16 February 2012

Portland Culture, North Version

Practice welds, still ugly,
but strong
I've now completed 3 out of 10 days of framebuilding class.  Today was really fun.  The welding is still hard, but at least it now produces something that is welded, even if it is still ugly.  I feel like I am slowly getting the hang of it, as are the others in the class.  And I am learning a lot about bicycle design, materials, geometry, craft, etc., etc.

And today we made our pre-production diagrams of the frames we will build starting on Friday.  Mine will be a relatively traditional cyclo-cross frame, a level top tube, cantilever brakes and lots of tire clearance.  With this bike, I want to go up Odarumi Pass in Yamanashi, wave at the taxi drivers at the top, and keep on going onto the gravel descent into Nagano.

Not that easy to see, but there is an outline of a bicycle frame, plus rim/tire circumference,
fork rake, and other measurements
UBI's Portland campus is located at 3961 N. Williams Avenue.  When I was growing up in Portland long ago, this part of town was definitely the wrong side of the tracks.  Now it is gentrified, or at least very different.  There are a lot more younger, white people, lots of new buildings and a different feeling.
Two of the other students and, in the middle, Bob K., one of the instructors for our class.  Bob was the master framebuilder at Bilenky Cycles in Pennsylvania before moving to Portland.  He has a nice handbuilt bike with a cargo rack, Schmidt & Sons dynamo hub that drives his E3 Supernova LED light and a rear light.
North Mississippi Avenue, a few blocks over, has a trendy, hip restaurant and entertainment/shopping area. Eric P., a former colleague, likes a diner there called Gravy.  And there are Prost Brewing, Amnesia Brewing, and more beer. Of course, the food around here tends toward organic and ethnic, vegan dishes are always available and there is plentiful bike parking.  This is the culture that is parodied in the TV series "Portlandia".  It is a culture that did not exist when I left Portland in 1980 for college.

Bike parking at one end of the Hub Building
The immediate area around UBI on North Williams is similar.  Today I went one block down the street to get lunch, at Cha, Cha, Cha, a Mexican place located  in the Hub Building.  I sure wish I could get a Burrito Fundido like that in Tokyo!  Then I stopped for a 16 oz coffee at Ristretto Roasters ("RR") next door.  When I entered RR on Monday mid-morning, I was surprised to find the place packed with 20~25 people, all ones or twos.  All of them were white people between the ages of 25 and 40.  Most of them had laptops open.  Every laptop was an Apple Macbook.  They might as well put up a "Mac only, no Windows allowed" sign.  I cannot take my (Windows) laptop there.  The barrista and cashier could have traded places with any of the customers.  Culture shock.

Also in the Hub Building, there are several other restaurants, Ink & Peat (where you can get "organic bedding" and "blooming branches", whatever those are, for your garden), and a fancy yoga studio.  But the high point was a little shop in the middle of the building that Chad, one of the other students, mentioned to me. Sugar Wheelworks!  A really cool looking bicycle wheel building shop founded and run by a woman.  I almost went in and ordered a pair on the spot ....  From the shop's website FAQ page, what are the main reasons to order handmade wheels?  They are sustainable, and soulful.  I could not agree more.
The courtyard outside Sugar Wheelworks
Sweet Wheels. Nice looking shop!
To get back to class, I needed to walk by at least 5 restaurants, a couple of pubs, a patisserie, the obligatory tattoo shop, the Blue Sky Wellness Studio (acupunture, massage, etc.), an all natural clothing supplier (sewing machines visible in the window), an "Eco" apartment building (solar PV visible on the rooftop), and some other places of note.  I did not get to the Friendly Bike Guest House, on the next block up.
More microbrew.
Beer and bikes, together.  What a great idea!!!
The obligatory tattoo shop.  The 4 youngest (of 7) students in the frame building class have some major visible tattoos.

Not just apartments, eco FLATS

Natural fabrics only.
Ethnic Food -- Is Peruvian exotic enough?
I guess with all the bike racks out front, and the streams of cyclists heading up Williams on their way home from downtown as I am leaving class (and heading in the opposite direction down the next street, for my  "reverse commute" past downtown), some of these restaurants and shops might just make it.

1 comment:

mob said...

I really like your entries about your experiences in Portland - please keep them coming.