Part Seven – Oregon

“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.

High Roller

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).

Renovo R4

Test riding the Renovo R4

Ian & Buff

By chance at the hostel I ran into Ian from Ireland who is one half of the two-man 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.


Field testing the Snooza-matic

Below is an example of the fantastic array of the micro-brews (these in McMinnville, Oregon.)

Taps of Lovely Beer

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….


[Banjo solo]


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.


Part Six: Washington State

11th October Vancouver – Bellingham (49 miles)

Sad really to be crossing the border out of Canada.  Difficult also to convert distances back to miles as it just seems like you are not getting the same return in units for your pedaling exertion.  The border crossing was trouble free yet a few of the questions from the USA border control were puzzling. For example when they try to ascertain whether you have sufficient funds to survive in USA, a response that you have a credit card is deemed acceptable.  Just how it is that being in debt is proof enough that one will not burden the US social security system or get stranded here seems a bit odd.  No matter, on-on.  Canada has been a great ride full of wonderful country side, challenging distance and the people have been helpful and pleasant. Now it is on the ‘the lower 48’.

12th October Bellingham – Couperville (50 miles)

On Coupeville Pier

Camped just south of Bellingham (alone as no one else seems silly enough to be camping at this time of year up here) and took the Chukunut Drive back-road down along the coast.  A lovely bit of road winding through the forest lining the coast past the oyster bars then farms further south. Decided to head across the bridge south of Bellingham through the (adjoined) island of Whidbey.  The road cuts across the majestic Deception Pass via a magnificent single span bridge and then on to the fishing villages that dot the coast.  Have treated myself to a stay in a luxurious little guest house just outside Couperville (see photos) made entirely of local logs that creak under every step.  Mussels are deserving of some recognition. The oysters, however, are tiny and nothing to write home about.

13th October Coupeville – Quicene (30 miles)

There was a short ferry ride back to the mainland and from there the road turns down the eastern coast of the Olympic Peninsula which it hugs on the way towards the state capital, Olympia. Coupeville is a lovely picture-postcard fishing village (refer picture post card shot of adventure cyclist on Couperville Pier). Today I was lucky enough to come across the best example of road-side kitsch so far.  10 miles south of Port Townsend where Route 20 meets Hwy 101 heading south I encountered the “largest wooden hamburger in the world!”  The staff claim the original burger was even bigger than the current one, which is saying something because this burger is pretty big.  As a bonus there are all manner of wooden items with faces carved into them hanging from the cafe.  Mr One-Eyed Hairy Guy is skillfully rendered while Mr Baseball and Mr Baseball Bat are wonderfully matched.  Just how Mr Turd got a look-in is difficult to determine and I didn’t ask.

Largest Wooden Burger

Mr Baseball Bat

Mr Baseball

Mr One Eyed Hairy Guy

Mr Turd

14th October Quicene – Olympia (75 miles)

Olympia is a seriously cool city.  Being the very cool adventuring cyclist that I am I can easily recognise cool when I see it and this city has it by the bucket load. This city takes its coffee, beer, food, grunge, grrl, (and adventure sports/cycling) seriously.  While some would contest where the origin of Grunge really was (‘The Scientists’ from Perth in Australia amongst them), there is an almost nostalgic grunge appeal to this place, as it has been a good while since Smells Like Teen Spirit was new.  Nothing new under the sun and certainly nothing new in Western popular music since trance and rap some now argue with increasing credibility. With the ‘occupy the city square’ movement in full swing at the moment the left-wing fringe (including a good smattering of the lunatic and just plain stoned fringe) are out in full force.  It was Winston Churchill who said, “the greatest argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with a voter” and a case can be made for this position after just a few interactions with the great unwashed hoypoloy across the road in the park.  All are in good spirits, however, and some are just straight out stoned out of their tiny minds, which helps.  A protest clash with the right-wing loons from the local chapter of the Tea Party would be good sport though but I fear that they are lying low at the moment.  Am sampling the many micro-brews of increasing variety in NW USA and there is a congenial vibe in the pubs and restaurants  I’ve been in so far.  4th Avenue is all pubs, cafes, theatres, adventure gear places and book shops.  Will stick around for a day or so and soak it up perhaps in some of the best coffee houses of the trip to date.  Am now south of Seattle where I first landed in USA before flying to Deadhorse, which seems significant for some reason. From here we are in serious bicycle country and the next destination is Portland (the bike capital of USA).


Part Five Vancouver – In Defense of The Pant

Whistler – Vancouver (125km)

An easy roll down to Horseshoe Bay (more horses) and then a wind around the coast and I’m over the Lion Gate bridge and into Vancouver within the day.

Newspapers here are devoted cover-to-cover to an odd type of hockey game that is (believe it or not), played on ice!  Local coverage of other sports is extensive.  Association Football is also fine as long as it is played on ice with bent sticks.  Grid Iron is OK too as long as it is played on ice and a choreographed fight breaks out every second minute.  I, unlike the people who are now pushing to ban the ‘biff’ (after a few high profile concussions in recent times), do like the fighting.  It looks to be quite a skill to punch someone while hanging onto them for balance all the while standing on little sleds on ice.  It should be a sport in and of itself.

There is much consternation in Vancouver currently at the city being downgraded to 3rd in the world’s “most livable city” rankings, according to The Economist magazine which evidently does these rankings annually.  Equally there is consternation at it being named the “3rd worst dressed city in the world” (by GQ magazine).

Makes you wonder what The Economist and GQ people look for in a city on both counts; good access to a nice lie down, sensible tweed, man bags and ample places for males with no testicles to congregate??  To wit, I just read a local newspaper article bemoaning the preponderance of yoga pants in Vancouver, the article author blaming the hapless yoga pant for the city’s sartorial ranking decline.  Balls!  Viva le yoga pant, I say!  Pants to GQ I say!  Have the GQ people never been to Torino, for example, and witnessed every second git trotting about in shiny flared tracksuit pants, totally oblivious to how stupid they look?  Equally, have they never seen the hordes of plump little scrubbers in Brisbane gormlessly squeezing themselves into ill-fitting ‘boob tubes’ only for the McDonald’s sponsored excess to then bulge from every surrendering seam, providing a good impression of over-blown little balloon poodles? Let the Vancouvan yoga pant thrive!  Embrace the pant! – as I fully intend to.  Especially here in Vancouver which is blessed with so many lovely yoga-panted women who model the much maligned pant to marvelous effect.

Buff3ysbicyclingblog is currently running a competition for yoga pant wearers with first prize being the chance to meet Buff3y the hard-core adventure cyclist in person!* (*Competition subject to strict terms and conditions. Only Vancouvan yoga panted girls need apply).

Now, below is an obvious problem with the rankings that you may have picked up on already:

The “Worst Dressed” ranking cities were:

1. Orlando

2. Maui
3. Vancouver
4. Harajuku, Japan

The rankings for the “Best Looking Women in the world” were:

1. Melbourne

2. Rio de Janeiro

3. Amsterdam

4. Singapore

5. Reykjavik

6. Vancouver

Now leaving aside for a moment the obvious idiocy of having Harajuku in the least fashionable rankings – a place that thrives on being anything that would be anathema to GQ– (Latex hello kitty, ‘Sailor Girl’ or maid costumes and comic strip characters being de rigueur), there is still an obvious contradiction here.  If Vancouver has the 6th best looking women on the planet and they choose to wear yoga pants – surely this is a good thing!  Where’s the problem?  However, if the 500th ranked city (Brisbane I think) suddenly took up a penchant for yoga pants then admittedly we would have to take issue.  Rio ranks, obviously, but how the hell did Melbourne rank so high? (Computer error in its favour no doubt).

Admittedly, the male population of Vancouver could work on it a bit. The Hockey shirt urban chik is a bit ho-hum.  The Vancouvan smack heads, of whom there are regrettably a good many, could also lift their dress game a tad for the good of the city’s chances for future rankings as the emaciated post sm/crack old-black dirty urine-smelling ‘hoody’ look is not doing it.  The seemingly interminable mumbling, giggling and shouting at themselves is also a bit disconcerting and doesn’t aid the overall look.

Now there have been mumblings on this very blog from some quarters (yes, that’s you Paul) regarding your humble correspondent’s cycling attire.  I’m here to say that I’ve joined the Pantists, but of course in a harder-core sort of way.  Yes, now that your correspondent is endowed with the finely chiseled buttocks of a hard-core bicycle adventurer, I’m wrapping those buttocks in a stretch fabric Salamon hiking/cycling contour (and conceivably yoga) Pant from a shop, in Vancouver! [refer photo].  You can’t beat ‘em so its best just to pant-up and join them.  It’s all about how you wear the pant, not the pant itself.  Just as when one wears one’s Savile Row suit, it is the attitude of wearing it that makes the difference, rather than the item itself. [This is something that is difficult to explain to my blog audience – some of whom are from Brisbane].  Suffice to say that GQ is a dumping ground for try-hards who have lost their wee-wees, so Pant Up and be proud Vancouver!  [Any anti-pantist sentiment will be strictly forbidden on this blog.  Those interested in taking the GQ line can go and subscribe to].  This entry is getting a bit weird and repetitive so I’ll just leave the pant treatise there.

Panted and Proud

There is nothing palacial about the St Clair Hotel in downtown Vancouver. It is a run-down heritage listed place relishing in its own dilapidation. A bit creaky but oozing character from every slowly decaying fiber and rusting pipe of its being. It’s handy to the up-market streets, ‘Gastown’ and Chinatown. Vancouver is the biggest city I’ve struck since the start of the ride so am going to enjoy it for a little while and take in the sights. Arriving here also marks the completion of the first ‘ocean to ocean’ (Arctic to Pacific). I’ll have to dip the wheel in the sea somewhere around here and get a photo for the blog. The wheel-dipping ceremony is a time-honoured ritual for touring cyclists to celebrate a coast to coast of self-propelled travel.