Cycling in Portland.

If anyone is wondering whether we still have our bikes with us. Yes, we do.  We have a bike carrier which straps onto the boot of our rental car.  With the addition of an octopus strap to secure them a bit more firmly, it works brilliantly.  Even at freeway speeds of up to 75 mph (120 kph) the bikes are rock solid. We bought the carrier in Sydney, but surprisingly, in the land of the 4WD and oversized sports utility vehicle strap-on bike carriers are very common in the US. I can hardly recall ever seeing one in Australia but we see them everywhere here. Just don't hire a car with a rear spoiler. We had to reject the first rental car. It was never going to work.

Have bikes will travel.

The West Coast of the US has been going through a heat wave.  In Portland we had a few days in the high 90s Fahrenheit (32 C) and over. While the heat has slowed us down a little we're still hitting the cycle paths regularly.  Portland, Oregon is said to be the most cycle friendly city in America with more than 300 miles of bike routes. Most of these are directed at commuters but there are enough scenic paths to keep the casual cyclist happy for weeks. The city has a couple of great websites dedicated both to getting you where you want to go and giving you enough information to allow you to meander happily along the pretty routes getting nowhere in particular. We decided to go with the 'nowhere in particular' option.

A direction sign in central Portland - notice the pointer to 'Kangaroos'

On Day One we cycled the Waterfront Loop - 11 miles of mostly shared pedestrian/bike path on either side of the Willamette River.  On the western side the path runs within a few blocks of downtown. It was an easy detour to cycle through the city and get a feel for central Portland.  Back on the main path there were plenty of spots for a picnic lunch along the riverside park and lots of great people watching cafes to take a break in. The only downside to the ride was the path upgrade works going on as we approached the Sellwood Bridge. The works aren't due to be finished for a couple of years. We were forced to take a detour from the path and had lots of fun cutting across country, through a disused building site and down more than one dead-end before we were able to find our way again.

Waterfront cycling

Lots of nice places to stop and rest.

Day Two - We drove out of Portland to the small town of Banks. Having been warned that cycling in Portland on a Sunday was so popular we might get bowled over in the rush we headed out of town to avoid the crowds. It worked. The mercury topping 100 degrees Fahrenheit may also have had something to do with our relative solitude.

The Banks to Vernonia Trail

The Banks to Vernonia trail is a route along an old railway corridor.  Whether in the US, Australia or New Zealand, Rail Trails provide some of the best cycling there is. The great thing about Rail Trails is that trains can't go up steep hills. As a result the trails are almost always either flat or have only a gentle gradient. Banks to Vernonia is no exception. An easy, steady climb to just short of TopHill, the halfway point on the trail, was rewarded with an almost uninterrupted downhill sprint on the way back. The trail travels through green fields and forest with plenty of pretty countryside to admire.

Not something we have to worry about in Aus.
Despite the warning signs we failed to see any evidence at all of either bears or cougars. It surprises me how  hysterical Americans seem to be about the prevalence of a few species of deadly wildlife in Australia when they have many more dangerous animals in their own backyard. Steve Irwin was a household name here and I think he may have exaggerated things just a bit - and yes I can see the irony in that given the very unfortunate way he died.

For the next post in this series click - here

For all my posts on this road trip click - here

4 July 2013


  1. Looks like we missed a great place to cycle, although with all those dangerous animal around . . . LOL about Australian animals.

    1. Portland is one of the best places to cycle in the whole country, especially the path around the water.