A new way to get to Washington? Yes, please!

I discovered a new bridge yesterday!

But before we get there, let me back up a bit. Bridges are a bit of a necessity in Portland since the Willamette River splits the city in half. Luckily, if you want to cross from west to east (or vice versa), you have ten whole bridges to choose from, with another light rail/pedestrian/bike bridge on the way. When it comes to crossing the Willamette in Portland, you’ve got plenty of options.

steel bridge(the Steel Bridge might be my favorite. Especially in the hopefully-happening-soon springtime:)

If you want to cross the Columbia River, on the other hand, from Portland to Washington (or, again, vice versa) your options are more limited. Basically, there’s the I-5 bridge and the I-205 bridge, both with rather unpleasant bike lanes–but protected bike lanes nonetheless (it’s possible that no bridge shared with a major interstate will ever be more than simply functional).

What this means is that if you want to, say, ride your bike from where I am in Oregon into Washington, I always assumed that you had to go over one of these two bridges. Unless, that is, you wanted to bike down the Columbia River Gorge and take the Bridge of the Gods about 50 miles to the east.

So, this new bridge I found. I guess I should admit that from Portland it’s really no more practical than the Bridge of the Gods, since it’s also about 50 miles away. However, it is a bridge in a whole new direction that I didn’t know about, and that makes it novel and exciting to me. Ready? It’s the Lewis and Clark Bridge from Rainer, OR to Longview, WA:

lewis and clark bridge

I’ll admit that’s not the most flattering picture of it, but I think it’s actually a pretty sweet bridge. We came to it from the Washington side after having biked north from Portland (over the I-5 bridge:), then through La Center and Kalama. Though the approach from Longview isn’t too lovely and the bike lane is full of debris, it’s still kind of exciting that you can bike 50-some-odd miles north into Washington and then still be able to get back into Oregon without turning around and heading south again.

And it’s always exciting to find new-to-me stuff.

Big thanks to Mr Kevin Brightbill who came up with the route for this ride, and then named it Elphais Doge just for some extra Harry Potter mojo. Check out his other rides while you’re at it–I bet they’re awesome too. And though I don’t know that the Lewis and Clark bridge is really ever going to become part of any sort of normal commute, I’m glad to know it exists. Hooray for bikey exploration:)

7 Comments:

  1. Kevin has a nice 700k loop, too; want to ride it sometime this summer after you get a bicycle that can fit larger tires + fenders?

  2. Ugh, looking at the photo of that bridge gives me hives. Only rode over it once, and not a good experience. It’s why I choose to ride the Washington side of the Columbia (Vancouver-Kelso) if I’m heading north towards Puget destinations.

    • heh. That good, huh?:) Dare I ask why it was so bad (or can I guess, given all the shit in the bike lane and the zooming nearby traffic?)

  3. It’s not that bad. The shoulder is wide enough, and there are only a few places where the debris is heaped more than 6 inches deep. I’d never take the lane on it, but it’s nicer than going across the i205 bridge between Portland and Vancouver.

  4. I’m just going to have to respectfully disagree. I found the shoulder not that wide. And the time I went across the if-you-want-to-call-it-that shoulder was full of wood chips and other logging truck degree. I basically hit a big chunk of wood at speed, causing a blow-out. I couldn’t avoid it due to the traffic.

  5. Oh, I can see how something like a blowout would tend to spoil that bridge forever. I found the shoulders wide enough to ride comfortably (and even stop to take picture like stasia and I did on Sunday), but it would really really really really really suck to have to change a tire there (or to have to walk a bicycle all the way down off the bridge to get to a wide enough spot where you could change a tire without being swatted by a load of pulpwood (after one winter where my xtracycle had about 5 debris flats on Marine Drive, I swore that road off for about a year and only started riding it again when I had switched to riding the midlifecrisismobile instead.

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