Yesterday I returned from another trip to Portland, and with another “Portland tan” washed down the drain, I reflect here on a fantastic weekend, and the good things coming to the Northwest bike community.
Melissa and I drove down on Friday, in her small car with our bikes on the back. The heat was oppressive, not only does her A/C not work, the leather seats make for an even sweatier ride. Traffic was sluggish, extending our car time to 3 1/2 hours. A fairly uneventful drive, much of it was spent attempting to find a radio station that was clear enough to run the FM transmitter, so we could play music through the mp3 player.
We parked in front of Jill’s house, our gracious hostess, and the point person for the Portland Bicycle Film Festival. She had come home to get her bike and was headed back to the theater, to prepare for opening night. We rode together, a quick 4 miles from her house to the Clinton St. Theater.
The Clinton St. Theater, has, from what I can tell, become home to most of the bike films (at least festivals) that come through Portland. Seating 240 people, this classic theater is bike friendly, and very interesting on the weekends. The Rocky Horror Picture Show has Midnight Saturday screenings there, and I was tempted to stick around and hang out with that crowd instead of attending the BFF afterparty- but I just didn’t fit in. Having never seen the show, I would have been branded “Virgin” and made a spectacle of I’m sure. Rocky Horror fans have some sort of “V-dar”; an ability to point out someone that has never been before. It’s incredible.
I missed the first day’s programs, which included MADE IN QUEENS, as well as WHERE ARE YOU GO. Though the theater has A/C, the box office does not, and I was sweating profusely for much of the evening. Melissa was taking tickets in the movie theater, and was very impressed with both movies, WHERE ARE YOU GO, especially.
The second program was a collection of fun bike shorts. Comprised of 12 short films, the program included WOLFPACK HUSTLE: ALL CITY TEAM RACE 2, POLO MANUAL, DOWN BY THE WEEP HOLE: THE STORY OF THE STUPOR BOWL, and many others.
That night brought the 42BELOW sprints to Rotture, which I missed the opportunity to race in. The 42BELOW sprints in PDX (which GMG runs here) are put together by the infamous, and occasionally sober “TEAM BEER.” Clint was the man behind the monitor, with Jason (I think) as MC. They were running 250m qualifying rounds, and times were coming in at under 11 seconds. (Here in Seattle, we’ve been running 400m for Emerald Sprints, and 500m for all 42BELOW sprints)
We showed up to watch the women’s qualifier, and then the remainder of the brackets. The final match, for men’s and women’s was lengthened to 500m, bringing the racers to a new level of pain. There was a beer sprint between Tad and Matt Case, which Tad won by a second or more. I can’t remember the overall winners, but top men’s and women’s walked away with $100 cash each.
The next day I got to see the second half of THE THIRD WHEEL, a movie documenting how NYC is dealing with the pedicab industry. I got to watch the “BMX program” which had the movie I LOVE MY BICYCLE: THE STORY OF FBM BIKES. A great movie, seemingly taking over the story of a bmx company in the post JOE KID ON A STINGRAY days.
I worked the bike parking station for a while during the final program, and got to come back in to watch Lucas Brunelle’s BROADWAY BOMBER/BRIDGE BATTLE- which had everyone on the edge of their seats. It was followed by ANIMA D’ACCIAIO (SOUL OF STEEL), which is a portrait of Giovanni Pelizzoli, aka Ciocc.
All in all the films were excellent, and the festival was very much enjoyed by all that attended.
The 42BELOW sprints, as well as Saturday’s afterparty, which was held at Branx, brought many $2 42BELOW specials my way, and in typical Portland fashion, we visited the food carts at SE 12th and Hawthorne for some late night Potato Champion poutine, as well as a stop at the newer Voodoo Donuts, at 1501 NE Davis,where I experienced what many consider the best donut of all time: The Old Dirty Bastard. And an Apple Fritter. And something else that had cereal on it. I didn’t order the Cock n’ Balls, it was a little much.
Jill showed us some great places to eat, like Junior’s, and we met many wonderful new people, Ritchie from L.A., Glenn, Scotty, Patrick from Pedal Consumption, and many others. It was great to see Brenton, Buggy, Tom, and friends that I haven’t seen in a while that stay in that great city of bridges to the south.
I did realize something that I think changed my outlook on the Seattle bike community. Seattle-ites have a little bit of P(DX) envy. Thinking that Portland loves bikes more than any other city, that we should try to be more like Portland in that regard. That the community is strong- and everybody knows each other. I would argue that the majority of people ride bikes in Portland, simply because it makes sense. The roads are generally flat, and the weather is nice for much of the year. Also consider that the average income is lower in Portland than Seattle, and cycling as transportation is a better, and cheaper choice all around. Not to say that it doesn’t make sense in Seattle- it does very much.
Seattle is home to a strong cycling community. A diverse community, which may not hang out together all the time, but comes together to celebrate cycling when the occasion arises. I’m happy to be in Seattle for this reason. I hope to focus my efforts, and those of GO MEANS GO, to continue to bring groups of cyclists together for a good time. Some times competitively, always socially.
On the drive back, I was in the passenger seat of Melissa’s car, slightly dozing, and looking on the sides of the road always curious of what types of things have fallen from vehicles on their journey to wherever it is they go. I looked to the center grass strip that separates N bound and S bound I-5, and said to Melissa- “Holy shit! That’s a Trek USPS road bike laying in the grass in the middle of the Interstate.” The colors of that bike are very easy to spot, and I new instantly what it was.
“Should we turn around?” she asked.
“Yes! That bike is worth $2000. It’s lying in the road. We should get it.”
We exited the next offramp, turned around, and headed back the other way. We pulled off the road, and I ran off to get it. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t know that it was the carbon OCLV model with full Ultegra components. No catastrophic damage. About a 52cm. I put it haphazardly in the car, as it wouldn’t fit on the rack, and away we went. I was already thinking of the options. Do I:
- Give the bike to Melissa, as it looked like it could fit her pretty well
- Take it apart, and update the Colnago or Cinella frame with modern parts
- Sell it and get Melissa a bike that fits better, or a helmet, or one of many other things that she could use to increase her enjoyment of cycling.
We turned around at the next exit, and started heading north again, mind a whirling with my good fortune.
As we crossed the point where we found the coolest thing I’ve ever picked up on the side of the road, we saw a van with a bike rack on the back, parked on the south bound side, with a guy looking in the grass. I knew instantly that I was at a crossroads. It was fairly obvious that the guy was looking for this bike that had fallen off his rack, on that gusty section of I-5. We exited the next ramp (the ramp that we had just taken) and stopped at the stop sign. We paused and looked at eachother.
“What should we do?” she asked.
“Um….” Shit. This was a straight up dilemma. I knew what we SHOULD do… But I didn’t want to do it. I had a devil on my shoulder telling me that it wasn’t stealing… finder’s keepers…. that I deserved the bike….. that the guy had enough money to buy another one. You can only imagine.
“What do you think?”
“Well, I know enough about bikes that it would be pretty easy to find the owner. It would be pretty easy to just drive home and call it a windfall, if he wasn’t walking down the road in his sandals and Dockers shorts and polo shirt looking for his bike.”
Melissa agreed. We turned around. Again. As we pulled up, it looked like they were ready to get in the car and pull away. The lady turned and pointed at us. I opened the door and said “I think I have something that you may be looking for”
A look of great relief came over both of them as I opened the back seat and pulled out his scuffed, almost mine, road bike. It was a little crazy, my adrenaline was still going, and now I was kinda bummed. I was confused. They were ecstatic. I gave them the bike and got back in the car. The guy handed me a $100 bill. “Thanks man” I said.
I can only imagine the conversation that the couple was having before we pulled up:
“You said you checked the bikes”
“I did, they were fine, it was just windy”
“It’s windy all the time. You always do this. Say you are going to do something and then don’t”
“It’s my bike that’s gone anyway, somebody stole it”
“They didn’t steal it, it fell off the car, because you didn’t strap it on”
We just made their day. “Who just carries $100 bills in their wallet” I asked Melissa.
“People that own bikes like that”
Yep. That’s right. The day we almost had a fancy road bike.
As we turned around on the Dike Access road, now headed north…. again, we passed by the same section of road for the fourth time.
“I’m glad you decided to give it back” Melissa said. “It would have been a bad karma bike, and if I would have fallen on it, it would have been because of that.” “You wouldn’t have been able to live with yourself it you kept it anyway.”
She was right. There was a sticker from the shop where he bought the bike. I had the serial numbers, he probably did too. Craigslist could have found him. I would really have to turn a blind eye to the situation, and be pretty shady to have gone through with it. It was hard. And though it was the right thing, it sure wasn’t the easy thing. As we got a few miles down the road, I said “He probably wasn’t even the owner. He just saw the bike, like us, and went back to get it, but it was gone already. He threw me the C-note so I wouldn’t feel bad.”
A possibility. But highly unlikely. Oh well. No good deed goes unpunished. I just hope that if I ever lose my bike out in front of a 7 Eleven, that nobody takes it.
And Portland, I will see you in two weeks, for the Rose City Fix Book Release