‘Gravelland’ site makes unpaved rides more accessible

Somewhere in east Portland. (Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

A Portlander has taken his love of riding on unpaved roads to a new level with the creation of a website called Gravelland. It’s the latest in our city’s long-running love affair with taking road bikes off-road.

Andrew Osborn is the man behind GravellandPDX.com, a site profiled by VeloNews last week that’s devoted to mapping every section of rideable gravel in the Portland area. It’s an excellent resource for anyone who wants to spice up their next ride. Osborn is running the site as a nonprofit that’s, “working to improve knowledge of riding opportunities in our city, help more people learn about the fun of riding gravel, and network the gravel-riding community.”

So far he’s mapped 391 sections of unpaved roads and trails. The site also has 12 curated routes to help you get started. Osborn’s work builds off local interest in gravel and adventure riding that’s been building for well over a decade now — from the legend of Otto Miller Road and the “Bullshit 100” ride, to VeloDirt and Our Mother the Mountain.

What sets Gravelland apart is how easy it makes urban explorations, and how it encourages you to think differently when you plot out your next ride. Too many people tend to ride past our big urban parks, rather than ride through them. And if you haven’t explored the dirt treats along the Willamette Bluff or the East Buttes, now you have one less excuse. Just grab one of the routes or pick an unpaved section, plug it into your GPS unit or phone, and set off.

The routes are mostly paved with sections of gravel and dirt here and there. Most of them can be ridden on standard road bikes (if you’re careful to not flat).

Osborn told VeloNews a big reason for this project is to get more beginners into mixed terrain riding and to make gravel more accessible to more people even if they don’t have a lot of time or a ton of high-end gear.

Check it out at GravellandPDX.com.

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Kyle
Kyle
3 days ago

Very cool, thanks for the heads up on this resource!

Kyle
Kyle
3 days ago
Reply to  Kyle

After reviewing a bit around where I live (SE), these gravel neighborhood “connectors” are largely ignored by cars as true intersections (no signage), please use extra caution when crossing the paved perpendicular paved roads.

Chris I
Chris I
3 days ago
Reply to  Kyle

That was my observation as well. While interesting to ride on, these alleys require care, as you often emerge right onto a sidewalk with very poor visibility. Watch for pedestrians and go slow.

Also, shouldn’t the pathway along the slough by PIR be included? While it does include some asphalt, that thing is basically gravel now.

Kyle
Kyle
2 days ago
Reply to  Chris I

Good call, that’s actually one of the longer gravel options I know of in the city.

Charley
Charley
3 days ago

Heck yeah!

To me this is the great thing about the gravel boom, at least for us city dwellers: exploration of out-of-the-way places in our neighborhoods.

My personal favorites include SE 37th and Errol Heights Park (before the current construction).

SilkySlim
SilkySlim
3 days ago

Cool concept, and I love that big map showing all the segments. I’ve been exploring these in SE pretty regularly over the past, geez, 15 years. Both as a runner, and as a dad towing a kid in the burley (toddler shouting “the bumpy roads that tickle my butt!”).

As mentioned above, a real bummer that stringing these together involves a very careful crossing of a paved street, but guess that is just the nature of things. Since you generally are going pretty slow on these, not that big of a deal.

Tactical Jorts
Tactical Jorts
3 days ago

This is cool, but…tread lightly.

A lot of these routes are low-key neighborhood pseudo-secrets, and they’re fun / interesting because they’re not widely known. With more exposure it’s inevitable that they’ll see more traffic and impact tends to snowball. In that regard it’s like naming a waterfall: nothing good can come from publishing its location on a map.

If this site takes off, expect future BikePortland articles about conflicts with neighbors, placement of unofficial barriers, etc. Look up a local motocycle club’s “Alley Sweeper” ride if you’re interested in how people react negatively to large, loud groups of riders.

EP
EP
2 days ago
Reply to  Tactical Jorts

I think people hate on the moto alley rides a bit much, but I kind of get it. Either way, I’ll take bike riders passing by over cars/trucks/motorcycles any day.