Thursday, January 24, 2013

North Portland Booze Cross Ride

The view Northwest from the bluffs.
This past Sunday the toughest members of Team Metropolis braved the scorching sunshine for a loop around North Portland, the idea being  to ride as much dirt as possible. In preparation, I filled my flask and donned my thickest gloves. After a late start to hopefully avoid any lingering ice, we headed West bound from Mississippi over the Going Street bridge for a quick loop through Overlook Park then on to our first stop at the Bluffs. The roster included myself (Nathan, AKA "the Mayor"), the Schwartz, Johnny B, the Hymanator, and Lil' Snacky.

Enjoying our first stop for warming liquid refreshment.

 Part of the plan was to explore some new routes and fill in the paved gaps in my planned route. The other part was to partake in some fine but sensibly priced bourbon and have a leisurely ride.

Johnny making Lil' Snacky's Surly Troll look like a bmx bike.
 After a few minutes of dicking around it was time to move on to our next stop. We rode the short bluff trail and dove back into the neighborhood, zigzagging down dead end streets in an effort to find more dirt. The route called for riding along Skidmore Ct, which I knew from past experience was an awesomely muddy few blocks, before taking the pedestrian bridge over Going. I spotted a promising looking option at the end of Prescott, running parallel to Going, so we took it.

We survived the hobo jungle!
Alas, after 200 yards of portaging and bushwacking, the detour ended in failure. On the plus side, we didn't get any flats from blackberries or rusty scrap metal, so that's a win. Undeterred, we turned back and resumed our trek. After crossing the bridge, we turned left on Blandena, and back onto some sweet unpaved Portland roadway. A shortcut down Wygant took us behind the Addidas campus, from where we crossed Greeley to Willamette.

Once on Willamette, we headed north to the dog bowl, where we portaged down the steep side. All of us but the Hymanator that is, who used his superior brainpower and 29x2.3 tires to find a rideable path to the bottom. Once there, we took a quick nip and roamed around a bit.

The view from the dog bowl, looking Northwest over Swan Island.
Unfortunately, there are lots of little bits of trail in the bluffs area, but none of them connect or really lead anywhere. That was about to change. After riding up the far side of the bowl, we took the runner path along Willamette Boulevard to University of Portland. Some twists and turns through the U of P campus brought us to Van Houten Place and the descent into a toxic waste zone. The  McCormick and Baxter Superfund Site
(sometime known as Pirate Town) is 42 plus acres of rugged unpaved goodness.
The Hymanator in search of creosote. I'm pretty sure he succeeded.

The Schwartz, trying to not get tetanus.
After a little more liquid refreshment and some soft surface riding, we struck out north along the river. Unfortunately, there was more walking than riding, as the beach was either deep sand, or loose, coarse gravel.

Amazingly, we didn't find any corpses.

 Fortunately, by now the weather was (relatively) warm and the sunshine was plentiful, so our stroll on the beach was quite pleasant. Lil' Snacky tried valiantly to ride through the deep sand, but even her 2.2 tires weren't up to the task. Much cursing ensued. I was dared to drink a half full bottle of orange juice washed up by the river, but I declined.

We crossed under the bridge, and hiked along the shoreline of the small cove just to the North. There are a few semi permanent residents living on boats moored just off shore. For some reason, I failed to take a picture of 2 Rascals hidden under a sheet of plywood at the top of the short trail leading up from the beach.

Here, we got back on our bikes and took a short detour along the train tracks before heading back north on what is often known as the "hobo path" a half mile of single track that takes you to the St Johns industrial zone adjacent to Cathedral Park. The Hymanator took his leave of us after he ran out of bourbon, claiming he had to take care of his child. Sure, drunky. Your child. Probably just wanted to go to the liquor store.

 We cut through Cathedral Park under the St Johns bridge before cutting back North on Decatur, a muddy track that appears to have been bombed by the Luftwaffe. Our next destination was the wilderness of Pier Park, where we hoped to avoid any dangerous confrontations with the semi-feral disc golfers who infest it's boundaries. Johnny tried to show off his sweet cross skills by riding up a super steep and rooted bank, but failed to impress us. I was unable to document his humiliation with a photo, as my battery was dangerously low. After a lap around the park,we escaped unscathed and headed Northeast in an attempt to loop back around for home.

A jaunt along N Fessenden brought us to the Peninsula Crossing trail where we headed North before heading over the pedestrian bridge by the sewage treatment plant which brought us to the Slough Path that runs along the bank between the Coloumbia Slough and PIR. We continued all the way to N Vancouver, crossing under N Denver along the way. By this time it was pushing 2 pm, and I felt tacos were in order. Javiers! I thought. Just the sort of cheap greasy spoon a ride of this magnitude calls for. At this point the group split. Myself and Lil' Snacky peeled off to get fish tacos (I know, probably not the best choice at a place like Javiers) the Schwartz and Johnny B to get on with their respective days. Mission accomplished! Now I need to spend some time filling in the paved parts with sweet gravel alleys and shortcuts.
 Here's the route in case you care.  North Portland Booze Cross Route

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