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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Country Riding in the Urban: My Xmas Eve "Rough Stuff" jaunt

Christmas Eve turned into an "as good as it gets" day around these parts for smack-dab in winter: some clouds, some sun, no rain, high 45F/8C. Yep, a good day for a ride. Originally I intended to go on the Frisky Riders morning ride, as it sounded like fun. Then I found out it would start in North Portland and go out to St Johns and back. Normally a 20 mile ride like this would be no prob, but I had to be on Hawthorne by 3pm for work and didn't feel like risking it, and also didn't feel like getting up early enough to get to the starting point.

So I slept in and made breakfast for April and myself. I didn't have much intentions of riding, but then realized the next few days would promise crappy, not-ride-for-the-fun-of-it weather, so out I went. But where? There was less than two hours to play with before I had to be at work. I could do the old stand-by of riding up to Mount Tabor, but decided to play with a little rough stuff instead.

While Portland is indeed "a city", we have quite a bit of what are labeled "unimproved roads", streets that haven't been paved and/or graded at all. These can range from widish gravelled streets to basically single track over rough terrain. As I've stated previously, much of this rough stuff is found in the fringes, but you can find bits scattered all over town.

And one neighborhood that features a lot of unimproved roads is Woodstock, a few miles south of my house. Practically every west-east street south of Woodstock Blvd is "unimproved", for reasons unknown. While this has been a point of contention to many a Woodstock resident, who would prefer to not drive over these rough potholed roads that turn into bogs come the rainy season, it's a boon to someone like me, someone who wants to get a little "rough stuff" action without having to go far.

I didn't even have to go far from my house to start getting the rough stuff. SE Cora at 28th, about a mile south, has got the rough stuff.

Then south of Kenilworth Park SE Pardee St becomes a dirt path for a few blocks around SE 33rd. One block is basically a foot path.

My path cut through the Reed College campus. As I have done many a time on a bike ride, I took the bridge across Reed Canyon, which is Crystal Springs Creek as it cuts through the property.

And then Woodstock! Grail of rough stuff in SE. There were many roads I could choose. For this trip I stuck to SE Martins Street, one block south of Woodstock Blvd. It starts off promising.

Though I wish I had time to explore this part of Martins, as it promises some "sick" urban singletrack. Next time.

One block in Martins narrows to a very narrow path as it goes through this tunnel of trees.

My favorite part of Martins is this bucolic setting at SE 41st, wooden fence and all. You'd think this is some sort of idyllic country setting. Yet Woodstock Blvd lies one block north, choked with cars busy doing last minute shopping.

And the hint of danger! A small lake formed at the intersection of SE 42nd and Martins. My bike made it through unhinged, but I worried.

At this point it was 2:30 so no more Rough Stuff for me. I headed north to work. But I'll be back again, soon.

More photos on flickr here.

1 comment:

  1. Looks like some enticing trails to explore!

    Meanwhile, on the Canadian Prairies (at the inlaws), I am trying out my new snowshoes tramping through 1 foot to 4 foot deep snow drifts at -25 C.

    Of course last week I was still riding every day to work, thanks to snowplows.


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