This Space for Rent

Out on the line


This has not been one of my more successful weeks for riding my bicycle. A couple of weeks containing too many rainy days (and partially rainy days) left me with basically no desire to go for a long ramble in the country this week. But today (Friday, with only 63km under my belt for the week so far) I forced myself to make up a good route (out to Sandy, which, conveniently, contains Joe’s Donuts) and attempted to ride it.

The start of the route was fine – the cue sheet said “go east on the Springwater Trail until you run out of trail,” and that’s a pretty easy thing to follow (having done it a half-dozen times – I’ve gotten almost to the point where I can run at line speed on the unimproved part of the trail out by Boring.) But once I reached Boring, I headed into terra incognito on the roads south of OR213. The first few turns were fine (and scenic; south on Richey Road past Liepold Farms, east on Kelso past even more farmland, then south (and precipitously down) on Tickle Creek Road through second and third-growth forest down to Tickle Creek. But at Tickle Creek my “sharp left turn onto Knox Road” cue fell foul of the teeny detail that Knox Road was an unimproved dirt road, and, worse yet, was blocked off with a “I am a logging road”-style gate.

Oookay, so using googlesoft maps comes with free surprises inside. Like directions to roads that don’t exist. But this is not a problem – I’ll just improvise here and take Tickle Creek Road further along and I’ll either run into OR211 or OR212 and then I can proceed to Sandy from there. So I zipped across the Tickle Creek bridge (at ~400 feet ASL) and was immediately faced with a road going up. And up. AAaaaaaand up.

A twisty road, with lots and lots of false summits and false flats (nasty short upgrades that looked flat because they were punctuated with even nastier ramps at the end) going up and up to slightly over 850 feet ASL in slightly less than 2 miles, with all of the nasty steep parts at the end. It was an extraordinarily pretty deathmarch; the second or third growth forest down by Tickle Creek gave way to horse and cattle farms up around 700 feet ASL, and the true summit was also forested, with gaps in the trees showing some pretty spectacular views off to the southwest.

And from 850 feet, Tickle Creek Road then plunged like a stone down to around 600 feet to where it met up with OR211 just east of the Deep Creek bridge. And what happens on OR211 just east of the Deep Creek bridge? Why, it goes up, in one gently curving grade of about a mile, to 850 feet or so, at which point it drops you into gently undulating farmland that almost, but not quite, disguises the detail that you’re climbing up to 1000 feet on the next 3 miles into downtown Sandy and the always-welcome sight of Joe’s Donuts (where I inhaled three donuts before I strapped the remains of the obligatory baker’s dozen onto the bicycle and headed on home.

My route home was doomed to revision after discovering that Knox Road was closed. It ended up taking me 2h20 to get to Sandy even with the ridiculous climbs, and that meant that at my very best speed it wasn’t likely to be much over 50km out. So my previous plan of Bluff Road to Hudson to Dodge Park Blvd to Orient to the Springwater Trail (and then a loop in town to round up to 100km) was out. My revised plan (punctuated by me crashing on Dodge Park Blvd when a driver stopped me to ask if this was the road to Portland – after riding in toe clips for coming up on 30 years now, and despite using platform pedals and non-knobby shoes, today was the day my left foot stuck in the pedal when the bicycle slowly and majestically toppled over to the left instead of to the right, where my other foot was waiting to catch it. Sheesh. Another bruise on my left leg, and a nice gouge on my right calf where my big chainring took a bite out of it.) was to take Orient all the way into Troutdale (Orient becomes 257th Ave, which goes right to Marine Drive) and then ride along Marine Drive into Portland, where I could take the I205 path home.

Dodge Park Blvd is always nice to ride on (modulo the hideous “executive estate” development at the Orient end.) It’s an old railroad grade, so the ramp out of the Sandy River gorge is very slight (I realized, at about the point where I topped the grade and was turning onto the long tangent down to Orient, that I had gone up the hill with the bicycle in the 107" gear (52x13) and hadn’t even had to stand up and push once, and I’ve ridden on Orient Drive often enough so it’s just a short familiar loop that I can ride almost in my sleep. 257th isn’t quite as familiar (I have ridden it the other way, but it’s been a while) but it’s simply a long urban descent to the Columbia River and Marine Drive, and Marine Drive is the traditional wheel-eating road of death that I’ve grown to know and tolerate.

As I was heading down Marine Drive towards town, I had a foolish idea – “I know, I’ll ride on Clinton Street all the way in from 92nd and get a chance to ride the entire bike boulevard!” This is a foolish idea because the bike boulevard doesn’t start until 52nd, and Clinton St east of 52nd is a festival of road surfaces (ranging from dirt with huge potholes to gravel with huge potholes to innovatively surfaced road to nothing at all) which pretty much guarantees a trip experience like swimming through treacle. But once I got through that, the bike boulevard got me to the Willamette River quickly enough, and then I went sailing down the Springwater Trail towards home as if I’d not been on a 100km loop at all.

The Tickle Creek Rollercoaster & Other Variations

So. 45km out to Sandy, and 65km back. 110.7 km (68.8 miles) in 5h30 riding time, 6h15 travel time. Tickle Creek Road did cruel things to my travel time, as did the 40 blocks of Clinton Street cyclocross when I got back into town. I could probably have gone faster if I’d looped through Barton & Eagle Creek, and then struck off the Clinton Street cyclocross in favor of taking Marine Drive up to Kelley Point Park (and then rolling on home via the St John’s Bridge, OR30, and the Eastback Esplanade to connect me to the Springwater Trail. Of course that would have pushed the ride out closer to a round 100 miles, but it would have been an extra 30 miles without narsty steep hills and unimproved Portland roads.)

I do need to get some sort of working handlebar bag, though; having the camera tucked into the panniers doesn’t do much at all for grabbing quick pictures on the fly, and having my cue sheet wedge into my hip pocket being sweated on doesn’t exactly improve the legibility of these hopefully scrawled route suggestions.)