In May of 2017, a tightly-packed early 2000's generation Subaru Outback made its trek from Bellingham, Washington to Portland, Oregon, signifying my transition from endless backyard trails to sprawling suburbs and neighborhoods. Moving to Portland would present a number of new opportunities for riding and racing, but what I didn't realize is that I would trade something integral to my life in Bellingham: easy access to trail systems. I landed in a great neighborhood, but would often find myself trying to plan a trail ride, understanding I would have to drive over an hour to get there, and opt to stay in town and dodge cars instead. It wasn't until recently that Joel took me on a tour of some of some of the trail options we have available to us in Portland, reaffirming that our arduous routes through neighborhoods are simply a gateway to something much more enjoyable to ride.
Mt. Tabor Park: the host of a weekly-series road race, and to a complex web of smooth, flowy trails for both peds and cyclists. While on the weekends, we do find ourselves having to yield to a group of dog walkers or the occasional parent with a double-wide stroller in tow, most pedestrians will gladly step off-route to ensure our flow isn't disrupted. There always seems to be at least one thoroughly annoyed person, profoundly upset that you are on a bike and existing. You did, after all, make them go off-trail in their 'spring linens'. They'll scoff as you improvise a tree root huck-to-flat, but the best revenge is throwing up the shaka and petting their off-leash $3000 designer dog when they aren't looking.
A favorite procedure for riding Mt. Tabor is climbing to the top and looking below to plan our route home, dependent upon which of the numerous coffee shops or cafes we choose to stop by on our way back. This has been one of my most cherished features of Portland: the seemingly endless choices for new coffee shops and restaurants to try, where your knowledge of the best new spot is traded amongst social circles like baseball cards.... or... uh, Pokemon cards? Joel and I descended from the lookout, through some traffic, and found a great cappuccino and London fog to get us through the rest of the ride home. If you're lucky, you'll be like us and even find a spot with a wide selection of Kombucha, as well.
I've realized that so much of living in Portland is digging past the surface to expose all the hidden gems the city has to offer, which was tough for me to learn after living in so many spots where the gems were at face value. This of course, does not apply to the cyclocross scene and the people who live here, both of which are amazing at face value. While we plan our calendars for the rest of the year with the Speedvagen Workshop Racing team, I plan to go to each city under the guise of a local's approach, understanding that we have to roll up our sleeves at times to really see what a city has to offer. Although much of this simply has to do with perspective, an openness and willingness to simply explore will be a key component of getting the most out of our time on the road with Speedvagen this year. We are looking forward to taking the roads less traveled, connecting with the locals, and opting to hit one more brewery in lieu of putting our feet up.