Sunday, September 12, 2010

A Late Summer Ride In The Country

After a gray, rainy back-to-school week, we’ve been treated to flat-out perfect weekend weather in Oregon!  It looks like the pattern of clear sunny skies will hold for at least the next few days.  Nobody spent today inside; this was our wake-up call to get outdoors and play before the rains come for good. And so we all did.
I clicked into my pedals and headed for some of the best bike-friendly country roads I’ve found so far. Riding in and around Turner, Cloverdale, and Parrish Gap has got to be on everybody’s list if they like to ride on roads.  The idyllic scenery and sparse traffic out here transform almost every ride into a you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me experience. Once you leave suburbia and enter into the country you are met with a palpable calm. The smell out in the country is magical, too. Add the warmth and light from the sun in a cloudless sky, and you’ve got perfection!
Look up and around from your handlebars. You’ll see the Cascade and Coastal Range mountains in about equal measure. Proximity to Mt. Jefferson makes it look similar in size to Mt. Hood, both of which will make an occasional appearance as you keep rolling through the area. A bit closer in you’ll see the late corn rising tall, and the pumpkins dotting the ground as they ripen. There is not nearly as much green around as there was before; leaves are beginning to fall and crunch below your tires. Brittle and brown grasses are also signaling the changes of seasons.  They are telling you to keep watching the maples, alders, and oak trees; they will be putting on their fall colors just a few weeks from now.
The only not-so-perfect moment of today’s ride was when I got yelled at by somebody who wasn’t happy that I didn’t signal a right turn I was making. I usually do signal when cars are nearby, but we were leaning into a tight corner on a steep drop, and I needed both hands on the brakes to navigate the turn. As the car made the turn along with me, the passenger yelled “learn to signal!” and sped on ahead. I smiled as I thought about how much they cared about my learning. Thank you, my new friends...I enjoyed the subtle irony that you were shouting at me from a Prius. That’s a rare combination!
Later on I met up with Mrs. C and Nat at Bush’s Pasture Park, one of the great city treasures in Salem. Lots of folks were there to play or take a run, have a picnic, or skateboard down the soap box derby run. Nat and Mrs. C took the walking path around the perimeter of the park, then hit the volleyball together for a bit.  I joined in for a few minutes. Clearly I was not hitting the ball correctly with them, and they gave me “permission” get back on my bike and ride home. No argument from me! Riding on a day like this is just plain fun.

I’ll be ready when the rains come, but there’s no hurry.

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