Sunday, 20 July 2008

stumptown

So. Portland. Shall I start by saying that I really, really like it here and if there is anyone in the vicinity willing to swap a green card for baked goods and/or mechanicing then speak up now because I want to stay. Forever. This place is what Brighton should be like but never will be, because the British lack the generosity of spirit that leads to small miracles like cars actually giving way to pedestrians on crosswalks and saying good morning to strangers like it really is.

Small neighbourhoods with unique atmospheres linked by quiet, beautiful residential streets. Bikes everywhere, of all sorts, mostly ridden confidently by people of all ages and demographics who exude their right to share the roads and hence have little trouble from other users. Segregated cycle paths where the pedestrians habitually keep on their portion and leave the cyclists to travel at a practical speed on their own (generous) side. A public transport network that's cheap, reliable and covers pretty much everywhere you might want to go. Great coffee, bakeries and shops of all sorts, all over the place and mostly open until sociable hours, beautiful architecture, I could go on...

Oh yes and Sunday morning was whiled away in the company of a brace of Speedvagens and one Vanilla (with chipped paint), leaning up against the window of the coffee shop whilst some Gentle Lovers riders massed for their weekend ride (they of the much-loved should-be-wrong-but-is-so-right pink/red/white kit). I nearly pinched myself...

If there was mountain biking from the door, this would be utopia. As it is, I'm pining for my road bike, even if all I'd do with it would be cruise back and forth over the many bridges between coffee bars. I've spent the week roaming around on foot, happily covering many many miles in an attempt to offset the extreme amount of eating that's gone on (I consider it something of a mission to sample every available coffee cake, now that I've realised that coffee cake here doesn't actually have coffee in it - there's only so much sickly coffee & walnut a girl can take - but is in fact the US version of the moist, crumbly traybaked 'proper' cake I had so been missing). There is somethng very pleasant about simply ambling around with no real itinerary, visiting all the different divisions and then all the transitory bits in between that no guidebooks tell you about but will tell you more about a city than any glossy tourist guide. Waiting for a bus last night, I watched the traffic streaming off Hawthorne bridge - the rush hour was made up (literally) of as many bikes as cars and this can only be A Good Thing.

I do actually want to be riding again now, too. I haven't sat on the bike since I got here and am heading out on Thursday to ride down the coast to San Francisco, so tomorrow will be a gentle reacquaintance of backside with saddle to see how they get along, as well as a quick mechanical once-over, and the squeezing of as much air into the tyres as possible, as the route down the coast is mostly tarmac. Yes, by the time I get to Denver I am going to have forgotten how to ride off-road completely, but easy riding with big views and the occasional day lounging on the beach suits me fine right now. I just hope it stays dry...

j.

11 comments:

js said...

Spooky that you are in pdx. I'll keep an eye out for your mismatched wheels rolling toward the coast.

Tom said...

Did I just here you right. Your riding from Portland to San Francisco?
600 MORE miles on the singlespeed.
Mentalism.

Minx said...

Tsk...tsk.... still not gone cold turkey then Tom?

:-)

Tom said...

I think there's a multitude of Tom's on here following Jenn's travels :)

(too much info but...) I've also got interesting sores 'down there' from TransWales training. Surreal momment in bathroom last night with me bent over double using a mirror to view the problem areas.
I'll NEVER be doing that again. Minging.

:)

Tom #548665098650

Minx said...

There are women and children present you know....

Tom said...

I know, apologies. It was more a mental note to myself to never do that again. I didn't mean to type it out loud.

:)

Tim said...

Blimey Tom, keep that to yourself!

Yes Minx, you're still bookmarked. I given up fighting it. The patches are ace and will adorn my Wingnut when I can find someone qualified to use sharp pointy things and stitch them on. Thanks again.

Jenn - there's now a SDD SS record been set by NN. Can you hurry back and rattle off a quick 200 miler in less than 23hrs20mins43secs before Napa or is that asking too much. Trails are perfect for it here :O)

canadiankate said...

Lol. I'm still hooked too. Shame you (Jenn) didn't get to go up to Vancouver. Its a great place. But I wish I saw more of Portland when I went through, on a Greyhound Bus at about 5am. I think that biking it down to San Francisco is much more pleasurable than taking the Greyhound from SF to Vancouver, 24 hours on a bus is hellish!
I'm totally jealous!

Anonymous said...

I'm still hooked too......

:-)

Pixiefix

Ruth said...

Ah the words of a woman at peace and enjoying the reflection space, what a pleasure to read and hear. Take it easy Jenn.

Tom - yes keep that to yourself please! ... no more Transwales training for me I'm afraid, cracked rib and off bike for coming up to 2 weeks now ;-( and yes I am being a girl about it...

Geoff said...

wow, is there really coffee in coffee cake in the UK? that's brilliant.