I know this is a little outside my realm of Puget Sound, but I’d like to recommend that you get the heck down to Portland for some biking.
Perhaps you’re planning to do the STP, in which case I suggest you stick around a couple of days after the ride and tool around town. Why not? You’ll already be there, in great biking shape, and you’ll have your bike. Call in sick!
Or you could simply plan a weekend this summer and go do it.
If you go, please consider picking up a copy of Biking Portland before your trip.
This is a new book from Mountaineers Books, my publisher. Written by Owen Wozniak, a Portland local, it has everything you’ll need to find fun rides around the city and the region. Its subtitle is “55 Rides from the Willamette Valley to Vancouver,” and it uses all the big paved bike trails as well as the many bike-friendly streets. From bike lanes to bike boulevards to cycletracks, you’ll find low-traffic routes all around the area.
The book includes 19 rides in the city, 11 in the Tualitin Valley to the west, six in the Willamette Valley south of the city, another eight into the foothills east, and 10 in Washington state, across the Columbia River. That’s a lot to explore.
It also includes fun descriptions of each ride, with history, local color and area highlights, as well as elevation profiles and, of course, turn-by-turn directions that match up with the easy orientation maps. Just like Biking Puget Sound, it’s a complete package that makes it easy for you to take a hassle-free ride.
And here’s a cool aspect: much of Portland is flat! If you’re used to trudging up and down our Seattle hills, you’ll rarely break a sweat on some of the Portland routes.
Last weekend my wife and I went to Portland so I could give some talks about my other book, Cool Season Gardener. We booked a great AirBnB (thanks Kat!), loaded our bikes onto the car rack and hit the traffic. Before we knew it (OK, five and a half hours, leaving at 2 p.m. on a Friday afternoon), we were in Portland, taking our bikes out to hit the local Laurelwood brewpub. The after-dinner ride, thanks to the flat grid of streets in the NE Portland neighborhood of Rose City Park, was a breeze.
We followed that up with two rides from Biking Portland, one exploring the northeast part of the city, the other exploring the southeast. Both toured us through great neighborhoods and past many fun attractions.
The Northeast route took us through the Lloyd District (well known to anyone who has finished the STP at Holladay Park), up into the happening neighborhood around Alberta Street, further north to Fernhill Park, then back through Cully to Alameda, where we rode fabulous winding streets with great houses and huge trees.
Next we crossed through Hollywood, another neighborhood that’s hip and happening, down to Laurelhurst and back toward the Willamette River.
We took a bit of a detour from the route’s suggestion of riding over the Morrison Bridge
and back over the Burnside Bridge to just ride the Vera Katz East Bank Esplanade trail (named for the former mayor), which offers great views of the city and the bridges.
Our Southeast route took us basically east-west from the river to Mount Tabor Park and back. On a cloudy, cool Sunday morning we started near the huge, historic park,
climbing its quiet, wooded roads up to overlooks that offered views northwest to the river and downtown. But even this, our only climb of the day, was mellow compared to a Seattle hill-climb. I say that not to be competitive, but in admiration. What an enjoyable ride.
We came down out of the park and onto funky and fun Hawthorne Boulevard, where there are plenty of places for a Sunday brunch and some shopping. Then we found the
very cool Laurelhurst Park, the historic Lone Fir Cemetery, and the bustling community garden in Colonel Summers Park before heading back toward the river through the Buckman neighborhood.
On our way back, we veered off the prescribed route in Ladd’s Addition and got lost,
which I hear is a rite of passage if you bike through the neighborhood’s weirdly designed streets. No problem, as there was plenty to see and not much traffic.
We will continue to use Biking Portland every time we head down to the Rose City. I recommend you get a copy too.
p.s. Right now, if you buy one guidebook from the Mountaineers Books website, you can get the second one at half price. What a deal! Get a copy of Biking Portland for you, and a copy of Biking Puget Sound for a friend!