It's great to be back home in New York!
Well it's not that bad.
I mean it could be worse.
Oh, who am I kidding, just kill me now.
Anyway, appropriately enough, my first ride since returning home was on a Citi Bike yesterday, and the one I selected happened to have preternaturally sticky grips:
The most benign explanation I could come up with was that it was hot and the last user had just liberally applied hairstyling gel. I came up with some other explanations too, but they made me nauseous, and presumably the next user was forced to rationalize the presence of Froot Loops all over the cockpit of the bicycle.
Summer in New York City means living in a constant state of denial regarding bodily fluids.
Still, it's comforting to return to the familiar, and I was heartened to find that people in Brooklyn are still "palping" Aerospokes:
Truck drivers are still assiduously blocking bike lanes:
And Citi Bike spinning is still the hottest fitness craze:
Speaking of denial, it takes a huge amount of it to remain in New York City at all, especially when you leave and see how people live in other cities. Indeed, the case containing my travel bicycle is currently an apt metaphor for my pent-up desire to escape, in that it's still in the basement where I left it when I got home and I refuse to acknowledge it, yet its contents are poking through and yearning to break free:
And yes, I did bring a bicycle on what was essentially a long weekend, because with seventeen (17) children I take my chances to ride while I get them and I can't waste precious seconds scrounging for a bike to borrow on the road. Plus, I've never had any trouble checking it through as regular luggage, and this trip was no exception:
I've traveled all over the word with this bicycle, and by now I figure I've saved roughly fourteen million dollars in bike fees.
Anyway, while I'm still not ready to unpack my bicycle, I am ready to unpack my memories of my trip, so let's start with Portland. I arrived in the city under cover of darkness, and I didn't check into my hotel until after midnight, where I was alarmed to find these waiting for me on the night table:
My "hotel" as it turned out was really just a motel with a trendy boutique veneer. For example, in addition to the prophylactics in various colorways, there was also soap with a hole in it:
Indeed, between the condoms and the soap with the orifice in it I very nearly checked out on the spot, and I had to double-check the name of the establishment to make sure I wasn't staying at the Cipollini Arms. Fortunately I wasn't, so I resolved to tough it out, and despite the lateness of the hour I got to work assembling my bike so I could ride first thing in the morning:
It's never a good sign when the TSA leaves its calling card, because sometimes when they rummage through your bike bag they don't put everything back the right way again and things get screwed up:
Fortunately for me though the bike came together without incident. Furthermore, my hands remained clean thanks to all the condoms I'd rolled over my fingers. (Going to the front desk and requesting eight more condoms is a sure way to earn yourself a high-five.)
Not only was I on east coast time, but I was also on parent-with-young-kids time. This meant I woke up the next morning before pretty much anybody in Portland, and I was out in search of breakfast with the first rays of the sun. Portland was just as I'd remembered it, providing ample opportunity to purchase essential items like vintage typewriters:
(Been there done that.)
Though of course at this hour all that was twee and artisanal still slept, and so I enjoyed more workaday fare:
(Ain't nothing locally sourced about that.)
While perusing the local alternative weekly, in which I learned that some schmuck from New York was in town:
By the way, I was pleased to see they credited me for perhaps my greatest contribution to the culture, though this is easily the least compelling reason to come to a book signing I've ever seen:
The man who brought us the term "salmoning"—riding the wrong way in a bike lane—will sign copies of his new book, The Ultimate Bicycle Owner's Manual, at River City Bicycles on Thursday.
How do you even top that? Levi Leipheimer reading the contents of a box of saltines?
In any event, with my morning hunger sated I hopped on my bike and headed over to River City Bicycles:
And totally shredded their ramp in the parking lot while waiting for Alex from the shop:
Who was kind enough to lead me on a little early morning forest jaunt:
After which I returned to my side of the mighty Willamette:
My awkwardly-proportioned yet utterly dependable travel bike duly baptized in Portland mud:
I then went to the front desk to see about a new room, because a band called "Holy Fuck" were scheduled to play next door that night, and you can be damn sure I wanted to be as far from that shit as possible:
I'm pleased to report the hotel graciously accommodated my request, and I slept that night blissfully unmolested by the musical stylings of the "Toronto-based electronic collective," which is very possibly the most objectionable musical description I've ever read.
Thusly transplanted, I prepared my stickers for the book signing, as I now make it a policy to personally bedazzle every copy I sign:
You don't get that when you go see Martin Amis:
With my signing implements thusly organized I headed back to River City, where I joined some VIPs for a pre-signing ride to take in some of the new Portland infrastructure:
This is the Tilikum Crossing, which as I mentioned yesterday is exclusively for pedestrians, cyclists, and public transit:
Also nearby is the OHSU Tram:
The whole area is positively brimming with people-friendly Euro-style development:
Not all of Portland is this modern though, and the city's elves and trolls still live nestled in the trunks of trees:
Heading south, we crossed the new Sellwood Bridge:
And finally made it back to River City in plenty of time for the person who brought you the term "salmoning" to bore a bunch of people who will endure anything for free beer:
I left feeling deeply grateful to River City Bicycles and the indulgent people of Portland, and it was with a joyous heart that the next morning I headed to Seattle:
Stay tuned for more tales of the road--and yes, rest assured you will get to see me wrangling the mighty quill stem of a Rivendell.