Getting Back to My Dam Roots

After a quick stop in Spain I have jumped ship from my international lifestyle and am back to riding in Oregon.  Which is good for all of you because this blog is going to become immediately more relevant to you.  There’s also going to be some changes around here as the blog shifts from pure touring to plain riding and beer review.  Which brings me back to Beaverton…

Is Portland rubbing off on Beaverton?

Is Portland rubbing off on Beaverton?

…The shades-of-white houses town where wetlands carve the valleys and mini-highways carve the wetlands.  Where garages are used instead of front doors and pedestrian means “woman walking dog.”  The bike lanes are used as parking spaces and Chili’s is considered fine dining.  This might not sound like the type of future we need in the United States, but good old American ideas still live here.  In the old, tucked-away parts of the city the home with the yard is without its white-picket fence but it’s even more welcome than the front porches of Portland.  Plus, every place refines when you experience it on a bicycle.

I remember when I first started cycling in Beaverton after a dare from my dad the summer of my junior year of college.  I found a lot of trails I didn’t know about and some tasty restaurants.  The most spectacular though were the massive statue of Buddha lying seductively on a lawn and Knightfall Games, a board game store you can only find by going slow.

Rediscovering those routes has been like trying to solve a algebraic problem 10 years out-of-practice.  With each turn I know I’m in the right place, just going the wrong direction.  I’m also crazy out of shape. Without a bike in Spain (which was a shame as there is some killer riding in Basque Country) and only a polo bike in London any kind of sustained riding outside of a sprint is beyond my skill-level.  When I sat on Sir Norte for the first time it felt like wearing my teenage clothes.  Some quick adjustments and I was back on.  I’ve now realized that what was really odd were my knees bumping into the big belly I’ve accumulated on my travels.

The biggest drawback to living in Beaverton is getting to Portland.  It’s about 15 miles over a hill just to get downtown, and on rainy and cold days that hour-long ride looks even less appealing.  But no matter!  I had serious errands to run today.  I came home from abroad to find my stock of bike clothes has gone missing.  I needed to buy gloves.  And only City Bikes carries the pair I like.  So it’s over the hills and through the zoo to the southeast store do I go.

small hill

I used to climb this little guy with ease in a hard gear. This time I suffered in my granny…

Normally, I take the less hilly Multnomah to Barbur route, but I was in the mood to climb.  A few cuts through quiet streets brought me to the beginning of my climb in the middle of mini-mansions surrounded by suburban old-growth trees and swaths of property.  Every corner I turned had a memory.  The pool I used to swim at, the rec center I used to work at, the church I used to go to before it was sold to a Korean Episcopalian.  Before I knew it I was on the I-5 path sweating and getting passed by the loud highway.  That path needs a new name by the way.  Why is it named after a highway?  Boring.  It needs something like Whispers of Motors Drive, or Scenic Cemetery View or Aren’t You Glad It’s Here Bikeway.  I long for the day when it is packed because people are so concerned about their health they abandon the MAX for the exercise.  Bwahahahaha…that’ll never happen.  Shoot, I only take it because the MAX costs $2.50!

The rest of the ride was a freezing and sunless zoobomb, frightful dodging of clueless Lincoln High students, and a zigzag through downtown.  I got a good sweat and heartbeat going…and then the climb up Barbur came.  I used to use this route as a commute and would be at the edge of my middle chainring.  I was quite pleased to find that my legs found their way back to that conditioning.  You never forget how to ride a bike, and my legs hadn’t forgotten how to climb.  But when I stopped by Uptown Market and walked for a bit, that was the difference.  I didn’t feel like I had legs when I stepped through the doors.  I had used them completely to climb the hill, and when I stood still at the bar I could feel the weight sinking into my quads.  I was tired.

Uptown Market is a relatively new place at the intersection of Scholls and Allen that specializes in craft brews.  They have classes and ingredients for home brewing.  An unbelievable selection of bottled beer and a handful on tap.  Plus, they have tastings from local makers and last night happened to be one.  Portland Brewing, formerly Pyramid, most recently MacTarnahan’s (I explain this in a later post) had two beers on tap.  To give you all a break I will talk about the beer and review another in a later post as I am quickly approaching 1,000 words.  That’s a lot for one blog reader to handle…

Suburban beauty

Suburban beauty

A quick jaunt through the Fanno Creek Trail in the waning moments of a rosy sunset brought me closer to home, until a car nearly brought me closer to death.  Bike routes don’t usually have stoplights because, well, those streets are busier and we don’t like that.  I came out at Hall with a stop sign and Hall is a rapid-fire street with 30 mph traffic.  As soon as I got to the line I saw a hole.  I got through half of my crossing when I heard a truck kick it to 11 to pass a vehicle just to cut it off right in my direction.  I barely got to the bike lane before the maniac zipped past to stop at the light…first in line.  Please don’t speed.  It makes no sense and it kills.  Perhaps a write-up on road bozos (cars and bikes and walkers alike) would be useful to explain.  Again, later because I have officially crossed 1,000 words.  Please excuse the excess…it’s been a while…

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