Ah, summer. I’ve lived in the Pacific Northwest for more than a decade. Summer usually makes an appearance after the Fourth of July (in a good year). In Portland this year, we’ve already had sunny, warm days ahead of the solstice. Although I am learning to enjoy riding bike on rainy days, there’s still nothing like a warm summer day for a bike ride.
In June, Portland holds a three week bike festival – Pedalpalooza. I’ve been to a few of the hundreds of events, some of which are huge community events and others are small events organized by like-minded riders. I went to the opening night ride, but I did not go to the World Naked Bike Ride. Instead, last week I created my own event.
Stella! and I headed out on the Springwater Corridor, a multi-use trail that will eventually extend more than 21 miles. The corridor began as a commuter railway in 1903. Portland and Metro (an elected regional government for the Portland metropolitan area) began acquiring land in 1990 with the initial segment of the trail opening in 1996.
But rather quickly the world of cars is left behind with views of the river and Ross Island to the west and the Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge on the eastside of the trail. The refuge is part of the Willamette’s floodplain. The area was once used as a landfill, but the city acquired the land in the 1960s to protect one of the few remaining wetlands within Portland. Being able to ride fast with no worry of cars makes me forget about stopping, but the point of my ride was to explore. So this time I’d stopped at the refuge. I can’t tell you the last time I saw or heard a frog in a natural setting.
I still haven’t, but I like knowing it’s a possibility.
Near the refuge is the Oaks Amusement Park, which first opened in 1905 and is now open during the summer on weekends. The park includes The Hangar, a roller rink that is home to the Rose City Rollers, a women’s roller derby league.
I haven’t seen them at The Hangar, but I’ve been to bouts in the stadiums in the Rose Quarter. This isn’t the fake roller derby of bygone days. Although still campy, flat track roller derby is a sport, nothing staged about the action. “A game of brutal beauty.” If you haven’t been to a roller derby before, check them out. There are more than 150 leagues across the United States. For a league in your area, check out the link below to the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association.
Not much farther beyond the park, the trail is interrupted near the Sellwood Bridge. Rather than riding on a trail, you are routed through Sellwood for about a mile and half before joining up with the trail again, riding along the Johnson Creek, which winds its way for 26 miles from Boring to Portland.
Projects have been underway to restore the Johnson Creek watershed, an area that has been developed but subject to flooding. Rather than relying on structures to alleviate flooding, the projects have been focused on restoring the natural functions of the watershed, which alleviate flooding naturally. This approach also has the benefits of improving water quality and fish habitat.
Always doing my part for the local economy, I decided to stop for a late lunch at Pupuseria La Migueleña, specializing in Salvadoran food. I had a pupusa and tamale. A pupusa is essentially two handmade tortilla’s with various fillings. Pork and cheese called my name. Both were perfectly prepared and quite filling. With more than eight miles to ride back home, however, I felt a dessert from Cake on a Hot Tin Roof was also in order. That being the case, I ordered a Bienenstich, or bee sting cake. It’s a German dessert with caramelized almonds and a cream filling.
Given all the choices at Cartlandia (including a beer tent with a TV), I will have to head out for another ride. And next time, I will have to plan to ride farther on the Springwater Corridor, since I covered barely half of it. On top of that, the corridor is also a segment of the 40-Mile Loop, a multi-use trail that despite some gaps already includes more than 100 miles of trails.
OFG, it’s time for you to meet the 40-Mile Loop.
- Pedalpalooza 2012
- Springwater Corridor
- 40-Mile Loop
- Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge
- Oaks Amusement Park
- Rose City Rollers
- Women’s Flat Track Derby Association