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The Road to Beaverton

Don't pity that bicyclist riding uphill in the rain. He might be pitying you!
I rode my bicycle out to Beaverton and back this afternoon (if you must
know, I lost a silly little part from my camera and wanted to replace
it, and Beaverton is where the local Pentax repair facility is).

Almost rode the way I've always gone on the bus or in a rented car: down
Barbur Blvd. then out the Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway. Then I decided to
look at the street map just for the heck of it and noticed a much more
direct route involving Vista Ave., Patton Road, and Scholls Ferry Road.
Well, more direct if you ignore the fact that it goes over a range of hills
about a thousand feet high. But it's a new route to explore and I could
stand some exercise.

It had been showering lightly all afternoon, and sure enough, after I had
gone only a few blocks I felt a few drops starting to fall. Glad I was
on my "rain bike" (complete with fenders) and had a set of rain gear in
my pack.

The first leg of the trip was up, up, up. I've ridden it all in the course
of exploring my immediate area. (One of my standard exercise rides is to go
to the top of Council Crest and back, just under a thousand vertical feet of
climbing.) The rain continued, and seemed to intensify the higher I got, but
I was working up enough sweat that it didn't bother me. In fact, it felt
nice to have the cool drops fall on my face and arms.

Off from Vista onto Patton. Still climbing, though not as much, then
climbing, climbing, climbing again with a vengeance. Been past that gas
station before, nice that the road levels out a little here. Wait! I know
that summit off to the left -- that's Council Crest. This is no "level
spot", I'm at the top of the ridge!

The weather gives me a lesson in orographic lift and prevailing winds --
it's raining harder on the west slope. No matter, I'm so sweaty from all
that climbing that the rain and cool wind feel refreshing as I zoom
zippity-zing down Patton, taking care not to slip on the wet pavement
at the many sharp curves. Soon the rain stops and the pavement dries.

Wow! Scholls Ferry Road already! Still going down, down, down. Zip,
zing, zoom. I keep pace with the cars on Scholls Ferry, which is mostly
posted at 30 or 35 mph. Despite being thoroughly dampened by rain and
perspiration a few miles ago, soon I'm dry. I'm at Beaverton-Hillsdale
Highway and a few blocks from the repair center in a matter of minutes.
It was all so anticlimactic and fast once I got to the summit. Scarcely
longer than a ride to Council Crest and back.

That last part of the B-H highway was pretty unpleasant. On my way
back I work out a route through a suburban residential neighborhood that
lets me substitute quiet streets for strip-mall hell. The streets not
being on a grid, it's a complex route and I have to stop to check the
map several times. A rain shower threatens to drench me, then stops
just short of the "getting serious" point. A few more drops fall as
I zip down into a little valley then struggle up the steep slope on
the other side. There's no flat land around me any more, in fact --
I'm back in the West Hills.

I soon reach the dreaded intersection with Scholls Ferry Road. Dreaded
because Scholls Ferry is damned busy, and as I'm now going uphill there's
going to be no keeping pace with traffic. A nice surprise is waiting
for me -- I planned my interception of Scholls Ferry so well that in a
manner of minutes I see the traffic light at Patton ahead of me.

From now on, it's up, up, up with a vengeance. To remind me that the
laws of atmospheric physics have not been repealed, the rain resumes,
this time a little further down the road than when I last left it.
Moreover, my legs are tired from the trip out, so it's slow going.

Oftentimes when making a long hard climb, I'll slip into sort of a trance
state, repeating a phrase mantra-like repeatedly. I don't try, it just
happens. This time the mantra is "Hold your head up", from the chorus
of the Eurythmics song "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of These)", which happened
to be playing at the camera repair shop when I entered.

Time stops. Rain falls. "Hold your head up." The smell of my
body mingles with the smells of wet pavement and the rainy forest.
"Hold your head up." Why do people waste money on deodorants to mask
something that's natural and wasn't considered "bad" until the corporate
propagandists made us believe it so? For that matter, why do people
insist that getting wet in the rain is "bad" and they "need" to spend huge
sums of money caring and feeding for those iron cages they drive around.
I bet most of the people passing me actually think I envy them in their
cars. Absurd!

How much longer till the top? Don't think like that. Breathe. Pedal.
"Hold your head up." Savor the contradiction of being both soaked
on a cool rainy afternoon and warm and comfortable. There is no
moment but now. Life's about experiences, not about living to other's
preconceptions. There's nothing "wrong" with the weather today, or this
long climb. It just is. "Hold your head up." People in India consider
clouds and rain to be the sign of happiness and sunny dry weather the
sign of misfortune. What's wrong is when you convince yourself there's
something wrong, and trying to deny the environment you live in.

Is that the top of the roof of the gas station (the one that's on top)
ahead? It has to be -- there's the familiar fir-covered shape of Council
Crest with its radio towers on one end! I wonder how cold I'll get going
downhill now that I'm soaked. Maybe I should put rain gear and that extra
dry shirt on. No, I'll wait. Savor cooling off.

The rain slackens, then stops. The pavement is dry, and soon so am I.
I don't feel really cold at all. Down, down, down, through the upscale
homes of the Portland Heights. I'm home before I know it.

And bathed in that wonderful glow I often feel after a good workout.
All the breathing I've done has incorporated into my body a big chunk of
the atmosphere; I feel renewed by absorbing so much of the outside into
me. I'd never have felt that if I had taken the bus. I'd hardly feel it
at all if I was the typical sedentary "successful" middle-class American,
relying on his car for practically all local travel, and only walking
to and from that car. It's a wonderful sense of peace and renewal.

"Where were you riding?", my downstairs neighbor asks as I pass her
in the lobby. "Oh, out to Beaverton and back." "That's a long ways!
Didn't you get rained on?" I smile.
Alternate routes 21.Jun.2003 22:19

Skwirl ominous_Squirrel@hotmail.com

I live out near Beaverton. It's awfully lonely out here in my suburban ghetto. I've been considering finding a Council Crest route for a while, but it sounds like too much climbing. Here's what I consider to be the safest, flatest route from downtown Portland to downtown Beaverton: Terwilliger Multiuse Path -> Barbur -> Multnomah Blvd (look for the merging road on the right where Barbur goes by the Safeway and Golden Touch restaurant) -> From here it's a long, straight slightly downhill shot to the Garden Home Rec Center (across the street from Sheri's) There's a great multiuse path behind the soccer fields -> The path ends near Burgerville and across Scholl's Ferry from the Burgerville is a street that enters the Pinehurst neighborhood. There's a short multiuse path that connects the far northwest end of the Pinehurst neighborhood with 5th street by McMillan Park. Fifth street takes you straight out to the Beaverton City Library with minimal congestion.

I live in Garden Home, so I've only done both legs of this ride on a few occassions. I'd say it would take an hour and a half in the uphill direction for a granny gear guy like me. When I go back to downtown Portland, sometimes I take Barbur, but the places where the bike lane ends to cross bridges wig me out, so if I'm not in a hurry, I'll cut right after the Kady Car Wash where the Fulton Park Community Center is and go down that steep hill by John's Landing so I can get on the Willamette Multiuse Path ASAP.

The other night by a stroke of bad judgement I ended up west of the zoo by Big Red's and I followed this neat little path to a cemetary where there was a sign that said "Westbound Cyclists take Canyon Road." Holy shit, the city official who put that sign up needs to get his ass kicked. The Canyon Road bike lane ends without warning and from there it's a long, windy pitch black ride with 40 MPH+ traffic and nowhere to escape to in an emergency.

Sigh. I'm really upset about the latest hit and run death. I can't understand why people worship these murderous, obsolete machines.

Kudos to the author for posting this 21.Jun.2003 23:11

White Lilac

It's great to see stories such as this posted to the newswire ... chock full of good writing, local experiences and alternatives to a frustrating culture. I'd welcome more articles like this! If we all posted poignant snippets of our everyday lives, both positive and negative, I think we could inspire, support and cheer many friends, comrades and neighbors we otherwise might never meet ... and we could have fun ourselves in the process.

so nice 22.Jun.2003 00:13

brigid

i agree! this is a wonderfull article, written so well!
full of personal insight and clse to home. one can place theimagery oftime and place to the message. we were all just in that rain!
thank you for sharing and inspiring!
brigid

Wonderful Essay 22.Jun.2003 08:37

ranger

Nice job. We should see more of these personal experiences. Maybe, I might add some running experiences. It's a great way to see the real Portland, not the one from a car.

Your word are a song that will drive us from cars 22.Jun.2003 10:12

Michaelb

I collaborated with some graffiti artists to make that picture after a memorable mass that attempted to pass over the freemont bridge- it was subverted by the fear of a few- but we've broken thier symbols- and they know now that if we decide to be equal with cars- we will. Your song is strong, you should write a book. I'd read it.

keep it up- take um out
mb

to Skwirl 22.Jun.2003 15:27

jay

Its not the machines. Its the drunks who drive them. Join MADD and do something about drunk drivers. They're killing more than people who ride bikes.

FAT PEOPLE 22.Jun.2003 20:05

Fat People DRIVE

It seems that people the drive the most are some of the fattest. I do not need to explain anymore. I drive myself. I guess saying that people that drive are fat is arrogant on my part. I think that it is the attitude of the brain washed individuals driving. Some are so fat they can not walk or ride a bike. Some are just lazy a**s. Oh well all I have to say they will die earlier of cholesterol problems or something.

It just seems that way 23.Jun.2003 00:13

James

...Since 60% of America is fat.

Madder than MADD 23.Jun.2003 04:56

Skwirl ominous_squirrel@hotmail.com

Joule for joule, a half-ton SUV going at 30 miles per hour packs more than twice the firepower of a shotgun at point blank range.

Drunk drivers are obviously the worst abusers of automobile, but that doesn't excuse the vast majority of people who put their own (imagined) convenience above other people's safety on a daily basis. Drunken drivers are a symptom of a much more pervasive disease. People underestimate the dangerousness of cars and SUVs everyday as surely as a drunk underestimates his own homicidal power behind the wheel. That's the thing! Drunks don't climb behind the wheel thinking, "mowahahaha, I'm so drunk, I'm going to kill someone." Many climb behind the wheel thinking they have a superhuman ability to control a ton of steel without full cognition and others are negligent of any thought of safety at all.

Millions upon millions of sober drivers make the exact same assumption every day because cars are built to be dehumanizing, isolating and falsely comforting. These are not only flaws of the driver, they are flaws of the machine and they are flaws of the culture that builds the machine and influences the driver. People consider their car to be their home away from home instead of the one place apart from the hospital where they're most likely to die and most probable to commit manslaughter.

Drunk driving is only a piece of the problem. The real problem is our materialistic society that makes metal more important than people. Everyone thinks they're hot shit behind the wheel, but the truth is that most people have average reflexes and inadequate safety training. Many really bad drivers actually believe they have supernatural abilities to avoid accidents and their habits are reenforced by dumb luck until the day they finally kill someone. Yes, drunk or sober, everytime you climb in to your car you could kill someone. That's a conscious choice you make.

By changing the state's focus from automobile supportive infrastructure to community supportive infrastructure, we could build a society where automobile deaths are as rare as lightning strikes. The only things I see standing between here and there is hubris, materialism and a cliched adolescent misconception of freedom.

Statistically, in the time you took to read this comment, three people in the world were killed by an automobile.

ahhhhhhh 23.Jun.2003 13:18

katie

i really enjoyed this.....nice to know people actually ride their bikes not just for exercise....but to actually get places......instead of stressing how to get to specific destinations the fastest, or stressing over how to incorporate exercise into our lives, there is no need to stress when you have a bike and are ready and willing to take the time to ride somewhere to take care of your business!......i live in gresham and quite often ride into S.E. portland and downtown, well, and all over gresham.......i love to ride....it makes me feel unbelievably free....one of the most free experiences i enjoy almost everyday. i love the look on some people's faces when you stop at a huge intersection.....they look so bewildered at the fact that you are on your bike......like it's something only to do for excersise.......oh, those suburbanites.....they have no sense in how to really enjoy or live life......their cable dish and cardboard castles are enough to keep them voting for morons like bush and Co................will they ever see the light???? Thanks for the posting!!!

Why bother riding when you can float? 23.Jun.2003 14:16

Rock Star

Most of the people that posted to this story, including the author, don't even need bicycles - you guys could just float everywhere, fuelled by your pious, self-righteous, self-important self-congratulation. I bicycle to work every single day, but you guys are just..... something else. "Look how magnificent I am!! I ride a bicycle!!" Here's your Nobel fucking Peace Prize, please dismount from your high horse at your own convenience.

right on, rock star 23.Jun.2003 17:45

i have a bike

The piety seems to get smeared on pretty thick every time the talk turns to bicycles...but ya know, it's still just transportation. I have a bike, I like to ride, and I ride for "business" purposes when I can, but it's not always practical for me, and it's damn close to impossible for some.

The original poster set a great tone by focusing on the fun and the freedom of bicycles. As usual, a handful of the respondants have deteriorated into self-righteousness: oh, those stupid, drunk, fat and deluded suburbanites with their SUV's, when will they ever learn?

Want to change the world? Start by respecting the people you're seeking to persuade.

What the hell? 24.Jun.2003 04:20

Skwirl ominous_squirrel@hotmail.com

I'm assuming you're also labeling my comments as "pious, self-righteous, self-important self-congratulation?" I post a rational, long thought out and verifiable critique of car culture and you're suddenly on the defensive like I insulted your grandmother? Just because I'm a car critic, that doesn't mean I think I'm better than anyone else. Everyone has vices and room for improvement and as an activist I accept and embrace people's imperfections. I hope that everyone has good intentions enough to improve themselves and their lifestyle.

The really scary part is that most people react this vehemently when you reasonably question their driving lifestyle. It's insanely frightening how much self-worth people in our society attribute to their material possessions. When I say "driving is harmful" I'm not trying to attack you the individual. I'm trying to show you, as an individual, how you can work towards a better world.

Well, I'm imperfect too and if I sound pious it's because I'm not as strong as some of the historical social crusaders. Sometimes I need to scream at the horrible mess of a world we've created, sometimes I need to cry and sometimes I need to let go. And, you know what, sometimes I can allow myself the pretension of a pat on the back.

It seems to me this "you're too self-righteous" critique is just a cop out to avoid dealing with a real issue. It's the ad hominem fallacy personified. Attack the problem, not the person.


paeans to post-apocalyptic transport 24.Jun.2003 07:36

Guy Berliner

Number of people killed in the past 100 years in train accidents worldwide: 9000
Number of people killed in auto accidents EVERY YEAR in the US alone: 40,000

--Source: JL, Crawford, _Carfree Cities_

There's no doubt about it: weigh the cost vs benefits, and auto transportation on the scale and for the purposes it is employed today looks mighty demented, almost certainly the most maniacal, demented misapplication of science and technology in human history.
Only in a country as thoroughly misguided and f*cked up as the US could the deaths of 3000 people in a onetime freak incident in a building in New York City warrant waging simultaneous wars around the world incinerating countless more thousands of foreign civilians with missiles and cluster bombs, while the routine, predictable, and completely preventable slaughter of 40,000 people a year warrants hardly a footnote.

But it is the experience of living a carfree life that is most poignant and dramatic and difficult to describe. I've just returned from a 400 mile expedition through the mountain wilds of northern Baja, across the desert, over the coastal range, and north up the coast from Ensenada to San Diego. I wish I had the talent of the wonderful writer of this piece to distill some small essence of that magical experience. And all the while I met people along the way who expressed awe and disbelief -- mostly gringos, in fact. Mexicans seemed to take the idea much more matter-of-factly (not to to say many Mexicans actually enjoy such experiences, sadly). Like the writer of this piece, I too, smiled demurely.

Help the Auto-Slave 24.Jun.2003 17:07

Oregonian for Positive Change

What a wonderful thing it is to delight in the bicycle. Man and cycle is a symbiotic relationship of health spirit and machinery. When I ride my bike nearly everyone that I encounter on a two wheeled peddle-pusher either rings their bell in passing, nods, or engages a pleasant conversation. Bicycles bring people out to engage others and the exercise and appreciation of being outdoors and alive is rushing through their veins and their brains. Bicycles build community.

I grew up in sub-urban Portland where we all drove cars and it was a different reality. We would open the garage and drive off to whatever destination engaging on the way a far greater number of negative encounters than positive. Traffic impatience, inconsiderate drivers cutting people off, competitive drivers and that was twenty years ago before most of you moved here to enjoy the livability and appreciate the environment, or whatever was your rational. You should trust natural born Oregonians when they say the overall traffic congestion, the courtesy, and the friendliness of driving and, for that matter, the city has diminished considerably.

Over the years I have recognized several things. First, that I enjoy cycling far more than I ever enjoyed driving. In fact, I quit my job because frequently the work required that I spend nearly as much time in my truck driving as I actually spent working. This has saves me a daily dose of frustration. Second, the perceived convenience of the automobile is nearly as fraudulent as the 1970's notion that we would move to a paperless society with the advent of computers. Just as time has proven that errant 70's myth false, computer actually increased the demand for paper, personal experience has proven the fallacy of auto-convenience. As a bicycle commuter I work with a different balance sheet than the typical auto-slave. I don't buy: gas, insurance, maintenance, parking fees, or license fees, and various hidden costs like air fresheners and paying somebody to vacuum the McDonalds French fries from between the seats. I don't get caught in traffic where I refuse to turn my engine off because the air-conditioning will stop. Between the cost of time wasted in traffic and the time spent earning the money to maintain an auto, the cost of auto ownership is estimated between $3,000 and $6,000 per year. Therefore, I save time in my life by commuting by bicycle, preserving that time for more enjoyable encounters like sex, simply because I don't spend my time working to pay for the many costs of automobile ownership.

Finally, I have found that the social aspect of cycling is the greatest dividend beyond even the physical rewards. I have learned that we are a community of cyclists and we share many of the same values and appreciate the wonderful rewards of living in a beautiful environment and rejoice in the opportunity to enjoy that environment. I cannot tell you the number of times that I have met new people while riding and enjoyed a meal, a beer, good conversation, good sex, and lasting friendships.

These are the reasons that I enjoy riding my bicycle. It is not a superior position that I take over those slaves to the auto it is more a kind of pity because anyone with half a brain understands that the world is on the down-hill side of petroleum production which has always been a ruthless business. It is an economic truth that the ruthless nature of the industry is inversely proportional to the ease of access to abundant fuel... where are the weapons of mass destruction... ruthless. Believing that new discoveries of oil or coal or hydrogen fuel cells will save our communal bacon and preserve the "sacred American lifestyle" as Geo. W. Bush would have you believe is a position based on willful ignorance. A modicum of research reveals the limited availably of fuel and the myth of hydrogen as a replacement for fossil fuel.

It is easy to understand the hostility of auto-slaves to the bicycle because it is based in cognitive dissonance which is a willful denial, against the evidence, that one's preconceived notions are true. There is great support for the auto-slave to believe that the car is freedom all the way from Geo. W. Bush, to corporate advertising, to childhood wishes and dreams. It is a pernicious self-reproducing social cycle that perpetuates the auto as "THE" means of locomotion against all the evidence of more efficient travel. Selecting a more efficient car is still creating a demand for personal space on the freeway, petroleum products, and exploitive foreign labor practices, and exploitive international policies. Breaking that cycle is the equivalent of breaking the strength and dominance of America. Creating the demand for the automobile, creating the auto-culture, was a means of creating the demand for goods and economic growth that allow U.S. world economic dominance. However, the choice to perpetuate U.S. world dominance based on oil, car culture, and an expanding economy is not ours to make for long because just as every over exploited abundant resource has run out including; fisheries, gold mines, forests, birds, the list is so long that it seems endless, oil and coal will also run out. What will preserve U.S. economic dominance and the "sacred American" way of life? Cognitive dissonance rejects any recognition or acceptance of that truth, it suppresses acknowledgement, just as the Super Ego suppresses the Oedipal desires... or other whatever desires if Freud is too scary. However, cognitive dissonance is the leading cause of dissatisfaction in the lives of individuals... that is why people confess to murder because they cannot live the lie.

Drivers hate Bicyclists because they, the real commuters not the "bicycle dudes" who wear all the consumer gear and drive their Land Cruiser to the top of NW Thurman street to do the lonely-man bicycle ride to the five mile post" hoping to impress everyone with their virile dedication to fitness and consumerism, because bicycle commuters are a daily reminder that there are a variety of other means locomotion which are far more economical and far less exploitive. They hate the freedom of the cyclist who zips by in traffic as they are bound slave-like to stay in their car and wait with the other auto-slaves. They hate the mobility and community of bicyclists as they sit lonely and isolated in their car smelling a mélange of "forest scent", fast-food, exhaust, and searching for that lost French fry.

It is not Bicyclists who consider themselves superior it is a self-conscious reflection of auto-slaves who intrinsically know that there is a better way, a more conscious way, a humanistic alternative, non-exploitive, and economical means of transportation embraced by cyclists and rejected by the auto-slave. They hate bicyclists because they are a constant reminder of the choices that the auto-slave makes everyday. They hate bicyclists because they have rejected the car-culture for sustainable alternatives and freed themselves, in a major way, from consumerist society. They hate cyclists because they remind them of their own misery and inability to change their lives. They hate cyclists because their population is increasing exponentially as more people recognize the hollow center of consumer society.

Cyclists represent what the world could be like if people chose to live happy cooperatively rather than perpetuating the "sacred American lifestyle" which is based in the three evil C's: capitalism, competition and consumption all of which are represented by American car culture and represent the "road to ruin" in James Taylor's classic hit from the 1970's; "Traffic Jam".