Monday, August 22, 2011

Outhouses and Odometers

If it hadn't been for Len Punzel, I might never have ridden the Banks-Vernonia trail. Several friends and my son had urged me to check it out, but I was reluctant to just drive up there, unload my bike, and start pedalling, so last week I went up without my bike to see whether I could even find the "Trail Head" and parking lot in the village of Banks. I found it without too much trouble (missed a couple of turns) and, spotting the "Banks Bicycle Repair, & Rental" shop a stone's throw from the parking lot, decided to drop in and pick some local brains.

Len, the owner, was wrestling with a recalcitrant tire liner, but when I came in he dropped it and gave me his full attention. "I could use a break," he said, and soon we were deeply into conversation about the trail. He fetched me a map, described many of the salient features, and generally brought a human element to something that until then had not come to life for me. He also regaled me with some tales of his rock-climbing adventures from years past. By the time I left, I was sure I would be back to ride the trail.

Next time I ride it, I want to take some more pictures, now that I'm getting the hang of illustrating my blogs with photos. I especially want a shot of one of the outhouses. They're designated "restrooms" on the map, but they are really outhouses, or privys. And I've never seen anything quite like them. I rode past a couple of them without knowing what they were. Their strange shape is a result of their having been built to let you bring your bicycle in with you. Nice touch.

But it may be a while before I get back, because I think I need to find a different route to ride on my Big Day, and I only have a little over five weeks to go. I'm looking for the flattest routes possible. (I thought of searching for a highway somewhere that had a slight downward grade for 80 straight miles, but decided that would be cheating.) I've tentatively laid out two routes close to home. Both are loops; one about 20 miles in length, the other about 7. I hope to ride them soon, perhaps tomorrow, and check their lengths with my odometer.

Which brings me to a technical note. I think my odometer needs recalibrating. The other day, passing Milepost 5 on Baseline Road, I noticed that my odometer read exactly 6 miles. As I passed Milepost 7, my odometer read 7.9. Something to keep in mind.

Or not.

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