Ride Home, Day 4: Longview to Portland
It was raining when I woke up in Longview, Washington.
I left late and ate breakfast at a local health food cafe to kill some time while hoping that the rain would let up. It didn’t. I hit the street at 11:30 AM.
My camera stayed safe and dry in a plastic bag inside my backpack. My backpack stayed dry inside a plastic bag of its own.
I crossed the Lewis and Clark Bridge into Oregon by riding my bike on the shoulder, which was covered in rich smelling cedar wood chips. Perhaps a truck spilled them. The cars drive pretty slow on the bridge because the passage is so narrow. I wondered why the people who designed the bridge never thought to include a bicycle lane or pedestrian walkway.
On the Oregon side, a hiker walking with two walking sticks and a large backpack stopped me to ask about crossing the bridge on foot. I told him he could make it if he was careful. We parted ways.
Route 30 from Mt. Rainier to Portland consists mostly of a constant upward incline or else it’s flat. Mostly however, it’s uphill.
It rained relentlessly during the first three hours. The cold wind, misty spray from passing trucks and strong headwinds really tested my resolve. When my left arm grew weak and my fingers started going numb, I began to question if I’d make it the whole way home. It was hard to tell if the rain had soaked through my raincoat or if I had sweat through to the rain.
I sang songs in my head and took it moment by moment. Each time I turned the pedals it brought me that much closer to home. Eventually I began singing songs out loud.
When I’d get to the top of a hill and round the bend only to find another hill to climb, I’d laugh at the sky. Ha! Hills from Portland to Port Townsend now know my name and they tremble when they see me coming.
At some point the rain let up and the temperature warmed slightly. Good thing. I had begun to grow cold. Knowing that I’d be able to sleep in my own bed kept me moving.
I took out my camera after it hadn’t rained in a while. I was covered in grit and wet but my camera was dry.
My legs certainly were tired. I rode 75 miles the day before, 50 the day before that and 40 the day before that.
Still, the hills couldn’t stop me!
Finally, I saw the sign for Portland. About an hour to go.
Ten miles of slow incline.
Every time it looked like I was able to coast I’d stop pedaling and the bike would stop. The wind was pushing me back. The rain had soaked me to the bone. The hills were trying to get me. It was as if BP was controlling the weather.
I knew where I was and it wasn’t far from home.
It had warmed up and I was on familiar streets. I was nearly there, limp arm and all.
Portland began to welcome me.
I saw things anew and noticed things never before seen.
The bridge to Front Street was the last hill I’d have to climb.
I slid into the Pearl District by way of 17th street and was home at 4 PM.
It was so good to see Gwenn! She took some pictures before we went inside.
I did it! I rode 450+ miles round-trip to protest the BP oil disaster.
I didn’t spend a cent on gasoline or car insurance.
It took five days to get to Port Townsend and four days to get back to Portland. Going home is always faster.
I learned a lot and have many more questions and ideas. My legs are tired and my resolve is strong.
The road is long, life is short.
I’ll be writing a summary of this experience (including a more detailed budget analysis) and more about cars, bicycles, oil, and living green in the comings days.