Travels 2015: Bicycle Rights!

Travels 2015 is a series of updates I originally posted on Facebook while on vacation. What started as a quick update and a couple photos transformed into a series of mini-essays that I would have posted on this website had it been up and running at the time. This one was written on October 21st, 2015.


After spending a frustrating couple hours maneuvering Portland’s transit system I decidedthat waiting at bus stops was not why I was here and that there were better ways to experience this city than from the bus window. So after dropping off my bags at my AirBnB, I took the bus all the way back downtown to the catch the only bike rental shop in the city still open that night. I arrived at my journey’s weary end, walked up to the counter, and asked for “one bicycle, for three days please.” 

“Sorry buddy,” said the young and friendly attendant. “You chose the very worst day of the year. Tomorrow is Bridge Peddle and every single bike in the city is rented out.” At least he was friendly, and suggested an app that was the “AirBnB of bike rentals”. In a last ditch effort to find a ride for the next morning, I texted my AirBnB host. Perhaps they had a bike I could borrow?

“Yes, you could borrow our Schwinn in the garage.” came the unexpected reply. “Just head down the hallway, descend the basement steps, take the red door on your right, screw in the lightbulb, find the bike and helmet, and then leave using the rolling garage door. Oh, and watch out for the cat.”

The bike was far classier than I expected and far smaller than it should have been for my 6.3” frame. It was a great, if sweaty, way to experience Portland. I almost got killed or arrested several times, until I discovered bike lanes and Google Maps cycling directions. How I must have looked struggling away on such a small bike! Especially on the day I tried to transport a box of pastries.

I was on my way to visit Humble Beast’s studios in the far-off suburb of Fairview and thought I would bring a gift of a box of delicious pain au chocolate’s, picked up at the local authentic French pastry shop. Since I planned on taking the bus, there was no need for the paper bag they offered me, so I took the bright yellow box loaded with goods and made my way to the bus stop. But despite my well-timed itinerary, the bus had already left. No worries; I would simply follow the bike route to the metro station. Over rolling, leafy hills, past homes and schools, over freeways and down staircases I bike, controlling the brake peddle with my left hand and holding the yellow box of pastries with my right. I got a few strange looks, but hey, this is Portland!

A sketchy elevator ride to the metro ride and a bus journey later, I had only a short hill to descend until I arrived at the studio. As soon I pushed off, I released something was amiss. During the buss ride the single piece of scotch tape holding the folded box together had burst and its origami design fell apart in my arms, croissants flying and falling. I swore to myself, quickly braked, and gathered what I could. Only two had hit the dust, I noticed as I looked up the hill behind me. These pastries weren’t cheap. Should I not stop and retrieve them? 

My mind made up, I retraced my steps, but just then a truck rolled over the crest of the hill, its tire track aiming straight for my pastry. I cringed, but was powerless to stop it. That Pain au chocolate was squished flat as any roadkill. 

They guys at Humble Beast said they never had a guest bring such tasty treats. They didn’t noticed I brought one short of a dozen.