December 28th, just a few days from the final night of 2014, I’ve set off for a ride around Portland. This year has been a tumultuous year of firsts and a year of frustrations. I deemed it a day I’d wrap up, before the final week of 2014, with one of the activities I unquestionably love combined with enjoying one of the things I love: biking and coffee.
I set off about noon from home. I turned from Park Avenue down on to Salmon and to the Waterfront. There to the Steel Bridge and up the switch back into the Rose Quarter area and on into Lloyd Center.
Before leaving Lloyd Center I cut over onto Multnomah. It seems, the permanent nature of the Multnomah Cycle-track is always a little less then permanent. As I rode along, the bus stop at the intersection on the corner of the movie theater parking lot had multiple cars swerve into and out of the cycle track and bus stop dedicated space. It’s part of the problem when only mere paint is what separates the two spaces. As I rolled on, even the space with the flimsy plastic bollards had been breached. The bollards that had protected the area had been knocked off of the surface of the street and placed to the side of the road near the sidewalk under a tree. Three of them sat there useless, dismembered from the road surface. I rode on.
As I arrived at 20th, I had a car zoom by me, only to stop at the red light and wait beside me. Then when we both pulled away, since he was in such a hurry as to endanger others by speeding by without respectable distance given, I let him pull ahead first. This driver then slowed, and I was forced to go around him, he then, just a mere three houses from 20th pulled into one of the driveways. What an asshole, oblivious even to the danger he was exhibiting. But regardless, I was enjoying my ride. I rode on.
I then navigated my way, clumsily, through the north east neighborhoods toward the Hollywood neighborhood. It’s always a bit cumbersome right around this area as Broadway causes a hard break between two tranquil and pleasant areas of town. Mind you, not as bad as the laceration across city that I-84 causes, but still bad and difficult, dangerous, and cumbersome to cross. Once crossed it isn’t always obvious where the bike boulevards, or greenways as they’re often called now, actually continue onward.
Eventually I came to 42nd and turned. Passing Velo Cult, one of my favorite joints for bike ogling, bike repairs, and spectacular beer and friends, I couldn’t help but get a smile on my face. Even with the slight mist in the air with the threat of rain not far off, it was a brisk but warm 45 degrees out. Being active in 45 degrees, as anyone who is even remotely active in life, is a rather comfortable and relaxing temperature.
There I zigged and zagged my way from 42nd up through and over I-84, eventually coming to the 50th Street greenway. I’d ridden this a lot since it was finished a mere few months ago, and must say I’m a big fan to have a simple and clear way to move north and south through the city. It poses no gashing wound as I-84 or Broadway does, but instead is a mix of arterials and mild residential streets. Simply put, it’s rather nice. I rode on.
Eventually I came to Hawthorne Street. It’s kind of a funny thing coming to Hawthorne from this route for various reasons. One, it’s barely noticeable, because you see, Hawthorne is a major commercial street with tons of businesses like antique stores, 2nd hand clothiers, ice cream and pizza shops, coffee of course, book stores, and a host of other places. But this area, it looks merely like a simple residential street coming across at 50th. Except with a minor turn to the right, since I was arriving from the north, and you’ll find one of the best coffee shops in Portland.
Albina Press at 50th and Hawthorne is easily one of the top shops in town. With a simple array of classic coffees put together by skilled baristas, and a simple selection of pastries and such, Albina provides a great spot to meet or hang out and have a cappuccino or a latte or a straight cup of coffee. This was stop #1 for me, as I had set out, coffee was an important part of this trip.
After that short break, and writing up this first section of this piece, I mounted back up and headed off for part 2 of my ride. Onward to some more kilometers and another round of coffee, maybe something besides a cappuccino further on out. I rode on.
Stop 2 and 3, A Missed Trail, Thai, and More Coffee Delirium
As I stopped to catch up with where I’d rode so far, I checked out the map between my last stop and this one (that’s my second stop for food) and my current stop (this is my third actual stop). I noticed between the MAX Line and where I am now, downtown Gresham, there’s a trail that cuts off of the Springwater Corridor called the Gresham Fairview Trail. I’d not even known this trail exists, but since I’m coming close to the end of this adventure I’ll have to save that trail for another day!
I’d continued on from Albina Press at 50th and Hawthorne on down the 50’s Bikeway. Eventually I came to and turned onto Woodstock Boulevard. My streets question came up again while riding down Woodstock, but I’ll elaborate on that some other time. I continued down Woodstock, which just has a singular bike lane for 99% of the way from 52nd all the way to Lents Town Center. Then while riding one gets dumped into the hellish nightmare of Foster. Fortunately, there are alternatives, but again that is a topic for another writing session.
Once I came to Lents Town Center I cut through, zigged just slightly onto Foster and stopped under I-205. There I pondered my next move, and if there was a coffee shop in the area to discover. I pulled out my iPhone and poked around Google Maps (irony right?) and nothing really came up except a bunch of chain Starbucks or those crappy drive thru coffee shops. Nothing that would qualify a sane person exploring, so I decided to head south along the I-205 mixed use trail to the Springwater and head further east.
The ride along the I-205 Trail was a good short segment of my ride. A rider had rolled by as I began to merge onto the trail from the Foster Road onramp to the trail (that’s a bike/pedestrian onramp, not an interstate onramp, but they have the same concept). He passed and then as I commenced to overtake the rider, I announced “to your left” as I almost always do. He responded with a cordial, “thanks, have a great ride”. I couldn’t help but think how much more awesome it is to use actual language to communicate “have a good trip” versus that of motorists who can only wave, like they’re some lesser evolved mammal of some sort (no offense to dogs and cats, y’all are most excellent too) . I smiled and with that thought, pedaled slowly with the momentum form the downward hill and approached the Springwater crossroads.
At Springwater I turned left and headed east. But my Springwater trip didn’t last long. I became curious at 101st about the buffered bike lanes that went north from the trail.
I headed north on 101st and crossed Foster. I realized very soon thereafter I’d happened up on the northern greenway I’d read about. I’m not sure if these were dubbed the “100’s bikeways” or if it was part of the 90’s or whatever, I’d have to look later. But I continued on as the ride was really pleasant, with almost zero traffic of any sort. There were a few Portlanders out in their yards fiddling with gardening or cleaning out their cars. I continued northward and eventually came to some zigs and zags, eventually coming to a point where a cycle-track picked up the greenway into the park near Powell. I’m not sure what the park is called, but the skate park part is named Ed Benedict Skatepark.
I continued down the cycle-track, zigging the first curve in the track and then come to a slow curve that kept heading east and then a sharper zag. That’s when it happened. The sitting water, albeit barely a 1-2 millimeters thick had built up a slime. My front wheel with slow speed and barely any turning energy started to slip. In that millionth of a second my reaction was automatic, I pulled onto the bike to lower my fall distance and began to roll over onto my shoulder to minimize the impact. My foot caught some of my falling momentum and for another millionth of a second it seemed I could catch the fall, but the slippage went further, with no grip whatsoever, I might as well have been riding on ice! The bike left from under me entirely and I came down on my left forearm. I pushed it forward to prevent tearing up my palms and instead impact my riding jacket. I did, fortunately and I slid along the cement of the cycle-track. I yelled at myself, “you stupid mutha-f@#!r ugh… what did you just do.” I continued on, mostly mad at myself that I’d not seen this sloppy sheen from many meters away! “What are you, a bumbling newb, get off the ground already… ” I was, to put it simply, seriously pissed at myself. Yeah, it also kind of stung, but mostly my ego from falling victim to such a stupid oops.
I brushed myself off. Walked it off for a few seconds and did a few push ups just for good measure. Counted to 10 and made sure I hadn’t actually hurt myself for real. I got my chain back on (it’d flopped off from the impact) and off I went. The initial cycle-track (as can be seen in the picture above) continued onto 102nd and then rejoined in the park with a right that then enters 103rd and Bush Street.
From Bush Street onward I was impressed at how relaxing and chill the greenway was. It continues on, with clear sharrows and turn markings all the way from there at 103rd until it disappears completely at Bush Street and 148th. This was somewhat frustrating, but I figured at least Powell Boulevard wouldn’t be to bad this far out right? RIGHT?
Bullshit. Powell Boulevard is a disgrace to humanity and any engineer that isn’t purposely attempting to kill people with cars. I despise this street with a passion. But again, I was enjoying my ride. I turned at 148th, got out to Powell and headed east. My intent was to rejoin the Springwater Corridor at some point. I didn’t really have any idea where, but at some point I knew it would be possibly with some ease.
Well, I didn’t pick the route that would provide me any ease at rejoining the Springwater Corridor. I turned off of Powell and realized I was heading into Powell Butte, which does go to the Springwater Corridor. Albeit this route is a massive uphill battle. At some point I over torqued and the chain began slipping on the cassettes’ teeth (basically that means I was tearing my bike up). Yikes! I dismounted and started walking my bike to the top of Powell Butte. Upon arriving at the top I came upon the sad conclusion that the paths that lead to Sprintwater weren’t exactly open. There were gates and such that were blocking off most of the routes. Which brings me to a few things about Powell Butte.
A Powell Butte RANT
What the hell Portland. This is supposed to be a nature reserve and there are people driving around on top of the Butte. That might not seem illogical to some, but let’s expand on that for a second. There is very little actual space at the top of the Butte. Much of the space immediately at the top is reserved for parking, multiple spots for campers. Way to encourage erosion with non-permeable surfaces! Additionally the activities that I saw on Powell Butte weren’t exactly that of nature lovers. One guy sat, car idling, while he poked at his phone. At least I suppose he wasn’t in traffic right?
Additionally there were several cars that were leaving, the drivers just blew through the stop sign entering the extremely steep entrance. Showing zero regard for the dangerous aspects of driving along such an incline!
Another thing, why is this nature reserve oriented toward motorists only? There’s no horse trail up to the top. Nope, but there’s a lot of horse signs saying beware of this or that path and horses this way or that way. But there’s no actual path up or down from the north side. Also the bikeway on to or off of the north side is nonexistent too. Maybe I’ve missed some, but that’s super sketch.
Anyway, the LAST thing that should be serviced in a natural reserve is a bunch of car parking for automobiles. That’s kind of the antithesis of nature. A bunch of nature destroying automobiles are given space to sit atop the Butte. I suppose this is so motorists can go sit up there and think about all the shit they’ve wrought upon this world, the desecration they’ve done to this great land that the United States is now consuming.
But whatever, the hypocrisy of the situation wasn’t lost on me.
So after my pondering and internal rant, which is now here written, I decided to not jump the fences to the trails down to the Springwater and instead head back down and continue on Powell (? I question my logic at this point, but…)
I pedaled on and eventually came to Powell and 182nd. There I decided to grab a bite to eat. I made a big loop through the sprawl strip mall there. I settled on the Thai Curry joint in the northwestern strip of the area. I ate up, then headed south toward the Springwater.
I made the initial mistake of continuing on 182nd and ended up going up over the Sprintwater on the bridge, but realizing my error immediately turned around and found the narrow sidewalk that leads down to the Springwater here.
Now that I was back on the Springwater Corridor Trail I just started scooting along toward Gresham. I traveled along the trail until I came to SW Walter Drive. Even though there isn’t any bike lane, I could see Powell just beyond the street. With no cars coming at all, I made a quick run to Powell Boulevard and turned right, then, with the insanity of wet roads and auto traffic barreling through at 30+ mph I merged into traffic and into the turn lane to head into downtown Gresham.
With ease I rolled through the traffic, up Main Street to 3rd, where I pulled up to and strolled into Café Delerium.
This was a 2nd Generation Coffee Shop, which always has a host of the sweet treat coffees. With that I ordered a Peppermint Patty and sat down to pen (type) the rest of this blog entry before the final leg of my adventure.
After hanging out at Café Delirium, studying up on a few other topics on interest, and getting more of this entry written I left with the intent to board the Blue Line at the Cleveland Stop bound for downtown Portland. Not with the intent of going all the way into Portland, but traveling most of the way back and detraining at some point to finish the ride back home. At least, that’s the plan.
But, after I got going that wasn’t the plan for very long. I checked, and it was 18 minutes until the next MAX departure. I figured, what the hell, let’s go check out that trail I’d noticed before but have never been on. So I trucked it back over to the Springwater Corridor and headed back toward the trail entrance from the Springwater. It only took a few minutes, I took a hard right, across some odd streets that appeared to be closed to traffic, and into the Gresham Fairview Trail.
This was a fairly quick and super easy ride straight north. However when I came out the north end of the trail, in the darkness of night, I couldn’t exactly figure out where the MAX stop was that I was looking for. I rode around the block on the sidewalk, because the streets there are some American mediocrity of road design, in other words there was barely any visibility and the last thing a motorist was going to do was see me, even with blinking lights everywhere. Screw that, I was staying on the sidewalk through this droll mess. I was rolling across another point and about to cross the major arterial street when I realized behind me stood the MAX stop. The really odd bit was, it was hardly noticeable. I rolled up, and realized I still needed to cross the street to get to the west bound station.
I crossed and in about 6 minutes the next train pulled up, I boarded, mounted my bike and sat down. At this point, it was a fairly standard MAX ride through Gresham and east Portland. Standard kids being kids; loud, annoying, stupid, stoned, and partially drunk. It was entertaining as long as you’re patient with people. If you’re racist or hate young people you really don’t want to ride the Blue Line through Gresham. I however don’t have any issue with it, and actually find it kind of hilarious. In many situations, you’d even find that you have a sort of camaraderie with these bratty teenagers that are bored out of their minds. But enough of the short MAX ride, I was entertained, it saved me a few miles of a return trip, and it met my desire to jump on the MAX for a few stops.
At 102nd I got off and headed down the I-205 Trail. I started down the path by crossing at Burnside. I got to Belmont and realized I ought to just head back to downtown. I headed west on Belmont, then right onto the greenway roads and then eventually got the Burnside. I followed that bike lane a few blocks and then cut in on that greenway headed into town. Sure enough, not even 2 blocks into that greenway and I realize my front light has puttered out. I try to turn it on to see if it has any juice left but no luck.
I kept heading down the greenway, as I didn’t really have an option to just magically charge my light. Being I’d left my battery at home too, I had zero options. UNLESS!!! I could just swing over I-84 and down 42nd to Velo Cult.
So I did!
I pulled up, entered, said hello to @lizbongrav and ordered a Dinosmores Imperial Stout! Ohhhh yeah this is just perfect for this point of the adventure. As I’m enjoying this fine beverage I throw my light – USB rechargeable yeah – and get that sucker charged up! After a solid round, some chit chat, meeting some Texans in town exploring the lands of Cascadia, I pack and am back on my steed. I rode on.
I skirted around a with my newly charged light. I reached 47th, headed over I-84 and then down the Glisan Street bike lanes. From there I cut over on 28th, taking a look see at the businesses there and the full bike corrals of people eating, drinking, and having a good time. I turned then onto Ankeny toward the city.
At 12th I cut over to Couch to follow the couplet down and across the Burnside Bridge. As always, this was a super quick jaunt down and across the bridge. Once over the bridge I cut off of Burnside back onto Couch on the west side and then a left onto Broadway. At Oak Street I turned onto the green bike lane there and then cut left onto the Park blocks streets and on to home. As I pulled up to my place I couldn’t help but think, “now that was a damn good day of riding!”
…and it was.