strava map shows the route. The bike is in front of the Caravan Hotel. Perhaps the only spot on the whole path that was busy.
Sandy public beaches and people enjoying the day. The 12.7 mile ride was better than I expected. After lunch at Rocky’s Crown Pub, we decided to finish the route we started and ride it again. Since we stopped here and there for pictures the first time around, we thought a second time minus Fiesta would be the perfect way to end the day.
We were right. When something works out even better than you anticipated, there’s a sort of gleeful happiness that emanates from the knowledge that somehow the universe took care of you and all is well. It was a bike adventure extraordinaire! If you are ever in San Diego I strongly recommend this bike path.
In the waning days of summer, I know I will look at this photo and the two signs, Endless Summer Straight Ahead and know that the Mission Beach route was accomplished. (Cue Mission Impossible theme.)
Thanks for reading and following my blog. I appreciate it. What are some of your favorite routes? Post in the comments below.
Have you ever helped someone buy a bike? Even though the cyling math rule says the number of bikes a person should own is three, the rule says, (N+1) because you can always use another bike. I’d love to buy a bike whenever the whim strikes or something catches my eye. It’s fun to shop and see what’s new in bikes. When I buy or help someone on the road to buying a bike I have a few things in mind.
Purpose: Consider what you want to do first and foremost with your new bike. Is this a bike that you will use to train for an event such as a triathlon? Or is it for some other purpose? Thinking of saving the planet from the harmful effects of CO2? Do you plan to ride year round? Be honest with yourself about what you want. Half of my garage is devoted to my bikes and gear. When I was a kid, that was my dream. Actually, it was the whole garage! All the bikes in my small fleet get used for different tasks. Plus, they represent an evolution in my biking life. I have sold two bikes in my life and I wish I hadn’t. I’m glad they went to good homes, but I don’t like parting with my bikes, so I’d prefer not to sell.
The Browse-About. It’s not a official term, but it’s browsing around and seeing what catches your eye. Along with that there’s the test ride. Start looking and test riding. It doesn’t cost anything to look, except time. Be realistic about your timeline. I think most will agree that if you’re in training for an event you should train with and on the bike you will use for the event. But I’m not an expert on event training. If you’re looking with the intent of buying in a few months then let the person assisting you at the store know you’re looking and hope to purchase in the next six months. Do your homework and visit multiple bike stores. Even if you have favorites, visit others and get a feel for their expertise. Introduce yourself and tell them about what you need.
If the thought of going into a bike shop is overwhelming, then find a bikey friend and tell them what you’re thinking. Don’t buy until you’ve tried out the bike. There’s no rule about how many times you test ride, just ride. I’d even suggest you test ride at least three bikes. You might have your heart set on one in particular, but still if I were your friend, I’d insist on trying a few others which are comparable to the one you’re considering buying. Know your budget. Talk about what you can get for $500, $800 and up. Disc brake will cost more than pads, but they are worth it! That doesn’t mean you have to have disc, brakes, but you should ask to try one with pads and one with disc just to feel the difference. If there’s some wiggle room then ask the bike sales person to show you something in a range of $whatever to $thelimit with similar components.
There might be someone in your life who says they’ll go to Wal-Mart or Target and get a bike. Reconsider that relationship. Just kidding! If you’re in that situation, counsel the buyer to have a bike mechanic put it together. It might cost $50 to have someone else do it, but at least it will be done right. Another option is to go with them and ask what they like about the bike they’re looking at. See if you can get them to elaborate on what exactly is drawing them to that bike. It could be about the color or the basket or something else. I’m not trying to be a bike snob about it, but there are countless reasons NOT to buy from the bike box stores.
When you decide to buy a new bike consider the other gear you might need. Locks, water bottles, kickstand (don’t let anyone shame you out of a kickstand) helmet, tire pump, extra tube, bike bell and other items since you will likely get a discount at that time. If you are an avid rider you probably know that you should get a new helmet every 4-5 years.
The test ride is very important. Wear clothes you would most likely wear for a bike ride. Put on that racing kit (road bike) or wear your shorts and Birkenstocks (cruiser or commuter) and see how it all feels. Remember that you can always upgrade your saddle so if you sit on the bike and decide right away you despise the ride, tell them what you don’t like. “This saddle feels like a plank of wood on my ass.” Use your words and explain what isn’t working for you so they can help tailor your needs. If possible, test ride the bike on a path that has some ups and downs. When you ride the new bike candidate you should get a feel for how the bike will perform in different situations. If that’s not an option because you live someplace flat and that’s not a priority for you then it’s not an issue.
Ask the good folks at your bike shop about getting a bike fitting. It will cost between $65 and $150. I strongly recommend it. A bike fitting isn’t always necessary, but I think if you are small or tall or maybe if you have issues with your shoulders or knees, a fitting can help dial in exactly what you need.
Last week I went to San Diego to visit family and one of the family wanted to buy a bike. I consulted with my cousin on buying his new bike. He has been biking with Zwift over the last year and he was interested in a bike that would do more and feel better. About a month ago he called me and we talked about what he was hoping to do. We talked about the purpose of the new bike.
It was great to be on the advice side of buying. I also enjoyed being present for someone else’s New Bike Day!
Danny bought the bike on Monday and we rode around each day of my visit. After four days of riding around together he went back to the bike store and Greg dialed in the ride a bit more with some fine adjustments made to saddle height and shifting. Bikes aren’t that different from any machine that needs attention. I take better care of my bikes than my one car, but often people think they don’t have to do anything except ride. You have to check tire pressure and look over your bike each time you ride.
Buying a bike is an investment in your health, wellness and well-being. If you love it, you’ll ride and find reasons to ride, so be sure you’re happy with every pedal stroke and every spoke. Plus, it’s good for the environment. Mother Earth will thank you. Another reminder. Ask the bike shop about their return policy. If by some chance you decide it isn’t the bike for you there might be a 30-day period when you can change your mind and choose something else. Talk about the details at your bike shop.
Now maybe you’re wondering how if I took my bike with me to San Diego. I didn’t. During Danny’s test rides I also took the bikes he was considering for a ride. We could compare notes and experiences. Also, I rented a bike for the time I was in town. Danny and I went out every day for a ride. I rode an FX1 and loved it. It’s a basic bare bones sort of bike. Nothing fancy and this bike is affordable. Riding it reminded me of my road bike except the FX felt more responsive and agile.
Yep, the rule is N+1. I was helping my cousin. That’s what family does. I learned that even when you’re not looking sometimes a bike finds you. I didn’t buy, but it was fun to look.
Thanks for reading. Now get out there and ride.
What suggestions do you have for buying a new bike? Leave them in the comments below. Thanks!
Every week through every season of the year, I set a goal of biking 75 miles. In the summer I usually go over a hundred miles, but in the winter I might miss a few days because of weather. The weekly mileage goal of 75 has proven to be just right for me. Over the last three weeks I have been traveling and a week ago I started my Strava 75 with 16 miles in Athens, Greece.
If you travel you know that jet lag can hit you when you least expect it and I wasn’t sure how this week would turn out. Super high July temps mean I have to get riding by 10AM at the latest or suffer the heat. My 75 was hard earned over the past several days. The great thing about booking a bicycle tour when you’re traveling is the memory of it. All week I’ve fired up that memory of biking the Athens coast in Kalithea on an actual bike path. A smile skims my face and I think, “Yeah, I did that and it was spectacular.”
Last summer when I was in Athens I found this company, WeBikeAthens, and I took one of their tours, Historic Athens Views. I thoroughly loved it and wished I had time for more. I also had every intention of posting about it. You know how it is. You get back from vacation and swept into the fray. Which is why I’m glad I got to visit Athens again. This company is top notch: great ride leaders, good pace, super detailed tour and fun. Zeus himself would enjoy a little saddle time with these folks. You know how picky he can be. I’m not the only one who thinks so. Others agree with my assessment. I booked two rides this time; After Sunset Highlights and Athens Coastline Sight-Seaing After Sunset deserves it’s own post. For this post, I want to share some Sight-Seaing.
I showed up a little early for my Monday morning ride. Athens was hot and humid and remember it’s hours before the tragic fire breaks out. It’s one of the hottest days of the summer. Thankfully they have a bucket of resources and a cat, Diego, managing the sign in.
No one else has booked this tour for Monday morning at 10AM, which means I have my very own private tour with Chrysoula. I’m overjoyed! She very nice and I feel like we’ve been friends forever even though we’ve just met.
We get our bikes. WeBikeAthens has e-bikes. I’m a big fan of e-bikes. Some people are really weird about the e-bike movement. That’s a whole other blog post. For the purposes of this post let’s just say that e-bikes in Athens are the only way to go. When it’s 5000 degrees outside and you don’t feel like doing anything other than sitting in the sea an e-bike gives you a decent workout without epic amounts of sweat. Instead of slogging it out in a 12 miles an hour pace, you can easily hit 15 and there’s some joy in the breeze cooling you off as you go. The bikes are pedal assist so if you don’t go, the bikes don’t go. Plus there are some delightfully steep hills and some E-juice gives you the assist right when you need it.
They have other bikes in their fleet of E bikes. The ones we rode are the Wisper Stealth. Chrysoula made sure the bike fit me the way I like. She lowered the seat and I rode up and down Apostolou Pavlou in front of the shop. There’s a park across the street and the Thiseio Metro stop close by. It takes about 30 seconds to figure out how the bike functions. We packed up our water and set off.
Let’s time travel a tiny bit. Back when I was 15, my family and I lived in Athens for about six months. We lived in a city near Athens called Kallithea. This is important since this tour is going to take me on a bike path in the area of Kallithea.
We take off and and within less than a mile we’re on a bike path. It’s an oasis in the midst of a city where cars are everywhere.
I’m thrilled. With all the traffic of Athens I’m biking on an actual path I didn’t even know existed. The only way anyone would know about this hidden gem would be because they found it while riding a bike.
You’ll notice that I’m not wearing a helmet. They are not mandatory in Athens. WeBikeAthens gives you the option of wearing a helmet.
I’m expecting that this path is going to end but it doesn’t. I’m so happy I consider stopping to do a little dance, but I don’t. I keep on pedaling away.
We do stop in front of this mural and Chrysoula wants to take my picture. She’s telling me about how she has some ideas or a ride that’s purely photography. Take people to spots that are great for photographs. I love this idea and she’s happy that I enjoy being in photographs. What you don’t see in the pic is the heat. The cicadas are loud enough to sound like a jet taking off and smart people are inside enjoying shade or air conditioning or cold water.
Follow the red brick road and you’ll see a path construction changes slightly here and there, but it’s a path that goes on for about 8 miles and it takes us to the sea. Later I went to Map My Ride and found additional routes. Although some of the routes date back to 2012 I can’t find any detailed information about how Kallithea became the place where someone thought, “Let’s build a multiuse path here.” It’s brilliant and I’m thankful for it.
Chrysoula stops here and notice how the path and crosswalk line up. She’ll watch the traffic while I pass. Very sweet of her. The traffic isn’t heavy but she’s protective and cautious and that’s what you want in a tour leader.
Just like home when you see cars in your lane.
The red works well even if it is a bit faded.
The staples at the top of the photo which prevents cars from making a U-turn. I feel safe on this path. I start thinking about getting a job in Athens. Just kidding, but when there’s a pretty awesome stretch of bike-pedestrian path, you start thinking about changing your life.
We’re pedaling and talking and I’m as carefree as a puppy and then we turn into a site that has me gobsmacked. First I see a bike share type of rack and I think that the gods of Olympus have intervened on my behalf.
Chrysoula tells me that these bikes are for the SNFCC.
Stop. Red light! SNFCC sounds familiar.
I saw it on a sign at the National Library of Greece which was closed and being relocated. I was there the day before and I saw this sign.
The wheels are turning both on my bike and in my mind. I haven’t put it all together until we come back. Chrysoula asks me if I want to stop at the SNFCC first or on the way back. I opted to keep on riding and check out this cultural campus at the end.
We ride and ride a then start I start spotting the masts of sailboats and we’re at the area with lots of beaches on the Saronic Gulf. This is the Palaio Faliro.
We rode around and talked about what we’d name a boat. Remember the name of the tour is Sight-Seaing in Athens. I love the play on words. They get extra points for the pun.
At this point I can’t imagine being any happier. We’ve been having the best time and then we go up a sidewalk ramp and turn a few places and down and up and straight ahead and then… this!
If only you could smell the salt air and feel the fresh breeze. You could be a dolphin and arc up over the waves. It’s as exhilerating as a roller coaster but my feet are flat on the ground. We stop and soak it in.
Waves lap on to the pavement and you can’t imagine a more perfect moment. The blue bliss goes on as far as the eye can see.
The only thing that could make a moment more perfect would be a café freddo. You can fill in the blank with your chosen beverage, but coffee is the Greek way. Ouzo later. We stop at a restaurant on the beach of course.
Chrysoula and I have a great chat about our respective countries and their issues. “Is life getting any better for the Greeks?” I ask. When I was her age I was already in my career. I was employed in the field of my study and I had been for almost five years. Chrysoula’s degree is in Art Therapy and like many of the Greeks her age she may not be able to pay the rent. She has to work very hard at more than a few jobs to pull it all together. She said that it’s a little better, but she can’t sit back and relax. She was working with refugees and still does but she wanted a happy job for the summer. She loves working at WeBikeAthens and she’s suited to meeting and interacting with people. I’m lucky our paths crossed.
After a nice rest we start to make our way back to the office. However, remember those letters? SNFCC? We make our way back and I learn about the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center. When I’m not riding my bike and writing about it, I’m a teacher-librarian at a middle school. I wanted to see the National Library because that’s what I do. The day before I had given up all hope of seeing it because with limited wifi I couldn’t find where it was being moved to and when it would be open to the public. Once again, a bike ride solved my dilemma. The SNFCC is home to the National Library and the National Opera. Case closed. There’s more to know about the SNFCC than I can write about in this post. Follow the link and learn about its design and construction and if you’re ever in Athens, you must visit it. Also the bikes are for using on the campus. There’s a park and it’s a great area to bring the family and enjoy a day at the cultural center. There are bikes at both ends of the campus.
As I was getting into the elevator I decided to video the experience. No picture can do it justice. You can’t help but think of it as a sort of modern Acropolis.
Chrysoula stood guard at the bikes while I explored. It was very nice of her to do that because it was about 7000 degress outside and I was cooling off inside.
My first impressions of the place are hard to communicate since I spend most of the time mumbling WOW and staring in wonder at everything. It’s incredible. The library is beyond anything I’ve ever imagined. I mean I have imagined something like that but the reality added another floor and some fantastic furniture. I’m in love. I didn’t want to leave but I was afraid my lovely guide is melting. I headed back down and we took off. Word that day was that it was so hot the Acropolis closed at 2PM. Also the sky was getting very hazy and there was talk of a wildfire.
On the way back our path is blocked by a taxi. Chrysoula tells the driver to move. I love her!
The driver is rolling a cigarette but finally moves out of our path.
We’re happy for any and all shade on the way back.
Diego is there to greet us.
I had such a great ride last Monday that all Monday rides from now on will pale by comparison. The memory of this ride is something I will play over and over when I get back into my commuting back and forth routine. It’s a memory I will nurture during the winter months when I’m trying to think warm thoughts in the hope that my nose won’t freeze or my gloved hands go numb.
Taking a city tour by bike is often a gamble. You may not get with a group or leader that you like. You may not like the bike or feel like the route isn’t for you. But you also don’t know if you don’t try. This is the third ride I’ve taken with WeBikeAthens and I’d take another and another if I could. The cost is 45€ or about $53. That’s a great value. I had the best time and if you enjoy biking then this is a great option for you. Everytime I travel, especially overseas, I look for bike rides. After all, 16 of my 75 miles last week were in Athens.
I hope you’re having a great summer. Take water, apply sunscreen and get out there and ride.
Billy Joel didn’t write this song. I did. The lyrics are in my mind and I have thought about last summer in Greece with about the same frequecy as my bike commute, which is daily. I think about Santorini and it calms me like the humming of a singing bowl. I thought about it last fall as the leaves were changing colors and the air was growing brisk. I ruminated about it when the snow was falling in the winter and in the spring when it sounded like someone dumped a bucket of marbles on the roof as hail clattered and the skies thundered. Memories of my Santorini bike ride got me through.
The whole adventure was both last minute and planned. How is that possible? I would travel to Greece and if I could get a bike ride or two, that would be a bonus. Trip planned, but sometimes you need to be there to figure out the rest. I had no idea if I could pull off a bike ride on the island but I was going to try. I was sitting in the lobby of the hotel and I mentioned the idea to the host. He was not impressed. He was concerned it would be too dangerous. I remember saying, “Okay, sure, but… do you know anyone?” He said he would check. I had the impression that he was not going to check but wait for me to forget about it.
Lo’ and behold there was a travel magazine on the table in the lobby and I was thumbing through it and saw an ad for Santorini MTB Adventures. I wrote down the number and the email. I sent an email first, in which, I described my bike experience and how much I wanted to make this happen. Shortly after I clicked SEND my phone rang and it was a woman who wanted to confirm that there was a opening the next morning. Could I be ready at 9AM? There was jubilation and dancing and I was beaming the rest of the day as like a child on Christmas Eve. I couldn’t go to sleep.
I packed bike shorts and a top because that’s what I do for most trips. You have to get in gear when a bike opportunity rings the bell. The next morning I was waiting at the door at 8:30 for the 9AM pick up as anxious as if this was a first date. Soon I would rendezvous with a bike on a beach and I would see the island from the saddle of an electric mountain bike. Ride on.
Vassili and Katarina were our guides. It was me and a young couple.
The adventure started at Perissa Beach. I don’t remember much about the beach at the beginning of the trip because all I wanted to do was hike my leg over this bike and get going.
Perissa Beach is in the backgroud. Gorgeous, but at the start of the ride and when I shot this pic, I didn’t even notice the beach. Bikes on the brain!
The e-bikes c have 9 speeds and 4 modes: Eco, sport, tour and turbo. Disc brakes. I have an e-bike that has pedal assist. Same idea but there’s a little more boost in these models. They are a modern day mule and easy to use. Vassili was lead and I followed behind him. I could feel all the commuting miles pay off as we biked up and down and around. The couple followed behind me and Katarina brought up the back.
We puttered around the parking lot for about 10 minutes getting used to how the bikes handled and then we were off. Vassili would take pics here and there and we would also have moments when we stopped to snap a few pics but he strongly advised us to keep both hands on the handlebars and not take pics while we were riding. Okay, who told on me! But it’s true, the terrain is varied and rocky. I knew immediately I should behave myself. I only took pictures when we stopped.
Santorini is full of those hills that don’t look like much, but suddenly your in the middle of a climb that was so gradual you can almost hear the ground giggling at your attempt to summit without downshifting.
See how it is. Seems easy enough and then right at the top of the picture it gets steep enough to make you wish for an escalator.
At each turn there’s a reward of something that you’d miss if you weren’t on a bike.
Then the narrow alleyway opens up to something else that takes your breath away.
Our first stop was for a bit of refreshment at a café.
There were infinite nooks and crannies that demanded attention. We parked our bikes and went exploring.
The next stop was Gavalas Winery. We parked our bikes and settled in for a treat which included wine tasting.
My favorite part was when the guide at the winery, another Vassili said,
“Fermentation needs patience. While drinking needs company.” Also they wanted a wine that was “Red to your eye, Rosé in the mouthand white in the after taste.” I enjoyed all four wines we sampled.
My only significant regret was that I didn’t buy some wine or have some shipped. If you like wine, you should check out this winery. I thought I could probably find it somewhere in the Northwest, but I was wrong.
Vassili the bike guide brought us these amazing “energy” bars.
Everything does taste better on vacation!
Then we’re on our way again to see more sights.
Bring on the oxygen because the views from this spot are spectacular. I was overcome with emotion at truly awesome sights.
Super steep getting down to a church, but worth it. This is an excursion that welcomes all levels, but keep in mind, there’s sand and gravel and significant climbing in and out of areas like this. Bikes stayed up top and we walked down to the church.
You can ring the bells!
View from just outside the church doors.
Selfie time. The ride was about 15 miles total. I saw sights that I wouldn’t have seen any other way.
Perissa Beach is where we started. By the time you get back to the lounge chairs you are ready for a dip in the water and a cold beverage of your choice.
Would I recommend Santorini MTB Adventures? Without hesitation I would recommend them! I loved every second of the bike ride. I was sad it came to an end. This would hold me over for a few days. I would be heading back to Athens after Santorini and yes, I found bikes there too. More in another post about biking in Athens.
Santorini is in the Cyclades islands in the Aegean Sea. Way back in the16th century BC it was devastated by a volcanic eruption, forever shaping its rugged landscape. Jules Verne wrote about it in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea in 1870. There’s some perspective for you. Since this trip many details of life have garnered my attention. Sometimes we get lost in the minutiae of the day. But in the quiet or even busy moments between the storms I have been able to get myself back to a Santorini state of mind. A few hours that transformed me and my perspective on life. We all need places like that. I can get myself there with each and every pedal stroke on any day, rain or shine. I hope you have a place like that too.
Thanks for reading. Now, get up and get out there and ride your bike!
P.S. I am heading back to Santorini this summer. More MTB adventures await, I hope.
No cars or bikes were stolen to make this post possible. Joyride is a women’s “ride to unwind” that is organized by Cycle Oregon. Usually when I see anything from Cycle Oregon I assume it’s about the 7-day awesome ride in September that I can’t attend and I get sad and wish I had a different career outside of education, but last weekend I saw an ad on social media and I followed the trail to see that this ride was completely doable. Saturday, June 9th. I’m in. I registered and then I decided to head to Dayton, Oregon on Friday and I found a link to a go back in time. Doesn’t your Internet do that? Following another trail I saw a link for a place called Vinages Trailer Resort.
I was impatient for Friday. More than usual. I took a half-day personal leave. My husband got the car tanked up and he even cleaned the windows. We took off. Dayton is about an hour and a half away. We were on the road early enough to beat the traffic, or so we thought. I was glad to put the week behind me. I wanted a little adventure and this ride would be just what I needed.
We pulled into the Vintages lot and I was smitten with the place instantly. Admittedly I do have a fascination with trailers. I don’t come from camper people.
I’m not sure what I expected, but I’m thrilled with our trailer. We took our dog Max and apparently the other trailer I had reserved, The Ideal, was not ideal for pet people, so we were switched to the Shasta.
It was brilliant that we arrived earlier enough to settle in, order pizza and relax. The place is surprisingly quiet and serene. Even the heavy rain couldn’t dampen my excitement over this find. I was getting a tiny bit worried about the the rain stealing some joy from my Saturday ride, but what can you do? I had brought rain gear just in case.
A walk around the resort led to some bike envy. It was a feast from the past and even the bikes fit the theme.
All campers have a barbecue and bikes to ride around the site. There’s a general store with wine glasses, food and souvenirs.
We had all the amenities including wifi and Netflix.
By the time the twinkle lights came on in the resort I was thinking of skipping the bike ride and just hanging out in the camper.
But who am I kidding. We slept well. Even Max who gets up a few times at night slept until 6:30. None of us sleep in that late most days.
Joyride had various staggered times so I figured we’d get there and I’d pick up my packet. But first, coffee.
Then we loaded up the car and took off for the winery.
Dayton, Oregon is wine country and Joyride starts and ends at the Stoller Wine Estate. The flags! I’m excited to be participating in my first ever Cycle Oregon event.
We’re following the car in front of us trying to see where we should park.
There’s a tree that blew down in the storm last night. Yeah… a big tree.
Guess that’s not registration.
The start line. What I love about a women’s only event is that there was a sort of constant chorus of “This isn’t a race. This isn’t a race.” There are three routes; short, medium and long.
I took off. I was thinking of the medium route which was 39 miles. Easy, peasy! I had a great pace and felt pretty good. I was riding my Trek Portland which my friends at Bike Gallery got spruced up. There were many compliments about my snazzy fenders. Most of my bikes are footloose and I don’t clip in. I seldom ride the road bike. I had a ride the week before and decided I wouldn’t take the Portland, but at the last minute I felt I should go with the road bike for a longer ride. I am not clipping in on the right side. I’m agitated by this and decide that at the next rest stop I’ll have someone help me with my cleats.
About 8.9 miles there’s a rest stop that is glorious. First off the food is amazing. Fresh fruit and chocolate covered hazelnuts and granola and live music. It’s spectacular. Women are talking and there’s a different vibe to the whole affair. It’s relaxed and mellow and “Are you here with a group of friends” or “You can join us if you want.” Also, “I love that jersey. Is that Primal? Where did you find that?” In a word it’s joyous.
Hummus, cream cheese, Nutella and almond butter on bagels and bread. I love that then men are there serving the women.
Lovely presentation of everything!
I left after about 20 minutes of resting.
Heading back to the route I was feeling amazing. What a great day! I was excited about the 30 or so miles ahead. I was thinking about the other rest stops and what culinary treats would await.
As I got on the road there were some sprinkles or rain starting. Okay, sure, some drizzle. I started out with two rain jackets and it had proven to be too much. I shed one and then put it back on as I neared the road. It’s Oregon. It’s June. It’ll pass. I rode for about 4 miles. I took the medium and long route.
Then this happened.
There was a gust of wind that nearly took me down. I saw the group ahead of me get off the busy road and hide under a tree. I wanted to ride up to the tree but I also wanted to see my next birthday, so I pulled over into a field. I grabbed my phone and got a the video because it’s not that common to see white caps without being on the ocean. I put my back to the worst of the hail and then just waited to see what would happen. Would this pass? I saw the property owner get on his tractor and come down the hill. I thought he was going to yell at me to get off his property. I thought he was coming down to close his gate. Instead he yells out at me, “You can stay here as long as you want.” I could barely hear him over the din of the pelting hail. “What did you say?” I yelled. Again, “You can stay here as long as you want.” Then he waved and rode his tractor back up to his house.
After about 15 minutes some women came by and they asked if I wanted to join them. They weren’t sure if they were going to stick with the medium route but they thought they’d go for a few more miles and decide. We were surrounded by the black clouds and I still have school for another 13 days, and I don’t want to catch a cold. I was conflicted about what to do until I saw a truck speed by and decided I should head back to the short route. I made it about four miles before another drencher hit. I found a tree along with another group of five women. After about 15 more minutes and no blue sky in sight I texted my husband that I was doing the short route and I’d be back at the winery within the hour.
It ended up being a 20 mile day, but still eventful. I was kind of kicking myself about it but after we got home there was another hail storm and more rain.
I had a glass of Pinot and enjoyed the 20 miles.
Until next year. Most rides are joyous and wonderful. I had a great day despite the rain and I can’t wait for Joyride 2019.
If the month of April was on a bike then it raced past me like a peloton in a sprint for the finish in the Tour. April is usually one of the wettest months in the Great Northwest. We were set to take the record again, then last week happened. Four days of summer temps that were enough to tease me into thinking July was around the corner. That said, April’s true essence came through in the last few days so I’m back in the ol’ rain gear again.
As May is waiting in the wings for its cue I hope for warmer days ahead. You know that saying about how everyone complains about the weather but no one does anything about it.
Last Monday was one of the most amazing April days. Plus it was my birthday and somehow the sun was the perfect present. There’s a newish walking path about 30 minutes from where I live. I discovered it by car two weeks ago but I didn’t know how to get access to it. You know when you’re driving and you see a mini road that parallels a highway and you wonder, “How could I bike that?” I was curious about it and my husband suggested that for my birthday we check it out.
He drove and I was nervous because maybe there really wasn’t anything there except a missed opportunity. At the Port of Kalama there is a trail, a new restaurant and lodge. The marina is in good shape and there’s a new walkway that I biked to get over to the railway area. There was a train blocking the road and you can’t count on access from Henrickson Road, but it was a stunning day and even though I went back a forth enough for 5 miles it felt different each time. The path has a majestic view of the Columbia River and log rafts.
It was more than I expected and enough to get me thinking about how I could bike to the site and back home. There must be some back roads. Even if I drive there a few times and explore it would be worth it. I felt like I discovered something with potential for more riding. There’s even an area along the Kalama River that seems great for mountain biking. I didn’t have much time but I was impressed with everything I saw and I’m hungry for more.
Not everyday you see a fully operational logging company. While I was considering whether my bike could go over logs I was also feeling the watchful eyes of history on my adventure. I was at the confluence of transportation with rain, river and highway coming together in this hamlet. In 1870, the Irish and Chinese arrived to work on the railroad. Fishing and logging settled in Kalama also.
The tallest totem pole in the Pacific Northwest is right there stretching up to the sky. Plenty of people were out and about on a enjoying the features of the park. Admittedly I was surprised to see the baby blue sky and anything beyond that had me agog.
Spring isn’t always the best, reliable weather but it reminds us that opportunities are about to unfold in both life and biking.