Pedalpalooza coming! Here’s what the Urban Adventure League (and Society of Three Speeds) has in store.

pp2017fullposter_DONOTPRINTYes, my friends, Pedalpalooza, Portland’s annual celebration of bike fun, is just around the corner. This year, it’s all of June! Which I’m not super stoked about, as I feel it’s just a bit too long. But whatever. (And I’ll be gone for a good chunk of the first half, due to bike tour.) But come the second half, I’ve got a lot of great rides lined up, including a new history-themed ride!

So, what do I have in store?

  • Thursday June 1, 5 am SUNRISE COFFEE CLUB Mount Tabor Park, SE 69th Ave and Yamhill (group picnic area on east side nearest 69th/Yamhill gate, NOT THE VERY TOP) What better way to start Pedalpalooza? Get up before the crack of dawn and ride up to Tabor to make coffee while watching the sun rise. Coffee and camaraderie guaranteed. BYO coffee, water, and way to make coffee. Think camping stoves and the like. Sunrise is hoped for at 5:24. Bringing some breakfast ain’t a bad idea, either.
  • Tuesday June 13, 5 pm PIZZA RIDE Yep, my semi-annual crazy mystery ride hitting up five or more pizzerias is BACK! Start location will be revealed a t registration but it’s somewhere around Tabor. $15/person, capped at 25 peeps. Register here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/pizza-ride-2017-head-east-tickets-33880030082?ref=wpwidget NOTE: Ride is currently full, but there is a wait list. If you are interested, I encourage you to SIGN UP FOR THE WAIT LIST. We may expand the size of the ride, and that will only go to people on the waiting list!
  • Sunday June 18, 11 am STARK ST MILEPOSTS  Stark St Station, 6049 SE Stark St  (Meet outside cafe.) Back in the day, there were stone markers laid out for every mile on SE Stark St. Miraculously, more than half survive! We’ll take an eastbound tour of the extant ones from MP 4 to 14. Ride will end out in Gresham. You can take transit home, though I’ll probably grab lunch at the end! Moderate pace, we’ll mostly be riding OFF Stark.
  • Tuesday June 20 6:45 pm POWELL BUTTE SOLSTICE SUNSET Taylor Court Grocery, 1135 SE 80th Ave (Meet outside store, but stock up on supplies inside!)
    Watch the sunset on the shortest night of the year from one of East Portland’s highest points! We’ll tackle the butte the easiest way possible, but it will still be work. We’ll have a lovely picnic (BYO) waiting for the sun to set. About a 7 mile ride one-way, some unpaved action. Not a loop but we’ll get you home. Sunset at 9:03 pm.
  • Thursday June 22, 5:30 pm ROUGH STUFF RAMBLE, EASTSIDE EDITION Fillmore, 7201 NE Glisan St An afterwork romp around the lands bordering I-205. Expect a 15 mi moderate pace with a mixture of paved/unpaved, a hill or two, and a lot of places you may have never been to. Route not a loop and will remain a mystery, but we’ll end up in NE and can get food/drinks at the end. Wider tires recommended. Bring lights/layers, we’ll be out until dark.
  • Sunday June 25, 9 am WOODLAWN PARK COFFEE OUTSIDE Woodlawn Park (under the bridge), NE Dekum St and Bellevue Ave (This park has cover, no excuse for rain to keep you away.) Wake up at a civilised hour to roll over to the park for coffee. This is a BYO affair, either make it there via camp stove, or bring brewed coffee. Something to eat isn’t a bad idea, either. Spend a bit here with friends, what’s the hurry?
  • Sunday June 25, 9:45 am THREE SPEED RIDE Woodlawn Park (under the bridge), NE Dekum St and Bellevue Ave A tour of the northern regions of the city on your humble internally geared three speed bicycle. Bring your trusty three speed bicycle from any nation. Three speeds preferred but any bike welcome if you don’t have one. Casual paced ramble,approx 15 mi, fairly flat, with a little unpaved “rough stuff” action thrown in. We’ll have a picnic and tea brew up on the way, bring all the necessities like food, a teakettle and a camping stove. Ride not a loop, ends near transit and adult beverages. Check website for more info.
  • Sunday June 25, 10 am SLOUGH COUNTRY RAMBLE Woodlawn Park (under the bridge), NE Dekum St and Bellevue Ave Let’s explore the nearer reaches of the Columbia Slough! This approximately 20 mi ride will feature sleepy reaches of this waterway, plus other secret spots. Mixed surfaces, may have to push or carry a bike for a bit. A bit of high traffic roads, too. Not a loop but will end near transit, and maybe we’ll do lunch, etc at the end.
  • Monday June 26, 10 am MIDWEEK RIDE TO THE COLUMBIA GORGE (start location revealed upon registration, but somewhere in Gresham) Riding to quiet country roads and spectacular scenery is easier than you think. The Columbia River Gorge is just a short bicycle ride away. And you can totally handle it if you are an everyday rider. Bring a snack, water, and Trimet fare. Geared bikes recommended. Approx 40 miles round trip. Camping option at Ainsworth State Park. REGISTRATION REQUIRED! https://ualmdwkgorge2017.eventbrite.com
  • Monday June 26 MIDWEEK CAMPING IN THE COLUMBIA GORGE Ainsworth State Park, Historic Columbia River Hwy, just S of I-84 (at the hiker/biker sites) After the Gorge ride, let’s camp at Ainsworth State Park for the night and head back Tuesday. Hiker/biker site $5/person. You can ride out with the main Gorge ride or come out on your own. Registration required. https://ualmdwkgorge2017.eventbrite.com
  • Thursday June 29, 6:30 pm PROPER PEDAL PICNIC  P’s and Q’s Market, 1301 NE Dekum St (Meet outside store, but stock up on supplies inside!) A classy type of picnic ride. Leave your ratty t-shirt, cutoffs, and “I just ran to the store” chips and hummus for ANOTHER picnic ride, this one is about stepping it up. Dress up nicely (you don’t have to be super-fancy, but it wouldn’t hurt) and think about nice foods and beverages to bring. Blankets and nice picnic setups are good too. Thankfully we start at a classy joint to buy provisions. Ride will be about five miles to a mystery picnic destination. Bring lights and layers, we may be out after dark! And stay classy.

A Leif Erickson ride, 16 April 2017

Sunday, April 16 2017.  A pretty nice day around these parts. not that sunny, but dry and a high reaching 63F/18C. A nice day to be outside. I had no work or obligations. Where to go? Well, there was a ride heading out to the tulip festival in Woodburn. Sounded fun, but it would be at minimum a 70 mile round trip ride. I don’t know if I was in shape for that yet. Going out to the Gorge would be cool, but on a nice Sunday? Think of the traffic. (Not only that, but there was a stiff east wind today.) Nope, something closer to home, and shorter, since I didn’t leave the house until after noon. How about Leif Erickson Drive in Forest Park?

Yes, Forest Park, that vast wooden expanse stretching northward from downtown along the West Hills. I wanted some “woodsy” time, this would give me quite a bit of that! Sure, Forest Park isn’t exactly pristine wilderness, but it’s enough for me right now. And some sounds of the city can permeate the dense woods, but it’s pretty serene nonetheless.

I decided to enter Forest Park from the south, via NW Thurman St. I do this for a couple reasons: 1) Heading east across the St Johns Bridge via bicycle is easier than west and 2) Most of the climbing happens in the first mile or so. Not only that, but the first mile or two from the Thurman gate is the roughest section of the Leif Erickson trail, so it’s nice to ascend here than descend.

There were plenty of cars at the trailhead, and there were a decent amount of folks within the first couple miles. Beyond that, things thinned out a bit, though the trail had users on it the whole eleven miles on this nice Sunday. There were walkers, joggers-I mean runners, dogs, and other cyclists. The bikes ran the gamut: while this is considered a “mountain bike” trail, I did see folks with fairly skinny tires (28 mm?) and I also saw a few fat bikers too.  (I was in the middle with my plump Rat Trap Pass tires, which did well on everything except mud.)

But I wasn’t here to see cyclists, I was here to see trees! And the ride didn’t disappoint in that department. All the creeks were flowing mightily with winter rains, the buds on the deciduous trees were in bloom, and there were trilliums everywhere I looked! The trail itself was in okay condition, though there was its share of puddles and mud.

I rode the whole length of Leif Erickson, then bombed down Germantown Road to the St Johns Bridge. I got dinner at Proper Eats (which is closing at the end of the month, alas.) Then it was a fairly short jaunt homeward…

Here is my route.

It happened: Chehalem Range Ramble, 26 Feb 2017

Yes, my friends, the ride I had rescheduled twice over the course of two years has finally happened. This time I had the determination to stick it out, no matter what.

And determination is what I needed as I woke up Sunday morning. While Saturday was beautiful, sunny and dry with a high near 50F/10C, I awoke at 6 am on Sunday to rain out the window, and a forecast of showers and rain all day. To top that off, I got texts from two of the people who were supposed to come bailing on me. Will anyone come? Or is this going to be an hour long MAX trip to just have breakfast in Hillsboro? I texted a couple other people who said they’d be going and got one confirmation, so that was something to raise my spirits.

The trip to Hillsboro was a comedy of errors. I missed my MAX train by about five minutes. No problem, I’ll catch the next one. But I forgot that early on Sunday morning the train runs at a half-hour frequency, which meant I was going to be late. To top it off, about 15 minutes in the train stopped for 15 minutes due to a medical emergency. I had to transfer trains two more times to get to Hillsboro. I was supposed to be to Hillsboro by 8:30, now it was more like 9:30! Thankfully, there were three folks waiting for me: Vince, Ed, and Aaron, and they were just finishing up breakfast. And miraculously, the rain had stopped, and the radar didn’t show anything for a while. A break.

The first 10 miles was the warm-up to the Chehalem Mountains, a relatively flat romp first through suburbia, then open farmland. A decent headwind made up for the lack of hills. But the real challenge started after we passed the always-closed Laurel Valley Market. Campbell Road started its charge skyward, and lower gears were wished for. Finnigan Hill Road started with a brief but screaming descent into the McFee Creek valley, then the true climbing began. For the next four miles we’d be gradually climbing up the mountain. But Finnigan Hill Road turned out to be the best way I’ve found up so far: generally a 5 to 7% grade with a few short steeper 10% pitches thrown in for good measure, decent gravel for the most part, peacefully quiet and pretty scenic.

But there would be another “challenge” thrown in. The forecasts had threatened a snow level of around 1000 feet all weekend, and we’d be easily going higher than that. We saw a couple cars descend down from the mountain with snow on them. And as we climbed further, we started seeing evidence of snow on the sides of the road, then eventually on the road itself. This is going to be interesting, I thought to myself!

The last mile to the top of the mountains on Bald Peak Road was paved and mostly clear of snow. A heavy fog clung to everything, and the state park at Bald Peak was covered with a light layer of snow. It wasn’t raining, but the snow on the Douglas Firs was thawing, creating a “rain” where our picnic table was. Plus, the heavy fog meant that there was no view. We all ate our food (and I made my coffee) as fast as we could.

It was all downhill from there, of course. The first bit of descent was sketchy as there was snow on the road, and unseen gravel mixed in. Thankfully, it didn’t take too long to get out of the “snow zone”. We turned onto Laurelwood Road for the true screaming descent, announced by a warning sign of 18% grade! Thank you, disc brakes!

It wasn’t long until we were out of the Range and back into the Tualatin Valley lowlands. We stopped in the tiny town of Gaston at about 25 miles in for food and warmth. We could do a ten mile loop that would incorporate Williams Canyon Road, one of my favorite gravel roads out this way. But we were beat already. We all came to the realization that we hadn’t done that much “good” riding this season, mostly because the weather hasn’t been conducive (and also for me, because my Bantam has been out of commission for months). While we could have done the loop, we opted for the easier option of heading back to Hillsboro from here. This was on more mostly mellow farm roads with a bit of rolling action and a lack of traffic. We got into Hillsboro just before 5 pm and hopped on the MAX light rail.

I am really, really, really glad that I did the ride after all. It was a fun time, and it reminded me of why I love this area. And besides the snow and fog at the top of the mountains, it was pretty much dry, too. (There was a brief sprinkle while we were eating in Gaston.) I wish there were more people that showed up, but I’m going to try to do a variation of this ride again, except early fall when the weather is better. In the meantime, I plan on getting back out here for more bike explorations. Maybe you’ll join me?

The basic ride route here on RideWithGPS.

 

Pre-riding.

If you have been following this blog long enough, you know that not only do I go off and do my own solo bike adventures, but I lead bicycle rides around the Portland area. Yep, I’ve been doing this for thirteen years now!  And I’ve cataloged a lot of the streets and areas of the city in my almost sixteen years here. I can often design a bike route by simply opening up Ride With GPS and plotting the route. And I’d be fairly confident with what I had created.

But there still is great advantage to the “pre-ride”, a test of the route by bike. Sometimes things have changed since the last time you were out there. Or, you get a burst of inspiration and decide to reroute a stretch because you found a better way, or there’s something more scenic or interesting. In any case, it’s always good to test the ride, no matter how familiar you think you are with it!

Coming up soon I will have a slew of different rides on the calendar. Earlier this week, the weather finally got pretty nice, low 50’s and sunny, though the east wind was pretty fierce. I decided to get out there and do some riding in the service of future rides.

First up was Monday and the Tweed Ride, which will happen Sunday April 9. Despite me feeling like I was “done” with this ride a couple years ago, I’m still helping out because it’s fun! This is the first year that I’m truly creating the route. (Last year I picked it up after the initial route creator baled.) This year we’ll be starting from Westmoreland Park in SE, the first time the ride would hit up this neck of the woods. Much of the route I had plotted worked okay, but I did make some changes due to on-the-ground reality and also because I got excited about some other options.

Tuesday started sunny again. Originally I had planned to go on a hike in the West Hills. But I wasn’t moving that fast in the morning, mostly because I had a bit too much fun at a dinner party the night previous. But the weather is too nice to stay inside, what should I do? Then it came to me: pre-ride the upcoming Three Speed Ride (Sunday April 2)! This ride would be hitting up some areas on the eastside that I’m not super familiar with. And it was a good idea to do a pre-ride, as I found some interesting nooks and crannies out there while tweaking and finessing what I already had.

These rides, along with other ones in the pipeline, should be fun, so I hope you can come if you are in the Portland metro area! And if you ever decide to lead rides of your own, remember the pre-ride!

Chehalem Range Ramble! Sunday February 26!

2014-11-22 14.32.03Yes, I am finally getting around to rescheduling the Chehalem Range Ramble! Woot! With my new schedule of Sundays and Mondays off, it’s a lot easier to schedule this stuff. And my bike should be fine this time. Just really hope the weather is good, but damn it, I’m going to do this ride!

The basic details haven’t changed much since October when I originally scheduled this ride. But here ya go:

  • This ride will happen on Sunday, February 26 at 8:30 am. The sort of meet up spot is the Hatfield Government Center MAX station in Hillsboro, which is the west end of the Blue Line. We won’t actually “meet” there though.
  • We’ll actually meet at 8:30 am at Diversity Cafe, 230 E Main St in Hillsboro. This is about two blocks east of the Hatfield TC MAX station on the Blue Line (the end of the line.) Yep, we’ll have a nice sit down breakfast before a big ride! You can check out their very breakfasty menu via the web, but BE WARNED, IT’S ONE OF THOSE WEBSITES THAT STARTS PLAYING MUSIC, ETC WHEN YOU OPEN IT! Looks like they stopped the music thing, whew.
  • If’n you aren’t into a full breakfast, just meet us at the cafe by 9:30 am. (There is another coffee option nearer the station if you just want something quick, but I ain’t naming names. Hint: There’s a mermaid on the cup.) Please note that we won’t be going by the MAX station after breakfast, so meet us at Diversity Cafe.
  • The ride is about 50 miles round-trip, and you can check that out here. We can shave off about 10 miles by cutting out the gravel loop around Gaston. I’d prefer to keep that loop, but if we’re too beat or the weather starts to suck, it’s an option. The biggest difference between this ride and the one in 2014 is there will only be one crossing of the Chehalem Range, not two. Also, we’ll be hitting up Forest Grove and straight-shotting along Baseline back to Hillsboro. Yeah, it’s not ideal, but it allows a dinner stop in FG (see below) and really, most of the riding right outside of Forest Grove on the south side is sub-par, so it’s six of one, half-dozen the other…
  • This route also has a bit more Bald Peak Road than before. It’s paved, but there is some traffic. We’ll descend via Laurelwood Rd through the community of the same name. I’ve always wanted to check out this town!
  • As for breaks and food, Bald Peak is at about mile 19. I plan on taking a good break here and making coffee. While there’s an outhouse, there is no water here, so make sure you have enough for the ride, esp. if you want to make coffee here. At about mile 27 is Gaston, which has a store and probably a pub/restaurant. We’ll pass through Forest Grove on the way back, so we can stop by the Grand Lodge for dinner and drinks.
  • While this ride does not stray that far from the fringe of the metro area, it has a surprising lack of services. After leaving Hillsboro, the next food/water will be Gaston at mile 27 and then there may be a country store or so before Forest Grove. So be prepared!
  • I’d say about 25% of this ride is gravel. I think the ascent to Bald Peak is a good deal of gravel, and the Gaston Loop is I think mostly gravel. Note I said “I think” as the maps don’t tell me. But most of the climbs over the Chehalem Range are gravel, so it’s a good guess. I’d say you should be good if you have tires north of 32 mm in width. Nothing super-technical, so you don’t need to ride your full-sus MTB unless you want to!
  • And as indicated in the last bullet point, I have only ridden some sections of this ride, not all. So expect a degree of mystery!

If you are intending on going, please give me a heads up! urbanadventureleague@gmail.com

Alternate commutes.

I’ve lived at my current house in Woodlawn for three years. The distance to work is just a little under 6 miles (10 km.) Over the three years I’ve refined my morning bike commute into the most efficient and fastest route possible. I’m generally okay with it, as it sticks mostly to low traffic streets. It isn’t particularly scenic, but it has its moments.

And I’m bored of it.

Every once in awhile I tell myself I need to change it up, try out a different (read: longer) way. That’s great in theory, but this would require waking up earlier. I’m no morning person; I can barely get to work on time as it is. So the familiar route stays for the most part, and I stay frustrated.

But I can change up my route a bit on the days I DON’T need to be there by 8 am. I usually work at least one shift a week that starts at 3 pm. While I’ve done my regular commute route even then (esp. if I realize I need to get going), lately I’ve been trying to go the longer, more scenic way in. This generally means aiming closer to the Willamette River. This is especially useful if I want to check my PO Box at East Portland Station on the way in and/or get a quick lunch.

img_20170126_171523_089.jpg img_20170126_171547_643.jpgThis “alternate” commute happened on Thursday. On the way southward, I’ve been choosing NE Rodney Ave vs the faster and more popular NE Vancouver Ave. While I am guaranteed to see cyclists on Vancouver,* I’m guaranteed to see the goats of ZZZ Ranch on Rodney. Urban goats! I’ve known about the former Belmont Goats for years, but didn’t realize that there were three goats on Rodney until December! I try to stop by for five to ten minutes. And lucky for the goats, I have quarters, so I can feed them from the “goat food dispenser”, an old candy machine.

img_20170126_180523_304.jpgFrom there, I cruised further down Rodney, got over to Vancouver to get through the Rose Quarter, and paused at the overlook by the Steel Bridge where you can take the path down to the Eastbank Esplanade. I love stopping here because the view of the Willamette River and the city is great, and the Steel Bridge is my favorite bridge. I’ll usually see a couple MAX light rail trains crossing the span on the upper deck, but I often see some train action on the lower deck, too. Sometimes I catch the turning around of Amtrak’s Empire Builder,** the train I have taken eastward to Minneapolis and Chicago many a time. I didn’t see the Builder today, but maybe the next time I come down this way?

From this point, I could cruise down the Eastbank Esplanade for a nice waterside ride of a mile or so. I decided to take the quicker way inland to get to the SE Industrial District and pick up my mail and a bite to eat. Maybe next time, when I have more time.

It feels good to shake up the commute a bit from time to time. And the added bonus of feeding goats doesn’t hurt!

*And gravel. They take a long time to clean the gravel out of the bike lane after a snowstorm.

**When the Builder comes into Portland, it’s pointing southward. In order to get it pointing northward to go back towards Chicago,*** the train must cross the Steel Bridge where it can turn around via a wye on the east side of the river.

***Yes, yes, Chicago is east, I know. But the train has to head north across the Columbia first.

Chehalem Range Ramble for tomorrow CANCELLED.

Yeah, I hate to do a cancel with less than 12 hours before the ride starts. And yes, I realize that I cancelled last year’s ride. And yes, the weather is supposed to suck tomorrow. But that’s not the primary reason for the cancel.
Basically, it’s mechanical. The front brakes on the Bantam are having issues, and it’s not anything I can have fixed by 8 am tomorrow. (There’s also other issues going on with the front wheel.) Tomorrow is supposed to feature lots of rain and some good descents, nothing I really want to risk with my brakes being the shape they are.
And my backup bike, the Crested Butte, also is having front brake issues. So I don’t have a bike that would be suitable for tomorrow’s ride.
So I apologize. I would like to do this ride at some point this winter, so stay tuned for a reschedule.

Chehalem Range Ramble, Saturday 5 November

Hey folks! Just a friendly reminder that my sort of annual Chehalem Range Ramble will be happening next Saturday, November 5! (Sort of annual, since I did it in 2014 but cancelled it last year due to a nasty weather forecast.) This ride is a mixed surface ride of about 50 miles, going up and over and around the Chehalem Mountains, the small mountain range in the Willamette Valley dividing the Tualatin Valley from the Yamhill Valley. The range is short but steep and topping out at elevations from about 1200 feet to its highest point, Bald Peak, at just over 1,600 feet. Many of the roads leading up and over the ridge are gravel!

You can see photos and the full report of the 2014 ride here. And here’s the route from the 2014 adventure.

Here are the pertinent details for this year’s ride:

  • First off, I am indeed totally aware that there is another day long ride happening in the same area on the same day. If you know about it, there’s a chance that you’ve already done that ride at least once, and it looks like the same route that it’s been for awhile. My ride will feature roads that you (and I) have not been on, and some gravel. If it makes you feel any better, I can print up some “brevet” cards and refer to all stops as “control points.” 😉
  • We’ll be meeting at 8 am at Diversity Cafe, 230 E Main St in Hillsboro. This is about two blocks east of the Hatfield TC MAX station on the Blue Line (the end of the line.) Yep, we’ll have a nice sit down breakfast before a big ride! If’n you aren’t into a full breakfast, just meet us at the cafe by 9 am. (There is another coffee option nearer the station if you just want something quick, but I ain’t naming names.) You can check out their very breakfasty menu via the web, but BE WARNED, IT’S ONE OF THOSE WEBSITES THAT STARTS PLAYING MUSIC, ETC WHEN YOU OPEN IT!
  • The ride is about 50 miles round-trip, and you can check that out here. We can shave off about 10 miles by cutting out the gravel loop around Gaston. I’d prefer to keep that loop, but if we’re too beat or the weather starts to suck, it’s an option. The biggest difference between this ride and the one in 2014 is there will only be one crossing of the Chehalem Range, not two. Also, we’ll be hitting up Forest Grove and straight-shotting along Baseline back to Hillsboro. Yeah, it’s not ideal, but it allows a dinner stop in FG (see below) and really, most of the riding right outside of Forest Grove on the south side is sub-par, so it’s six of one, half-dozen the other…
  • As for breaks and food, Bald Peak is at about mile 19. I plan on taking a good break here and making coffee. While there’s an outhouse, there is no water here, so make sure you have enough for the ride, esp. if you want to make coffee here. At about mile 27 is Gaston, which has a store and probably a pub/restaurant. We’ll pass through Forest Grove on the way back, so we can stop by the Grand Lodge for dinner and drinks.
  • While this ride does not stray that far from the fringe of the metro area, it has a surprising lack of services. After leaving Hillsboro, the next food/water will be Gaston at mile 27 and then there may be a country store or so before Forest Grove. So be prepared!
  • I’d say about 25% of this ride is gravel. I think the ascent to Bald Peak is a good deal of gravel, and the Gaston Loop is I think mostly gravel. Note I said “I think” as the maps don’t tell me. But most of the climbs over the Chehalem Range are gravel, so it’s a good guess. I’d say you should be good if you have tires north of 32 mm in width. Nothing super-technical, so you don’t need to ride your full-sus MTB unless you want to!

Okay! Hope to see you there! Please give me a heads up at urbanadventureleague@gmail.com if you think you’ll be coming.2014-11-22 11.49.52