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Ward’s Wild Ride #2 – 85 Miles

The name “Ward’s Wild Ride #2″ implies that Ward goes on lots of wild rides. Enough of them that they need to be numbered Dewey Decimal style for organizational purposes. Which is totally true. Every mysterious ride in Portland that involves skinny tires and long gravel sections can be somehow traced back to Ward. She’s the Kevin Bacon of local adventure cycling, never more than six connections from your favorite off road “road” ride.

The “wild” part of this route is at the ten mile marker of Larch Mountain. That’s the part where the gate remains closed because of snow. That’s also the part where Ward says “let’s ride this crazy steep gravel road only I know about!” And that’s the part where you follow her and your hands hurt wildly from squeezing your brake levers on what seems like an irrationally pitched fire road next to a wildly steep cliff.


To supersize your wild, it should also be really cold and raining buckets.

And speaking of wild rides, I once read something about the Ace of Hearts swingers club at 39th and Powell that has haunted me for years: they have an all you can eat buffet of lunch meats. The subject came up while we were talking about the low quality of food stuffs on some local organized rides and, like a repressed memory, the details of this Portland Mercury article (NSFW) came screaming back to me.

I don’t want to sound prudish, but I’m not comfortable with the obvious sanitation issues related to strangers getting freaky deaky on or near my pomento loaf. I imagine that it’s in violation of some municipal code, and I assume that they haven’t installed all of the required sneeze guards and hand rails and geriatric utilities one expects at a skeezy sex den.

I mean, that place always freaked me out with it’s creepy barred windows, but I’m even less comfortable knowing that there might be a sign somewhere inside that says “Balogna is downstairs.” I was grossed out enough watching a bunch of grubby fingers manhandle the buffet at the sushi orgy Pioneer Place Mall calls Todai. But at least I didn’t know where those fingers had been. A swingin’ self serve buffet takes my discomfort to a whole new level.

What I’m trying to say here is that if you happen to be swinging at the Ace of Hearts, it might be best to just get your hand stamped and head over to Subway for lunch, even if the lunch meat buffet is free.

But I digress. Back to the ride.

1. Ride the miserable headwind out to Troutdale
2. Take a bunch of country roads you’ve never heard of before (Hurlburt to Loudon to Deverill)
3. Ride Larch Mountain Road until you reach mile marker ten. Curse the cold. Make a left down Palmer Mill Road. Which is dirt. And beautiful.
4. Hit the highway. Ride to the falls. Buy a chocolate chip cookie the size of a human head. Offer to share said cookie, but don’t really mean it. Act upset if anyone asks for a bite.
5. Ride home in similar miserable headwind. Stop to research how wind can blow in all directions at once.

Elevation Profile
Download the GPS for Ward’s WIld Ride