Shift To Bikes

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.

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