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Friday, June 29, 2007
Portland 2: The Other Side
Last Saturday night, right around midnight, I wandered back to my car on SW 3rd and found it blocked by a couple chaining their bicycles to a light post. They cleared a path and as I drove off I noticed that the entire block was filled with bikes. I looked over my shoulder and a roughly a hundred people were standing in an empty lot staring at something. I couldn't see what it was but, half a block down, a girl was setting something on fire.
It was a scene weird enough to send me spinning around the bock for a closer look. By that time she was struggling to get on a unicycle with a metal crown on her head her head, each point spitting out a 6-inch flame.
Pedalpalooza. Nude bike rides. Flaming crowns. Mysterious, late-night gatherings in empty downtown lots. For those of us who opt or are forced to ride around town in motor vehicles, Portland's bike subculture may as well be a mysterious, parallel world (or it is for me, at least). The closest thing Portland drivers have to a community is a collective disdain for Jiffy Lube and their endless quest to replace something called "rear differential fluid" every time we head to the nearest franchise for an oil change. Is there such a thing as this fluid and do we need it or is the whole thing a sham to con us out of another $39.99?
If only it were somewhat practical to drive our cars up to the zoo and race down the West Hills as fast as possible. That might fuel some communal spirit around here.