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Reader Story: A pleasant way around SW Barbur Blvd

Reader Story: A pleasant way around SW Barbur Blvd

Reader Kevin Wagoner created this map to help explain his favorite new way to avoid SW Barbur Blvd on his daily commute.


Today’s Reader Story comes from southwest Portland resident Kevin Wagoner. He has a route to share that avoids treacherous and unpleasant SW Barbur Blvd. He also drew some cool graphics to go with it….

——

I’ve been cycling to downtown from South Burlingame for the last decade. Barbur is a fast way to get downtown on a bike. Unfortunately the ride includes merging into traffic going much faster when the bike lane suddenly ends at multiple spots. Places like the bridges and the ‘y’ intersection at Natio Parkway need improvements and lower speeds to improve safety.

Recently I’ve started riding along the river to SW trails to get home. Following the SW trail along the river out of downtown is a much more fun and safe experience. I personally enjoy the daily wildlife encounters; highlights include the occasional beaver, seal or eagle.

(Graphic by Kevin Wagoner)

Here’s my route:

At Willamette Park turn right on Nebraska. Continue two blocks to Virginia. From here go forward to SW Corbett (very steep) or turn left toward Laview (less steep one block up Taylors Ferry). Once at the top of Corbett continue south and turn right on Custer. Take Custer until it turns into a short gravel section to a set of steep stairs. Climbing up the stairs will take you into South Burlingame.

The section at the end of Custer is part of the SW Trails. It runs under I-5, doesn’t have the safest feel, and due to gravel and steep hill it won’t be an alternative for everyone. Creating a paved bike trail here would increase the number of bikes (and people) in this area, which could help make it feel much safer. I know some of the neighbors in this area take personal responsibility in keeping the area clean. They paint over graffiti, chase off people doing drugs, and pick up trash along the area. Routing more cyclists through this area would help create a more positive experience and help the efforts to make the area awesome.

This route likely adds 25 minutes combined both directions to my commute each day. Sometimes those minutes feel very valuable as I race home to pick up my child from daycare. Other times those minutes are pure enjoyable cycling leisure. Let me know if you ride this route and what you think.

——

Thanks for sharing your story Kevin! You can find more Reader Stories in our archives. If anyone else has a story they’d like to share with the community, please send it in via email or use our online submission form.

Reader Story: A pleasant way around SW Barbur Blvd

Reader Story: A pleasant way around SW Barbur Blvd

Reader Kevin Wagoner created this map to help explain his favorite new way to avoid SW Barbur Blvd on his daily commute.


Today’s Reader Story comes from southwest Portland resident Kevin Wagoner. He has a route to share that avoids treacherous and unpleasant SW Barbur Blvd. He also drew some cool graphics to go with it….

——

I’ve been cycling to downtown from South Burlingame for the last decade. Barbur is a fast way to get downtown on a bike. Unfortunately the ride includes merging into traffic going much faster when the bike lane suddenly ends at multiple spots. Places like the bridges and the ‘y’ intersection at Natio Parkway need improvements and lower speeds to improve safety.

Recently I’ve started riding along the river to SW trails to get home. Following the SW trail along the river out of downtown is a much more fun and safe experience. I personally enjoy the daily wildlife encounters; highlights include the occasional beaver, seal or eagle.

(Graphic by Kevin Wagoner)

Here’s my route:

At Willamette Park turn right on Nebraska. Continue two blocks to Virginia. From here go forward to SW Corbett (very steep) or turn left toward Laview (less steep one block up Taylors Ferry). Once at the top of Corbett continue south and turn right on Custer. Take Custer until it turns into a short gravel section to a set of steep stairs. Climbing up the stairs will take you into South Burlingame.

The section at the end of Custer is part of the SW Trails. It runs under I-5, doesn’t have the safest feel, and due to gravel and steep hill it won’t be an alternative for everyone. Creating a paved bike trail here would increase the number of bikes (and people) in this area, which could help make it feel much safer. I know some of the neighbors in this area take personal responsibility in keeping the area clean. They paint over graffiti, chase off people doing drugs, and pick up trash along the area. Routing more cyclists through this area would help create a more positive experience and help the efforts to make the area awesome.

This route likely adds 25 minutes combined both directions to my commute each day. Sometimes those minutes feel very valuable as I race home to pick up my child from daycare. Other times those minutes are pure enjoyable cycling leisure. Let me know if you ride this route and what you think.

——

Thanks for sharing your story Kevin! You can find more Reader Stories in our archives. If anyone else has a story they’d like to share with the community, please send it in via email or use our online submission form.

Reader Story: A call for bikeway etiquette as fair weather floodgates open

Reader Story: A call for bikeway etiquette as fair weather floodgates open

Summer bike traffic-2-2

As temps increase, so do crowds in the bike lanes.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

This article reflects on an annual tradition in Portland: Veteran, all-season riders having to adjust to an influx of fair-weather riders at the onset of spring. It was submitted by 31-year old North Portland resident Adam Stone, who requested that I publish it as, “a timely plug for safety and etiquette.”

I am an all season bike commuter who works with other year-rounders and some fair weather folks. It’s all good, I am not an elitist who feels those who do not ride in the cold and rain need to earn their spot in the bike lane; we can even have lunch together. I just wish that those who don’t ride year round (now that they are out) would exercise some caution and common sense that apparently don’t come naturally.

Here are some observations from one day’s worth of commuting with nice weather (3/13/2013):

“Stay right… I AM going to pass you and it would be a lot easier for the both of us if you would just stay right and hold a line.”

— LOOK before your merge, if a car is there, WAIT. Don’t just stick your paw out and start merging across three lanes of traffic on Broadway between Burnside and Alder. Especially if you are the guy that chose headphones over lights for your dawn commute; you just created nine new people that hate sharing the roads with bikes.

— Speaking of lights, if you haven’t used yours since October, they may need a charge or new batteries. Hey, I get that they’re at least trying by mounting the thing, but come on, who likes a pie with no filling?

— Stay right. I understand, people are out getting some fresh air, they feel good, they feel strong; but I AM going to pass you and it would be a lot easier for the both of us if you would just stay right and hold a line. I promise to pass timely and responsibly, giving you a wide berth and a smile. (And don’t grumble at me.)

— If you signal to take a lane, and it is open, take it. Don’t signal, check, ride another block, they merge without re-signalling and re-checking. Cars are way faster than us, and that conversion van almost ended you in front of the Schnitz.

— At Williams and Killingsworth, respect the decision of the first bike in line. If they don’t go on the pedestrian signal, just wait, the green light cometh. Yelling at everyone to “Just Go!” is only make you look like an unhappy soul.

— Lastly, don’t you dare shoal me at a light, then not ride faster than me; you’re just making it uncomfortable for everyone.

Thanks for sharing your tips and perspective Adam. I think this perennial issue will partly fix itself as the quality of bikeway access on our streets rises to meet current demands.

I love to publish reader stories. If you’ve got something you’d like to see here on the Front Page, use the submission form and send it in!

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Reader Story: A call for bikeway etiquette as fair weather floodgates open

Reader Story: A call for bikeway etiquette as fair weather floodgates open

Summer bike traffic-2-2

As temps increase, so do crowds in the bike lanes.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

This article reflects on an annual tradition in Portland: Veteran, all-season riders having to adjust to an influx of fair-weather riders at the onset of spring. It was submitted by 31-year old North Portland resident Adam Stone, who requested that I publish it as, “a timely plug for safety and etiquette.”


I am an all season bike commuter who works with other year-rounders and some fair weather folks. It’s all good, I am not an elitist who feels those who do not ride in the cold and rain need to earn their spot in the bike lane; we can even have lunch together. I just wish that those who don’t ride year round (now that they are out) would exercise some caution and common sense that apparently don’t come naturally.

Here are some observations from one day’s worth of commuting with nice weather (3/13/2013):

“Stay right… I AM going to pass you and it would be a lot easier for the both of us if you would just stay right and hold a line.”

— LOOK before your merge, if a car is there, WAIT. Don’t just stick your paw out and start merging across three lanes of traffic on Broadway between Burnside and Alder. Especially if you are the guy that chose headphones over lights for your dawn commute; you just created nine new people that hate sharing the roads with bikes.

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Reader Story: Get a quick-fix of mountain biking in Forest Park

Reader Story: Get a quick-fix of mountain biking in Forest Park

The magic of Forest Park’s northern reach.
(Photos by Hudson Henry)

After I shared a story about a recent ride in Forest Park, I heard from many readers with fun routes of their own. The story and photos come to us from southwest Portland resident Hudson Henry.

Do you desperately need a mountain bike ride, but don’t have the time to get to the coast range or Gorge? Do you close your eyes and picture that knobby tire leading you carefree through the woods? When I feel the stress build up and really need a quick dirt ride, I head out Highway 30 to the northern reaches of Forrest Park. While the legal riding there is technically on firelanes, the northern lanes are often very rugged and trail like.

My favorite little six-mile loop starts by climbing up Firelane 12 from Harborton Drive. Quickly you leave the hustle and bustle of Highway 30 behind in exchange for a narrow, overgrown double-track climbing through deep woods. The only sound aside from your tires and labored breathing are the wind in the leaves and birdcalls. After clearing a few trail obstructions and steep short uphill grinds, stay left at the fork by Miller Creek. Now pace yourself for the steep climb up to the junction with BPA road.

The junction with BPA’s power line road is just above its notoriously steep and muddy section. Turning right, follow this well-graded gravel road up the final bit of your 1,000 foot climb to Skyline Boulevard. Popping back into civilization for a moment you take a left on Skyline and follow it to Newton Road. Watch for cars coming the other way as you descend this steep narrow, twisting gravel road to the Newton Parking lot and head straight through the gate and back onto a rough dirt road through deep woods.

Now you are one very short but steep climb from the best part. Drop your saddle and prepare to descend. Newton’s decent starts as a fast narrow dirt road down a steep ridge with sweeping turns and trail features to play on. As it descends to the creek below it becomes narrower, rougher, and more overgrown until you find yourself on a technical, twisty trail demanding every bit of your attention and skill. The creek crossing resembles a technical trials course. This may have once been a road, but no car has gotten through this maze of dirt, roots, and stone in a very long time.

All good things must come to an end. As the trail widens and drops back down to Highway 30 less than half a mile from your starting point, you can’t help but wonder to yourself… “Do I have time for another loop before dark?”

My friend Jeremy and I have ridden this loop or variations including it too many times to count. It never fails to put a smile on our faces. Isn’t that what it’s all about? Hopefully soon Portlanders will have good singletrack to ride close to home, but for now the northern park is my favorite quick fix.

(Hudson also shared this handy map for reference)

See more Reader Stories here. If you’d like to see your stories on the Front Page, use our submission form.

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Reader story: The Tiniest Bright Spot (a poem about riding in January)

Reader story: The Tiniest Bright Spot (a poem about riding in January)

Last (and cold) sunrise of 2010-1

This poem was submitted by reader and St. Johns resident Jamie Caulley. I think it captures the challenge and the beauty of riding through Portland winters. Read it below the jump…


The Tiniest Bright Spot
by Jamie Caulley

    January —
    The darkest time of the year
    the rainiest month
    the post-holiday sluggishness —
    a bike commuter’s biggest challenge

    Festive Christmas light brightened my December commutes
    now gone

    Leaves, vanished from the trees
    dissolved into lingering dark mush on the road

    Bitter darkness surrounds me
    Blindly, I bang into multiplying potholes

    Winter wind whips through barren trees
    the only sound

    My rides, lonely
    lack vigor

    Early on an ordinary Thursday
    surprised by an unexpected break
    a lack of resistance from the air
    I begin to ride in a comfortable rhythm
    finding a grey, but clear, view of the Willamette
    No rain pelts my face

    Today, the pavement is partially dry
    Gaining positive energy, I stand up on my pedals
    increasing my cadence
    Spring-like air rushes past my cheeks
    I relish it
    Still cool, still moist
    But noticeably a few degrees warmer

    My usual winter route skirts Grant Park
    The cloud break allows just enough light to safely ride through
    Pedaling down the path between old maple trees
    I recognize I am not alone
    something else is enjoying this tiny change in the weather
    a songbird

    Nearing the office,
    I feel ready to start work for the first time in a long while
    I remember the reason I ride

    Too early for long sun-filled days
    six more weeks of winter struggle
    somehow easier this morning
    allowing the tiniest bright spot of hope
    that spring would soon return

We’re always looking to publish reader stories. Feel free to submit yours via our online submission form.

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Reader Story: ‘Pay it Forward Ride’ brightens holiday for a family in need

Reader Story: ‘Pay it Forward Ride’ brightens holiday for a family in need

Hammer Velo team members at the recent Pay it Forward ride.
(Photo courtesy Drew Coleman)

[The article below was submitted by Sellwood reside Drew Coleman.]

When the weather outside is frightful, I find it difficult to find the desire to clip into my pedals and ride. This time of year I feel like I’m getting ready to ski, not train on my bike. The one thing that helps me overcome the winter weather is the company of teammates and friends. I mean, what’s better than a long team ride with some special guests? How about a long team ride that involves delivering gobs of gifts to a needy family in Portland? That is precisely what my team’s Pay-It-Forward ride is all about. For the third year in a row, Hammer Velo and guests from other teams gathered together for a charity ride which benefits a Portland family in need this Christmas season.

“We dodged debris from the previous night’s storm, powered through puddles and potholes and pedaled on… The youngsters in the family greeted us with looks of disbelief. I can only imagine the spectacle of all of these crazy cyclists in the mind of a small child.”

For the past three years, in cooperation with Doernbecher’s Children’s Hospital, Hammer Velo Team Director, Jeff Tedder and his contact at the hospital, Cindy Barshay, identify a family in need and then funds are raised to help provide the family with a great Christmas. Through word of mouth, the Oregon Bicycle Racing Association community, the generosity of Hammer Velo riders, other teams we train with and through our sponsors (such as Solid Core Training, Portland PACE and Breakside Brewery) over $1,000 was raised to buy gifts for this year’s family. Presents include things ranging from toys to clothes to the things families need on a day-to-day basis.Tedder and his daughter Kalli spend a day shopping for the family and wrapping the gifts.

This year, on Monday, December 17th, 14 riders from various points in the city met up at a rally point just off I-205. In the parking lot, amidst curious looks from folks going to and from their cars, riders stuffed packs and panniers and a Burley trailer full of gifts. Bikes were decorated with blinking string lights and flashing glow lights; stockings and jingle bells hung from handle bars and seats. One bike, with sound system hooked up, played traditional Christmas music to keep the group in good spirits on the ride. As per tradition, the group voted on the best bike decorations and the winner received a new pair of road tires as a reward. The holiday spirit extended to the outfits of the riders as well. Santa hats covered helmets and garish holiday sweaters covered the rain jackets.

We left the parking lot en masse. Traffic was particularly accommodating and allowed us plenty of room on the busy roads. Spinning joy throughout the upper reaches of NE Portland, the group broke into impromptu carols. Cars honked at the sight of a pace line of blinking, glowing riders; pedestrians hooted and broke into wide grins as they were greeted with Christmas cheer and bell rings. We dodged debris from the previous night’s storm, powered through puddles and potholes and pedaled on. Managing to get lost for a very short period of time, we eventually found our way. With freezing fingers and toes we pulled up to our destination. The youngsters in the family greeted us with looks of disbelief. I can only imagine the spectacle of all of these crazy cyclists in the mind of a small child. The awe gave way to smiles and thank-yous as gifts appeared from the bags and were spread out on the floor. Cookies were passed around and quickly gobbled up.

We didn’t stay long. We had a return ride ahead of us and the family had gifts to sort through. Team Santa, Jeff Tedder, called out for us to regroup:

    Now Bianchi! Now, Campy! Now, Shimano and Burley!
    On, CAAD9! On, Cross Bikes! On Road Bikes and Surley!
    To the top of PDX! Mount up, back to the mall!
    Now shift away! Crank away! Spin away all!

Warmed as only doing a charitable act can do, we all rode and sang our way back to our rally point for some post-ride food and spirits. I’m already looking forward to Pay-It-Forward IV . . . hopefully you will join us next year!


Thanks for sharing your story Drew. If anyone else has something to share (it doesn’t have to be Christmas related) and would like us to consider it for publication on the Front Page, please submit it via our online form. — Jonathan.

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Reader Story: Portland team heads to Hungary for MTB Orienteering World Championships

Reader Story: Portland team heads to Hungary for MTB Orienteering World Championships

Abra McNair (L) and Sue Grandjean
are ready to take on the world.
(Photo courtesy Abra McNair)

The story below was submitted by northeast Portland resident Abra McNair.

This August, two Portlanders will head across the globe to Veszprem, Hungary to represent the USA in the World Championships of Mountain Bike Orienteering (MTBO). This will be the sport’s tenth annual World Championship competition, but only the first time the US Orienteering organization has fielded a team.

Susan Grandjean and Abra McNair, two members of Portland’s bike racing scene, will be joining forces with Seattle’s Rebecca Jensen to create the first ever female MTBO team from the United States. Each athlete will participate in all races offered, including sprint, medium, and long distance courses; plus a team relay.


Orienteering is a navigation race in which participants use a detailed map and compass to make their way through a set course, covering varying terrain. Competitors are most commonly on foot (known as Foot-O), but there are many disciplines including ski, urban, and even canoe. The mountain bike variation involves attaching a rotating map holder to the handlebars, and using it to choose the most efficient route through a trail system. Top MTBO finishers excel in quick decision making, speed, endurance, and bike handling skills. (Learn more about MTB Orienteering here.)

Grandjean, who works and races for local Portland company Showers Pass, grew up orienteering in upstate New York, and has represented the US in three Ski-O World Championship competitions, most recently in Japan in 2009. She began racing mountain bikes in 1996 in Vermont, and continued her career for nine years in Colorado before moving to Portland in 2008, where she re-entered the orienteering scene.

McNair, a Showers Pass teammate of Grandjean’s who works in the Active Transportation Division at the Portland Bureau of Transportation, is new to the sport of orienteering, but has Foot-O experience at local events and a nationwide “A” meet under her belt. She competes locally in cross country and short track mountain bike events. Both she and Grandjean race in the elite A Category in the local Cross Crusade Cyclocross series.

Grandjean and McNair are both members of the local Columbia River Orienteering Club (CROC). They have been using CROC Foot-O events (most recently at Stub Stewart State Park) to hone their map reading skills, and are using past maps of local area parks to practice mountain bike orienteering. CROC offers orienteering events throughout the year in many disciplines.

To get a sense of what MTBO is like, check out the video below:

— You can follow along with Team USA’s orienteering adventures in Hungary on their blog, where they’ll be posting updates during the week of competition (August 20-25th). Good luck Sue and Abra!

Reader Story: Portland team heads to Hungary for MTB Orienteering World Championships

Reader Story: Portland team heads to Hungary for MTB Orienteering World Championships

Abra McNair (L) and Sue Grandjean
are ready to take on the world.
(Photo courtesy Abra McNair)

The story below was submitted by northeast Portland resident Abra McNair.

This August, two Portlanders will head across the globe to Veszprem, Hungary to represent the USA in the World Championships of Mountain Bike Orienteering (MTBO). This will be the sport’s tenth annual World Championship competition, but only the first time the US Orienteering organization has fielded a team.

Susan Grandjean and Abra McNair, two members of Portland’s bike racing scene, will be joining forces with Seattle’s Rebecca Jensen to create the first ever female MTBO team from the United States. Each athlete will participate in all races offered, including sprint, medium, and long distance courses; plus a team relay.


Orienteering is a navigation race in which participants use a detailed map and compass to make their way through a set course, covering varying terrain. Competitors are most commonly on foot (known as Foot-O), but there are many disciplines including ski, urban, and even canoe. The mountain bike variation involves attaching a rotating map holder to the handlebars, and using it to choose the most efficient route through a trail system. Top MTBO finishers excel in quick decision making, speed, endurance, and bike handling skills. (Learn more about MTB Orienteering here.)

Grandjean, who works and races for local Portland company Showers Pass, grew up orienteering in upstate New York, and has represented the US in three Ski-O World Championship competitions, most recently in Japan in 2009. She began racing mountain bikes in 1996 in Vermont, and continued her career for nine years in Colorado before moving to Portland in 2008, where she re-entered the orienteering scene.

McNair, a Showers Pass teammate of Grandjean’s who works in the Active Transportation Division at the Portland Bureau of Transportation, is new to the sport of orienteering, but has Foot-O experience at local events and a nationwide “A” meet under her belt. She competes locally in cross country and short track mountain bike events. Both she and Grandjean race in the elite A Category in the local Cross Crusade Cyclocross series.

Grandjean and McNair are both members of the local Columbia River Orienteering Club (CROC). They have been using CROC Foot-O events (most recently at Stub Stewart State Park) to hone their map reading skills, and are using past maps of local area parks to practice mountain bike orienteering. CROC offers orienteering events throughout the year in many disciplines.

To get a sense of what MTBO is like, check out the video below:

— You can follow along with Team USA’s orienteering adventures in Hungary on their blog, where they’ll be posting updates during the week of competition (August 20-25th). Good luck Sue and Abra!