Monday, April 29, 2013

The Scaponia Shake-Down

In just under a month, I'll be taking off for a 4,500-mile, three-month bike trip across the U.S. Jake will be joining me for three weeks of the ride, and so we figured we should get in at least one shake-down ride before the big trip.

We settled on an overnight ride from Portland to Scaponia. Most no one has heard of Scaponia. It's situated about halfway between Scappoose and Vernonia; hence the name Scaponia. Clever, eh?

The purpose of a shake-down ride is to figure out what works and what doesn't work. Two weekends ago, Jake and I attempted an overnighter shake-down ride to Scaponia. This shake-down ride proved to us that we still had some shaking do to. Needlesstosay, we abandoned our mission due to a mechanical malfunction.

Jake came to the expensive but valuable conclusion that his Raleigh wasn't beefy enough for touring. After acquiring a new touring bike (Jake is now the proud owner of a beautiful Kona Sutra), we re-attempted the overnighter this last weekend. We're pleased to say the trip was a success!

We left Saturday morning from the marina on Hayden Island. Within a few miles from home, we had crossed the St. Johns Bridge and were climbing the peaceful Saltzman trail, a hard-packed gravel path through Forest Park.

Climbing the Saltzman Road trail.

Unbeknownst to me (I'm new to the Portland area), the route I had pieced together went right next to the field where Jake flies gliders. Though we stopped by the glider field both weekends for lunch, we only went up for a flight the first weekend.

Jake pilots the Blanik.

It was shortly after the glider field where we bailed on our initial attempt at the overnighter. So, the route here-on-out was new for us the second weekend. Soon we joined up with the paved, 21-mile-long Banks-Vernonia rails-to-trails route.

The trail sign just outside of Stub Stewart State Park.

Jake riding along the trail.

A photo op along the Banks-Vernonia trail.

I've never spent so much time riding behind someone with a helmet mirror.
It was rather spooky having Jake's "third eye" watching over me during the entire ride!

After 71 miles of riding, we arrived at the nearly full Scaponia Recreation Area. We didn't have much beta on this campground, so we weren't quite sure what to expect. Jake and I were convinced that we were the only ones who paid the campground fee and who abided by the leave-no-trace policy. We were fast asleep by 8pm. When we got up for a pee break at midnight-thirty, our neighbors were still loudly strumming away at the guitar. Jake provided the narrative for the guitar player: "I know three chords, and I'm not afraid to play them."

Our campground for the evening.

The next day we had plenty of riding through beautiful countryside.
The sunshine and warm temperatures etched smiles on our faces.

This whale is quite far from the ocean.

We encountered a good climb on Rocky Point Road, with 1200+ ft of elevation gain in just over 3 miles. There was a short section of the climb with a whooping 12% grade.

The gorgeous panoramic views along Rocky Point Road.

All in all, it was a great overnighter. Along the 135 mile-ride, we learned how to adjust our riding for our different paces, we recalled the importance of frequent calorie and hydration breaks, and we regained confidence in our legs, our endurance, and our trusty steeds of steel. We withstood the shake-down.

Oh, and by the way...after being away for the weekend on bikes, we loved coming home to a sailboat. :-)

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