Archive | November 2017

Portland IKEA by Bike on the I-205 Multi-Use Path

Last month I biked to an IKEA for the first time! It was also my first big trip on Portland’s I-205 Multi-Use Path (I’d tagged along with Kath when she did a test run for a Kidical Mass to the Belmont Goats). Bike Portland has a great write-up of the I-205 Multi-Use Path here: Ride takes closer look at I-205 path, the ‘Grandaddy of MUPs’.

I adore multi-use paths. They tend to be flat and they have few intersections. Since they’re “multi-use” they shouldn’t be considered bike highways, but as I’m not a high-speed rider, navigating slowly and politely around dogs and walkers is fine by me. When we lived in Seattle we were a couple blocks from the Burke-Gilman Trail and I knew fast bike riders who avoided it because they thought it moved to slowly as well as parents who avoided it because they thought there were too many fast bike riders on it for it to be safe for their kids. I’d imagine the I-205 MUP receives similar criticism. It also has quite a bit of broken glass which is something we never had to deal with on the Seattle MUPs.

The I-205 Multi-Use Path is one-and-a-half quiet and flat miles from our house. IKEA is then 7.5 miles along the MUP followed by half a mile of flat roads. Much of the path is elevated as it crosses over big streets and parallels the TriMet MAX light rail green line. This loftiness gave me a great view of businesses below, like a bowling alley and Chuck E. Cheese. However, both of those are relatively close to our house so I don’t know that the I-205 MUP is the best way to get there–it might be more direct to cut diagonally through the neighborhoods from our house. However, it’s a way to reach them–a way I made use of recently from Montavilla. After navigating our way through two little construction road closures on our way to see Despicable Me 3 at the Academy Theater (the sewer pipe repairs are everywhere it seems!), I elected to go a tad out of the way and use the path to get home, figuring it’d be simpler. And we got to see the goats on the way home.

Also along the path is Gateway Green mountain bike skills park. This would be a fun destination with the kids, though we’d probably plan to take the MAX part of the way home after tiring ourselves out.

And sort of along the way to IKEA is Rossi Farms. I was still investigating local Halloween pumpkin patches during this IKEA trip so I detoured off the path to check out the farm. I didn’t like the route google suggested–the staggered crossing of NE 102nd Ave was so bad that I wouldn’t want to take the kids before doing another test run. Perhaps passing by the elementary school would work better. The farm is gorgeous, though, with a lovely view of Mount Hood. I tend to do all my test runs in the morning when the sun is behind the mountain, though, so it’s impossible to take a good photo to show it off.

As mentioned in the Bike Portland article, the path has some busy street crossings. At Burnside one has to bike over the freeway as the trail moves from the west side of I-205 to the east. Google street view is showing me a paint-buffered bike lane on Burnside, but I don’t remember noticing it and stuck to the sidewalk. It’s a pretty fast street, even with it road dieted down to one lane in each direction and the buffered bike lane. Then at Glisan a misleading sign sent me over the freeway again…but this time the path stuck to the east side.

Er, no–I-205 Multi-Use Path is to the right

The IKEA part of the trip was terrific. There are a ton of bike racks out front, though I was the only bike there this day.

The purpose of my trip was to get bookcases, having moved from a house with built-ins to one without. Naturally I ended up making some additional fun purchases. Behold:
2 small Billy bookcases, 1 tiny Billy, 1 tiny drawer unit, 1 Dimpa bag (fits a Brompton!) with a bunch of little stuff inside it. My haul was about 125 pounds, which is less than the kids weigh, and decidedly less wiggly. I was dismayed to see that the wind had picked up as soon as I left the store, though. I think this IKEA is just in a windy location, though, and path was a pleasant, wind-free ride.

Here’s my Strava recording of the trip which is useful for seeing the small elevation changes.

I hear one can bike to Minneapolis Ikea, as well. Do you know of other bikeable IKEAs? Lemme know in the comments below!

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Deschutes River Trail with Cargo Bike and Pets

Last month I took my second trip along the Deschutes River Trail. I’d been for the first time in May: Riding the Deschutes River Trail, as well as caught glimpses of the trail and developed a love for the area in March: Dalles Mountain 60 with Pixie. There might be people who bike all the way to the area, but my three trips have involved hitching rides in cars (an hour and a half from Portland or four hours from Seattle).

* All the pix! Deschutes River Trail with Jolene – October 13-14, 2017 – 143 photos

* Strava maps: Deschutes River Trail to Bedsprings Camp, Deschutes River Trail: Bedsprings Camp to the water tower and back, Deschutes River Trail back from camp.

* Great resource for this trail on Oregon Bikepacking: Deschutes River Trail: An introduction to bikepacking

The aforementioned two trips were both on my Surly Straggler with slick Compass Tires (Barlow Pass, 700c x 38mm) and it was perfectly fine, but I wanted to take my mountain bike this time to have even more fun bumping over the gravel. However, carrying stuff for camping on a full-suspension mountain bike (an old one that doesn’t have the option to lock out the shocks) when you are short enough that there’s not a lot of air between saddle and rear tire makes it difficult to load it up with a bunch of gear. I learned that in January when I came down to visit Portland Snow with Pixie.

These days I mostly only use my mountain bike for riding in the city snow once a year. I wish I could trade it for an equally old hardtail mountain bike so I could also take it bikepacking. Anyhow, I couldn’t figure out fitting all my stuff on it, especially with wanting to pack water, so I reluctantly gave up on the idea. I had nearly resigned myself to the idea of riding my Straggler again, but then I remembered: I HAVE A SECOND MOUNTAIN BIKE, and a fully rigid one at that! It’s just that it’s also a cargo bike so I mistakenly think of it as a kid hauler and grocery getter. I measured its length and Jolene measured the back of her van and we were both delighted to learn my Surly Big Dummy would fit!

I have flat-resistant Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires on the Big Dummy which aren’t knobby mountain bike tires, but I still thought they’d feel fun on the gravel. And the best part is that I could carry Pixie in my front basket and have room to carry Jolene’s awesome new rescue cat, Houdi Joe Pye, on my back Xtracycle FlightDeck in his new backpack.

Had I been on the mountain bike, we would probably have each worn our pets in backpacks. Houdi has a basket he rides in on Jolene’s folding bike, but she worried about the low derailleur mixing with the gravel. I got to take a quick spin on her mountain bike, a Salsa El Mariachi, and it was really fun!

I want to learn to pack less stuff when I camp and bringing the Big Dummy makes it easy to overpack. I decided that since this was my first time camping with no water source I wouldn’t try to pack light water-wise, but I’d practice in other areas. There’s water at the Deschutes River State Recreation Area so we refilled our water there–I had water bottles in my four water bottle cages as well as a growler full of water. I got the growler and velcro-on growler cage from the MiiR store in Seattle.

I also brought my water filter because while the water in the Deschutes River isn’t safe to filter due to agricultural run-off, there’s a stream around mile marker 12 we could have filtered. And we would have had to do that had we stayed a second night, as we went through all the water. However, my food would have been different had I been trying to pack lightly and not need lots of water for cooking. Thanks to the Big Dummy I brought my usual meals that required boiling water (pasta for dinner and oatmeal for breakfast) as well full coffee setup. I ended up packed doubly heavy since we decided at the last moment to just camp one night rather than two and I figured I may as well keep my camp kitchen bag packed up with double the food for just in case (Just-in-case food is admittedly part of my overpacking problem). So I also had my no-water-needed can of chili and can opener, double the oatmeal (which I gave to our camp neighbors who didn’t have enough and were camping for two nights), and snacks for days and days and days and days. However, I took a moment to remove my no-water-needed canned coffee (hadn’t decided if I would heat it or drink it cold) which would work for saving both equipment and water space. I’ll try that on some future trip. Maybe. Real coffee is pretty important.

So I guess my only light-packing concession was bringing one of my folding Fozzils Bowlz. I don’t like to use plastic for warm or hot stuff (and hope to someday avoid it for all stuff), but this thing is pretty nifty and my friend Marley has it in the top spot of her 5 Must-Have Camping Gear Items. Mine is part of a three-pack from a gifted three-month subscription to Cairn which delivered a lot of cool stuff.

Before I knew for sure which bike I was bringing, I had loaded up my frame bag with the things I might need to quickly access. It’s a great bag, but my bikes are so small that I can’t easily fit it on them (I’m 5’5″ which isn’t that small, but it’s small enough to feel jealous of tall people and their many options…like the whole saddle bag bumping the rear tire of my mountain bike thing).

Seeing my idea of “most essential things” might be a window into my need to learn to pack better:

Oveja Negra 1/2 Pack™ Frame Bag with:

I also took advantage of the cargo bike and brought a full-sized pillow and a second sleeping pad because I was experiencing quite a bit of temporary back pain. The second sleeping pad was also for warmth as I’m not normally a three-season camper and was pretty scared about being cold overnight. It was heavenly! I might need to figure out a way to do two pads in the future. One of the pads belonged to my eight-year old so I only have access to an extra if I don’t bring the kids along. I see a lot of friends with Therm-a-Rest Z Lites so that looks like a good one to add to our stable. Note: our current camping gear is all listed in my Family Bike Camping Primer.

The trail was much like my last visit, except it was too cold to see any rattlesnakes this time, yay! Dispersed camping along the river was new for me (we camped at the recreation area last time) and we shared our site around mile marker 8 with two backpacking women. They referred to the campsite by its name, Bedsprings Camp, rather than mile marker which lead me to find this link, Deschutes River Hike, with all the campsites listed by name. I’m not sure the bikepackers know these cool names!

On day two Jolene and I pedaled on from camp to the Harris Homestead and I was glad to see the farmhouse is still standing…though probably not for much longer.

This is the spot at which Chele, Kelley, Kelly, and I turned back last time so I was extremely excited to hit some new territory this trip. The trail is still pretty easy to ride to the water tower, but past that is when the gravel gets rougher and there are probably many tire-puncturing goatheads. We discovered more buildings to explore and the creek makes for a pop of green amid the mostly yellow landscape.

Biking from Portland to Oregon City

On World Car-Free Day (September 22nd) I joined eight other women to bike to Oregon City. I’d heard that it was fairly close and fairly flat so this seemed like a perfect test run to see if it would be a good trip to make with the kids.

My photos: Flickr: Oregon City ride with Women Bike/The Street Trust – 46 photos
My Strava: Strava: Oregon City with The Street Trust Women Bike

The ride was organized by Women Bike, a program of The Street Trust–an Oregon transit, walking, and bicycling non-profit based in Portland. I found it via their Facebook group.

I nearly didn’t make it to the ride; as I rode to the meeting point, a squirrel darted across the street in front of me and smashed into the side of a car coming from the other direction. It lay twitching in the road as I pedaled past. I’d noticed the squirrel on the sidewalk, before it started across the street, but the woman driving the car who killed it didn’t even register the small bump. I had to staunch the urge to turn around and head back home. Obviously, the squirrel didn’t represent a squirrel, the squirrel was everyone and anyone lost to shoddy implementations of Vision Zero.

Anyhow, I sucked it up and continued along to Grand Central Bakery in Sellwood where I met seven awesome women (one more joined us en route) and we soon took off for Oregon City.

We sort of knew what to expect from this great Bike Portland guest post: Trolley Trail tour: You can now ride Portland to Oregon City nearly carfree…except it turned out being a lot quicker than we thought it would be, both because it was fewer miles than we had estimated and because we traveled faster than the advertised “brisk-but-still-leisurely pace of about 10mph” given the makeup of our group. The route wasn’t completely straightforward and our ride leader, Lise, stopped briefly a few times to check the map and keep us on course. I’ll turn my Strava recording into a Ride with GPS route I can easily follow before going on my own.

The first cool thing we saw was early in the trip, along the Sellwood/Milwaukie 17th Avenue Multi Use Path, when we came face-to-brush with a tiny street sweeper! I read about this four years ago on Bike Portland: Portland buys a new, bike path-sized street sweeper (and Seattle was supposed to buy one, too, but I don’t think that ever happened: Seattle Bike Blog: Seattle will purchase skinny bike lane sweeper machine). It turns out this one we saw belongs to the City of Milwaukie, and the kids and I got to see it up close two days later at Sellwood-Milwaukie Sunday Parkways where it was parked next to a full-sized street sweeper for a dual naming contest.

Next up, halfway to Oregon City we discovered the perfect restroom/drinking fountain/playground stop: Stringfield Family Park.

As we approached Oregon City I saw a billboard for the End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive & Visitor Information Center which I can’t wait to check out with the kids. We didn’t ride by it in the group, but it looks bike accessible as I look at the map.

The last bit of the Trolley Trail wasn’t done, but there was an arrow spray painted on the road directing us towards Oregon City. A guy working on the site also gave us directions.

Our plan was to hang out in Oregon City for an hour, exploring the area and finding a spot for lunch. One of the women on the ride had been to Oregon City recently for an Oregon Trail themed 5K run and told us about the elevator and trail up on the second terrace so we headed for the Oregon City Municipal Elevator.

I love the elevator! It’s older than Seattle’s Space Needle and is the only outdoor municipal elevator in the US (and one of only four in the world). Bicycles are allowed in the elevator so four of us squeezed in with the operator for the first run. The remaining five opted to carry their bikes up the stairs. They were very quick to arrive and meet us, but I’ll use the elevator for future visits, even if I have to wait because it’s quite the walk. The observation deck is full of lenticular images (two-in-one holograms) and educational signage.

We walked and biked along the McLoughlin Promenade a ways for a lovely view of the Willamette Falls. One of our group was an architect who recently had a project in Oregon City and told us about the three terraces.

We split up for lunch, half of us at Oregon City Brewing Company (which is large indoors and out and looks good to visit with kids and dogs!) and half somewhere with vegetarian choices.

I’m thankful to have found this great resource. Two women knew each other from before, but the rest of us were all new to one another. Also in our group was a woman from the Portland chapter of Black Girls Do Bike. Portland has a lot of great resources for women, see Bike Portland: Portland’s network of bike clubs for women is thriving. I look forward to exploring more of the area with more of these groups!