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Taking the long way into work: A Forest Park commute

If you can work it into your commute, Forest Park is a perfect respite from busy roads and its winter charms are sure to please.


Lately I haven’t been riding much at all. Sure I ride a few miles into work each day and I ride around town to meetings and such; but I mean really riding; as in pedaling hard, breathing hard, and putting on the bike shoes and chamois shorts.

That’s why, when a friend posted an early morning ride through Forest Park, I jumped at the chance. I live in North Portland, and one of the reasons I wanted to work downtown was to motivate myself to ride through Forest Park on my way to (or from) work. I’ve only done it a few times because I flake out on myself for various reasons. Knowing others are expecting me is all the motivation I need.

It was already raining pretty good when I rolled up to Overlook Restaurant at N Interstate and Skidmore at about 7:00 am this morning. Thankfully four other people were already there. Their smiles and presence made it seem more normal to be up and headed out for a ride at that hour.

All zipped and geared up (we were an impressive rolling rain gear fashion show), we rolled out on Willamette Blvd and made our way up and across the St. Johns Bridge. We rode in the right lane and — despite the misty shower from a passing garbage truck and the one yelling, middle-finger guy — it wasn’t too bad. The short jaunt on Highway 30 to NW Saltzman road was a bit hectic with all the gravel and puddles in the bike lane. I think all of us were relieved to leave the other traffic behind and head up into the quiet beauty of Forest Park…

Once on Saltzman Road, we had other (although much more enjoyable) obstacles to deal with: Muddy rocks, branches lying across the road, and the occasional rut…

We regrouped up where Saltzman meets with Leif Erikson Road…

… then headed toward downtown Portland (it’s just about 5 miles or so on Leif Erikson until you get to the gate at NW Thurman)…

Getting up in Forest Park is a treat and it’s a great way to start the day — even when it’s cold and wet.

Thanks to Ryan Good, Joey French, Mike Connors, and Maria Schur for the company and the motivation.

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