BSNYC Road Dairy: Last Stop Portland

(A gift from an Austinite.)

It was with both sadness and relief that I hoisted myself into my blogging chair this morning. The sadness was due to the fact I already miss the beautiful cities and kind people I visited on my travels, and the relief was because "blogging chair" is a euphemism for toilet and I had to "go" rather badly. Still, it is good to be back in New York, inasmuch as it is my home, but not so much because it is a pleasant place to be, because really it isn't--especially compared to some of these other places, where amazingly one can go an entire day without having one's property urinated upon.

I'm also pleased that I will now be able to resume my ordinary blogging schedule, which this past week has been upset by travels and BRAs. This blogular irregularity was difficult not only for me but apparently for some readers as well, who expressed chagrin over my temporarily altered schedule. Moreover, at least one reader was also disappointed by the content of this blog, and he had this to say with regard to my mention of the San Jose Bike Party:

Ryan said...

I'm dissapointed on your write-up of San Jose Bike Party. I don't care whether or not you like our group. In fact, I enjoy your humor and was hoping for a nice roast of our group. However, all you did was pick on a few fixie riders and completely ignored the other 3,000 of us. Being one of the largest mass ride in the U.S., I expected more.

June 21, 2010 5:40 PM

I've been trying to make sense of why exactly I don't enjoy rides like the San Jose Bike Party. On one level, it's because if I wanted to listen to music I don't like while surrounded by thousands of drunk people I could simply go to a Bon Jovi concert--at least there it's far less likely I'd get hit by a unicyclist. On another level though it's because mass attention-seeking makes me extremely uncomfortable, and I find it puzzling that this particular commenter could be among thousands of people on "one of the largest mass rides in the US" yet still be disappointed that he and his compatriots did not get sufficient attention from one single crotchety bike blogger. If it's any consolation, though, I did make a short video of the start:

Please forgive the bit where I tilt the camera vertically--I forgot for a moment that the picture would not remain horizontal as it does on a popular brand of "smartphone." Also, in case you're wondering why you're hearing a motor, it's because there was some guy riding a bike with a two-stroke bolted to it who kept darting in and out of the ride like some sort of noxious hummingbird. In any case, if I find myself getting nostalgic for the San Jose bike party I'll simply hop in a car, tune in Hot 97, and head out onto the Long Island Expressway during rush hour.

But while the San Jose Bike Party involves thousands of people acting ridiculously en masse, Portlanders prefer to sort of "atomize" their rides by humiliating themselves in highly specific ways. Portland was the final stop on my BRA tour, and my visit coincided with "Pedalpalooza," which meant that just some of the theme rides taking place around this time included:

Visions in Taffeta

Meets up at Dawson Park near Emmanual Hospital for a colorful tragic display of horrid bridesmaid outfits. This could be spectacular.

(It could be spectacular, though it could also be ridiculous.)

Bike Porn 4 PLAY

An 18 and over viewing of bike erotica at Clinton Theater. $6.

(If you can't stop thinking about bikes even while consuming porn, you have a sexual dysfunction.)

And, of course, my favorite:


Are you still really excited about your vasectomy? Or maybe you really support folks who choose to get sterilized. Perhaps you have always wanted to know more about vasectomies, but just never asked. Either way, please join our ride. Come find out how easy and cheap vasectomies can be nowadays. Come meet folks that got it done when they were 20 and some when they were 50! We will ride to the NE and SE locations of Planned Parenthood. Plenty of time for a Q&A/hang out session at the end of the ride. Myths will be debunked!

What myths are there about vasectomies that need debunking? It's surgical sterilization, and there are few procedures that are more straightforward. Myths are spurious tales such as Athena springing full-grown from the head of Zeus, or someone's steel frame going "soft." On the other hand, in a vasectomy an incision is made in the scrotum and "the 'tubes' are cut and sealed by tying, stitching, cauterization (burning), or otherwise clamped to prevent sperm from entering the seminal stream." Then, you can't make babies (full-grown from your head or otherwise). It doesn't get any less mythical than that. I admit though I didn't realize that people were so proud--dare I say smug--about their vasectomies, or that they needed to show them off to each other. I guess cauterized vasa deferentia are Knuckle Tattoos 2.0.

Anyway, it felt good to return to Portland, a town so hip they have "trackways" instead of tracks:

Here is an earnest Portlander carefully considering whether or not to sign a man's petition:

Just as it's crucial for celebrities to be seen at the right parties, it's vital for Portlanders to sign their names on the right petitions. Conversely, inadvertently endorsing a cause that is insufficiently righteous is enough to make you a social pariah--or worse, have you banished to Vancouver, WA. Furthermore, it's obvious from this particular Portlander's choice of beverage and drinking vessel (the ├╝ber-"PC" water-in-a-Ball-jar) that she is no novice when it comes to "curating" her causes. In the end, I'm pretty sure she opted to withhold her signatureway, though it is a testament to Portland's geniality that they were able to share a laugh about it:

("I am laughing because I am extremely uncomfortable.")

But while Portlanders eschew waste and excess when it comes to beverage consumption, they are more than happy to ride exotic cargo bikes with $125 headsets, hydraulic brakes, and crabon fiber stoker bars:

In Portland, anything goes, just as long as it is bolted to a bicycle.

I had little time to drink from the capacious Ball jar full of smugness that is Portland, for I had to go to the headquarters of the Chris King Precision Bicycle Component Manufacturing Concern for the start of my very own "theme" ride, complete with flyer:

Incidentally, I have not checked in on the Chris King Headset Composite Index (CKHCI) in some time, though given that a used one is currently at $93 and counting I would guess that it is rather robust:

I'd like to say it was a tremendous honor to have my own theme ride, but in a town where people will organize a ride around defrosting the refrigerator or the neutering of a new puppy (or, in the case of the "No Babies!" ride, of a human) it's really not that big a deal. I'd also like to say that I was grateful people came out despite the rain, but again, this is Portland, and expecting to ride without rain is like expecting Larry King not to spit on you while interviewing you. Here is the group preparing to roll out:

Fortified by locally-grown cherries proffered by the gentleman in the foreground, we took to the streets:

There was some confusion as to whether we should stop at lights and whether we should do something called "corking," as well as use of some other use of non-competitive smug group ride jargon with which I am mostly unfamiliar, and so I did what I do on most rides, which is simply hide in the back and leave the work (or, in this case, decision-making) to everybody else.

Fortunately, we soon decided to stop for a rest:

As well as to take in some "fountain porn:"

I also gave away a few wisecrackers that were given to me in San Jose by Mike Ahrens, though I kept these for myself:

Then we headed over the bridge, crossing the mighty Willamette:

Those who attempted to forgo the bridge and simply ford the river itself met a watery demise:

Here's one rider performing a gratuitous trackstand (though I suppose most trackstands are inherently gratuitous):

And here's the canine wheelsucker (or, more accurately, "wheelsniffer") who joined us at one point, his leash trailing behind him like a "fixter's" key carabiner:

Then, somebody incurred a puncture, so we stopped at a local "brewpub":

There was also a sign for a lost cat, which I may have seen hanging from the "wheelsniffer's" jaws:

The flat victim then proceeded to commandeer multiple assistants and no fewer than three picnic tables in order to repair a single puncture:

This too is a testament to Portland's tremendous community spirit. Here, it is not uncommon for local residents to open their homes to flat tire victims, granting them food and lodging for the night while their stablehands patch the tube and send the rider off rested and well nourished the following morn.

("All You Haters Succor My Puncture")

It is also a testament to Portland's tremendous community spirit that, despite my critique and total lack of assistance, the affable flat victim offered me a drink of whiskey, which I accepted (nothing tastes sweeter than a whiskey not earned). Then, once the beverages were consumed and the flats repaired, my hale companions hoisted their wool socks, fastened their Birkenstocks, and shepherded me to Powell's:

I'm pleased to report that Portlanders came out in droves (a "drove" of course being a new ultra-smug form of bicycle that is sort of a Bakfiets 2.0):

I greatly enjoyed both my ride as well as my Powell's BRA, and I can think of no better way of ending my BRA tour (at least for now) than by celebrating with Portland, for while "Bicycling" may have ranked Portland the #2 cycling city in America, it will always be at least #5 in my heart.

Thank you very, very much to everybody who rode and attended.
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