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Gal by Bike: My ride on the new Columbia Gorge Express

Posted by on June 1st, 2016 at 8:57 am

My bike and my ride to the Gorge - all ready to roll!(Photos by Kiel Johnson and Kate Laudermilk)

My bike and my ride to the Gorge – all ready to roll!
(Photos by Kiel Johnson and Kate Laudermilk)

Our Gal by Bike columnist Kate Laudermilk was one of the first people to ride the Columbia Gorge Express — a new transit option with service between Portland and Multnomah Falls.

One of the arguments I made as I desperately tried to convince myself that I needed to buy a new car after parting ways with my partner (and our car) four years ago was that I needed a car to fully experience all of the natural wonders surrounding Portland.

I felt like I was going to be trapped in Portland until the end of my days.

Little did I know that, when you don’t have a car, you get creative. You use the old noggin. I no longer feel trapped in any way.

The new Columbia Gorge Express is great! Kiel and I tried it out this past weekend and combined it with a ride on the Historic Highway State Trail all the way to Cascade Locks where we enjoyed some of the local flavors (beer and ice cream).

Here are a few photos from our wonderful journey…

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The bus itself held about 20 people and had room for strollers and extra baggage in the back.  It has a ramp that can come down to accommodate folks with walkers or wheel chairs, and has room for three bikes on the front of the vehicle.  The bike racks are extremely similar to those on the Trimet bus.

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There was a really great energy in the bus — folks were really excited!  I overheard a lot of conversations between complete strangers.  You don’t get that when you drive in your car alone.

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Forgot to buy your ticket online ahead of time?  No problem!  You can pay with your card right on the bus!

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In this picture neither of us could believe how easy it was to get to that point.  We were already at Multnomah Falls and hadn’t even broken a sweat!

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Had I ridden all the way from Portland to this point at Cascade Locks, I would have been passed out in this photo. Thanks to the Columbia Gorge Express, this slightly out of shape gal could make it no problem!

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In the end, it’s all about the ice cream, the beer, and the comfort of knowing that I don’t have to find my car in the labyrinth that is the Multnomah Falls parking lot.  Cheers!

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For more on the Columbia Gorge Express check out the official website and watch the new video:

— Kate Laudermilk, @katelaudermilk

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Adam
Subscriber

Looks like a great trip! I definitely plan on using this service this summer. Do you know if there is room to bring a folding bike on the bus (as opposed to the front rack)?

Tad
Guest

That looks like a fantastic trip! I’d love to do that if there were enough room for me AND my kids’ bikes too. That’d be a fantastic way to get them out & about in the gorge without having to do the drive.

Adam
Guest
Adam

Nice!

Were the stops easy to find at either end?

Was payment easy to make with a card?

What sort of people do you think were taking it? Tourists or locals?

Looking forward to doing this. Especially afterwards reading on the news about that trio of thieves that were videoed at Fred Meyer this week racking up thousands of dollars on cards stolen during trailhead breakins around Portland.

KristenT
Guest
KristenT

Lovely shots!

Bill
Guest
Bill

Only 3 bike racks for a 20 person or so bus? That could be an issue.

anna
Guest
anna

not for the Brompton mafia 😛

Pete
Guest
Pete

There is a coat rack for the tweed jacket as well.

Spiffy
Subscriber

it’s 50% more than a TriMet bus, and looks to be illegally blocking the driver’s view with the bike seats in the way…

David
Guest
David

Can you reserve a bike rack spot ahead of time or is it first come, first served?

Cory P
Guest
Cory P

This weekend I’m going to try skating out to Multnomah Falls and take the bus back. I’ve wanted to skate to the falls for years now but the round trip distance was a bit daunting.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Boosted board 🙂

Pete
Guest
Pete

East or west winds in the forecast? 😉

dachines
Guest
dachines

As an alternate option to shouldering your bike on those stairs, you could have used the built in wheel gutters and rolled your bike down.

I’ve used those wheel gutters to get my bike up those stairs, but I have also shouldered the bike there too. 🙂

gl.
Guest
gl.

I hate those stairs so much! Can’t wait until they replace them with a ramp!

K'Tesh
Guest
K'Tesh

There is a place already there for you. On each side of the stairs, there’s an area where your wheels can be placed (that little trough) as you push your bike up, or steady it coming down. No need to carry the bike.

Charles Ross
Guest
Charles Ross

I’ve ridden this route several times, the last being from Portland – Maryhill and back on the Washington side. It is an enjoyable ride between PDX and the first set of Falls; really not to be missed.

Craig Harlow
Guest
Craig Harlow

This is so cool. I’m hoping that the demand will be such that they increase the frequency. I might pack a meal and a book, in case there’s already a queue of people waiting with bikes, and my bike and I have to wait for the next bus(es).

Christopher Sanderson
Guest

No dogs allowed… bummer.

Pete
Guest
Pete

We take our two Chorkies on the CAT bus, just fyi, but usually leave them in their flight bags with heads out. Not sure about bigger dogs on it, though. Bummer about this one, but understandable.