View Full Version : Newcommer Seeking Wisdom

08-07-2007, 03:02 PM
After 30 yrs of relatively quiet rural flatland cycling in the Midwest (Wisconsin, Indiana), I moved to the Portland area to be with my grandson. I (perhaps regrettably) am now living in the Cedar Hills area, W of Portland, N of "Beaverburg".

1. Seeking a quiet Zen-like rural experience, I bicycled out today W on NW Union, N on Helvetia, E on NW Phillips - Old Cornelius Pass to Germantown to Kaiser-Bethany and back to NW Union; returning at about 2:30 pm. A return time selected to "avoid traffic".

2. What I experienced was jaw clenching terror listening to the high pitched whine of tires on a seemingly endless parade of trucks and cars passing me at high rates of speed; for most of my trip; Germantown and NW Union being the worst. I especially enjoyed two idiots blasting their horns at me while I kept my front tire glued to the white-line. I guess I should have jumped into the ditch.

3. Based on this one-time experience, are there ANY quiet rural roads, suitable for safe cycling in Washington County, or for that matter, within 100 mi radius of Portland ?

4. If the answer to Q-3 is "no"; then I guess the joke is on me, Portland advertised as being a "bike friendly" place.

5. Question: Is the "Portland Bike Forum" mostly devoted to the urban Portland cyclist/experience ?

Thanks for reading this rant.

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08-07-2007, 06:39 PM

If you like rural flatland cycling, you were only off by a couple of miles. Sauvie Island is extremely popular with cyclists. Doing a loop of the island is not incredibly long, though. I believe about 30 miles, but I may be off.

As far as quiet rural roads, there are plenty, all over the Willamette Valley. I haven't done a lot of Washington county cycling, but I know the area is well traveled by bikers.

You could also run some searches at bikeforums.net, as there are plenty of Portland area cyclists there. Try Bikely.com to look for routes as well.

And yes, this forum does seem to be mainly urban oriented. I think you may have had a bad day on Germantown, though. I cycle around 200 miles a week and am honked at less than once a month.

08-07-2007, 07:12 PM
There absolutely are quiet rural roads out there. The Hagg Lake loop, for one. You might try hooking up with Portland Velo. They have all kinds of loops, departing from Hillsboro and winding through the countryside. Their group rides are on Saturday mornings.

I'll second the recommendation of Sauvie Island and Larch Mountain is a gorgeous ride too...

Highway 30 (the road leading to Sauvie Island) is guaranteed to have tons of traffic, but there's a nice wide shoulder, and there's some decent scenery once you get out past Scappoose.

08-07-2007, 08:39 PM
Portland Velo information may be found at http://www.portlandvelo.net. We ride all over the Washington County area and have an extensive library of ride maps for members. Plus rides, of course :-)

Rather than Germantown, try to get onto Old Germantown. No one drives there unless they live there :-)

08-08-2007, 08:34 AM
I haven't done much rural riding in Washington County, but I've done a bit in Yamhill and Polk counties on various weekends, mostly as part of organized rides like the Vineride.

(BTW, Vineride is Aug 18, gorgeous scenery, low traffic roads.)

I've found that the roads out of Dayton, Carlton, Lafayette, etc are relatively nice, with low traffic on weekends.

I'd stay away on Holiday weekends like Memorial Day and Labor Day, as well as Thanksgiving, as those are big wine weekends and you don't want to share the roads in those areas with all the folks who've been wine tasting all day. :)

I've ridden around Sauvie Island, it's nice out there and the traffic isn't too bad.

One thing that may help you is to attach a mirror to your helmet, if you haven't already, so you can be more aware of what's coming up behind you. That relieves some of the anxiety. Hard-core roadies will scoff, however; I think it's a style thing. Whatever. :)

I've only been honked at a couple of times, and once was by a nice older gent who noticed I was struggling up a hill and wanted to alert me to his presence. He was far enough back when he tootled that it wasn't too loud and didn't startle me too much. :) He waited for a good spot to pass, went by slowly and carefully with enough room, and gave a nod and a friendly wave as he did so.

Bikely ROCKS.

08-12-2007, 10:46 AM
well, there's a really nice ride alongside Hwy 26, though getting there might be troublesome coming from Cedar hills. Also, that same path can lead you through Washington Park, past the zoo, Hoyt arboretum, the japanese gardens, the rose garden, and right in to town. It's a very, very nice ride. It's covered in shade and generally, there is very little traffic. Of course, I ride through there on my commute in to town, and hardly ever on the weekends. It might be more busy on the weekends.

08-12-2007, 04:20 PM
i once commented to the owner or manager of lakeside bikes on how i didnt like riding hwy 43 south of lake oswego because it was so busy with traffic. his reply was that hwy 43 was quite similar to the lowest trafficked rides he did back in Philly and that hwy 43 was great to ride on. its all relative, and i assure you, the majority of portland bike racers ride all up and down the west hills year round. there are better and worse roads to ride on. skyline is actually really busy. there is even a ride my team does that rides across the willamette south of wilsonville on the I5 bridge (oh no!).

kaizer is allright. stay off cornelius pass. but you're right, there isnt anything out there that you can ride in the middle of the road w/out a care. W union sucks.
the only climbs i would ride up are baldy peak, mcnamee, old germantown, logie (both sides), and saltzman, maybe newberry. from downtown, i ride up cornell and thompson quite a bit and the traffic isnt too bad. as for descending, how slow do you ride. i normally ride the speed of traffic going down and dont have problems except for cornelius pass. there are definitely up and down roads for cycling. you have to find out which ones to ride and which ones to avoid.
stop by REI and get the Washington couty bike map. it will show you where to go for the most part, and where to avoid. when you ride south of skyline, remember that the metro area extends all the way to hillsboro, and you have a bunch of commuters using those roads. ( and people that live in hillsboro are more likely to commute by car (than those in SE, although i know that many still commute by bike :).

east multnomah county has nice riding too, i would say most rides out there have less traffic than in washington county and off skyline. Way SE by estacada is nice also, more hicks but less traffic. and finally, south washington county and yamhill county are awesome as well.

this forum is primarily for commuters. the reason portland rocks for cycling is the abilty to actually ride around in town. its not nirvana for backrcountry riding but you can ride in every cardinal direction and find decent rides. as you ride more and more, you'll notice the better rides, and choose the roads less traveled. (my rule of thumb is the back road with the "no through trucks" signs, which implies a through road and great riding. good luck.