4 A.M. The alarm was set for 5. I can't believe I used to be a night owl. These days anything past 10 P.M. is beyond my bed time. Four or five in the morning has become the normal wakeup time. I was hoping for five. My crazy brain decided that it would be four. Coffee was made. The day was contemplated.
An early morning meeting in Portland was the starting item for Thursday. Heavy rain had dampened us during the night. More rain was forecast. From now until what seems forever. Most people wouldn't think twice about driving. Except for people like me. You know who you are. Still, though, you gotta wonder why we do it sometimes. I thought about it during my ride. An hour and fifteen minutes give or take.
People in their cars looked like they were still in bed, sitting up with a steering wheel in front of them. They might have been awake earlier. Now, however, the drone of the car on the freeway and the heater have lulled them back to slumber.
I, on the other hand, am wide awake and living the ride. Of course, there's not much other choice when the temperature is in the low 40's ( f ) before wind chill. I have got to get the bike wired.
Riding past Aurora and Canby, I often think of Jeff who works at the airport nearby. He's a newer instructor. Jeff's a young man with a new family. He will also make a kick-ass instructor. It's always an honor to help folks like him learn the craft of training riders.
Cold air and a lot of early morning coffee make the rest stop a desirable detour. I love the sound of Elvira's sweet motor as I roll off and snick down through the gears on the way in. While I'm there I spend a few extra moments and eat a bit of breakfast. A whole wheat bagel smeared with cream cheese. Tall trees abound as Mike shared with us earlier. I ponder the connection between so many of us. It started with motorcycles but deepened as we learn more about each other. My world is richer because of it. I value these online friendships immensely. What a blessing from being a rider and blogger!
When I put my helmet back on I feel the chill on my face. The helmet's gotten cold as it sat on the bike seat. Closely watched so it didn't fall off, by the way. Rain had made the pavement wet and it didn't look like a good place to put the helmet. Another unique experience you won't find in a car!
Rejoining traffic on the freeway, I follow the procedure as outlined in the driver's manual. One is instructed to "accelerate into the gap". Oh baby, do we ever! Don't you just love all that power on tap under your right wrist?
It's fully light by the time I roll into Portland. My destination is in the Pearl District of NW Portland. Elvira and I hit the Terwilliger Curves on Interstate 5 during rush hour. For a while traffic is more or less stop and go. I pass the time by playing a game that helps me keep my scanning skills highly polished. There are certain truths in the universe. Things like gravity and the earth's rotation. Among these truths is this one. When traffic backs up, people get Stupid.
So I play the "who's going to dash where?" game. Haven't you found that you start to get a feel for which drivers are going to start diving in and out of gaps? I feel like I can literally see the car start to twitch before the driver takes off. Why do people wear themselves out like that? I maintain a decent following distance. Which means a lot of the times, cars are diving in front of me.
When traffic comes to a stop, I entertain myself by seeing how long I can go without putting my foot down. It's fun, but you have to be careful not to put yourself in an unbalanced and vulnerable position. Nothing worse than having to react and finding the bike isn't stable enough to do so.
Some of the areas of town like the Pearl District seem physically crowded by narrow streets and tall buildings. Traffic can sometimes be tough as several main arterials come together at the west end of the district. Negotiating these areas on a bike is a breeze. There's all the room in the world. I find a parking spot right across from the building with ease. Portland has these boxes where you have to go pay then get a receipt for your window. The instructions say to stick the receipt on the curb side window. The right side of the windshield is as close as I got. I took the photo as proof that I had actually purchased parking time. Just in case some scroundrel stole my sticker and I got ticketed.
I was a half hour early for the meeting. Coming from so far and not knowing what traffic might be like, my preference is to allow plenty of time. I hate being late. So I took a few photos of the area as I was waiting. The intreprid G11 goes almost everywhere with me these days.
This little area is geometrically strange because of the way three streets come together. There's this sculpture featuring bicycles on a piece of sidewalk. If you look at the photo below you get an idea for the corner and the artwork. Up on a pole high above the jumble of bikes is one golden bicycle.
Here's a closer look at the bikes themselves. As I'm trying to get a decent photo a woman walks by. She is dressed like she lives in some fancy upper floor apartment somewhere. The woman is walking a Yorkshire terrier. Tiny little dog. Anyway, the woman asks me how the people get their bikes untangled when it's time to go home. Resisting the urge to fall on the ground laughing, I calmly look at her, searching her face. She's bone serious. I explain that the middle pole is actually a strong magnet. That's what holds the bikes up. Each person is issued a small transmitter like a garage door opener. Each box has its own code. The person simply pushes the button and the corresponding tag on the bike cuts the magnetic field enough for the bike to be removed. Each person can only take their own bike with this arrangement.
Here's a photo of the building I was visiting. This was taken across the street standing beside Elvira. I'm actually quite proud of this one. Originally, the sky was really washed out. I've put the original in after the touched up one for comparison purposes.
Chuck Pefley posted a photo of some fiber-glass pigs. He had changed the background behind the pigs from a drab wall to something more pleasing to the eye. Inspired, I spent some time with Photoshop last night. I was able to change the sky to match the sky in the photo of the churchspire above. The sky in that photo is what was really there. In my building photo, the camera didn't capture the sky in the same way.
After the meeting one of the architects took me on a personal tour of the finished building. ZGF is a prestigious architectural firm. They own the building and occupy floors two through five. All the upper floors were intended to be upscale condos. Due to the economy, the plan is now to rent them as apartments. The top floor does have eight privately owned units. My guide showed me a couple of model apartments. A studio rents for about $1500.00 a month. It works out to around two dollars a square foot. Guess I'll have to work some overtime to live here!
Up on the roof are three turbines. They are functional for generating electricity but are mostly symbolic. The turbines can only cover about three percent of the building's needs.
There are some elaborate snubber systems at the base of each pole to soak up vibrations.
There's also some sort of governor system to stop the blades from turning if the wind gets over 50 mph. I'm not sure how it works, exactly, and neither did the architect. I presume it's some sort of centrifugal apparatus that spreads out like brake shoes on a brake drum.
The view is pretty cool. Not enough to justify the price, in my mind, but pretty neat to see as a visitor.
Wet pavement bears watching closely. Traction is pretty critical on a bike, as you know. Heading under cover, the pavement was dry. The transition points are pretty cool to see. Vehicle tires track water onto the dry pavement in decorative ribbons. Each tire leaves its own pattern. Big tires, small tires, and differing tread patterns are all revealed in these moisture tracks. Each trail eventually peters out as the tires dry. How many car drivers ever even notice this kind of thing?
I pulled in and then turned the bike around in the small area. As I was straddle walking the bike backwards, I noticed that the cement wall was reflecting the rumble of Elvira's engine back at me. What an awesome sound! I'm starting to really love that motor and the way it sounds. I revved it a few times just to put a finishing crescendo or two on the symphony. I'll guarantee that none of the drivers pulled into their little stalls got to hear the same kind of music.
So, yes, I could have driven. Instead I rode. Yes, I got a bit wet. Not to mention cold in the early morning. On the other hand, look at how much I would have missed out on. Rain was pouring down this morning. Did I ride? Of course. Driving would be too boring!