Sunday, January 04, 2009

First Ride

The bicycle and weather gods smiled upon me yesterday and gave me the first ride of 2009. I used the opportunity to push a few more miles south on the Chehalis Western Trail. The route from my place is virtually all dedicated, paved former railroad right of way completely separated from vehicle traffic. It's sweet and easy riding with no steep climbs.

Yesterday's trail showed many signs of the past weeks' hard weather: fallen trees,broken branches and tracks of maintenance vehicles in the still remaining snowy spots. Any maintenance must have been done in the past seven days; I rode to the trail on last Sunday's mostly clear main streets and found it still deep in snow and ice. Only a few patches and piles of snow remained yesterday.

The southern portion of the trail had more snow on pavement than I expected. the snow was often a light dusting. It looked fresh. Otherwise it was mostly slush, no more than an inch deep and no big deal once I got used to it. The weather was overcast and cold. The forecast said rain but the skies said no; the sun occasionally broke trough the clouds but the day was mostly subdued. Every now and then I felt a drop of water on my face but the predicted precipitation did not arrive until long after my ride was done.

The new section of trail took me through the Deschutes River wetlands and along the river itself, maybe a mile or so. At one point the trail parallels a bend in the river. Swollen run-off from the Great Snow twists around sandbars and islands. Lowlands all around are wet and marshy. I'm going upriver from town, which means gaining elevation, and I've been riding into the wind the entire route. I'm looking forward to the return.

My return was back the way I came. Not something I typically do but it was hard to give up that dedicated right-of-way with no vehicle traffic. Not much traffic of any sort, for that matter. It was fun to see this familiar route from a completely different direction.

I wore two a capilene base top under a polypro zip turtleneck shirt and a rain jacket for my body core and on my legs I wore black cycling tights under loose fitting cycling shorts (gotta have those pockets). Wool hiking socks with liners for my feet and a fleece earband under my helmet. The temperature was around 35 the entire time with about a 9 mph wind and I was comfortable for most of the ride. My feet were noticeably cold on the return.

The fenders were most welcome yesterday.



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