Ever since I started commuting to Gresham (almost 6 months ago now! Gosh does time fly!), I’ve been scheming a blog series about the ride out there. “Tales from the Trail,” I’ve imagined it being called, because despite the available direct route straight east on SE Division Street to work, I opt to take roundabout ways that keep me largely on multi-use trails. And man, there are some stories to those trails.
The direct route down Division is almost exactly 11 miles long. But it’s unpleasant — not only because of the high volume of traffic, the glass littering the bike lane, and the fact that the bike lane disappears when you need it most (a steep hill somewhere in the 100s), but also because of all the stoplights. It’s a petty complaint, but I do so hate to get up my momentum just in time to stop at a red light, over and over and over. And I hate the feeling of waiting, waiting, waiting when I’m trying to get somewhere.
Instead, I take a combination of back roads and bike paths that mostly avoids Division: about 30 minutes spent in neighborhoods, 10 minutes on the I-205 path, and 30 minutes on the Springwater Trail, a total of about 15 miles. Four miles more than the pragmatic route, but only about 10 minutes longer, only a few blocks of it on Division, and 40 minutes spent completely car-free.
It’s also much more interesting on the trails than it is on Division. For one, there’s a humongous cross-section of people who frequent them: people commuting to various works, people treating it as their own private raceway (not that I have strong feelings about people biking really really fast around other people or anything), dog-walkers, kids on BMX bikes or skateboards, transient folk who live sequestered along the creek, people biking with their kids or jogging with their strollers, an equestrian or two, a couple I see almost every morning walking with a giant shovel (perhaps cleaning up after the equestrians?). There’s crazy diversity in who uses those trails, and I love it.
There’s also a wide range of wildlife. I’ve seen skunks, deer, nutria, all manner of songbirds and raptors, and I’m still waiting for one of the ubiquitous rabbits to inadvertently hop into my lap one of these mornings. Plus, there are tons of plants (some parts of the trail more aggressively overtaken by invasive species than others), there’s Johnson Creek, and there’s the fantastic view of Mt Hood straight ahead in the morning.
Well, it used to be a fantastic view — now it’s still mostly dark or cloudy when I’m on that part of the trail.
In short, it’s a lovely ride with so many stories just waiting to be told. No promises that I’ll post about this regularly or anything, but I’m hoping that by writing this, at least, I create a platform for myself for tales from the trails. Stay tuned! :)