Devin Bailly’s wild ride on Highway 26 during the snowstorm

“All my other options felt worse.”

Portlander Devin Bailly is no stranger to epic rides. So it’s a bit ironic that perhaps his most daring ride ever happened on his commute home from work.

We’ve covered Bailly’s cycling exploits before.

He’s the mastermind behind the challenging hill climbing series PDX Classics – Chasing Lions, which includes the original Ronde PDX among four other difficult, climbing-centric routes where just finishing earns bragging rights. His Strava account reveals that Bailly is often more of an extreme ride artist than merely another strong rider. When I hear about his adventures, my first reaction is not “Wow!” but rather, “OMG why?!”

On the evening of February 22nd, when we got walloped with the biggest snowstorm in 80 years, Bailly found himself with limited options for his bike ride home. Bailly works at Nike in Beaverton and lives in northwest Portland. His usual route through the west hills (using SW Barnes, Burnside, and Hewett) were non-starters because without any traffic or plowing, the snow made them impassable.

“Highway 26 was my best option,” Bailly shared with me yesterday. “All my other options felt worse.”

And in case you’re wondering, it’s 100% legal to ride a bicycle on this stretch of Hwy 26. Oregon Administrative Rule 734-020-0045 lists only seven sections of freeways where cycling is prohibited. (Footnote: In 2006 an ODOT staffer tried to ban bicycles on this and other Portland-area freeways in the name of “safety” and was forced to shelve the idea after BikePortland posts revealed she lacked rationale or evidence to do so.)

Adding to the challenge was that Bailly was on his road bike with fenders and 32mm slicks (narrow tires without knobby tires for traction). “I was going to take my gravel bike with knobby tires but all the forecasts predicted rain, not snow,” he recalled.

Adding to the epic-ness of this short but fraught jaunt on Highway 26 was the fact that it was immortalized on Twitter by KATU News Photographer Mike Warner:

https://twitter.com/MikeKATU/status/1628597059090808833

Of course the KATU guy assumed Bailly was someone whose truck got stuck. Because seriously, what type of person would actually choose to do that? Devin Bailly would.

“What seemed like a clear choice for me was understandably viewed as idiotic from a motorist with a different perspective,” Bailly said. “Worked out great though.”

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest

20 Comments
oldest
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Michael
Michael
1 year ago

I didn’t ride last Wednesday because I was at a conference downtown and didn’t feel like having my bike secured by nothing more than my u-lock near Waterfront Park (seriously Marriott et al, you’ve got to incorporate some secure bike parking into your downtown facilities), but I couldn’t help but feel a bit smug sitting comfortably on the MAX as I passed the parking lot that was I-84 all the way home. It’s times like last week that really showcase the inherent vulnerabilities of car-centric and car-exclusive urban development. Rails are much more resilient to inclement weather.

Now if only Portland could get a proper underground metro….

John
John
1 year ago

The thing about that snow though, it was actually the perfect texture for riding.

soren
soren
1 year ago
Reply to  John

My Wed commute was pleasant but by Thurs people walking and skiing had compacted snow into blocks or grooves of ice that made my commute less pleasant.

Alan Love
Alan Love
1 year ago
Reply to  John

The first day is usually great, but those next days as the snow compacts, melts a bit, freezes overnight, that stuff sucks. Sheets of chunky ice. But that first day…Chef’s Kiss.

Orig_JF
Orig_JF
1 year ago
Reply to  John

^^ Under-appreciated comment ^^

John
John
1 year ago
Reply to  Orig_JF

I thought of the meme every time I tried riding on it. Because, actually, it did feel like it was a good texture to ride on, but also like my wheel might fly out from under me at any second if I hit the wrong patch.
My humility (and lack of cameras) prevented me from actually saying it into a camera and riding off.

Joseph E
Joseph E
1 year ago

Re: “Although riding on freeway shoulders is illegal on most of the system…”

That’s true in most States, but in Oregon it is legal to ride on all freeway shoulders, except for the urban Intersates in the Portland metro area and the I-5 viaduct in Medford. In rural areas the interstate freeways are sometimes the only option, including just outside of Portland on I-84 in the Gorge.

https://mailtribune.com/news/since-you-asked/freeway-bike-riding-allowed-with-exceptions/

All of I-5 through Portland is closed to bikes, as is all of I-405 and the urban portions of I-84. I-205 is closed to bicycles north of Highway 43, near Oregon City.

I believe all of Highway 217 is normally open to bikes on shoulders, but the shoulders are closed due to the construction project currently:

https://www.oregon.gov/odot/OR217/Documents/ODOT_217_Factsheet_web.pdf

derek
derek
1 year ago

Thursday morning commute new Oaks Bottom, surprised I was the only cyclist at 6:30am, 2/23/2023….. Morning ride to work at 19th and Vaughn was better than the earlier afternoon ride homeward to Lewis and Clarke College area. bonus was that the grounds keepers in the cemetary plowed all the routes through

Derek snow 1.jpg
Charley
Charley
1 year ago
Reply to  derek

Now that is awesome.

cMckone
cMckone
1 year ago

Thurdsay afternoon I rode from North side of Milwaukie to roughly Division/52nd.
Took springwater/205 path thinking that would be safer avoiding cars. It was safer but the most brutal ~2 hours of riding in my life. had to push my bike through over a foot of powder at some points. Wrong choice lol

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
1 year ago

Meanwhile on the other side of the country, many of us were enjoying record warmth, a high of 81 on Feb 24th here in Greensboro NC.

I grew up in North Dakota riding daily in such slushy and icy conditions from mid October through the end of April every year. I don’t miss it.

Fred
Fred
1 year ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

“Enjoying” 81 degrees in Feb??!! As someone put it recently, would you enjoy it if the sun rose at 1am tomorrow morning? We are screwed.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
1 year ago
Reply to  Fred

That happened to me once, visiting Aberdeen Scotland in June, but it was in the 60s or 70s and probably closer to 3 am.

Kyle Banerjee
1 year ago

Ironically, the snow probably made 26 significantly safer. Crossing ramps along 26 is dangerous when traffic is moving fast. Slow and slippery may be harder, but it’s way safer.

One of my friends posted on FB that he rode his bike to work not knowing it would snow with a pic and caption suggesting he made the wrong call.

He made the only right call.

Roads were clear when he went in, so it was fast. Virtually everything stops transport in this town and the roads are hopeless to drive on if there are any conditions.

So worst case scenario is he might have to walk a few miles of his route which is better than any of the other options — and he did ride home all the way.

Fred
Fred
1 year ago

This amazing story is part of what makes BP an invaluable resource. Thank you, Devin and JM!

El OSO
El OSO
1 year ago

Really impressed that he could do that on a bike with drop bars and skinny tires. I’ve ridden home the first day of a snowfall, but was able to plan ahead and did so with my mountain bike. You can get a lot more surface area with 2.3 wide tires that are fine to be ridden at 10-15 psi

Harry Lime
Harry Lime
1 year ago

I like how the article points out that it’s legal to ride on 26. Seems like people should be reminded it’s also legal to ride on the sidewalk everywhere in Portland, except for downtown.

Chris
Chris
1 year ago

Speed kills. Though I do think getting on the train would have been slightly more reasonable.

Helena
Helena
1 year ago

Proud to say I’m on the same Cycling team as this guy. If it weren’t for my concussion 4 months ago this sounds like exactly something that I would do. I did go biking in the snow but only a couple days later.

Benp
Benp
1 year ago

Devin Bailey is a 10 foot tall beastman who showers in vodak and feeds his babies shrimp scampi.