Hello friends! We’re going to re-blog a few ride reports that originally appeared over on my blog, Urban Adventure League.
We rode northwards from Portland into the far-flung features of Clark County, Washington. The destination was Battle Ground Lake State Park, just three miles (5 km) outside of the city of Battle Ground.
April and I have been to this park a few times, and consider it to be a humble jewel: a small lake formed in a volcanic caldera, surrounded by trees, and only 25 miles (40 km) from the edge of Portland. The city of Battle Ground has all the services one would need for bike camping (save a bike shop, but the Fred Meyer hypermarket has basics like tubes) so one can stock up on supplies right before entering the park rather than hauling all their food from Portland. The park itself has a small campground divided into two distinct sections: the main loop which is dominated by RVs, and a walk-in site area. Naturally we gravitate towards the walk-ins, as it is quieter than the main loop and the sites are more in nature without being too far from the main bathrooms.
And Battle Ground Lake also has four cabins available for rental. These cabins sleep up to five (full size futon for two, double bed for two, and single top bunk), have electric lighting/heating, and a table. The beds are a simple vinyl covered foam mat, but this means for bike camping we’d only need to bring bedding, food, camp kitchen stuff, and extra clothing. Cabins and yurts are pretty common at state park campgrounds in this part of the world. They are not expensive, especially when you fill them up ($30-65 a night depending where you are), comfortable, and highly desirable. It’s next to impossible to get a yurt on the coast in the summer if you hadn’t booked it six months in advance. But in the off-season, and especially at an off-the-beaten-path park like Battle Ground Lake, it’s much easier. So Cycle Wild rented two cabins for this weekend.
Since out of all the folks in Cycle Wild I’ve ridden to the park the most, I was the one who routed the ride. And since I knew that the route was going to be relatively flat to slight upgrade, with a couple of short steep hills, and we would not be burdened with carrying a tent, I decided that this adventure would be the appropriate place to test out the Raleigh Wayfarer for touring. My first Three Speed “Tour”!
So now you are asking: How did the Wayfarer do? For the most part, great! I was able to keep up a good pace and keep up with my derailleured brethren (or just April when we were alone). Lowering the gearing played a part: the low gear of 41 inches was able to handle all but one hill fine. (The hill that I couldn’t handle was a short steep one of about 10% grade. If the road was quieter I might have tried “tacking” or switchbacking but since it had some traffic, I got off and walked. It added an extra minute.) And the high gear of 72 inches was a great cruising gear for the flats.
|Rural Clark County farmhouse
But you might have noticed I said for the most part. There was one issue, but it was a major one: my rear wheel. I’ve been hoping to get as much life out of it as possible, but it’s starting to go bad. A week and a half previous to this trip a spoke went. So I had that fixed. I hoped that the wheel would hold out a bit, but no such luck. About four miles into the main ride departure point (the Expo Center MAX light rail stop in far north Portland) another spoke went. Damn. The remarkable thing about 40 spoked steel wheels is that it takes a lot for them to get severely out of true. The wheel rotated fine. Yes there was a wobble, but it was not hitting brakes or frame.
If it was just a broken spoke, that would have been one thing. But no less than two miles later I got a flat. At this point, the rest of the group (eight folks) went ahead and April and I said we’d meet them at the park, and I repaired the flat.
While repairing the flat, I noticed there was a lot of dirt stuck to the underside of the rear fender. So much so that when I scraped it off, where it fell would make a great planter:
|Rural Clark County, looking east towards the Cascade Mountains
Anyways, besides my mechanical escapades, the ride out was good. The weather report was iffy–20 to 30 percent chance o’ rain depending on who you asked. But remarkably the rain held off for both Saturday and Sunday. It was mostly cloudy, though with sunbreaks and occasional glimpses of snow covered mountains like Mount Hood. The temperature hovered over 50F/10C. I basically got away with wearing a wool t-shirt/wool flannel/wool vest for my top the whole time.
The rest of the party greeted us when we arrived in camp. Besides the eight who started with us at Expo Center and who would be sleeping in the cabins (Matt P, Tomas, Audrey, Senior Ed, Erinne, Kirk, Ryan, Nolan), Theo and Asta rode out on their own and were tent camping across from our cabins. The evening was subdued. Some folks hung out by the fire, others played a spirited game of Apples to Apples. By 11pm, pretty much everyone had retired for the evening, including April and myself.
The next morning we mulled around camp a bit, then packed up and hit the road. I opted for a different routing to get back to Portland. The one going to Battle Ground Lake used the Interstate (I-5) Bridge that leads into the heart of Vancouver, Washington. On the return we used the Glenn Jackson (I-205) Bridge. I did this to get another “flavor” of Clark County, Wash. The route up was decent, about half sub-urban/half rural, but the rural section was still on moderate traffic roads. The return would be on low traffic roads until we hit the suburban sprawl of east Vancouver, which would be bike lanes/low-traffic neighborhood streets.
On the way back through town most of us stopped for lunch at Laurelwood Brewing, where I learned I had yet another rear flat. I let the main group go ahead while April waited for me to patch the tube. Thankfully the tire gave me no more troubles after that and we made it back to the Portland side of the Columbia River (and the Cascades MAX stop) just as the sun was going down.
Overall it was a good adventure, despite the mechanical setbacks. Everyone seemed like they were having fun.
Links to the routes to Battle Ground Lake (Ride with GPS):
From Portland (Expo Center MAX)
From Battle Ground Lake