Last year my bike trip was to Santa Fe to ride mountain bikes. This year, I flew to Portland, OR for a long weekend of road biking with 2 friends from Atlanta that have moved there: Paul and Austin. I flew out from Atlanta last Friday evening, and the bike crazyness began! First thing Saturday morning Paul and I picked up a rental Fuji Roubaix ACR 2.0 from the super nice guys at Waterfront Bikes. The bike was brand new and fit pretty well, and had pretty white bar tape that I knew wouldn't stay that way for long.
Saturday: Forest Park
From Paul's house, the three of us rode west out of Portland and zigzagged across Forest Park. Part of the loop involved crossing 2 pretty big bridges with traffic, and they were by far the biggest bridges like that I've ridden across. (The bridges in NYC have separated bike lanes.) We got some great views of the city, 2 big climbs, and 2 huge descents, and didn't work too terribly hard. Afterwards, we grabbed tacos from one of the many cheap and delicious food carts in Portland.
Sunday morning is was raining pretty badly in Portland. We found a route out of Hood River, OR on mapmyride.com and loaded up the car. Once there, we got a small break in the rain as setup for the last stage of the Mt Hood Cycling Classic was getting set up. Our plan was to get back and see the last 30 minutes or so of the pro men's circuit, but we ended up missing it by a few minutes. This ended up being a pretty awesome route, but it would have been more fun if we weren't getting rained on half the time. The long slow uphill for the first half was followed by a long slow downhill for the second half, and both had great scenic views of rolling hills covered in nurseries and orchards. Mt. Hood would have been visible the whole time if we weren't buried in the clouds. For surviving, we rewarded ourselves with food and beer at the Full Sail Brewing Pub in downtown Hood River, OR.
Paul had to work on Monday, and I was pretty beat from Sunday's ride, so Austin and I set out on a longer but easier ride out Portland to the East on bike paths. The ride was nice and pretty flat until we got out to Sandy River, where there were a few short climbs and a few great windy downhills. There were no real views, but lots of miles and lots of changes in scenery: from toothless meth heads on the bike path to Alpaca farms in the hills. We got a bit turned around riding back into town but with some pointers from a local on a bike, we made it to downtown Portland for massive burritos from another food cart.
On Tuesday, Austin was back at work but Paul was able to sneak out for a ride, and a ride it was! We drove east to a home depot parking lot around 250th street, hopped on our bikes, and headed up the road to Larch Mountain. This was a continual climb up to the overlook at 4056ft, which took us 2.5 hours. The skies were clear and after a short hike-a-bike to the top, the view was great: we could see all of the big peaks in the area: Hood, Jefferson, Rainer, St. Helens, and Adams. After a handful of photos, we headed down the mountain at ~30MPH, getting back to where we started in under an hour. More burritos afterwards, and my legs informed me that they did not want to ride any more bikes.
What an awesome trip! 200+ miles, 13,000+ feet of climbing, and over 15 hours in the saddle including biking to dinner a few nights. I had a great time hanging out with Paul, Austin, and friends, and it was nice to be away from the internet and on a bike instead for 4 days. Based on the weekend, I liked Portland better than San Francisco, but Paul thinks the winter weather in Portland makes it a bit less desirable (weather this weekend was pretty close to perfect). Uunfortunately I didn't snag any of the great views on Day 1. Waterfront bikes was surprisingly glad to see the bike covered in mud splatter and "well used", and Tuesday night I hopped on a red-eye back to Atlanta. Up next will be a mountain biking trip somewhere new and exciting. Track Racing tonight anyone? I kinda hope it gets rained out...