Ride Report 9/24/2011

Location: Tarbell Trail
Drive Time: 1hr 10min
Permits: Discover Pass
GPS Track: Strava


Dried out trails
Overgrown in places
Horse Poop
Gun Fire

I figured I’d start documenting the singletrack around Portland.  Maybe I in the future I can show this to city leaders and show how far I’m driving to recreate.  While I’m driving this far it gives me plenty of opportunity to support (buy food, fuel, and beer) the small towns that I drive through rather than spending my money in the PDX Metro area.

My goal for these rides it is to ride for at least as long as it took me to get to the trailhead, and ideally I’d like to spend more time on the trail than in the truck.

Shit, looking at my highlights and lowlights this was a really crappy ride, but in actuality the hightlights are all the reasons that I ride, and the lowlights are just minor annoyances.

Luckily I didn’t get a ticket for not having a Discover Pass, I didn’t realize that I needed one until I got to the trail head.  Obviously the locals have their own ideas about the Discover Pass.  I’ll have to get one eventually, I heard the ticket is about $100 even if you purchase a pass after the fact.

The trail is well bedded in it’s a little bit rocky and worn down to roots.  It makes for some technical challenge going up and some nice little jumps on the way down.  There were nice trail markings every .5 miles.  I assume the markings go for the full 22 miles of the loop shown on the DNR map.

This ride starts out with a pretty stout climb right out of the gate.  I started around noon on a sunny day, and the first 1/2 mile across a clear cut was pretty warm.  Luckily the trail quickly jumps into the shade as it leaves the clearcut.

In the 5.5 miles of the trail that I rode the trail crosses a bunch of clear cuts.  The clearcuts are nice in that they provide views, but it’s hot out in the exposed areas, the brush near the trail is more likely to be growing into the trail, and the trail surface is drier and looser.   I’m not sure what the phenomenon is but the soils seem to get baked, and more likely to erode, and more likely to turn into a mucky mess as soon as it rains.

Here was the highlight of my ride, and where I had intended to ride to.  Not a lot of water, but this waterfall is 92 feet tall.  Pretty impressive, and nice and cool on an 80 degree day.

It was a great day to get out.  Everyone (all 5 people) I ran into was very nice.  Next time I’ll probably start nearer to Cold Creek to avoid driving a couple of miles of gravel road.

There are a lot more trails to explore in the area, so I’ll be back out here.  I’ve heard rumor that there is a downhill trial being built in the area, I’d like to ride the whole 22 miles of the Tarbell loop, and there is a trail down Larch mountain nearby.

Thanks for reading my ramblings.

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Lack of Mt Biking in Portland, Oregon drives business to California.

Check this out:

I had thought it was kind of funny when these guys moved to PDX to start a downhill mt. bike company. I guess this answers the question of how long they will last in a town with no trails that can be ridden to.

Maybe I’ll revive this blog and start talking about more positive stuff.


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New York City?

In the push to get mountain biking in Portland, one thing that bugs me is comments to the effect of, you chose to live in a city, you shouldn’t expect to have mountain biking close by.

What about this? The Big Apple has multiple options for mountain biking in town.  Portland has 2 (A couple of trails at Powell Butte and 1/4 mile of trail in Forest Park)

I thought Portland was supposed to be outdoorsy.

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Please, Please, Please…

Can I please drive through the worst traffic in Portland, to pay $20 to ride in circles and breathe the dust of my 50 closest mountain biking friends? PIR STX

Oh, and can I please pay too much and not have much choice in what I drink post race? YES

It’s like cyclocross but it’s hotter, bumpier, drier, and without all the fun.

Thank you Portland!

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Powell Butte – July 6,2010

After my first post, I decided that rather than bitch about not having anywhere to ride my mountain bike, I’d go ride to where I’m allowed to ride on single track. It was a gorgeous day, so I rode from my house in SW Portland to Powell Butte Nature Park.
It was a gorgeous day, and it was great to get out and ride my bike.

I know how boring it is to bitch all the time, but the negatives are the things that stick in my mind. Maybe I’ll get to the positive aspects in the future.

Unpleasant Experiences:

  • Crossing the Sellwood bridge
  • Crossing SE 17th Ave in Sellwood
  • Being detoured immediately upon getting on the Springwater Corridor
  • Dodging unleashed Dogs “controlled” by new parents.
  • Old hiker passive aggressively getting out of the way, or not.
  • Realizing that whole park was torn up with reservoir reconstruction.
  • Stolen, missing, defaced and confusing trial signs.
  • Deep gravel paths around construction areas.
  • Singletrack being wide and not smooth where it existed.
  • Riding through SE with people who give cyclists a bad name (not stopping for red lights, stop signs, passing with out announcing, and generally acting unpredictably in traffic.)

OK here’s the good stuff.

Good stuff

  • Getting to put some miles on my newly built Salsa Fargo.
  • Going for a ride on the first warm day of the year. (summer started on July 6th this year)
  • Riding singletrack that the city doesn’t know about, so it’s not off limits to bikes yet.
  • There was singletrack on the detour. I’ll have to go back and take a picture.
  • The repaving on the Springwater was awesome, and long overdue. I hope it holds up better than the last paving.
  • Seeing a guy on the Springwater who looked just like that Cheez Burga’ eatin’ mutha’ fugga’ Randy.
  • Seeing homeless looking people harvesting stuff along the bike path.
  • Seeing a really tan shirtless dude with his kids on the Springwater with a bluetooth in his ear.
  • The thought of stopping at the Sellwood food carts on the way home to refuel with tacos. (I didn’t so I could avoid the Sellwood Bridge, that’s another post to itself.)
  • Stopping to look at the totem pole by the Chart House. I’ve ridden past here 100’s of times, but never stopped to look.
  • Getting fresh cool water from a Benson Bubbler by the Chart House.
  • Riding up a new road on the way home. SW Cheltenham St.
  • Getting home famished and dehydrated and fixing those problems with fresh blueberries and milk.
  • Being tired, and not angry at the world. – Priceless

Did I have a point?  Actually, it looks like more positives than negatives…

Maybe its all perception and attitude.

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I was so mad I wrote a letter.

It didn’t help.  I’m still mad.

In April 2008 Portland Oregon was designated a Platinum-level Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists.

At that time it was noted that there was a severe lack of off road bicycling facilities in Portland.   Here is an article about how “things are gonna change, I can feel it.”

Nothing has changed so, with the help of my lovely wife, I wrote the following letter to the League of American Bicyclists and sent an email copy to the mayor of Portland, the head of the portland parks department, and most of the Portland city council.

So far I got a form email from Amanda Fritz, and an out of office reply from Zari Santner saying she’s out of the office for 2 more weeks.

League of American Bicyclists
1612 K Street NW, Suite 800
Washington, DC 20006-2850

Dear Mr. Clarke,

I would encourage you to reconsider Portland Oregon’s Platinum Level status. It is a fantastic town and has many facilities devoted to cyclists, but if you don’t live on the East Side of the river the cycling facilities are pretty abysmal. Additionally, there is a complete lack of singletrack off road cycling facilities available within city limits.

There is a surprising lack of any type of off road cycling available near the city center. There is 1/3 of a mile of singletrack open to cyclists in “the world’s largest forested natural area within city limits in the United States,” Portland’s Forest Park. I believe that there are some trails open to bikes at Powell Butte, but those trails are constantly being rerouted and are unrideable most of the winter. To add insult to injury, there was recently a community work group that mountain bikers were heavily involved in, but in the end our input was ignored. I have to drive an hour each way to ride my bicycle on legal trails. There are trails that aren’t marked as no bikes allowed, but it feels like only a matter of time before the city raises enough money to put up no bikes allowed signs.

I don’t think that it is crazy to ask to ride my mountain bike on natural surface single track trails within reasonable riding distance of my house. For example, residents of New York City NY, Minneapolis MN, San Francisco CA, Washington DC, Seattle WA, Austin TX, Kansas City MO, and Boise ID are all able to ride singletrack within the city limits, and none of those cities has been awarded Platinum Status. Why can’t cyclists in do that in Platinum Portland OR?

The nearest BMX facility (an Olympic sport) is 32 miles away. Our local Velodrome is on its last legs, and is only usable when it’s not raining—which in Oregon means about four months of the year.

On road facilities are fabulous where it is relatively flat and the roads are laid out in a nice grid. Unfortunately, that means that these are areas where it’s easy but unnecessary to provide biking facilities. I live in SW Portland where the major route home from downtown (Barbur Blvd) has a nice wide bike lane except where the road narrows for a bridge, or anywhere else where it was inconvenient to add the bike lane. It’s rather harrowing to have to take the lane on a busy four-lane, 45 MPH posted road to get home. Additionally, Portland’s “green bike box” program complied with the FHWA’s request in 2008 to test un-colored bike boxes alongside the colored ones for a period of time while data is collected and then the boxes would be painted. One of the three un-colored test sites is ½ mile from my house, and is still unpainted, two years later.

The Portland Police Department sets up stings to catch cyclists running stop signs at roundabouts, but doesn’t have the energy or will to prosecute drivers who kill cyclists. Look up Tracey Sparling, and Brett Jarolimek. In two of Portland’s most egregious examples of truck – cyclist collisions that ended with the death of the cyclist, the drivers in both cases walked away with little more than a ticket or no citation at all. The lack of accountability measures leveled at Portland drivers when cyclists are involved makes it more difficult to convince people that cycling is a safe activity.

It’s frustrating that I live in a Platinum status bicycling city, yet I don’t feel safe riding my bike. In summary, I don’t think Portland deserves Platinum Status until something actually gets done regarding off road cycling, police prosecution of drivers who hit bicyclists, and bicycling infrastructure in SW Portland, NW Portland, and other outlying areas within city limits.


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