Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Open Thread for riding conditions (Monday, 12/22)

Posted by on December 22nd, 2008 at 9:27 am

scenes from Sunday (12-21)-1

Enjoying the carfree streets yesterday.
(Photo © J. Maus)

The snow is coming down as I write this, falling onto the existing snow and ice from yesterday.

I’m about to head out into it, from our home in North Portland to the office in the Central Eastside.

What are conditions like where you are?

Please use this post to share riding conditions in your neck of the woods…

— Browse all of our Storm of 2008 coverage. See latest photos here.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

  • left the bike at home December 22, 2008 at 9:37 am

    snowshoed along 39th from Powell to Providence. didn’t see a single bus or any bikes out this morning.

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  • patrickz December 22, 2008 at 9:42 am

    Just back from shopping near the Lloyd Dist. On X-C skis. Saw one fat-tire cyclist by Peet’s, on Broadway. Good, powdery snow and fine tracking for skis. Good riding, cyclers!

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  • Mike December 22, 2008 at 9:44 am

    Rode in from 60th and Sandy to downtown on my mountain bike.

    Saw two other riders headed uphill, and joined up with another rider at MLK over the Burnside.

    The varying snowdepth over the rutted hard pack left over from last week makes for a lot of twists and turns and jostling just trying to go straight.

    I chose to stick to the main streets because they have the best packed surface, and the light traffic made me feel relatively at ease. Drivers were patient and passed with care. Lots of smiles and waves from folks at the bus stops.

    It’s physically pretty challenging to ride out there, though, I’ll admit. My back and shoulders are twisting and turning to keep my balance. My hands are white-knuckling the grips. My thighs are digging deep.

    Best of all, though, I can’t stop grinning!

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  • a.O December 22, 2008 at 10:04 am

    I gotta say, I love my Toyota Tacoma. Low 4WD got me through some serious drifts last night and today.

    Over the weekend, I zip tied my wheels and lowered the tire pressure on my Trek Portland. It was such slow-going that it really wasn’t a practical way to commute. But I have used it to get around my hood a bit.

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  • Susan December 22, 2008 at 10:08 am

    I pulled out my cross bike and tried to ride to work. The snow wasn’t packed hard enough for the bike. I knew it wasn’t going to work on the side streets but I was hoping that the buses on Alberta had packed the snow hard enough so that I could ride. I made it 3 blocks and had to give up. I took my bike back home, pulled on my boots, and walked 3 miles before I could catch a bus.

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  • Craig Bachman December 22, 2008 at 10:18 am

    Close in NE, neighbor hood ride to the grocery. Fun but challenging. Recommend x-counrty skis instead. More fun in these conditions. The right tool for the right job.

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  • Anonymous December 22, 2008 at 10:24 am

    Snow’s too soft for the bikes, my 4wd choked to death yesterday on gelled up biodiesel, and the buses are completely MIA. Sometimes you just have to admit you’re beat and start playing videogames.

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  • Jeff P December 22, 2008 at 10:29 am

    From Raleigh Hills/SW PDX again [Hillsdale/Terwilliger]:

    Got worse coming into town; plows are not keeping up. So soft, and with cars making the progress they are, the streets were pretty chopped up and the tires dropped in – much like deep sand riding.

    Farther out is was finer and more powder and was passable – not efficient going though. You also definitely have to ride in the car tracks as it is too deep elsewhere. Chain and derailleur dragging in the drifts. Was in by 8:15.

    Cars are getting through well enough [2WD with chains only or AWD/4WD or knowledgeable drivers]. I would categorize my 7+ miles as mildly entertaining but not the brightest thing I’ve done on a bicycle….

    Still with nothing better to do and not wanting to miss a ride! Saw one other rider here in downtown.

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  • Hanmade December 22, 2008 at 10:40 am

    Out here in Milwaukie it’s pretty ridiculous, most streets are useless. Rode uphill to McLaughlin, but like Mike said, it was a lot of work with the back end squirreling around a lot. It kept me warm though! Saw a truck stuck in a ditch right by a downed power line in my ‘hood. Lost power twice this morning, but only for a little while. Was out for 6 hours yesterday. This is truly nuts!

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  • Alison December 22, 2008 at 10:42 am

    I left the bike home and walked the two miles to the office. I loved seeing more people walking (and skiing and sledding) than driving cars.

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  • Adams Carroll December 22, 2008 at 10:49 am

    I took the bike out last night, managed to make about twenty blocks over to a friends house. staying on major streets (39th and holgate in my case) seems to be the only way around at this point. I feel like a big russian icebreaker ship trying to ride down my street. I decided last night to leave the bike at the friend’s house and walk home. It looks like there have been several more inches piling up since i got home last night, which will make getting the airport really fun 🙂

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  • Hazel December 22, 2008 at 10:55 am

    Walked the four blocks to work. Three of us made it in so City Bikes today. Seems like Burnside is rideable but the side streets are full of powdery snow

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  • sonny December 22, 2008 at 10:59 am

    I just got the old BMX up and running, and I’m about to ride from north Portland to downtown, this reminds me of riding Colorado winters

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  • the future December 22, 2008 at 11:00 am

    Just heard Elly on World Have Your Say on NPR. Guess she’s in Connecticut?

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) December 22, 2008 at 11:15 am

    Just finished my ride in.

    Went from Rosa Parks/I-5, across on Killingsworth, down MLK all the way to SE Main and then walked the last few blocks.

    the manager of our building, Colin, snapped a photo of me.

    oh, the lengths I go to bring you bikeportland.org (yes, I can work from home, but I prefer to work here and have to mail out a bunch of T-shirts) ;-).

    I have a few beers chilling in the foot of snow outside the office. If anyone’s in inner SE near the Activspace at SE 8th and Main, feel free to stop by (I’m a space #102).


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  • jv December 22, 2008 at 11:33 am

    I rode downtown from my house in NE today. First I tried with just my street tires (26″), but didn’t have any directional control since the snow was so soft and had a slick layer underneath. I changed out my front tire to a mt. tire with decent tread and had much better success. The sideroads were impassable, but I was able to make it on Prescott. I tried to make it west to Vancouver, but it was slow going, so I cut back and rode down MLK. It was the most unlikely route, as I absolutely never ride MLK in normal conditions. People at the bus stop shouted words of encouragement and the occassional “you’re crazy!”. Motorists were going slow anyway, and passed with plenty of room. I was really grateful for the cars that were out, as their tire tracks are what made riding possible.

    On Broadway things were a little more hectic, but I just stayed out of cars way and pulled over when I saw them coming, as they were kind of clustered because of the light timing. I tried riding the Broadway ped/bike path, but it was not packed enough to get any traction, so I jumped over the barrier and rode the bridge.

    Overall an exciting ride, but I still think it was fairly safe, since everything is moving so slow out there.
    My normally 20 minute commute took about an hour.

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  • JH December 22, 2008 at 12:12 pm

    I’ve had some fun on my fixie, but I’ve been thinking a Surly Pugsley would really be fun about now…

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  • John December 22, 2008 at 12:20 pm

    Rode to work today. Downtown Vancouver to Salmon Creek. Challenging is my word for the day. I took Hazel Dell Avenue north, should have taken Highway 99, it was probably better! Fell three times. The first was when I pulled over for a breather and put a foot down on the curb – Guess what, that’s not a curb, it’s a drift! The next two were half a mile from work, I was getting too tired to keep up with the steering.

    The strangest thing was the plow on Hazel Dell Ave. We played leapfrog twice. He was plowing parking lots, but not the streets!

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  • beth h December 22, 2008 at 12:20 pm

    Faced with the choice of bussing to work or sitting home and going sir-crazy, I went to work for a few hours today. I saw ONE fellow on a bike in my neighborhood (Woodlawn), who kept falling down on his mountain bike. Fortunately, he didn’t get hurt and he was still grinning when my bus arrived (and he’d falled for the sixth time).

    The snow at my place is piled up against the house and hedge in 2-foot high drifts, and the stuff on the sidewalks is around 4 to 5 inches deep. I hope to start riding again by Wednesday or Thursday, short hops with the Xtracycle if the roads permit.

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  • Natty December 22, 2008 at 12:32 pm

    I hope you folks are enjoying winter out on the left coast 😉

    As predicted, we received a bountiful deposit of white & fluffy over night. It started heavy about 20h00 last night, I went out to play on the cross-fixie until the wind turned-up and whipped things into a whiteout … hardly a motor vehicle in-sight, the streets were my playground 🙂

    At the end of my ride last night, there were 10-15cm (4-6″) down already. When I found a window I could look out this morning (everything on the west side of the house was caked w/ blown snow), we had 30-35cm (12-14″) of depth (w/ drifts as deep as my waste) … and it was still snowing.

    Took four hours to shovel the walk & drive {another reason I would like to not have a car} … an hour alone was spent removing the 4′ high plug the plow left at the end of the drive.

    My wife skied to work this morning and now the labour of snow is complete, I’m taking my skate skis and pedaling over to the park to see if the the trails have been groomed … 🙂

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  • PDXKatie December 22, 2008 at 12:41 pm

    Laurelhurst/NE Broadway
    *1 1/2 foot snowbanks
    *packed ice/snow in center lanes
    *good for walking or X-skis.

    my bus slid backwards down a hill this morning. I love the snow, but Im over it.

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  • Tony H December 22, 2008 at 1:07 pm

    Tried twice to get to work. First time, I rode my bike and turned back before reaching the Hawthorne Bridge. Just too deep, so I went home to start anew. I waited for half an eternity for the bus, and finally made it downtown. The Streetcars were even having trouble, and all the buses that go uphill (VA and OHSU) weren’t running. Since even the streetcar, at that time, wasn’t running I couldn’t get to the tram. After waiting for a bus, I gave up and trudged over the bridge. There are BIG gaps with a drop to the river where some of the plates join together. Be careful!

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  • John Lascurettes December 22, 2008 at 1:13 pm

    Rode from NE 42nd and Prescott to SW Oak and 9th. Only had to walk it off of my residential block and the last block of Oak. Studded tires with snow tread for the win!

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  • K'Tesh December 22, 2008 at 1:58 pm

    Was riding on Saturday… spotted this Icylist out at the Beaverton Transit Center…

    Her name is Melinda… but who could tell with all that bundling…

    My bike built up with a lot of snow as I was riding around trying to find the 3/8″ screws needed to make my studded tires…

    Happy Trails!

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  • K'Tesh December 22, 2008 at 2:07 pm

    Ok, so that appears not to have worked…

    I was posting pictures from my Saturday ride.


    (look for the photos uploaded on 12/21-12/22).

    Rubberside Down!

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  • tr December 22, 2008 at 2:53 pm

    Zoobomb was was hard to get to last night but well worth it. Did more sledding than bombing. There was one good sized run with about 20 or so bikes of every kind along with many smaller groups throughout the night. Some of us ended the night at 7am this morning with breakfast at the nighthawk on interstate.

    It was a great way to spend the snowpocolypse

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  • Cablenut December 22, 2008 at 2:57 pm


    someone didn’t make it. Of course, the snow is up past eht front axle.

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  • R-diddly December 22, 2008 at 3:06 pm

    Just biked from N Interstate & Rosa Parks area to Lloyd Center on 2.1″ studded tires and it was doable, but strenuous. The trick is to stick to well-traveled streets and find the wide tire tracks, which usually means a nice heavy bus or delivery truck. The snow will be well-packed there. Otherwise (e.g. when you have to change between two such tracks, or there is no such track, or all the tracks criss-cross each other and the snow is churned up, or you have to make a turn, or you have to pull over to let a car pass) there’s plenty of fishtailing and jostling-about. I arrived wet with sweat from the exertion. Probably don’t need any clothing layers for warmth, just my cotton t-shirt, outer shirt, and nylon rain jacket.

    Side streets on the other hand are nearly impossible, with 1- and 2-foot drifts, though I managed N Montana just north of Rosa Parks.

    Brake cable keeps freezing up and locking the rear brake so I don’t use it. Never need it anyway… just stop pedaling and you come to a stop pretty fast!

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  • R-diddly December 22, 2008 at 3:11 pm

    I almost forgot, some kid approached me at N Albina & Rosa Parks where I stopped to catch my breath, take off a layer of clothing and un-stick my rear brake, and he asked me for a donation to support his basketball team’s tournament trip to Denver. I had to laugh… DO I NOT LOOK SORT OF BUSY? but I gave him $6

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  • Racer X December 22, 2008 at 3:43 pm

    I walked in to work today…nice low traffic streets for the most part…to make it easier to walk in the street. Thinking about making some tire chains for the single speed bike – as there will be more ice on the roads as traffic picks up.

    As a pedestrian…I wish to thank all those home and business owners who shoveled their walkways (the others got to get out there and do it!)

    Though today the City snow plows seem to be doing no better than the general traffic in keeping the arterials clear.

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  • Will December 22, 2008 at 5:08 pm

    I made it to work downtown from the alberta arts neighborhood. Grabbed my mountain bike with 2.25 inch knobbys. was ableto ride most of it, but side streets, and the bike path over the burnside bridge was not rideable (not by me, anyway.) Was a serious workout, usually take 18 minutes, today took an hour and 10 (though I did stop and give a few people a push). I had my wife pick me up in her 4wd vehicle for the way home, the idea of trying to ride up any kind of grade in the soft snow was enough to opt out.

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  • joel December 22, 2008 at 5:31 pm

    started out at 7am on the cargo bike. snow at the house is about 10″ deep at this point. made it 2 blocks from ne mlk/killingsworth, and turned back – i was having clearance issues – so much buit-up and churned-up snow that the bottom of the bike was hitting, and impeding forward motion.

    plan b: switched to the single-speed mtb, and rolled in. a workout, but manageable at near-normal speeds. tore a valve stem on the front tire on broadway just before the bridge, but made it to stumptown a little after 8.

    didnt do much work, but rode around goofing off a lot. fair to middling traction most places, but its a good way to beef up your technical riding skills. couple foot downs, but the only real crashes were from riding towards waterfront park at full speed and bunnyhopping into the snowdrifts. 🙂

    about 2, we caught max up to the zoo, and hike-a-biked up to fairview, and then rode down. awesome. rolled nicely most of the way, passing snowboarders and sledders, and families having fun. took a couple spills coming into corners too hot, but it was good fun.

    rode home the usual commute route about 4, nice packed snow on most major roads. went on a mad hunt for grand central bread, but was totally foiled. more high-speed riding, sprinkled liberally with awesomeness.

    judging by the packed snow on the roads, im going to give the cargo bike a shot tomorrow again.

    but someone has to teach the snowplow drivers downtown how to work those things. theyre just driving around with the blades up, not even plowing – or if they are plowing, theyre just shaving the top 1″ off. whats the point? i saw ONE plow all day that knew what it was doing, and that was on ne alberta – full gas, blade down, shaving all but the last inch off. now thats how its done.

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  • Lester December 22, 2008 at 6:38 pm

    I was riding with 1/2″ spikes on my front tire, 2.1″ knobby on the back.

    Some areas were packed snow or ice, which was great. The spikes were a little bumpy on the ice, but ruled the packed snow.

    Some areas had untracked snow of about 4″ over packed snow from earlier, still not bad.

    Some areas just had a couple inches of churned snow, which was terrible.

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  • Lester December 22, 2008 at 6:39 pm

    Oh, and rim brakes are very akin to no brakes most of the time!!! I did a lot of foot-dragging stops.

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  • Tom December 22, 2008 at 10:16 pm

    West side, out of Aloha was firm packed with ice, but emminently rideable. It was like sick, nasty, twisty, rutted, muddy singletrack. Actually had fun although it took a lot out of me. On the PDX side, coming in to Good Sam from PGE Park was a nightmare. 18th was OK if you took the full center part of the lane, but when I had to turn up Marshal it was too much. Far to soft and mushy. Ended up walking the rest of the way.

    I’m with Lester though, brakes do not work. Foot dragged a bunch. I got to work and that’s what matters (people are still getting sick in this weather). I might even stay over tomorrow if it doesn’t get much better.

    I’m ready for this to be done though!

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  • GenghisKhan December 23, 2008 at 9:55 am

    Utah is under mucho snow, too and I’m just readin’ about ridin’, not ridin’. ;o(

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  • fredlf December 23, 2008 at 10:26 am

    Joel (#32). I’m guessing you sheared a valve stem due running low pressure in tires which can let the tube move inside the rim. I haven’t personally tried this, but I’ve read about people using double-sided tape on the inside of the tire to keep the tube from rotating. Using an over-sized tube might help too… Just a thought.

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