This past Wednesday found Emee and myself in the western suburb of Beaverton. The purpose? We were going to dinner at a fancy dumpling restaurant at Washington Square Mall, which is technically in neighboring Tualatin, but whatevs.*
The westside suburbs is a place that I don’t find myself in that frequently. If there’s any suburban area I’d be more normally found in, it would be either east (Gresham) or north (Vancouver). Those two areas are easier to get to by bike, as most westside riding means getting on the MAX light rail (which we did) or riding over the baby mountain range known as the West Hills. When I find myself on my bike in Gresham or Vancouver, it’s for fun. Anytime I find myself in the westside suburbs of Beaverton or neighboring Hillsboro, it’s mission based, I’m there for a specific reason, like dumplings or dentists. Or buying a Carradice knock-off. Or a new bike.
And there was a brief moment in 2005 that I worked out in the westside, which was my first real encounter with Beaverton and Hillsboro. As you can see by that blogpost, I had a pretty dim view of this area, which wasn’t helped by having to commute for three hours a day (round trip) to a job I absolutely detested. Thankfully that job didn’t last long, but that bad taste lingered. It took awhile before I warmed up to the ‘burbs.
Anyways, Emee and I met up in downtown Beaverton on Wednesday afternoon. The mall was about four miles away. There was the option of taking the WES (Westside Express), the area’s commuter rail. I’ve never taken it and wanted to “check it off” my list. But Emee wanted a ride, so we found a mix of bike lanes, quiet side streets, and a bike path along Fanno Creek to get us there. After dinner, we decided to take a different route back to the MAX station in order to explore a bit more. It turned out to also be surprisingly pleasant!
A big fear for me riding in unknown suburbia is what are road conditions going to be like. I have this mental image of everything being a four-to-six lane arterial. Even if there is a bike lane, it’s not going to be pleasant riding. And I know there are these types of roads out this way. But we managed to hit up the other roads out here, two lane roads with and without bike lanes. It definitely put it all in a better light.
I’ve had some little adventures out here before, but as I said earlier they are all “mission” based. My dentist is in Garden Home, which gives me the excuse to ride and explore out this way, like I did back about three years ago. But now I realize that I should just get out here for fun and check things out. There’s the Westside Tail, which looks like fun, and places like Coopers Mountain. Now I just need to motivate myself…
*There’s a string of unincorporated Washington County neighborhoods between Beaverton and Portland, like Garden Home and Raleigh Hills, but to a Portlander it’s all Beaverton!