Cycling in Portland is often depicted as droves of cyclists embarking on daily commutes rain or shine. While commuters are a sizable part of our cycling community and the reason for most of the robust cycling infrastructure, it’s still a very narrow and utilitarian view of our cycling culture. Portland is home to some of the sport’s most impressive market divisions from the world’s most renowned bespoke frame manufacturers, Rapha’s US HQ, to one of the top eight ridden Strava segments in 2017, and from host of the Single Speed World Championship, and a robust race scene. One could argue that these alone would rank Portland as a top cycling destination, but it still isn’t a complete picture.
In my opinion, the lesser known roads are what make the Portland area so special. I seek out long, twisting and quiet roads that allow me to use riding as an escape from the responsibilities endowed on me when I passed into adulthood. My mind is free from the real world once I squeeze into my Lycra and head out with nothing to keep me moving forward other than my legs and lungs. I often leave solo but am rarely alone, as there are countless others just like me who are engrossed in the acoustic marriage of rubber and road. These are the moments when the world is stripped down to nothing more than my next breath and the thump in my chest as I continue on. Every time I head out I’m greeted with stunning views, black tarmac and colors born from our famous yet over exaggerated precipitation.
Would I rank Portland as a riding destination like Majorca, the South of France, the Pyrenees or the Alps? Sure, but in a different way. Not because of the history or the world-famous routes, but rather you can pursue your purpose as a cyclist, which is to discover something about yourself. The roads are here to guide and test you, the community is here to welcome you as a brother or sister, and the coffee stops are so good and plentiful that you may just forget about riding all together. I promise if you come to Portland to ride you’ll leave a better more fulfilled cyclist, and I guarantee if you open yourself up to our community you’ll make some lifelong friends in the process.