I have to plug this group, Shift To Bikes. I rode with them on some awesome bike adventures when I lived in Portland around 2002 when they first got started. My favorite ride was the Mystery Ride. We met at a pub on the east side and the ride leader would start the ride at mid-night. The only person who knew the route was the leader. It was cool riding through the deserted downtown streets with 200 cyclist. There were all sorts of bikes from the traditional to the home made.
Shift To bikes is sort of an anti-cycling club. They advocate cycling as being a social fun activity and not just a sport for health. I met a lot of folks that I never would have met if not for this club and my bike. There were lots of homeless cyclist in the group. When I think back on it I was unemployed at the time during the big Dot Com crash. I was getting unemployment and I would look for a job by day and hang out with the likes of these street urchins in the afternoon and evening riding my bike.
Another activity was called Zoo Bombing. I will have to explain the terrain before I tell you what we did. Downtown Portland has what is called fare-less square. This means that you can ride any public transportation within the boundary for free. This included the MAX train. The outer edge of fare-less square ended in the Robertson Tunnel that went 259 feet underneath Washington Park. This tunnel is the deepest commuter train station in the US. Washington Park is one the largest park in a metropolitan area in the US. Are you starting to get excited?
So Zoo Bombing starts in fare-less square. You take your bike, mine was a Jekyll Lefty. My posse had everything from BMX bikes to custom modified tricycles for kids. We must have looked like we walked out of a Mad Max film. Anyway we would board the Max train and get off in the tunnel underneath Washington Park. We would take the elevator where the train stopped in the tunnel to the top at the Portland Zoo. We would all ride as a group down the winding roads back to downtown. We would do this for hours. I was the only one in the group that had a GPS so I was keeping track of the total elevation. That was my nick name in the group, GPS. I wish that I had that data now, but anyway it was fun and dangerous as we dodged cars like a flock of banshees. Some of the home made bikes did not have any brakes.
Thursday, October 30, 2014
Monday, October 27, 2014
I am sending this news letter to you with the idea that it will inspire your cycling. I participated in Cycle Oregon in 1999 and rode it on a Trek MTB with slicks, areo bars and a non-stock 52 tooth big crank. I bought the areo bars on day two because there were lots of head winds. When I say fully supported I mean bike shops bring trailers full of parts and accessories to help you along if something breaks or you forgot something or you just want to try something new. I had a blast. That year we looped Crater Lake and I did my first back to back to back 100+ mile per day. I have wanted to do this ride again and since my accident I decided to start planning for 2015.
Cycle Oregon to me is a well planed and supported ride. The more cycling events I ride the more I come to realize that Cycle Oregon is a world class event. There is a handbook on how to train and what to bring. Check out this event even if you do not plan to go because this organization sets the standard on how to run a cycling event from logistics to graphic communication. The food is prepared by local chefs and includes local produce. Full meals are prepared, not just junk food snacks. In 1999 one lunch was at a huge 1,000 acre cattle ranch. We stopped to have steak sandwiches that were so big I could not finish mine so a packed it in my bag. There was a big John Deer tractor sitting nearby and the wheat farmer was letting cyclist get in the cab. This was a huge machine that cost $400,000 with GPS, satellite radio and a refrigerator. It was designed for the operator to be in it got 8 to 12 hours plowing fields. One of the nights in a small town Cycle Oregon hired Susan Tedeschi and her band to play a concert.
You can per-schedule a post ride massage from from the Oregon School of Massage that travels with the tour. Several bike shops are also supporting riders on the road and at the stops. These shops have more inventory in their vans than the local bike shop here in Albany. Bike manufactures are also on hand. Do you want to test ride a new bike for a day. You can give them your bike and they will haul it to the next stop and you can ride a fitted bike (sized frame, adjusted seat, handle bars) to see if you really like it.
The weather in Oregon in the fall is awesome. The event selects this time because all of the vacationers are back home and folks with kids are all back in the city lugging kids to school. I got spoiled by how nice and wide the roads are in Oregon. I did not realize what I had until I left. Anyway the bike that I will be riding next was specifically engineered for riding tours like Cycle Oregon.
Anyway if you are interested in doing Cycle Oregon great, peer pressure is good when it involves planning or training for a cycling tour. By the way, most of the folks riding this tour are not youngsters. I was 47 when I rode it and I was surprised at the diversity in age of the group. Sure there were a lot of thirty somethings speeding along, but out of the 2,000 riders there were a lot of riders older than I was.
Hope we can plan to ride together soon.