Tenspeedroadtrip #1. Troutdale and Columbia Gorge

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We took a few days off last week and did our first tenspeedroadtrip — a short, pleasant, pedal-powered vacation. On Sunday we rode to Troutdale and checked in at the Edgefield Inn. Monday we rode out to the Columbia River and back. On Tuesday, we checked out and rode home. We rode about 60 miles in total, and got to try out our new-old bikes in a light-touring situation. I had never ridden my fixed-gear bike loaded, and it worked fine. It was Holly’s inaugural ride on her recently refurbished pink Univega sport touring cycle, and she reports that it rode very well.

You can see the full set of photos here.

Sunday’s trip out to Troutdale used the I-205 bike path to get us to the Columbia, and then we turned right and took the bike lane/bike path on Marine Dr over to Interlachen, then wandered our way down to the Edgefield. The I-205 path gets pretty here-and-there north of Burnside, but it is well signed and the mix of urban decay, suburban traffic sewage, and swaths of grass and wildlife is fascinating, to say the least. Riding on Marine Drive, in sight of the mighty Columbia, was less exciting than I’d hoped: lots of fast cars and garbage. The final stretch, wherein we looped southeast through a new subdivision called Interlachen, was incredibly windy. It was an exercise in Zen cycling; pushing forward at a barely perceptible pace, passing hilariously designed new houses (one with a sort of Home-Depot-classical colonnade for the giant SUV to park under), and, at one point, pacing along with a freight train that returned my international blow-yer-horn signal with a few blasts on the horn! Strange, exhausting and fun.

On Monday we intended to go to Multnomah Falls, but this turned out to be a long incline that was pretty tiring on our neophyte-touring legs. So we made it as far as Chanticleer overview, enjoyed the view of the Columbia and Washington, and rode back to the Inn.

For the ride home we angled through Gresham to the Springwater trail. Gresham (and the other suburbs we went through along the way) was simply horrific: suburban, car-addicted traffic planning at its finest. No un-automobile-ensconced human could ever feel at home on these roads, but then, the roads were not designed for humans, so I suppose they succeeded. Most of the roads we took had bike lanes, but they were narrow, covered in gravel and rocks, and of course accompanied by the roar of high-speed passing cars. It was genuinely inhospitable and when we reached the Springwater we were much relieved. The rest of the ride, though a little bumpy, was very pleasant. We saw a wetlands along Johnson Creek and met some curious muskrats. We stopped in Sellwood and had a pizza-and-salad lunch, then pedalled our tired selves home.

Overall I think it was a success; we got to spend plenty of time on our bicycles, and much of the cycling was very scenic and pleasant. The suburbs are the main problem (isn’t that always the way?), and I think that we will have to plan our rides to either avoid or minimize our exposure to them. We thought of a couple ways to do this. We could take the train out to the end of the line and start our ride from there. We could take the Springwater trail out to the end and then go from that point. And, of course, there may be routes out of Portland that we don’t know about, which would be less trafficky and less inhospitably suburban. Portland’s own Urban Adventure League is compiling an updated cycling route manual which will no doubt aid us in our travels, and there are lots of other resources for us to peruse.

Another way to avoid so much time spent in the suburbs would be to take more time off, so that even if we had to ride through suburbia for the two days to and from our house, we’d have more time to ride in the country in between.

With Measure 37 re-instated as an Oregon-destroying device, though, we’d better get on it, and enjoy those rural areas before they become carpeted with crackerbox subdivisions. Even now, the Springwater trail is being encroached upon by ugly, cheaply made, oversized houses. I hate to think of what it will be like in 20 years under Measure 37 — no doubt lined with windowless vinyl-siding-covered walls and tiny, garbage-strewn porches. Anything to escape that inner-city strife, I guess. Can’t wait.

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