I'm adding in a few tunes to these next couple entries. Let me know what you think. All the tunes have been brought to my attention by my friends at the Wetbandits
. Check them out for all your funky/disco/electronic needs.
I have now been living in Portland since graduation last May. I have found a lot of great roads and this post is all about were to go if you are visiting or new to the area. I have summarized my local riding routes in yellow (nice quiet flat roads) and red (climbing) in the image found below. Enjoy!
From June through August, I lived with my Rubicon teammates at the team house in Vancouver, Wa, just a stones throw from Portland and the infamous Albino Coffee Shop. Although I've never liked coffee, we would often cruise down every Monday when we were in town. The Albino, which is on Albina street, is actually not quite downtown. It is in the Mississippi area, a cool hippie area just northeast of downtown. The area is very friendly to cyclists and you should drop by and checkout its assortment of bakeries, tacorias and coffee shops. This area is also the location of the Cirque du Cycle, a well-attended OBRA criterium raced each June to generate cancer awareness. In grand style, Quinn Keogh, my teammate and roommate put on a hell of a show and won the event last year without any teammates. The guy never gives up. This photo ended up going around the internet world.
On a side note, I have been recently reading Quinn's old blog from his pre-cancer cyclocross travels to Belgium (The Simple Life
). My favorite entry so far discusses his first stage racing experience (Why?
). Who knew losing your virginity could be such an uphill battle!
Back to Downton Portland. 23rd avenue, which I cross everyday now on my way home from training rides out west in North Plains and Forest Grove, also has a slew of great coffee shops.So be sure to check out this area in the summer. Hoping to catch some of the local scenery, Roman always went to great lengths to make sure he looked cool when we were down there, which usually meant coordinating the colors of his glasses with those of his cycling socks.
From the team house our most common training route took us out to the West Hills, usually Germantown. Most of the climbs in the West hills range from 10-15 minutes, averaging 5-7.5% gradients. They were definitely steep after coming from a spring in the wheatfields of Walla Walla. All of the climbs are very twisty as well which makes the first ascent a real surprise as it is hard to tell just how close you are to the top!
Marked by #1, Germantown consistently climbs at 7% with multiple +10% sections. It is very smooth but often busy with cars. However it can serve as a great benchmark climb as it is close to downtown and easily accessible via the St. John bridge (so you can avoid Highway 30). The descent is very fun too as long as you don't let any Camaro's pass you...my F1 Felt
bike and Kenda
tires crush them steel fools any day!
Moving north, McNamee starts off with a bang at 24% under the railroad crossing then continues to stair-step up for 15 minutes at top pace. This is a great option if you are looking for a nice tempo climb to simulate the ebb and flow of a climbing peloton. It is also very quiet and serves as a good descent if you are northbound for the green switchbacks of Logie Trail.
Logie Trail. Only 2 miles northward along Highway 30, its twisty kickups and switchbacks of the east side are quintessential of Portland's biking opportunities. It starts out pretty straight forward at 5% for the first five minutes, but once you past the last farm house, it's all business. The rainforest creeps inward, the road tilts up and the only place to go is straight up. It is not smooth, it is not easy and when you get to the top you don't want to go do it again...at least not on the same day. But after you catch your breath from that last minute of attacking up to the stop sign's white line, there is something deep down that makes you confident that today's effort was strong and that you left it all out on the road. It usually takes 15-16 minutes to scale the mountain side and serves as a perfect testing ground for longer climbing intervals.
Despite Logie Trail taking the cake as the most taxing, my favorite climb is found on the west side. Hidden away, Old Germantown is truly close to achieving the criteria of "car-sized bike path". I have only seen 1 car on the road over the past five months which can make going over the yellow line on the last few corners before setting a PB extra tempting. Good thing there is no yellow line! Although I didn't find the road until September and after the season had finished, I have incorporated its twisty, foggy, smooth and quiet tarmac into my winter training as much as possible. It takes 9-10 minutes to ascent and averages 8%. There is a flatter section 60% of the way up, of course the final 150 metres make up for that rest as it peaks out at +12% in the final haul. Oh, and there is even paint on the road cheering you on at approximately 1.5 minutes from the top!
In the bottom left hand section of the map, Bald Peak is highlighted. These climbs are hard. Period. Anyway you cut it. You are looking at 15-20 minutes of solid work at your lactate threshold. Another good adventure however is to travel around the entire mountain, along the yellow road extending southwards out of the picture. This southern loop can be done in about 2.5 hours from Forest Grove so plan for a 5.5-6.0 hour ride if you are traveling from Portland. It is mostly flat with some tempo climbing near the south edge of the loop. Long rides in October, November and December often included some part of this loop.
Most recently I have been doing a lot of riding through North Plains and in the Banks region. There are some steep little climbs and long smooth farm roads there, great for group rides, tempo sets, lactate intervals and BODI workouts.
If you are new to town, I strongly recommend a visit to the Portland Velo
Saturday group ride. Everyone is very friendly and there is usually five different groups depending upon your speed. Yes, that's right! They usually have 10+ riders in each group, it is a +300 rider club. They are based in Hillsboro and meet at Longbottoms
coffee shop. Enjoy Portland! I did!