Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Perfectly Portland: In and Around Downtown by Bicycle

Of course the day starts with a stop at an organic juice bar. It's Portland.

On a recent sunny but cold Saturday, my well-situated friend Matt and I enjoy an easy breezy bicycle ride through P-Town.  Bundled up against the early winter chill and the East Wind, we coast from Goose Hollow down to the Willamette River.

But first there's that stop at Kure Juice Bar on Taylor a couple blocks up from the river. They whip up a cleansing concoction of veggies and fruit to get me revved for the ride.

After a tumble onto the street when my shoelaces get wrapped up in my pedal (good thing the street was empty), I pick myself up and we cycle onto the Waterfront Park - Eastbank Esplanade Loop Trail along the river.

Today we're headed clockwise and cross the river on the historic Steel Bridge over to the Eastbank Esplanade. This lovely trail is scenic and spacious, perfect for whatever means of nonmotorized transportation you wish.

Steel Bridge across the Willamette River

After cruising about a mile or so along the eastbank, we cross over the Hawthorne Bridge (I think!) and cut south along the river for our next stop. Portland's bridges have excellent, wide bicycle lanes.

Our next stop is the Little River Cafe along the RiverPlace Esplanade for a proper breakfast.  My breakfast wrap stuffed with freshly sauteed veggies, eggs, and a little cheese is excellent and large enough to split.

Then we continue south down to catch the Portland Aerial Tram up to the gorgeous OHSU (Oregon Health & Science University) facility on Marquam Hill above the South Waterfront District. When I was a kid this was just industrial land along the river, but Portland has grown up quite nicely, thank you.

We roll our bicycles onto the spacious tram that departs every 5 minutes or so and enjoy the short ride uphill. The view along the way is just as awesome as from the top.

 Mt. Hood is out in all her freshly white-clad glory today, looming large but graceful on the eastern horizon. Love that mountain.

Marquam Bridge
Lots of tourists and locals come up here for the view, and some lucky people like my friend Karen ride the tram as part of their daily work commute to OHSU. We chat up several visitors, including some students from Malaysia and a medical resident out from Kentucky.  A spectacular view on a sunny day makes everybody friendly.

Portland Aerial Tram
Riding downhill from OHSU on the winding, tree-lined road is more exciting than the leisurely tram ride up.  I cringe when Matt shoots down hill upright on his bike while he's adjusting his parka.  I'm too chicken and cruise down with a tight grip on my handlebars as I negotiate the blind curves.

Our last stop is back downtown at the Portland Farmer's Market at the South Park Blocks at Portland State University.  I stock up on the last of the season's chanterelle mushrooms and sneak a few cookies from one of the vendors closing up for the day.

After about 4 hours we meander back to Matt's place in Goose Hollow. Compared to Seattle where I live now, bicycling Portland is a dream. Lots of great trails, not too steep (we cheated with the tram), and very bicycle friendly.

Where are your favorite routes to bicycle around Portland?

When You Go 
The Portland Aerial Tram only cost about $4 to ride, payable by credit card. The Portland Farmer's Market at Portland State is open until December 21 for the year, then reopens in March.



Marie said...

Gorgeous photos! Do you know that I've NEVER ridden the tram? No one in my family has. One day! said...

Jill, my beach cruiser is single speed...will have to get a multi speed for when we come up this summer.

Lesley said...

Fun post. I'm passing it on to a friend who is moving to Portland.