The Big Thaw

The Portland metro area, and the Pacific Northwest in general, is thawing out from one of the biggest and worst snow storms in decades. I had 23″ of snow fall at my house in the Cascade foothills and have a pile of snow several feet high blocking a large portion of my driveway.

According to my notes, I haven’t ridden my motorcyce since 12/9, the longest riding drought I’ve had since I bought my bike back in February of 2007. It’s driving me nuts.

Now that the snow is gone, the prodigious amount of standing water and sanding gravel on the roadways is the biggest problem. It’s raining to beat the band and there is no sunshine in the seven-day forecast, but I’ll probably ride to work on Wednesday anyway. That will give the road crews enough time to hopefully sweep the main streets. The rain won’t bother me, however.

It’s been quite a storm.

Thanksgiving ride

Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, I got off work early, dashed home, packed up my bike, and rode south to my in-law’s house. I took the back roads following my usual route along the eastern edge of the Willamette Valley through a series of scenic and bucolic small towns. It was a sunny but chilly ride, with fog in some places, but fortunately I had very little traffic to contend with. That’s because everyone was taking I-5, the freeway a dozen miles west of my route.

My wife drove down separately in our car and got stuck in all that freeway traffic. Her journey took twice as long as normal because of it.

After the usual Thanksgiving Day dinner the next day, we headed home. Because we didn’t leave until mid-afternoon, I took the freeway as well. It had been misting and I had rain drops on my face shield for the first few miles as I headed north, but fortunately had dry pavement all the way to Salem. I had already been riding in the dark for at least an hour when I pulled off the freeway on the south side of town to gas up.

I filled my tank and got back on I-5. By the time I got to Aurora and pulled over at a rest area for a bio break, the rain had returned. Traffic was fairly thick but was traveling at regular speeds. To avoid back roads, instead of leaving the freeway at Woodburn and riding home through Molalla and Estacada, I continued north to the Clackamas exit and went home through Damascus and Boring. The combination of night riding and rain on my face shield made visibility an issue. I made it home safely, however.

Where’s Dr. Seuss on such a cold, cold, rainy day?

It’s raining. It’s Oregon. It’s November. That’s what happens in Oregon in November.

It rains.

I’m not talking namby pamby pissle drizzle. I’m talking rain.

All day long.

It’s the reason why GoreTex(tm) is the State Fabric. It’s the reason why owning a motorcycle in Oregon is a part-time job. Spring and Fall, and Summer, too = fantastic riding. Potentially some of the best three-season riding conditions in these United States of America.

But from November through February, it sucks. Here’s the current weather radar image for the area so you can see what I mean. [external link]

In the meantime, what I do while I’m stuck inside looking out the window at the gray and wet is dream of past and future rides in a state that otherwise is my favorite in the land.