“Hey hey Woody Guthrie….. The very last thing that I’d like to do,. is to sa’ayy I’ve been hittin’ some hard travelin’ too” (Dylan)
Hard travelin’ indeed, I thought you “knowed”. Woody and Bob never pedaled it! I’ve been taking some time to get lost on some quiet back-roads headin’ south parallel to the Interstate 5. All very quiet roads running through by-passed little towns. Have been rolling through the heartland in Washington and Oregon where the election of local officials is well under way (Mayors, Fire Chiefs, School Officials). The Jefferson County Wooden Object Sculptor is not seeking re-election after that ‘Mr-Turd-gate’ scandal. Half way between Olympia and Portland I got stuck out in the wilds and had to camp by the road somewhere. Its getting a bit chilly in the early mornings for this sort of caper so again the coming winter is driving your correspondent ever southwards.
Portland is a truly great city oozing charm and (biking) credibility. In Portland the thing to do is drink loads of great coffee and micro-brews at Rouges and the Deschutes Brewery Public House and go to some ‘improv’ theatre. The other thing to do is to enjoy the great food from the food carts in the centre of town. Today was treated to a magnificent lamb kebab with a Brazilian/Russian twist which was just wonderful. Definitely 5 out of 5 stars. Olga is the prettiest food-cart girl in all Portland, if not the whole of Oregon. I must admit that I got the distinct impression that she took a shining to your humble correspondent. If she plays her cards right she might get to ride my bike.
Your intrepid correspondent has reported in previous entries that the love handles were diminishing with every pedal stoke and the Adonis–like visage of his youth was miraculously reappearing. Am now sad to report that the unexpected quality and profusion of superb ales in Washington and Oregon have put paid to that little process for the time being.
The local ‘Occupy Wall Street” park protest is a lot more militant here than up in Olympia. There is, however, some descent in the ranks as no one wants to do the washing up and the hippies want to turn it into a bongo powered trance party while the hard-core anarchists want to keep it a gas-mask totin’ protest. A few people are a bit miffed that their tents and back-packs have gone missing so the solidarity is slipping in places. The campers here did have the latest innovation in bike design, where one bike frame is mounted in another with an intricate chain mechanism. Groovy.
Riding your bicycle here is a treat as the streets and traffic are bike friendly. Regrettably the Portlandian talent for inept reverse parking took another victim last night with a parked motorbike knocked over and a damsel in distress. Fear not for luckily your knight in shining Gore-tex was on hand to swiftly remedy the situation and right the bike increasing yet again the gross international happiness.
On the subject of bicycles, Oregon is USA custom bike building central. I went over to Renovo which is a firm here in Portland that makes wooden bicycles and had a tour of the factory These are things of rare and wondrous beauty and I had a test ride (see photo). Very smooth ride and loads of cafe credibility. (update – Have put in the order for an R4 with Shimano Alfine 11 speed internal hub with Gates belt drive. Will take 7 months to build).
By chance at the hostel I ran into Ian from Ireland who is one half of the two-man 350south.org team who are also cycling south from Deadhorse (having left there in mid July). We took in The Hub Brewery which has a cycling theme and took full toll of the lashings of quality local brews on tap. It was there that I discovered the Bicycle seat urinal snooze cushion [see photos below]. We at Buff3ysbicyclingblog are always on the look out for cutting edge design and innovation and in the gents at The Hub Brewery Bar we found it. Should you find yourself with a gut full of IPA and in need of a bit of a mid-urination snooze, then this is just the thing. Ever passed out in the middle of a wee and slammed your head against the wall? I think honestly we gents all have at one time or another. The snooze seat is the answer.
Below is an example of the fantastic array of the micro-brews (these in McMinnville, Oregon.)
20th October (still in Portland)
The good people of Portland are a very welcoming and laid back bunch; the ones that I met anyway. Very comfortable in their skins generally so free of pretense and generally happy to chat. On my last night in town was lucky enough to hook up with some affable Portlanders who took your correspondent off to a “strip bar”. Of course I thought this meant a strip-mall bar so you can imagine my surprise when the dancers started to actually disrobe right there on the stage! Most revealed all manner of ornate skin decorations. The kind lady dancers performed quite suggestive contortions and gyrations on a pole which would not be recommended by any knee surgeon and the patrons then provided them with dollar bills which resulted in more and more contortions and gyrations. The more dollar bills produced, the more enthusiastic the gyrations became and the happier everyone became! The more grog consumed, the more dollar bills produced and gyrations generated, and the more everyone became ever so happy. All really good wholesome family fun. I fear I imbibed a great deal of grog and blew the budget in one dollar bills. Have to get out of this town sometime soon.
21st October (45 miles) (Portland – McMinnville)
McMinnville south-west of Portland is yet another very cool little town and the Oregon Hotel is a lovely old place. Perhaps for the time being it might be easier to just assume that the towns are cool places here in the North-West until advised otherwise. Given the beer and whiskey consumption of the previous night, it was nothing short of a minor miracle that I was able to get my sorry arse out of bed, packed and on the road. The going was predictably slow but happily the road is mostly flat now running south along the valley past the farms and vineyards. The wine country now should give me a break from the myriad brews of Portland.n,
McMinnville Pizza Theatre is an indication of a truly civilized society. This is a place where you can order pizza and pints of local IPA which is then served to you on a bench table in the movie theatre. What the hell have I been doing with my life up until now, snoozing at the urinal of life while others have been getting served top quality pizzas and quality micro-beers while they watched movies? Pity that the only movie on tonight was ‘Bad Bosses’, which while funny in places was obviously done for a dare, and is something both Kevin Spacey will not doubt regret having had anything to do with.
22nd October (45 miles) (McMinnville – Corvallis)
After the huge response to my poetry from the Dalton Highway (my sister wrote, “not too sure about the poetry” – resounding praise indeed), I’ve now turned my talents to song writing to wile away the long miles on the road. Today a traveling song (which will become pretty evident) inspired by the last Guthrie/Dylan entry so you get the idea.
[Musically a cross between and Irish Reel and ‘Granma’s Feather Bed’ - Tempo is to a Rohloff speed hub in 9th gear at 13 miles an hour - therefore equivalent to Allegro Moderato. Full score available for Kazoo, Jaw Harp, Banjo, Jug and Bush bass]
I done wrote me a travelin’ song
I’m gonna sing it while I pedal along
The tune is simple and the words they all fit…
So while I’m a pedalin’ I’m gonna sing it.
Oh, I done wrote me a travelin’ song
I’m gonna sing it while I pedal along
You may not like it; or think that it’s shit
But it’s a travelin’ song and it can’t be unwrit….
Bobby and Woody they jump on a train
Sit on their arses and jump off again
If that’s what’s meant by hard travelaiin…
I’ll jump on board and out of the rain.
Now I’ve dodged moose and cariboo
Half-blind truckers and a bear or too
We come from Deadhorse and South we go
All on down to Tierra del Fuego
[Jaw-harp Solo – tattooed girls dancing Strip-the-willow]
Oh, I done wrote me a travelin’ song.
I’m gonna sing it while I pedal along.
You may not like it, or think it’s shit
But it’s a travelin’ song and it can’t be unwrit….
[Kazoo Solo – more girls doing strip the willow]
Well this bicycle travelin’ has certainly loosened up the creative juices. It took only 60km to write that song! I don’t use an i-pod as I pedal thankfully as I would surely have missed the pivotal moment of inspiration that struck somewhere between McMinnville and here.
23nd October (40 miles) (Corvallis – Eugene)
The cycling pilgrimage for my Co-Motion bike is complete and we are back in the city of the Co-Motion. Therefore a pit stop before heading across to the Oregon Coast. Teryk there has been kind enough to undo some of the abuse I’ve handed out to the beast so I will be riding a revitalised machine tomorrow.