This time: BoltBus, Palm Tree Ride, Islabikes.
We’ve just returned from another lovely trip to Portland. We’ve gone twice by Amtrak Cascades (with the old mamabike–my longtail would need to be taken apart and boxed for train travel) and now three times by BoltBus.
I still think the train is more pleasant with kids, but the bus is cheap and takes my cargo bike…provided there’s room. And we take up a lot of room. Here’s our four-day-trip luggage spread out (I remove and stow my WideLoader in a FreeLoader bag, but everything else comes off the bike):
Previous drivers have been very accommodating, having me stow my bike before everyone’s baggage, and from the sidewalk side (normally bikes are shoved in from the street side). A couple have helped with the bike lifting to speed things along.
For our Friday 10:30 a.m. bus of a three-day weekend, the driver didn’t think we’d fit–he had a full bus with three bikes already on board. He checked our boarding number versus that of the other passenger with bike (and trailer) hoping to board. Our group B beat his group C so as soon as he gave me a leery OK, I removed half the baggage from one of the cargo compartments, shoved in my bike, and then stuck everything around and on top of it. And then the other guy somehow fit his bike in as well. He was headed down to a Christmas tree bonfire–and had apparently been at Burning Gardens, too, but we didn’t recognize one another’s bikes. Obviously, both our bikes are more recognizable than our faces.
My initial assessment of our driver as grumpy and not bike friendly was totally wrong, by the way. The kids made him thank you cards which he cheerily accepted at the end of the trip. And we got to see him an extra time because I left a helmet on board and had to track him down at the Greyhound station where he was happily waiting for us by the door, ready to end his long day of work.
Urban Adventure League Palm Tree Ride
On Saturday we headed to Velo Cult to meet some friends for the 10th Annual Palm Tree Ride. I collected a couple lost Canadians on the way over and brought them along. Always the ride leader :) This photo shows a monkey puzzle tree, but there were plenty of palm trees to be enjoyed–my evidence here on Flickr.
The tree talk was great (I didn’t know monkey puzzle trees before), but I was also in it to check out people, bikes, and accessories. Like Timo’s cool mirror:
We went a bit of the way up Mount Tabor for a gorgeous view of Mount Hood. Most riders took pictures of the mountain, but I opted to take pictures of the picture takers. The kids were not impressed–they’re loyal to Mount Rainier.
The ride also encountered a couple friendly cats. One almost jumped in Kath’s bakfiets box while were waiting to rejoin the ride after the cargo bike detour (we had to skip an uphill walking segment with barrier). And this mean-looking tomcat left the hood of his lawn car to make friends with Brock of The Sprocket Podcast.
We couldn’t have had better weather. We saw frost on a couple blocks that hadn’t seen sun all day, but otherwise it was sunny and almost warm. I thought I was getting sick later in the day, but it turns out my hot face/flushed cheeks were a slight sunburn. Sunburn in the winter!
Mr. Family Ride joined us (via Amtrak Cascades) Saturday afternoon for an appointment at the Islabikes Fitting Studio. The company is based in the UK and recently opened a by-appointment-only showroom in Portland. I read about Islabikes when they first hit the states and then met Tim and saw the bikes at the Washington Women of Cyclocross Festival last summer. Sadly the kids weren’t with me that morning. My six-year old borrowed a CNOC 16 for the Fiets of Parenthood, but today was a test ride of the two 20-inch models. Note: it’s not necessary to visit the Fitting Studio to test ride–the size chart is very accurate and Tim is happy to help via email or phone.
I’ll write more about the bikes in a future post, but enjoy these pictures of the test track/bike box velodrome in the meantime:
And if you go in, don’t show up in snow boots. My four-year old (above) test rode in shoes with inordinately high soles.
It was just our luck that the company founder, Isla Rowntree, was visiting town for a week. Always nice to be able to shout “I LOVE YOUR BIKES!” at the person responsible.
Back to reality
On Monday we said goodbye to Portland and its lovely bike infrastructure. Here’s Kath of Portlandize using a crossing button for bikes:
And a bike passing lane on the way to the Hawthorne Bridge:
But home in Seattle we were met with the familiar sight of a taxi (sometimes delivery truck or regular car) parked halfway in the bike lane and halfway on the sidewalk next to the J.P. Patches and Fab statue. Sigh.
Of course Portland isn’t without its [very few] faults. You may have noticed the yellow van parked in the bike lanes two photos up. The driver pulled over right before I took my picture. By the time I got alongside, he was walking around to the front of the van, presumably to pop the hood.
And I couldn’t figure out which lane I should use for heading to the BoltBus stop. I know there’s no sidewalk bicycling downtown, but that’s all I know about downtown Portland. The lack of the word “ONLY” made me think I was welcome in the middle lane so I rode six blocks between the rails (aw, just like Westlake at home…not that familiar means good). The left lane was a bit backed up with cars and it didn’t seem very Portland-like to have to be stuck in that.
I asked the Twitterverse once we were on the bus:
so now I know the error of my ways. SW 6th Ave is part of the Portland Transit Mall and I should have been in the left lane and should not have turned right over the rails. Oops. Ideally, I would have gone a bit out of my way and just avoided the Transit Mall.
Something to try out next visit! Miss you already, Portland.