Today we were heading to Portland. This felt like a significant milestone as we’ll be flying out of here on August 2nd. So in a way it marks our end-point. And we were excited because everyone has only good things to say about Portland.
The only noteworthy aspect of the morning’s ride was a series of tunnels that we had to negotiate. Before each one there was a little button for cyclists to press that would cause a big warning light to flash for a minute or so. The idea was that it would warn other road users that a cyclist was in the tunnel and that they should try extra hard to avoid killing said cyclists – just for the duration of the tunnel. Then we were fair game again.
So for five tunnels we hit the buttons, pedalled like crazy, and, once inside the tunnel, hollered and screamed like little children, simultaneously amusing ourselves with the echoes and reacting to the unnerving non-directional thunder of cars and trucks whizzing past with no lights on. Better than a roller-coaster for getting your blood pumping and your heart racing!
In Portland we stayed with Dennis. Dennis had stumbled across this blog a while back, followed our progress and got in touch in case we needed anything when we came through Portland. Like true cycle tourers we took full advantage of his offer of hospitality. Portland is huge but amazingly Dennis lives just a few blocks away from the marked ACA route into the downtown area. Later when we headed out for a drink and some food we saw it was also a really sweet neighbourhood to live in with loads of independent restaurants, cafes and bars all just oozing their own unique flavour of life.
We popped into the Hopworks Bikebar for a nosey-around and a pint. They served a beer which they modestly proclaimed had been voted ‘Best lager in the world’ (now there’s a job…). Naturally we felt it was our duty to verify this claim. 16 ounces later we weren’t convinced. But it was a fun, lively place. Think they could have gone a lot further with the bike theme though – there’s basically a lot of bike frames above the bar serving area and that’s it!
Side note: A UK pint is equal to 1.25 US pints. When Dennis asked Matt for a ‘small’, Matt saw my US pint that I’d just ordered and ordered the same thing, assuming it was a small.
You know you’re going to a popular place when you have to queue outside the restaurant for 20 minutes on a Monday night. I can’t remember the name of it but this little Mexican place was buzzing with locals! You queue up, place your order then go find a table. They bring you your order, you eat, and then you ‘bus’ your table yourself (clear everything to the kitchen like a waitress would usually do). I really liked the no-nonsense home-cooking they were churning out – and by the crowds of people queuing, so does everyone else round here.
As well as being massively cycle-friendly, Portland is famous for it’s microbreweries. And a bunch of them seem to have figured out that people like taking their dogs to the pub and hanging out in the pub’s outside area with a pint and their dog (and usually other human friends too). I reckon this is something that would work well back home – having some friendly dogs around in the beer garden really makes for a fun, sociable atmosphere, with the dogs almost acting as gateways between the different social groups. Just a thought…