I’ve traveled to Portland from Seattle via BoltBus before (three round trips!), but it’s been over two years. BoltBus can accommodate a longtail cargobike if there’s room whereas Amtrak Cascades only allows regular bikes weighing under 50 pounds (so my 75-pound longtail would need to go into two separate boxes to travel on the train. And Amtrak Coast Starlight doesn’t allow roll-on service so all bikes need to travel in boxes). But the train takes $5 bike reservations so when I have a choice, I choose to take a regular bike on the train. This trip was originally scheduled to be an Amtrak trip with regular bike, but I ended up needing to bring the big bike (though I was traveling without the kids) so I switched things up at the last moment and did some breathing exercises to prepare myself for the eventuality that there might not be room…BoltBus is awesome, but BoltBus makes me nervous!
And here’s the Flickr gallery of 84 photos from this trip.
Traveling solo meant for a lot less luggage (and a ton less snacks) than previous cargo bike/BoltBus trips: the blue bag on my FlightDeck contains three days worth of clothing, the black messenger bag contains my laptop and rain gear, and the big blue thing in the FreeLoader bag on the side of my bike is my longboard skateboard because why not? It’s hard not to fill up that free cargo space.
Loading went well! The bus was half empty so the driver let me have the middle of three luggage bays to myself (and later had standby passengers fill in around it). I had stripped my bike down of all easily removed bits (Hooptie rails from the sides, two-bike tow hitch from the back) so the widest thing behind the handlebars was my Rolling Jackass centerstand…which scraped horribly as a shoved it into the bus and a kind woman helped me lift and shove–a first! In retrospect, I should have used the skateboard to help roll it in…that’s how I’ve always moved furniture around the house, after all!
Not that I come to Portland for the weather, but I’ll admit I prefer when it’s not wet and not cold. I checked my favorite app, Dark Sky (I don’t usually purchase apps, but this is totally worth $3.99, and no, I don’t want to learn to read a free weather map) and knew I’d have ten dry minutes upon arrival. Unfortunately I wasted many of those minutes loading my bike back up and then posing for my TimerCam Pro app (also worth paying for–$1.99) on my favorite bridge, Tilikum Crossing.
My aim was a bit off–I thought I was pinching the words “TILIKUM CROSSING”. Also, it hailed a little while I was standing there so I arrived to Rivelo quite bedraggled, which isn’t the best way to present oneself the day before a book reading about urban cycling (including lots of information about rain gear!).
I continued my rounds, popping in at Islabikes (such great kid bikes!) and Clever Cycles, where I got my rear brake tightened up and my broken front-wheel stabilizer replaced (with the last Hebie one in America! Well, maybe. Probably.)…which made shoving the bike into the BoltBus on the way home quite a bit easier (no scraping RJ as the handlebars tracked in level).
And then the reason for bringing the longboard…
I met up with Ginger of Biking While Fashionable (psst, they’ve also taken a Big Dummy on BoltBus) to check out PDX Dance Dance Revolution Session #1, a longboard skateboard dance party. They intend for it to be a weekly event, Fridays 5:30 p.m. at Alberta City Park. I got to carry one of the two kids there, which was awesome, because it’s silly to have that big deck with no people or bookcases on it.
Later on, I fetched my Seattleite friend, Alyssa, from the final train of the day–she, too, left her kids behind, but also left longtail behind, thus the train rather than bus.
And the next morning we had SUN! Look at that!
And this was why I brought the big bike…I met with Laura and Russ of Path Less Pedaled to be part of a video about longtail cargo bikes for Clever Cycles. Super fun! I needed multiple takes, but my bike and book got it right the first time. Natural stars!
Last time I was down in Portland with my Surly Straggler (a normal-sized bike I took on Amtrak), I Instagrammed a picture of the bike on Car2Go bike rack because Portland has bike racks on Car2Go and no one else does. The crowd went wild! So this time we took a silly photo of my way-too-big Big Dummy on a rack. Totally doesn’t work.
And then on to the other main purpose of the visit, Urban Cycling book reading at Rivelo! Rivelo is such a cool shop. Lots of my friends ride gorgeous Rivendell bikes and they carry tons of cool smaller items, too. I got my first-ever pocket knife last visit (which I used on a recent bike daytrip I intend to blog about soon) and this time I got a John’s Irish Strap, named after John Bennett of Rivelo.
The reading was fun! And there are signed copies of the book at Rivelo still so go grab one! They make terrific gifts, wonderful for your interested-in-biking-but-not-sure-how-to-get-started friends just in time for spring and Bike Month.
On Sunday, Shawn Granton of Urban Adventure League took me on a tour of North Portland (thanks Shawn!). The tour outlasted my Garmin battery by a teensy bit, but here’s 20 miles of NoPo fun, including a little Statue of Liberty, Skidmore Bluffs, Kelley Point Park, the street above the off-road section of 2013 Portland DRT (spot of possibly my favorite photo ever, by @mybagisbigger), Chimney Park/Pier Park, and Cathedral Park under the St Johns Bridge.
The BoltBus trip back to Seattle the following morning was the smoothest one yet. There were a lot of people waiting to board which made me a little nervous, but the bus driver saw my bike and cheerfully told me to load it before anyone else shoved in their bags. Wow, that was a first!
And soon enough I was back home, to a land where the drawbridges raise much more often. Oh, there’s one now…
The kids and I plan to take BoltBus and the longtail up to Vancouver for Easter weekend, but it’s too early to book yet…another benefit of Amtrak and its much more advance calendar. And I’d like to visit Portland during Pedalpalooza for the first time, maybe once with kids and cargo bike on BoltBus and once with no kids and regular bike on Amtrak.