Monthly Archives: October 2013

Intro rando ride, anyone??

It’s time! If you’ve ever been curious about randonneuring, if you’ve ever wanted to ride around Washington county, if you just want a lovely joyride on what looks to be a fairly decently-weathered Saturday, this is for you:

banks-vernonia trail(last year’s same ride)

The 8th annual Verboort Sausage Populaire!

This Saturday! 9am! 100 kilometers (about 62 miles) around Forest Grove, Timber, Vernonia, and Banks, and ending at–yes–the Verboort Sausage Fest. (okay, they call it the “Verboort Sausage Dinner” on their website, but with a raffle, beer garden, bingo, and a shit-ton of sausage, you know it’s a festival;)

Come on, everyone! 100 kilometers is totally an approachable distance. The start in Forest Grove is not super far from the MAX line. 9am is not that early on a weekend. You don’t need to be fast. You don’t need to have a fancy bike. If you show up in your post-Halloween costume, I will give you a giant high five.

Even James, who is not into long-distance riding, did it with me last year and survived quite nicely:

black bear coffee(you, too, could be this excited about life!:)

It’s going to be awesome!! Sign up (here)! Come ride it with me! Yay!!

Covered Bridges Scenic Bikeway! A covered-bridge-stravaganza!

I didn’t exactly set out with a goal of riding all the Scenic Bikeways in Oregon, but it does sort of seem like somewhere along the line I’ve gone in that direction. Perhaps mostly because they’re a good excuse to get out somewhere that I might not otherwise go (like Cottage Grove, for example), to explore roads that I might not otherwise know existed.

Whatever the reason, when I had about two and a half consecutively free days last week, I decided to make a trip first down to Eugene, which I’m quickly falling in love with, and then to Cottage Grove a little further south to ride the Covered Bridges Scenic Bikeway.

This might be one of my favorite bikeways so far (though hard to say, really, since so many of them are so lovely:). The first 17 miles of it are on a dedicated bike path, totally separate from traffic except for a few road crossings. Though check this: unlike in Portland on the Springwater Corridor, say, you don’t necessarily have to stop when you get to a road crossing, just yield.

row river trail(big points for that one!:)

But lack of stop signs aside, the bike path is also totally awesome in its own right. It begins by simply feeling like a really nice, urbanish bike path, and then starts to feel increasingly like you’re somewhere remote in the beautiful woods. Despite the misty and somewhat gloomy day, the fall colors were beautiful, the world quiet and peaceful in the bedding-down-for-winter kind of way.

row river trail(still near the road)

row river trail(I guess you’re never actually that far from a road, but it starts to feel much more remote, especially as you get near Dorena Lake)

While I was on the bike path, I actually caught myself forgetting a few times that the main attraction for this scenic bikeway is the covered bridges–that’s how nice the bike path was, enough to actually forget how excited I was for all the bridges! :) But don’t worry, there sure are a lot of covered bridges that you either go right past or actually get to bike through.

Dorena covered bridge(the Dorena covered bridge is apparently a popular wedding site–at least, according to the RideOregonRide bikeway site:)

chambers covered bridge(and the Chambers covered bridge is the last covered railroad bridge extant in Oregon. Though no one actually uses it now except for tourists like me:)

After a short out-and-back section to Culp Creek park (mostly just a parking lot with a gross pit toilet), the bikeway returns to Cottage Grove via some lovely, rolling roads along the other side of Dorena Lake–though if you wanted to stay traffic-free you could certainly make it an out-and-back entirely on the bike path (though that means you’d miss the Dorena and Stewart covered bridges).

And then once you’re back at Cottage Grove, there’s one last little section that takes you through the city proper, to the Chamber and Centennial bridges and a cute little main street with shops, murals, restaurants. I actually did the main street part of the bikeway first since I wanted to get a sense of what Cottage Grove was like before I took off on the rest of the bikeway, though it turns out that the Cottage Grove inset map I printed from RideOregonRide didn’t exactly mesh with the real bikeway signs posted (though no worries; Cottage Grove is small is basically impossible to get lost in).

All told, it’s a pretty amazing ride–and at just under 38 miles, totally rideable in a super mellow day. (For that matter, it’s also rideable from Eugene, though that makes it closer to a 100-mile day;) There is public transit available between Eugene and Cottage Grove as well.)

And the extra super awesome bonus? On the cue sheet, there’s a random little side note when you get to the end of the bike path at Culp Creek. To continue on the scenic bikeway, you simply turn around and go back the way you came for a few miles. But the cue sheet also cryptically mentions “2 miles on Row River Rd to Wildwood Falls.” Wildwood Falls? I had to see what that was about–and sure enough, if you follow the road for about 10 more minutes (there’s also a marked left turn involved), you get to a waterfall!

wildwood falls(the 15 or so minutes I spent here were coincidentally also the only 15 sunnyish minutes of the day:)

So the Covered Bridges Scenic Bikeway? 5 stars from me:)

This was perhaps the last adventure of the season that I’ll have (relatively) good weather, and I’m glad to have spent it on roads new to me, roads with covered bridges:)

(Interested in more pictures, both of the scenic bikeway and biking in Eugene? Check them here.)

Tomorrow is Breakfast on the Bridge–Superhero Edition!

Sadly, I won’t be there (though happily, because I’ll be in Eugene:), but head down to the Steel, Hawthorne, or Burnside bridges tomorrow between 7 and 9am for some free coffee and treats. And superheroes!!

(Yes, this is the Breakfast on the Bridge version of Halloween:)

Tardy slips are available:)

Walking the streets of Portland

One of my favorite things about Portland is how much there is to explore: no matter how long I live here, there are always new things to find. (As a side note, this is particularly essential for a person as prone to crazy wanderlust as me:)

And when I want to find something new and learn about it, one of my favorite resources is this happy little book:

portland hill walks cover(read all about it here!)

It’s full of different self-directed walks all over Portland (though, tellingly, nothing in super East Portland, perhaps since on the whole it’s kind of a shitty place to walk). And the best part of it is that Laura Foster has a humongous wealth of knowledge about Portland history, geography, geology and all sorts of little quirks, so as you walk you can read all about the architecture you’re walking by, the old personalities that fill up the historical space, the cool things to notice about the plants…all sorts of stuff.

Last weekend, James and I had a chance to take one of her walks with our good friends over at Walklandia, who are slowly but surely walking every single street in Portland. (Seriously. Check them out! They’re giant badasses.)

Our walk took us to Willamette Heights–an old neighborhood in NW Portland–and through a few chunks of Forest Park, a lovely excursion for a foggy morning.

willamette heights spiderweb(nothing like fog to remind you how many spiderwebs there are in the world:)

hand by hand mural(a mural called “Hand by Hand” to commemorate the centennial of the Willamette Heights neighborhood)

At one point, we found ourselves on top of a nondescript little hill that Foster calls “Scot’s Nubbin” but is also mentioned online as Scotch Nubbin–basically, it’s what’s left of a hill after the western side of it was terraced and sluiced away so as to accommodate all the fancy houses.

(How cool is it to be able to say we stood on top of a nubbin? :)

forest park(We also just saw–and hiked through–a bunch of Forest Park, which is super beautiful right now in its fall splendor)

Sometimes, a pre-planned walk like the ones in this book, with historical information and other interesting things of note, gives just the kind of structure you need to transform a random I’ll-just-walk-through-my-neighborhood walk into a real excursion. That little bit of extra pizazz that comes from a walk that feels like a self-directed tour, where afterward you can tell someone about all the cool stuff you saw that you didn’t previously know about–sometimes that’s exactly the right impetus to start a few hours’ worth of exploring.

Not that meandering, no-real-destination walks are bad. I love those walks. But it’s also pretty sweet to go on a walk through your own largely defined backyard (ha! I wish I had some of the backyard these fancy houses had, up against Forest Park!) and come out of it feeling like you have a better sense of your city. I’m grateful to Laura Foster for all the piles of research she must have done to make this book and that feeling possible.

And I’m thankful that I live somewhere that’s as walkable as so much of Portland. Thanks to our Walklandia friends for the company!

(And, if you’re interested in what’s up around Willamette Heights, more pictures here. Enjoy!:)