This classic Portland West Hills ride has some amazing forest views, winding climbs, and a handful of county and town line sprint points. Grab a few friends and practice race tactics while enjoying the greenery close to town.
The ride starts at Ovation Coffee in NW Portland. After just a couple of miles of gradual climbing through quiet neighborhood streets, you will enter Portland’s world-famous Forest Park. Leif Erikson Road traverses a large portion of the park, snaking through vibrant greenery all around! Forest Park is the only un-paved segment on this route. The road surface is more like a bike path of luxury gravel, and be managed on a standard road bike, although slightly bigger tires from 28-32c are recommended. Leif Erikson Road eventually intersects Saltzman Road, which is also mellow gravel and cuts a somewhat steeper path upwards toward the ridgeline at the top of Forest Park. At the top of Saltzman Road, you will emerge from the forest and turn right onto a paved Skyline Road. After a short distance on Skyline, the route turns left and descends rapidly down Springville Rd into Bethany’s community. After a slight uphill section, when you see a dense subdivision of houses approaching, you should be winding up your first (of 5 total) sprint points of the day, as you enter Washington County. This will be the only one I reveal the location of, so bring some friends and stay alert, some signs may be difficult to spot until the last minute.
After a couple miles on Kaiser and Germantown roads, Old Germantown Rd. begins with a steep downhill that is littered with potholes, none of which are particularly dangerous. Eventually, “Old G” becomes a quiet, narrow, pitchy climb. When you see “GO POPPI!” you’re nearly at the top, but the work isn’t done yet. At the top, turn left and travel North on Skyline. The next few miles will tick by quickly, as the road is mostly downhill. At the intersection with Cornelius Pass, the next stop sign, there is a small store off to the right-hand side, which has free potable water.
Across Cornelius Pass road, a left turn begins a speedy downhill section, but watch for Rock Creek Road coming up quickly on the right. After turning right, Rock Creek road greets riders with a very rough surface, so it’s worth slowing down to weave through the potholes. The train track crossing in this section is harsh as well, and it is advised to ride over this at low speed, slightly off the saddle. Shortly after crossing the tracks, the road condition improves significantly. Rock Creek is deceptive. Even though it doesn’t look like a climb, as soon as the downhill section past the train tracks ends, the grade is a steady 1-3% for a few miles. Once the road snakes right around a barn, where some cute lamas and sheep reside, the climbing begins in earnest.
At the top of Elliott, you have the option to complete the bonus loop for some extra vertical. To see this add-on, turn left onto Skyline, then left at Johnson Rd. To head back toward Portland, turn right onto Skyline at the top of Elliot. Using the downhill ramps on Skyline to build up speed, try to maintain as much momentum as possible over this set of rollers possible, on the way back to Cornelius Pass Road, where riders again have the opportunity to fill up on water and buy snacks at the store just East of Skyline Rd.
After crossing Cornelius Pass, the climbing continues on Skyline, until Thomson Road. Thomson is a fun descent with a steep ramp at the top that allows riders to build up speed. The pavement is broken in some of the turns, so take care to enter corners at the appropriate speed, especially in damp conditions. After Thomson, Cornell Road descends the rest of the way back to NW Portland, through two short tunnels, and a tight chicane. Once you hit 23rd ave, the post-ride food options are nearly endless, but Boke Bowl on 18th and Northrup is a solid bet for hearty Asian cuisine.
-Mallory Miller PEARL iZUMi Crew
Forest Park is the only un-paved segment on this route. The road surface is more like a bike path of luxury gravel, and be managed on a standard road bike...