Cycling: River One

ScreenshotI loves me some river chasing.

(If you CTRL-click on the map, it should open in a new browser tab and you can refer back and forth to orient the images.)

I’m still learning, but today was the first full ride. It’s an entirely different kind of activity from road riding. This isn’t the end of long-distance rides, because Jeanette does pavement just fine. She’s fast and lighter, so more responsive, but the whole point is to play and experience the same areas from a different perspective.

01Rail-bridge-VickieI’ve decided I don’t like railroad tracks as much as I did as a kid. The first image (#1) is on the far right of the map where I hoped I could check out some more of the de-commissioned track from yesterday. While I found a ride-able path alongside, I had to dismount for this first creek crossing. It’s just too rough riding the ties in the first place, and some of these were about gone.02Rail-bridge-remnants The larger creek was a different matter. As the underbrush got thicker, I also found the bridge had been dismantled and piled to one side, with a bunch of fill dirt dumped on the tracks and no way to even take a look beyond it more than a few feet (#2). A discouraging experience.

03Oddball-trashSo I came back out and rode north on Vickie to NE 4th and followed that down and across the very active rail lines that run at a different angle. But instead of turning right to stay on NE 4th, I decided to run up to where some old pavement runs east-west through the woods. A right would go right back to Sunnylane, but left went off quite a ways through the trees. That used to be a nice boat (#3). A good bit farther on the pavement ended and I spotted a makeshift dwelling in the trees. It was quite large, obviously in current use, and I wanted to respect their privacy, so I turned and went back to NE 4th the way I came.

Basic rule: Don’t violate signs, gates/fences or privacy when playing off-road. Just because a dwelling is technically illegal doesn’t justify rudeness. I try to avoid taking pictures of something that looks like an active human dwelling. I’ll simply tell you that I spotted everything from really nice tents to mattresses lying in the open and several other makeshift dwellings today, particularly along the river around bridges.

04River-playgroundOn NE 4th just beyond the asphalt mixing operating was a well-used dirt track running up over the flood-control dike and down into the river basin. This is all public land and open to recreational use, but you can see in the sign there are limits (#4), largely unenforced.05Rail-crossing This was my gateway to this day’s off-roading paradise. Just south along the bank from NE 4th stood a rail bridge alongside the remnants of a previous one (#5).

06EagleLakeJust behind me and up over the dike was the NW corner of Eagle Lake. I’ve never been able to see it from this angle. I rode down a rough maintenance track to the far NE corner and aimed my camera back across the lake (#6). I turned around and faced a low spot filled with massive boulders, only some of which I could likely struggle to lift if I cared (#7). 07Not-todayThere was no way I could safely ride across them, and scrambling around I discovered that what was one a continuation of the maintenance track along the western shoreline had crumbled and dissolved into the water, so a full circumnavigation was out of the question. The only safe route crossed private property east of the lake.

08Southbank-hiroadRetracing my path, I turned left and followed the track around to where the Eagle Lake Trail begins and crossed Crooked Oak Creek the fancy bike bridge. But on the other side, I opted to stay up on the top of the flood control dike for awhile. This shot is very similar to one on a previous post, but from a higher angle (#8).09LowerDam-OKRiver I stayed with it awhile until I could see a climb that led through serious messy wet clay, and dropped down onto the official biking path. Staying on this down to the underpass at Eastern Avenue/ML King Boulevard (far right edge of the map) I went up over the dike again to catch a nice shot of the dam works when there was virtually no water to hide it (#9). I probably could have ridden through the shallow water in the bottom of the pan, only about two inches deep, but there was no simple way of getting out it on the other side.

10NorthbankInstead I climbed up the steep bank and rode across on Eastern to the other corner. The that SW corner in the shadow of the Interstate is very busy and bums like to sit there on the side barricade because they can see cops coming from any direction. The fellow today pulled his sign back to let me pass, and just beyond him I lifted my bike over the wall and clambered over after it. I had some fun doing a controlled descent down the bank to the lower path. It looked and felt completely different from the south bank. This shot looks northward at the Reno Avenue crossing (#10 upper right).

11Varied-pathThere are typically three tracks, sometimes merging and crossing, following the top of the dike, the middle flat and the lower one nearest the water. At one point I climbed up under the Interstate ramp because of washouts from a tributary, ending up on the highest level (#11). However, most of the time I stayed down on the lowest track possible. It was just so nice with grass and hard-packed sand, with splendid isolation. Despite the busy highway traffic, I was actually very much alone, in an entirely different world from the drivers and passengers.

12Scalloped-riverbedThis is a low-water time so much of the river bed is exposed and this scalloped pattern caught my eye (#12). I was having such a good time I rode on past NE 4th toward NE 10th. A rather large tributary cuts across the dike and shaped banks. This area sees very heavy ATV traffic, so I followed their well-established routes and found a very easy ford (#13).13Ford Aside from having to dismount for the sake of steepness in soft sand, it was actually rather fun because I was able to ride across the ford itself.

14WakeZoneBut I began to tire and decided to leave the trial after crossing under NE 10th. Once up on the road, I spotted a lake through the trees and remembered seeing something on the map about it: Wake Zone Cable Park (#14 is off the map). They have a bunch of tow cables running all over the place way above the water and you can ride a wakeboard without a boat pulling you. Their website is pretty informative, but visually very busy. Seems to me the satellite imagery indicates there’s a back side that might not be so tightly fenced. Maybe we’ll find out next ride.

On the way home, I discovered that riding through wet grass alongside the street cleans the tires from most of the clinging soil. This is the first time I’ve had a bike that made it fun and feasible. I also tried to skip the traffic by chasing the same unused rail line back toward my neighborhood, but I ran into lots of trouble. No more rail lines for me unless there is an extraordinary good reason. They are not fun any more.

About Ed Hurst

Disabled Veteran, prophet of God's Laws, Bible History teacher, wannabe writer, volunteer computer technician, cyclist, Social Science researcher
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2 Responses to Cycling: River One

  1. Ed Hurst says:

    “Trouble” as in serious impediments to riding: trees and thornies blocking the path, rotten ties, very stiff dried stalks left from grass-hogging, etc.


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