I joined the BTA finally, after meaning to for years. Met Carl & others at Velo Cult. I needed to meet a fellow coder, cyclist and cool guy Benjamin Van der Veen over there to wrap up some business. I noticed that Velo Cult was having happy hour, he’d mentioned he wanted to check it out, so we setup to meet there at 6:00pm.
I rode out Multnomah, cutting around through the bike boulevards toward the Hollywood District where Velo Cult is on 42nd Ave just off of Sandy. I got there just a few minutes early and locked up my bike in the bike corral out front. As I walked in the door I realized that a special guest appearance by retired road racing cyclist Nelson Vails would be in store tonight! Call me stoked, and here’s a little background.
• 2009 Inductee to the US Bicycle Hall of Fame
• 1984 Olympics: Track – Sprint Silver, 1984
• First African-American to win an Olympic Cycling Medal
• 1985 World Championships: Tandem Sprint, Silver
• 1984, 1985, 1986 National Tandem Sprint Champion
• 1984 National Sprint Champion
• 1983 Pan American Games: Gold Medal
• 1980s and 1990s competed professionally in the 6-Day circuits in Europe and the Japanese Keirin events.
• Media Cycling commentator involved in cycling commentator for major TV networks and cycling safety programs.
• Starred with Kevin Bacon in the Columbia Pictures release of “Quicksilver”, a movie about the tough world of bicycle messengers in New York City.
Yup, this guy has ripped it up over the years. He showed a few of his races and gave some commentary about his insight, strategy and approach in each of them. Overall, great to hear about his races from him personally.
Benjamin showed up and we snagged a beer, finished the business we had to do and commenced to just hang out. The BTA was taking memberships and since it’d been years that I had intended to join, I figured today was the day. I went over and met Carl handling registrations and got signed up in just a few minutes. Now I’m a proud member of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance!
If you’re curious what the BTA does, besides simply helping to make America not suck so bad at life, here’s a few of the cool things…
Walk + Bike to School Network : You know how you hear about police arresting parents for letting their kids ride their bikes to school? You know how in most of America now kids can’t ride their bikes to school, often can’t even bike or walk to school, because it’s just too dangerous. Well, the BTA works diligently to make sure that is never going to happen in Portland!
Walk + Bike to Work : Not sure how to bike to your office? The BTA has workshops to help people figure out how to get to work, in one piece, in good fashion, and generally be awesome while doing it!
…and much more!
The Race Begins
After Velo Cult dinner was had and then a race began. Kristen and I were here, in Hollywood area and home was many blocks away in southeast Portland. We went to wait for the bus at 42nd and Sandy. I of course was going to end up riding and she was going to take the bus, since she was bike-less and I was bus pass-less. The #75 route bus arrived and she boarded.
The bus make the green light and I was stuck behind at a red light. I saw it disappear a block away around the corner. The light turned green and I tore through the intersection cranking hard. I dug into the turn that the bus had just gone through seconds before. There was the bus stuck at the next red light. I pulled up behind it. The bus slowly moved forward and I sprung around it to the left as it turned right into the Hollywood Transit Center.
I rode up to the 3 story flight of stairs and jumped off my bike, slung it upon my arm and started hoofing it up the steps. The #75 started to pull away behind me to get back on the main road. I got to the top of the steps and rode across the Interstate on the biking & pedestrian overpass, turned hard onto the switchback on the other side. It was entirely empty. I stay safe and don’t want to injure anyone, so go super slow when pedestrians are around or if there is auto traffic.
I made it around the switchbacks and into the north south bike boulevard and immediately started cranking hard. I ripped through the neighborhoods in the darkness. I could feel the breeze and dryness of my eyes as the wind whipped around me. Through the ups and downs in the road I swerved in and out keeping a smooth line. I made it to the main arterials; Belmont and then Hawthorne. I then got the Lincoln street bike boulevard and cut down to 39th, where I figured I would see the #75 coming.
Sure enough here comes the bus and I have a red at the bike boulevard crossing! Arrgh the bus is going to get ahead of me again! I wait, impatiently, and the bus passes. As soon as the light turns green I rip into 39th, with no traffic I go bold and follow directly behind the bus. I actually catch up and am traveling faster than the bus. I have to brake. Then it actually starts to brake too for the upcoming stop, the stop were Kristen will get off the bus to transfer to the Division #4 route. It stops and I pull up, standing there as if I’d been at the stop for ages.
Kristen gets off the bus and gets a little confused as to which direction is which, we figure out we’re going to the stop westward. At first it seems like it’ll be a short distance, but we quickly realize it is closed. We keep walking and get to the next stop. I wait with her for the next bus which pulls up just a few minutes later. I again take off behind the #4 bus (I NEVER like to be anywhere near the front of the bus).
After barely a half block I cut off to the left, south to the Clinton Street bike boulevard. I turn onto the clinton street boulevard hard. I can hear my tire gripping the road. There are a few tweaks in the bike, kind of like hearing the bike itself moan under the force of my pushing it into this hard turn. It’s a Surly 4130 cromoly CrossCheck, so I know it’ll hold up though.
I continue to push hard, cranking against the chain hard I can feel things flex on the bike. I had not ridden this hard in a while. I tend to ride fairly easy and take care of the bike. But today I’m having fun, I’m pushing the envelope, I’m tasting the speed and the fresh air and the night. Blazing down the bike boulevard I make it down the street super fast and then turn at 12th (having just ridden from 39th to 12th in just a few minutes). At 12th I come upon Division, the street the #4 travels down and see it pulling away from the 12th and Division stop. I blaze by the stop on 12th and continue toward home…
I’ve won, while being good company while waiting for the buses, with a solid 30+ seconds to spare! ;)
Of course, if I’d ridden straight through, I’d have been about 10-15 minutes ahead of the bus. But it was a game of wait and go tonight. Fun for all, a great day, great ride, great new people and a new BTA membership and beer run to Velo Cult. Cheers