On Valentine’s Day, we engaged in affairs of the heart—but February, aka American Heart Month, is also about the literal heart pumping in your chest. You may already know that 2,200 people die every day from heart disease and related strokes in the United States. Luckily, a mere twenty minutes of aerobic exercise, five days a week, can slash your risk of heart disease by over 20 percent. Speed walking, running, swimming, and biking are all excellent ways to ramp up your heart rate, but today we’re talking biking for beginners—it’s transportation, it’s recreation, it’s fun low-impact exercise!
To make that 20-minute ride easier than ever, My City Bikes has created a free app designed to take the guesswork out of your next bike trip. “It takes that wealth of information about local bike infrastructure and breaks it down into an approachable format,” explains My City Bikes’ Tina Schmidt. “Sometimes it can be intimidating in a bike-centric culture for beginning bikers to get involved, but there’s a place for everybody.”
Ready to hit the road? My City Bikes Portland provided us with a roundup of their favorite scenic routes:
- Eastbank Esplanade: Clocking in at 1.5 miles, this paved path offers striking views of the Willamette River, Portland cityscape, and public art sculptures. A great pick for beginners or families.
- Forest Park: A mountain biker’s paradise, offering over 26 miles of off-road biking conveniently located within city limits. Take a look at our Forest Park picks.
- Waterfront Bike Path: Another great pick for beginners, this 1.5-mile paved path is a relaxing ride along the west bank of the Willamette River. Take a breather along the way at Tom McCall Waterfront Park to cool off in the fountain and watch tourists eat Voodoo doughnuts.
- Terwilliger Path: Clocking in at nearly six miles, this breezy downhill ride takes cyclists from Chart House Restaurant, near OHSU, all the way to scenic Tryon Creek State Park. (Though if you're riding from downtown to Chart House, you'll have to do some climbing.)
- Springwater Corridor: A popular pick, this paved path rounds out at a car-free 21.5 miles. The scenic path passes wetlands, buttes, and pastures. You might even spot a woodland creature or two along the way.
Looking for cycling buddies? Local bike shops like River City Bicycles often organize weekly group rides spanning a range of difficulty levels. If you’re new to biking, don’t be intimidated by Portland’s robust cycling heritage. We are lucky to have 350 miles of bikeways, so get out there and get your heart pumping!