Prior to visiting Portland, Oregon I’d heard so much about how weird of a city it is. It’s a metropolis of cycling enthusiasts who enjoyed micro-brews, locally grown edibles, a thirst for adventure, and a laid back atmosphere. The nation’s most cycle friendly city is hosting the Cyclepedia: Iconic Bicycle Design exhibition on now until September 8, 2013 at the Portland Art Museum. There’s no other city that’s more deserving given that there are more cyclists per capita than any other city in America.
For those itching to wheel around town, Pedal Bike Tours provides rental bikes and maps, as well as a variety of escorted themed tours, such as "Historic Downtown," and "Bites By Bike". There are bike lanes on literally every street, and both cyclists and drivers are quite courteous to each other when it comes to sharing the road. A morning half-day cycling excursion would allow for exploration into the surrounding Pearl District, the South Waterfront, Northeast, and the Central Eastside, before wrapping up back downtown in time for lunch. Local authors, cyclists, and beer enthusiasts Lucy Burningham and Ellee Thalheimer have teamed up to write “Hop in the Saddle: a Guidebook to Portland’s Craft Beer Scene, by Bike.” This is a great resource for any two-wheeled fanatic who also wants to explore the burgeoning craft-brewery scene in and around the city.
One of the more interesting places to visit is the bicycling cultural centre Velo Cult, a combination bike shop, bar, café, theatre, and performance art space. Proprietor Sky moved to San Diego on a whim, closing up his shop and making the trek north to relocate to a city he says he felt more at home to him. What he didn’t expect was that all his employees decided to make the move with him. He officially opened shop on 42nd Avenue and was welcomed by cyclists of all disciplines. Sitting down for a cold brew, or grabbing lunch while watching your bike being worked on is definitely a value-added service.
There are plenty of opportunities to get out of the city for a day or overnight to do some cycling as well, with everything from rails-to-trails pathways to mountain bike and cyclo-cross terrain. The fairly flat 21-mile multi-purpose Banks-Vernonia Trail traverses both Washington and Columbia counties, and passes over 12 bridges and two 600-foot long, 80-foot high railroad trestles. At the Banks trailhead entrance is Banks Bicycles, a perfect spot to rent a bike for the day. Coastal Mountain Sport Haus is a bike-friendly bed and breakfast located in Vernonia, and makes for a great overnight stay for those wanting to explore the area further.
An hour’s drive southeast of the city towers Oregon’s monumental natural play zone, Mt. Hood. Summiting at just over 11,000 ft, there’s virtually something for everyone, from every age and ability. Mt. Hood Adventure is the one of the best sources for recreation, offering guided tours and rentals for year-round outdoor pursuits. There’s literally hundreds of miles of trails of varying terrain from cross country trekking to multi-mile descents. Accommodations range from rustic mountainside camping to spa resorts, and Hood Brewery serves up a variety of ales made with pure glacial water, a perfect end to an adventurous day.
As I bid Portland adieu, all I could think about was how wonderful of a city it is!