Prior to beginning the Transamerica trail I've had the pleasure of spending a few days in the beautiful city of Portland, in Oregon.
The city of Portland has been on my radar for a number of years now. City's aren't usually high on my must visit list, but Portland is definitely one destination I've been keen to make an exception for.
Portland has been of most interest to me as a case study for its strong bicycle, outdoor and creative cultures. It's a city that is uniquely linked to outdoor life. With mountainous regions, vast forest, rivers and the Oregon coast all within a locality it's the perfect place to combine city living with the outdoor lifestyle.
Portlands investment in intelligent urban planning, and controlling urban sprawl enables the surrounding environment to be preserved and protected. Further investment in cycle infrastructure and green space builds on encouraging outdoor use within the city. The cycle routes around Portland are a joy to use, and allow you to navigate safely through town avoiding the busy roads.
The backstreets offer a healthy dose of eccentricity, and are littered with oddities such as old Volvo's and unusual camper van conversions, that speak volumes of the sensibility I found in Portland.
The parks here are also beautiful: Forest park which is located west of downtown is the largest wooded urban park in the USA, offering walking and cycling trails.
All this has helped in cultivating sustainable values throughout the city and it's no surprise that Portland has the highest number of people of any US city to be commuting by bike.
Bike shop, tavern, bike museum, venue, and coffee shop. Everything a bike shop should be and more.
Whilst in Portland I discovered Velo Cult. Initially, I came here for some spares, but it soon ended up becoming my 'go to spot'. Whenever I had time to kill or just needed shelter from the rain (which was a lot) I came to Velo cult. Here, I got the lowdown on the area, and gradually worked my way through their arsenal of beers. The relaxed atmosphere, bar and music provided a great venue for meeting local riders.
Hubs like this really help to support a healthy bicycle culture. Everyone was friendly, inviting and helpful. We talked bikes, politics and drank beers.
One night at the bar I was fortunate enough to meet Adam. We got chatting, swapped stories, and he kindly invited me out with his friends to their favourite northern Thai restaurant (which was amazing). After discovering that I couldn't get a train to Astoria (one didn't exist) he then offered to give me a lift there. This would be the first of many kind gestures I would receive by the American people throughout my travels across the country. So a special thanks to Adam, and everyone else that made me feel so welcome here.