Feel the Burn: An Oregonian Explains a Yearly Rite of Passage

What do proper Portlanders do on the first sunny weekend of the year?

They get sunburned.

Here’s how it goes down. It’s a pleasant weekend morning. You decide to go for a bike ride. You’d like to leave by 10am, but it’s now 9:55am. Your brain says: “Hey, self! You should wear sunscreen! It’s sunny out there and you could get sunburn!” to which a different part of your brain responds, “We’re late! We should just go! It’s not that warm yet and there’ll be time for putting sunscreen on later!”

So you go.

And five hours later, when you’re within minutes of returning home, you’re stopped at a traffic light and notice your arms are feeling a teensy bit warm.

See, brain! We’re almost home and your skin is only now starting to feel a little pink!”

Your brain is very stupid. It never seems to remember that sunburn gets worse after you’re out of the sun.

This very series of conversations happened in my head this past Sunday. Two hours after returning home—approximately the time my arms started feeling radioactive—I went a-Googling and found this Scientific American blog post about how sunburn happens.

Humble readers, just take the 30 seconds to apply the sunscreen before you leave the house. Once I leave, I cannot be bothered to stop for such trifles. You’re smarter than that readers—don’t be like me.

——–

On this particular day, I biked from my home in Clackamas County, to Kelley Point Park in North Portland—about 40 miles round trip, according to the calculations I did last summer. I made it to my destination in just over an hour and a half—not a bad pace for someone who hasn’t been riding regularly! (The photo above is of Sweetpea peeking out from the park onto the Columbia River, which separates Oregon from Washington. Kelley Point Park sits at the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia Rivers.)

The ride was more preparation for my upcoming trip to Wisconsin—and the itinerary on that trip is starting to come together. Amanda and I will mostly be exploring Madison by bike, and it’s going to be great!

Plans for this weekend’s ride came together a little unexpectedly. The route shouldn’t be particularly challenging, but certain circumstances will make it a real adventure. If you want to spoil the surprise, click here. If it works out, I will see a long-time dream realized, and will have content for a nice juicy blog post afterward.

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Filed under Bicycles, Oregon

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