May 5 2012 Ride: Barely Buttercuppin’

Well, how ironic. First I complain for months about how few times I get to ride my bike, and now I’ve ridden twice in a week and a half and haven’t got the time to blog about it. It’s like rain… on your wedding day… a free ride… when you’ve already paid…

Except those things aren’t ironic.

Anyway. Last weekend, the weather was reasonably within the perimeters of “decent,” so I headed down to the Soos Creek trail to see how things were shaking. Spring has definitely arrived in full force, and that trail is so pretty that I literally refuse to ride it until the grass is riz, because I don’t want to have any memories of it being all brown and blackberry-covered like the rest of the Pacific Northwest all winter.

It is one of my theories about life-long happiness that one should avoid making crappy memories whenever possible. I will not, for instance, watch nature shows where baby animals are eaten. I realize nature is “red in tooth and claw,” but there’s limited space in my brain, and I figure that I don’t need any more of it taken up by dying baby penguins or antelopes, or whatever. It’s not that I favor denial. I favor grimly-determined, forced pleasantry!

Which is why I’m absolutely insistent that skunk cabbages smell great. They should, so they DO. Riding past these leafy monsters, I wondered if they were edible. When I wonder these things, I turn to one of my soon-to-be-former students, who is the sort of person who knows the answers to questions like “can I eat that?” She informed me that they are not, unfortunately, all that edible, but that the Indians used them like saran wrap to store their perishable foods while travelling. The large size and texture of the leaves made them well-suited for this. Considering I would have to wade into a swamp to get a leaf to test this theory, I refrained. Also, I don’t have any¬†pemmican.

The clouds were beautiful, the light was dramatic. One moment (like above), everything would be in slight shadow, and then…

It was as if the sun was drifting slowly across the fields, rather than the clouds. As I rode, I pondered my latest obsession: a folding bike to take on my travels.

I keep thinking I’d really like a Raleigh Twenty. Supposedly, these little beauties ride much like my Sports, and in my head, would be delightfully portable.

Unfortunately, I suspect this really is all in my head. I hear they weigh a ton and don’t fold up all that small. So my fantasy about owning an entire fleet of Raleigh Twenties for world travel is probably just that… a fantasy.

 

I even logged onto Bike Forums for the first time in about six months to see what they thought of the Twenty, and had my bubble burst again. I was hoping someone had traveled with one, but nope. Instead, they pointed me to Bike Fridays, which are manufactured here in the Pacific Northwest. They are beautifully foldable and portable and practical. And they are about $2000. So uh… maybe later.

Perhaps I can write one off on my taxes as a business expense…

I love the sunshine hitting this person’s elaborate-lined driveway. I would love to live there, despite the massive buzzing power lines nearby. Sigh. We all have to die of something, right?

My son has been obsessed with the Titanic and I was struck the other day by the famous shot of a little boy playing with a top on the deck of the ship. He is my son’s age in the photo. He and his whole family survived the sinking, but he was killed when he was hit by a car two years later. How strange, to survive one of the greatest accidents in modern history, only to be killed by one of the most mundane. Though I suppose auto accidents weren’t as mundane in 1914. Anyway, it reminded me that life doesn’t generally favor the obvious.

The Raleigh and I were delighted to be on the trail again, and no amount of musings on life and the nature of death could shake the sense that we were living well in the moment.

The wild flowers were out in force. Some places have dramatic, showy wildflowers. The ones around here are more subtle, but no less beautiful for that. I kept having to stop and investigate small pockets of wild bleeding hearts, forget-me-nots and of course…

The occasional buttercup. We hadn’t reached full buttercup exuberance yet (that’s for this weekend… more on that later), but they were beginning to poke their sunny heads up in the swampier areas.

When I snapped a picture of a small pond, someone flapped into view. I have never been photo-bombed by a heron! Forgive the grainy nature of the photo: this is at nearly 100% resolution, which is never the sharpest way to display one’s photos. But he was so lovely, swooping in. Then he settled down to blending in with the reeds:

Moments like this, I think: I need a sharp zoom lens. Then I realize that unless I toted the camera around with the zoom lens on it, having interchangeable lenses really doesn’t do one any good for surprise heron swoopings.

I finished out with a huff-and-puff up The Hill at the Edge of the World, and a triumphal photo, which the occasion always warrants.

The Raleigh had a good wipe-down before this ride, so it’s looking especially pretty. I’m looking forward to the coming months, when I’ll be able to ride way more often. Not sure I’ll have time to always blog about it, but the point is just to ride, I think.

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15 Responses to May 5 2012 Ride: Barely Buttercuppin’

  1. CJ says:

    I have a Peugeot NS-22 which is somewhat similar to the Twenty, and it’s true that it’s not really that small and portable, and it is surprisingly heavy, and it has steel wheels in a weird size and… it’s a fun little bike to putter around with. I ride it when I’m with my nephews because it’s great for lots of stops to explore things along the trail. I am thinking about travelling with it this summer – by car. I wouldn’t want to wrestle it on a train or plane in its folded state. I will probably be in Washington in August for a wedding. If you aren’t abroad, perhaps we could arrange a chance for you to try it out. It might just settle the issue of whether a Twenty would be practical…or make you more determined that you need a vintage folding bike for yourself :)

  2. rideblog says:

    I would love that, CJ! I’m around before the 7th, and after the 18th. Let me know if you’re in town. I’ll be in Denmark/Sweden during the middle part.

    There’s one of those on CL right now. I’m studiously ignoring it, because it’s $250. But it’s adorable.

  3. Neil Warner says:

    The 20 is really not an option it’s a shopper as opposed to a real folder. An example of how we Brits let our manufacturing go to hell in a poorly made handcart in the ’70s. You know deep down you want a Brompton. They fold up properly small and the folks at the Path Less Pedalled and Lovely Bicycle have both toured with them, if at opposite ends of the extremes.

  4. DisabledCyclist says:

    As always,my friend,gorgeous pics and spirit moving words. That is indeed a beautiful place to ride-wish it were a bit closer to here (or here closer to there :P) so I could sample it with Jamie and Nick (ALmost about halfway to nearly having the Wife to be set to learn to ride soon,too :D).

    My opinion is that the Twenty’s will be as you think,chunky and not light when folded. For me,that isn’t the appeal anyways…the cool factor is what gets me,they’re just COOL,LOL!

    I’ve been riding my Citizen (Miami) a bit these last few days…I needn’t fold it except when I tuck it back into it’s nook in the shed,but it rides comfortably. Shipped it was under $250…it has a distinctively hotrod-antique flavor in the colors I chose,but I’m sure it folds smaller and should be 1-3lbs lighter than a Twenty if you just couldn’t find a decent example in budget…and no,they aren’t paying me any kind of restitution to endorse them,LOL,I just like mine :P

    Glad to see you getting to ride,my friend,and have a safe and enjoyable trip coming :D

    The DC

  5. rideblog says:

    Hi Neil. I’m not fond of the Brompton, for reasons I can’t explain. I just don’t like the looks. But the Bike Fridays…

  6. rideblog says:

    Interesting, DC. So you like the Citizen? Tell me more about it. They are distinctly cheap :).

  7. adventurepdx says:

    I love it! You had a beautiful ride, but managed to interject folding bikes into the discussion, so people glom on that (rather than the fact you made an Alanis Morrisette reference.) ;-)

    Anyhoo, of course I have to add my “opinions” to the mix:
    Ze Twenty: Yeah, not really that foldable/portable. I’ve ridden my roomie’s one, and in my limited experience it does not ride the same as a Sports. Front end pretty twitchy.
    Brompton: Yes you said you don’t like them due to aesthetics but I think they are cute. They are better in the folding/transporting dept. than the Bike Fridays but maybe not as good as a ride as the BF.
    Bike Friday: Take what I just said about Brompton and reverse it. I don’t think they look that nice, (that font!) but that’s just me.

    It’s also worth considering Dahon and Tern, too. I’m interested in DCs Citizen as well.

  8. adventurepdx says:

    Also, love the ride! Where exactly is this trail? Haven’t seen you mention it before.

  9. DisabledCyclist says:

    What would you like to know,my friend? You got my email (or you could ask here),ask anything and if I know,I’ll answer…I can tell you,the only issue I’ve had was a slightly loose headset which is a 2 minute fix with proper tools,or in my case,cost me only $4 labor at a LBS,otherwise,it’s performed really well-I’ve been riding it daily since Sunday as well,and is the most comfy bike I currently own (of course…I don’t have a sweet root beer flavored classic Raliegh :p).

    It’s not overly heavy,it shifts and brakes well,Citizen was a joy to deal with (fast shipping,honest,quick to reply to emails,and include nicer-than-most things that come with every new bike,like the manual/etc). Need a link? I’m happy with mine,and not afraid to share the love of it :)

    The DC

  10. CJ says:

    I think the wedding is the 19th, so we might overlap. I’ll let you know when my plans are firmer.

    Love the photo of the heron in flight.

  11. rgcurrey says:

    Your picture of the Raleigh in the woods really is outstanding. Makes me want to pack up and go for a ride there.

  12. Erin B says:

    Are you completely off the idea of a Twenty? If you saw one for cheap-ish, would you get it or are you specifically looking for a travel bike?

  13. rideblog says:

    Erin, I would still probably jump on it, to use as a motorhome bike, if nothing else. And because I “need” a new bike :).

  14. Skip Tooth says:

    I am boggled and beguiled… there are Herons in the N. West? I suspect I didn’t study my Audubon as closely as I’d previously thought [sadly, the same holds true for my Bowditch] but… WOW!

  15. rideblog says:

    Skip Tooth, there are many, many herons. We are practically dripping in herons. Here’s a funny story: My son, when 3, came home and asked me if we could go see “the Great Blue Heron.” To which I replied: “Sure, Honey, I’m happy to take you down to a river and we can look for herons.” “NO Mama!” he said insistently. “Not ‘herons.’ THE Great Blue Heron.” I then had to explain to him that it was not a single, giant heron, but a class of birds. He was really disappointed.

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