This Space for Rent

Another fast one

The traditional bicycle+donut shop photo

On Friday, I needed to (a) loosen my legs up for Saturday’s 300, and (b) go up to Sandy for donuts. My old route up to Sandy was Springwater→212→Orient→Kelso→Bluff et retour, but there’s now a new permanent populaire that I can ride instead; it’s about 10 miles longer, but that’s not very much in the grand scheme of things and it gives me 103k I can add to my pile-o-brevet-miles.

The problem with going up to Sandy is that that’s where Joe’s Donuts is located, and I seem to find it impossible to stop there for less than 20 minutes. So my ideal loop time for the ride up there and back (3h26) is not likely to ever happen (I’d need a loop average speed of 19.6mph, which is 1.5mph faster than I’ve ever maintained over any distance >50 miles.) But, you know, there’s certainly no use in not trying, and after getting within half an hour of brevet minimums on Kevin Brightbill’s Cuthbert Binns populaire, there was certainly nothing to be lost in trying it.

And by “trying it”, I mean trying for a land-speed record on the project bike, because it’s a lot easier to carry a dozen donuts on it that it is to carry them on the midlifecrisismobile.

So, after shooing the bears off to school in the morning, I dragged the project bike out of the house, started my brevet clock, and bolted off to the north. It’s always slow going doing a S/N transit of Portland because there are sections of the road (like 12th Ave between Division and Lloyd Boulevard) with approximately 10,000 streetlights, all of which are timed to be red when you’re attempting to move quickly on a bicycle. But once I got into NE Portland the streetlights diminished and I could start putting on some speed, working up to a fairly steady 19-20mph on the section of 33rd/34th from approximately Killingsworth up to Marine Drive.

Normally there’s either a strong tailwind or headwind along Marine Drive, but today there was only a very slight cross-headwind, so there was really nothing stopping me from putting on the gas and getting up to a comfortable cruising speed of 20-22mph. And I managed to keep that cruising speed for almost the entire distance from 34th to the end of Marine Drive in Troutdale, where the route turned inland and cut across Troutdale and Gresham to Orient Drive, but with one moderately steep long hill to climb up out of Troutdale.

Transiting suburban Troutdale, or Gresham, or ... ?

The hill did slow me down, and by the time I reached the top and was transiting the endless sea of identical subdivisions that make up suburban Troutdale/Gresham my moving average was down to about 17mph, a speed that would slowly creep down as I climbed up towards Sandy.

The west end of Orient Drive runs along the ROW of the old Mount Hood Railway, so it’s fairly easily graded through here; I used to ride along here a lot, and still can while away the miles by trying to spot signs of the now-70-year-gone interurban line (there are a lot if you know what to look for, from suspiciously straight treelines & power poles running through front yards, to mysteriously level sections of ground between Orient Drive and houses/open fields just to the north, and even some screamingly obvious cuttings where the road went up to the top of a little hill while the railroad bored directly through it) but it was not too long before it diverged from the old ROW (the eastern section of the Mount Hood Railway has become Dodge Park Blvd, which is an excellent return from an alpine loop,) worked its way through the town of Orient, and then curved southeast for the run up to Sandy.

A field full of freshly-shorn llamas

I, however, left Orient Drive here to take Bluff Road the rest of the way into Sandy. A couple of years ago this was a pretty hilly route that I had to spend a lot of energy slowly grinding my way up out of stream valleys, but these days, even with a fairly heavy bicycle, it’s become a much more level route with only one or two noticably long ramps when I got closer to Sandy proper.

Bluff Road, just south of Sandy

So I sailed along at 16-18mph (much more level ≠ level, as my reduced speed proves) taking (some) pictures as I went (I’d normally take a lot of pictures, but until I get my many-times-smashed Nikon L21 recased I’m stuck with the old Nikon L6 I used to use before the memory card slot died and stuck me with only enough internal memory for 26 low-resolution photos) until I finally reached the steepish highway 26 ramp up to Joe’s (with, of course, stoplights, all of which were, as is traditional, red.)

Approaching Joe's Donuts

When I reached Joe’s, my brevet average speed was something on the order of 16.5mph, which was comfortably under a 4 hour loop time. But, unfortunately I had reached Joe’s, so despite my best efforts to move quickly I still spent enough time inside to bring my brevet average down to under 14mph.

A suburban vista on Orient Drive

And then I had to get home. The official route of this permanent is Bluff→Kelso→Ritchey, but that doesn’t work because Kelso is blocked by highway 26. So, instead, I had to use Bluff→Kelso→Orient→Compton/212, which is nowhere near as scenic, but which is really fast and I was able to ratchet the project bike back up to 22-24mph for most of that segment, only slowing slightly at the hill just east of Boring, and then slowing more on the transit across Boring to Telford/whatever numbered street Telford is known as here.

Approaching the home stretch on Telford Road

Once clear of Boring Telford Road heads generally downhill to the northwest, and I could get up to 22mph here without too much trouble, but all too soon I reached Rugg Road and had to dodge onto the Springwater Trail, which, at least on the Gresham end, is heavily used and is not really good for high speed bolts back into Portland. But I persevered nevertheless, and managed to take advantage of ped-free stretches to move quickly enough to make up for the more cautious 12mph stretches around walkers and other, slower moving, bicycles, until I got back into Portland and had 7 miles of fairly quiet MUP to barrel westward on.

Normally, I take the Springwater Trail all the way to 19th, dodge north to Linn, then work my way north on 17th. Alas, this populaire doesn’t do that; it, instead, takes the insanely steep ramp up from the Springwater Trail to 37th and then works its way across to 17th via Crystal Springs Blvd, which not only has stopsigns but which deadends onto Bybee, which is fairly busy all the time except early in the morning/late at night.

I only had to wait about a minute or so for the traffic to clear enough to pass, and then it was a matter of 5 blocks to the end of the loop (Kevin allowed a route variant that started/ended the loop at 17th & Bybee, which is much closer to my house than Holgate & 17th) with only one stop light, which was red, before I pulled up to the ending control at 4h07 on the brevet clock.

Not bad. 16.9mph moving average, 15.5mph brevet average. If I hadn’t have had that leisurely stop at Joe’s it would have been a 3h47 loop, but if it wasn’t for the leisurely stop at Joe’s I wouldn’t have done this loop, because, well, donuts.

And unlike my previous high speed loop, which I had maintained a 16.8mph brevet average in, I didn’t spend any time at all cursing the headwinds as I shoved myself through them at top speed, and, instead, just moved quickly and comfortably along, stopping occasionally to take pictures or pick up rando junk.

Pictures? Yes, on flickr.

There will probably be more pictures soon, because we’ve already eaten most of the donuts and I’ve got to run up there to get some more. Maybe next time I’ll break the 4 hour barrier and get donuts as well?


Going gluten-free has sadly curtailed my donut consumption.

Michael Wolfe Tue Sep 18 09:06:46 2012

That’s too bad; but, on the bright side, you’re probably not subject to the same timesink as I have every time I loop up to Sandy.

David Parson Tue Sep 18 09:14:34 2012

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