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:
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.”