Finding routes for outdoor workouts - where's the easy button?

Continuing the discussion from Training outside vs indoor:

Okay, now what’s the easiest way to find the routes that most local cyclists use to train so I can narrow down my search for the routes that work for me and my workout profiles? Wouldn’t it be cool if there was a TrainerRoad database of roads folks have used successfully, by metro area, for TrainerRoad outdoor workouts? :wink:

I’m new to the Portland, OR area and loving riding here. However, it’s been tough to find good routes to do some of my workouts outside. I’ve found one (Sauvie Island) and heard about another area that I’ll check out (road climbs out near Rocky Point), but I figure there are roads everywhere that riders tend to favor for intervals, and I’m looking for an easier way to find more of them. It’s also tough planning out routes for workouts but not having already ridden the road and it would be great to share knowledge on this.

I’ve tried the segment feature on Strava where you can look for segments people have used for workouts (it looks like they identify this by segments that have been repeated in a single ride). It’s been helpful, but only a little bit - tough to match the workout profile I need, or they have a lot of pedestrian traffic. I’ve also looked at the rides on RideWithGPS, but hadn’t found anything similar to Strava’s workout segment feature. I’ve also asked at local bike shops, which has tipped me to one spot (Rocky Point), but isn’t as efficient. I’ve also tried looking on Strava for pros who are from here to see where they do their workouts, but I’ve only found one with actual workouts in my metro so far, and they used the one spot I already found.

Does anyone know of any other resources or strategies for finding the places where local cyclists go for outdoor intervals?

I think Strava Heat maps would be worth a look:


Thanks! Yeah, I’ve definitely used this with route planning. It’s been great for finding the better roads to ride, but for intervals I feel like it’s harder to tell about stop signs and traffic signals. But maybe I just need to pick some roads out of town that are brightest on the heatmap and go try them out.

Welcome to Portland! What part of town do you live in?

It can be a bit of a challenge to find a stretch of road long enough for some intervals without having to worry about crossing an intersection. If you’re on the east side, yes, Rocky Butte repeats are an option, though the grade changes can make it challenging to target a consistent power. (Well, it’s challenging for me.) Marine Drive offers a long flat stretches without many intersections, though it’s not exactly fun. The shoulder is very narrow and there’s generally a lot of traffic, including large trucks, zooming by at 55+ mph.

If you’re on the west side, there are a few good hill repeat options in the West Hills. I like Thompson. There are a lot of shorter steeper climbs up either side of the ridge to Skyline that would work for shorter, higher power intervals, e.g. Newberry, Springville, Old Germantown. For flat routes there’s Dirty 30 (pretty busy, but there’s a wide shoulder) and Suavie Island.

To reach most of the nicer, long, uninterrupted roads, you’ll need to head farther out of town. There’s nice riding with lots of rolling farmland out west around North Plains, and some great hilly riding out east of the Sandy River, but depending on where you’re starting from, that could mean 10 - 20 miles of riding to get there first, so it might not be a good fit for a TR workout.

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Thanks for the tips on all those roads! I’m in Sellwood, so I’m close to the Springwater. I’ll be sure to check these spots out. I’ve been interested in Rocky Butte, so I better get out there. I did ride on 30 when I rode to Sauvie, but it was a weekday and the traffic was super heavy. I figured it’s not as bad on the weekend.

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Rocky Butte is okay for repeats, though it’s kind of tucked away and not easily connected to much else.

The Springwater is good for getting out to some nice riding areas east of town, though you probably don’t want to try intervals on the path itself. There are too many crossings and slower moving folks to reliably maintain any kind of speed without being a danger to yourself or others. Once you get to the end in Boring though, there’s lots of great riding out past Sandy, or down south into Clackamas. This route out past Estacada. is pretty nice.

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Depends a bit on what type of intervals you’re interested in doing. Under 2 minutes you could do on the tabor loop which has the advantage of being closed to auto traffic. It’s a bit more steady if you go CCW.

As gwhilts mentioned, there’s some options out towards Redlands/Carver/Estacada. I’ve used clackamas river road for intervals before as well. And starting from the Carver bridge springwater road (not the path) southbound is continuously uphill (or flat) for quite some time.

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Used to live up there but wasn’t biking back then. Someone I know lives here (NorCal) and travels up there for business, he rides in the West Hills.

Another guy I know lives in Hood River and his “flat rides” are basically nowhere to go but up:

He posted one the other day, from across the river, and it was 4400 feet of climbing in 21 miles!

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