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Ready For Your Close-Up?- New York Times On “Portlandia”

A few tantalizing excerpts-

“This is Sir Francis Bacon,” said Jamie Dunn, the owner of the Gilt Club, the restaurant in Portland’s Old Town neighborhood where the scene was filmed in September. “The pork head mortadella came right out of this skull.”

“I love this show because this is how real born Portlanders look at all of you that moved here since 1998,” one person wrote in a comments forum on The Oregonian Web site.

Did you move here since 1998?  What do you think of Portlandia?

Read the full article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/24/us/24portlandia.html?_r=1&partner=rss&emc=rss

Biking Abroad

We just got back from a soul-energizing trip abroad. You know how it is, you haven’t been away for a while and you finally just do it and as soon as you get that passport stamped you wonder why you didn’t do it sooner.

We spent 2 weeks bussing it in a loop from Cancun (skipped it) down the peninsula, through Northern Belize and the Cayes, then out Western Belize into Guatemala, explored Tikal (Indiana Jones style!) then ducked out Guate into Chiapas, and back to Cancun via Palenque and Merida (viva Mexico)!

Why there? Because it’s nearly the cheapest flight out of the country and I’ve been meaning to see Tikal since I missed my chance 15 years ago while traveling in western Guatemala.

I won’t bore you with a lot of stories of jungle choked ruins, boat rides up crocodile infested rivers, snorkeling with sharks and sting rays or showering under pristine waterfalls. What I do want to mention is the incredible number of bicycles we saw, particularly three wheeled cargo bikes like this one:

One of hundreds of cargo bikes we saw.

One of hundreds of cargo bikes we saw.

These things were everywhere and carrying everything, from chicken cages, to crates of oranges to mobile food stands:

We saw the same model, same setup everywhere we went. It’s single speed and the entire front cargo area pivots on the front wheels.

We even saw them on the side of the road seemingly in the middle of nowhere.

 

Of course we saw lots of regular bikes too. Everywhere you looked there were people pedaling complacently, on their way to work in the fields or home from the office. Kids, farmers, whole families sometimes; father riding, mother sitting sidesaddle on the rear rack and baby on her lap. They were as common as the stray dogs one sees everywhere.

In the whole two weeks I only once saw a brand I recognized. Of course with this many bicycles, there were also lots of bike shops. In larger cities they seemed to cluster in certain sections of town, there’d be 5 bike shops within a block. In smaller villages it was likely to be a shed, open on three sides, with one guy hammering on a wheel and another reading the paper by flashlight while a customer waited for his sole means of transport to be beaten back into service.

And speaking of flashlights, bringing your own can really come in handy when wanting to do a little biking at night. In places like the car-free Caye islands in Belize see photo of Todd riding the sand), riding at night is a blast but it helps to have your own small LED flashlight. If you’re looking for one for a future trip, check out this great article on the best  LED Flashlights of 2019.

I was very encouraged to see so many people riding their bicycles for the short distances they travel to carry out their daily tasks and I hope they continue to do so until the next time I’m able to go back and visit.

Fog Riding

I rode into downtown today in the early morning fog. It was pretty cold, with the wind I stirred up as I pedaled downhill trying to cut through my clothes. Good morning for a heavy coat, scarf and long johns. The fog hung in the air like gray silt, translucent yet giving the same city as yesterday a new dimension. Riding into the fog felt like riding into a wall of blankets, but which gave no resistance as I battered it. On my cheeks was that same chilly sting of cold air, so bracing and energizing in the winter. As I passed over the Broadway bridge the reflection of the grain merchants building in the river was just obscured enough to look like a phantom level under the water. The sky above was the slightest tint of blue in the slowly dawning light, presaging another brilliantly sunny day.

By the time I had come out of my appointment in a windowless room, the sun was up, the fog was gone. But I remembered my ride and cherished the fog all the more for its fragile nature.

Going by car wouldn’t have been the same.

Portland Recognized in National Geographic

I just saw a great little article applauding Portland’s bicycle friendliness in an issue of National Geographic.

It’s a short article in the “Technology” section but it highly praises Portland’s bicycle infrastructure and how tolerant people are towards bicyclists here. The article cites our 171 miles of bike lanes, bike boxes (which allows bikes to be visible to cars at stop lights) and bike-only traffic signals.

A bar graph on the side shows the increase in bikes being put on bus racks in various US cities, with Houston increasing 235%!

The article concludes other cities could become as bike friendly as Portland simply by repainting street to include bike lanes. As interior decorators say, paint is cheap! It’s a little more complicated than that, many bicyclists in Portland prefer to ride on low traffic streets. This is an even cheaper solution, since it costs nothing to simply choose to ride on quiet streets with few cars. However, it’s Portland’s conscious effort to promote bicycling as an alternative to cars and commitment to improving bikes’ access to streets that has given so many people the confidence to ride around the city.

And every little bit of biking counts! Maybe you can’t ride the whole way to work, or want to get out on a bike while you’re traveling. When people see others riding and smiling it’s likely to spread, and that can also translate into more infrastructure, both for the benefit of tourists and locals. If you’re thinking of taking your bike along for your next adventure, or partial commute to work, check out this article about the 9 Best Car Bike Racks.

Now, let’s get riding!

Oregon Tours

1 (503) 243-2453 info@pedalbiketours.com
133 sw 2nd avenue portland, or, 97204