Cyclists like to suffer.
They like to climb the steepest hills they can find, maybe channeling Eddy Merckx, the Belgian rider who won a record 11 Grand Tours. On Newberry Road, which starts at Highway 30 just past Linnton, you can get your Merckx on during your lunch break—his name is even painted on the pavement.
Newberry is short, sweet and steep. It's 2 miles long with great views of the valley and a maximum grade of 15.5%. That's one of the steepest in Portland: Mont Ventoux, a fabled feature of the Tour de France, tops out at 12%, although the Ventoux climb is 13.3 miles long.
For me, Newberry is the crux of a 26-mile loop from Northeast Portland, across the St. Johns Bridge, north along 30, up Newberry and down Germantown Road. Turning off 30 and onto Newberry is like changing the channel from pro wrestling to Downton Abbey. Everything suddenly quiet as you leave the semi trucks and Ford F-450s behind.
I can do this route in about two hours. It was at its peak for about two years after a landslide closed Newberry to cars, and a friend used his car to push the concrete barricades apart just enough so we could get through without dismounting.
Even now, though, there isn't much traffic, and there are far fewer dudes in garish, crotch-hugging spandex than on the zoo climbs.
Merckx didn't wear that crap. He wore wool.
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