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We’re still here in the City of Roses

April 3, 2007

Sunday morning wasn’t too early for Safety Ed and me. We left the party on 82nd after his rum & Coke and my PBR, which was fairly early.

Safety Ed kept saying, my gosh, 82nd Avenue must really be way out there. In Seattle, yes it would be, but this is Portland. Where Seattle is New York scale, Portland is Boston scale… blocks are smaller.

This morning’s meetup is at the Pink Feather, which is at roughly 141st and SE Division Street. Safety Ed’s getting antsy because a bunch of stuff is going to be raffled off at breakfast, and we had each plumped for the $20 arm’s length of raffle tickets. He keeps saying, it’s going to take twice as long to get out there, right? It’s 141st and Division, right?

After a quick bite at Mickey D’s down 6th Avenue, we’re off. Unfortunately, the best way to get to the Hawthorne District, which was on Safety Ed’s list of things to see, is to go over the Hawthorne Bridge. Again.

His GT is not the least bit fazed by the grates, but the PX gets really twitchy by the time the grate ends. Still, I manage not to dump it. We’ll take in the sights of Hawthorne (it reminds me of Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood) until we reach 50th, then head south and east on Division.

We arrive at the Pink Feather, the meetup spot, at five minutes before 10. The meetup is scheduled for 10:00 am; luckily, there are a few scooters already here (By now you are familiar with the term scooter time, right?), and we were about a block and a half behind one so I knew exactly where to turn in.

I decide to hit the buffet, since we have a pretty long ride ahead and I don’t want to bonk. Yes, you can bonk on a scooter or motorcycle. It’s not pretty. Safety Ed and Not At All Evil K rode down to Portland a couple of years ago, and they tell stories of having a beer with lunch at McMenamins Olympic Club in Centralia making the last leg on U.S. 30 miserable. As I tell them, it’s because they dehydrated themselves. Eat sensibly and drink lots of water, whether you ride a bike, or a bike.

The ride will be going to Multnomah Falls. I’m looking forward to it… I never made it out there when I lived in Portland.

The sun is out, and we’re glad to see the temperature has risen considerably from the 32º F Northwest Newschannel 8 (“Where the news comes FIRST”) was reporting when we got up. There are probably about a hundred bikes out again today.

I won an old-skool motorcycle helmet and several other items in the raffle; Safety Ed won a prize pack that included a bottle of locally-distilled vodka and some other things best not mentioned to a g-rated audience.

We head out more or less on time, going east on Division and into Gresham before getting on the Historic Columbia River Highway. Yet another road built before the kind of heavy equipment necessary to cut straight paths through mountains existed, it’s the way out to Multnomah Falls.

Once again, the ride leaders are setting a very fast pace (I’m thinking a little too fast), and once again, I’m going backwards, confirming my suspicion that I’m on the slowest bike in the group. I can keep the stragglers in sight and enjoy the view. This would’ve been a fun trip in my long-departed Miata, I’m thinking when I round a corner and see bikes stopped. I can see why the bikes are stopped–there’s a rider down. Doc and Tiny are there, attending to the fallen rider. We are motioned to continue to the parking lot at the Columbia Gorge Observation Station (it’s an art-deco building that wouldn’t look at all out of place in the 20th Century Fox logo clip).

I park the bike and start asking if anyone knows who the downed rider is. One person does know.

It’s Safety Ed.

His bike was parked with the group, and it didn’t look damaged, at least not on the left side. However, the right side was mangled, plastic parts broken and steel parts scratched up.

I ran up the hill to see how Safety Ed was doing. He was laying on the ground, but was conscious and talking to Rob. He said his right arm hurt like hell when he tried to move it, and he couldn’t move his left thumb. Apparently the bike hit some gravel or grit on the pavement, and went down.

The paramedics showed up quickly, taking off Safety Ed’s helmet and motorcycle jacket. When asked about allergies, Safety Ed replied, “badly-cooked Brussels sprouts.” At least his sense of humor was uninjured. They tried to talk him into an ambulance ride, but since that would involve a neck brace and backboard, which didn’t seem to be necessary, he opted for a ride to Providence Hospital in Portland in one of the chase trucks, which would be dropping his bike off at P-Town Scooters.

I tell Safety Ed I’ll come see him when the ride is over. It’s going to take time to get to the hospital, and especially to assess his condition and take whatever measures are necessary. There’s not much I can do for him at this point, and the ride hasn’t left for the falls yet.

While the pace down to the falls is subdued, by the time the group left everyone must’ve rationalized what they’d seen, because the pace was even faster. Oh, well. There’s only one way back to Gresham, and as it turned out the group had stopped there to wait for stragglers like me and the person on the orange Kymco People who was following me.

The group took a route that went around the north side of Portland International Airport, aka PDX. It’s a nice road, very smooth and rather scenic since it runs close to the Columbia River. The destination is the rally’s end at the Jubitz truck stop on Vancouver Way.

I have a beer, then decide to go to Providence. You get there from Northeast Portland by taking Martin Luther King, Jr. Way, and as I rode along the street I thought of a recent TV news story about how people tend to assume any street named after the slain civil rights leader is “blighted,” whatever the hell that means. I mostly saw new businesses, apartment buildings and row houses, but I didn’t have too much time to look, since the traffic signals were so well-synchronized I could keep going all the way to Burnside.

I arrived at Providence to find Safety Ed still waiting to go to x-ray. He was in good spirits, but slightly frustrated at how long everything was taking. Eventually the x-ray tech showed up, and when the doctor came back with the pictures it was obvious even to this lay person that the very clean fracture of the ulna wasn’t going to heal up in a week or two.

Safety Ed was splinted up and released. He’d take a taxi back to the hotel, while I’d ride. We were supposed to ride back to Seattle the next morning. So much for that plan. Favicon

One Comment
  1. April 4, 2007 4:35 pm

    Having ridden the STP a number of times, its great to revisit some locales through your words. I dig Portland, and the “slow” route to get there is my favorite way to go.

    Sorry to hear about your friend Safety Ed going down, that had to throw a hook into your plans, but I’m enjoying your travelogue a great deal.

    Have fun,

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