One of the most unique facets of the Oregon Scenic Bikeways is that each route has a proponent group. A route isn’t just designated by the state, rather there is a long application process that requires a group of local supporters to not only propose a route but help create a management plan. While filming the Scenic Bikeways last year, we worked closely with many of these proponents. It was important for us to hear what they saw as the best features of their routes, so we could communicate it in our videos.
On a more practical note, the proponents are also a tremendous wealth of knowledge about the local area. Want to know where to find an IPA out in Heppner? Curious if the “U-Pick” orchard in Kimberly is open for the season? Looking for some good gravel riding in John Day? The proponents know. They can also tell you the best season to ride, where to find water in the middle of nowhere, who makes the best hamburger in the county, and a hundred other details that won’t fit on a printed map or in your GPS.
We are lucky that many of the proponents from different parts of the state will be joining us for the Travel Oregon Scenic Bikeway event! They’ll be wearing something special so that they stand out (we haven’t figured it out yet, but we’ll announce it that evening). We can’t overstate what an incredible opportunity this is to get insider information about planning your trip, and to meet the folks who are supporting cycling in Central and Eastern Oregon. It’s also a great opportunity for the proponents to hear from potential visitors.
If you’re in the Portland area (and beyond!), we hope you can join us. It will be an awesome event, bringing the Scenic Bikeways to you!
-Thursday, March 20th, 2014
-6:00-8:30pm (networking 6:00-6:30pm)
-Location: Chris King HQ @ 2801 NW Nela Street, Portland, Oregon 97210
-Libations from Base Camp Brewing Company
-Appetizers by chef Chris DiMinno
This event is free with donations encouraged for the Oregon Travel Philanthropy Fund.
The Sisters to Smith Rock Scenic Bikeway video was released to the public by TravelOregon a few weeks ago. It stands as one of our favorite shoots; not only because the scenery and riding is great, but because we had the chance to add something a little different to the bicycle marketing stratosphere.
Bike travel and adventure-by-bike are enormously popular right now, but the stories and marketing of those experiences trend toward a really male-dominated narrative. Not that this is inherently a bad thing, but we have learned that successfully marketing an idea to a broad audience means showing said broad audience in your marketing. In other words, if you only see and hear guys, you’re likely only appealing to guys. And, for us, it was important and exciting to produce a statewide marketing piece that showing women, on bike tour, doing rad stuff.
There are lots of little details that seem minute on their own, but contribute to the feel of the piece and make it different from typical bike marketing. From the style of bikes (a custom Pereira, mixed with a vintage 3-speed) to the clothing (sporty but causal, with no giant logo blobs) to the action (camping, rock climbing, and playing a ukelele!). The experience is neither a hammerfest of a ride or a Cycle Chic parade, but remains fun and sporty at the same time.
In the end, it’s just a short 2-minute video. But the more we dive into video production, the more we we recognize the enormous impact these small details can have on bike advocacy and inspiring a broad diversity of people to try riding a bike.
To learn more about the Scenic Bikeways and hear some more behind the scenes details, be sure to come to the Scenic Bikeway Video Launch Event at Chris King!
We’re really excited to announce an event with TravelOregon, Chris King and Basecamp Brewery to release the latest Scenic Bikeway videos. As many of you may know, we spent the better half of last year riding and filming the amazing Scenic Bikeways around Oregon. We’ve been spending the colder months editing the footage and they are all done! What is really special about this event is that we are having proponents from each of the Scenic Bikeways at the event! That’s right, the local advocates from Central and Eastern Oregon are making the long trek out to Portland to be at the event.
So if you are wondering where you should stay in John Day, where you can find an IPA in Heppner or are curious about local gravel rides out of La Grande, then come to this event. The local proponents know their towns and surrounding areas intimately and are a great source of information about riding and recreation around the area.
Also, there’s beer from Basecamp and some awesome snacks coming out of the famed Chris King kitchen. You don’t want to miss it! Here is the Facebook event link and the nitty gritty details below!
Did you know Oregon has Scenic Bikeways!? That’s right, we are the only state in the nation with Scenic Bikeways – offering Oregon’s “best of the best” road biking routes.
For one night, Travel Oregon is bringing the Oregon Scenic Bikeways to Portland! They’ll showcase the short, inspiring Bikeway videos by The Path Less Pedaled – including three new ones never before seen by the public. Intros will be led by the filmmakers, Travel Oregon and Bikeway proponents. Tasty bites will be served by well-known chef Chris DiMinno, and Base Camp Brewing will provide fresh-brewed libations.
-Thursday, March 20th, 2014
-LOCATION: Chris King HQ @ 2801 NW Nela Street, Portland, Oregon 97210
-6-8:30pm (networking 6-6:30pm)
-Libations from Base Camp Brewing Company
-Appetizers by chef Chris DiMinno
This event is free with donations encouraged for the Oregon Travel Philanthropy Fund.
See you there!
It’s going to be a crazy week. On Tuesday, we’re off on a whirlwind trip to conduct a series of interviews for a video project with PeopleforBikes. The goal? To document how protected bike lanes are changing cities. We’ll be interviewing elected officials, business owners and everyday riders. This is where you come in!
We have several interviews already scheduled, but we also have gaps of time where we will be shooting b-roll and trying to capture man on the street interviews. So, if you’re interested in talking to us about the experience of riding in a protected bike lane, we would love to hear from you. Contact us in advance or simply drop by while we’re filming b-roll.
Chicago: On Wednesday, February 19, we will be filming on Milwaukee Ave, near the Paramount Room, roughly between 4-6pm.
Austin: On Friday, February 21, we will be filming on Guadalupe, near the bike share station at 21st, roughly between 4-6pm. On Saturday, February 22, we will be filming along the Bluebonnet and Barton Springs protected bike lanes, roughly between 12noon-3pm.
Memphis: We have nothing concrete planned yet, so suggest something! On Monday, February 24, we can meet you in the Broad Avenue district, roughly between 9-11am. On Tuesday, February 25, we can meet you downtown or elsewhere, roughly between 10am-12noon.
If you are on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter we’ll be posting updates with the hashtag #PLPGLP (short for PathLessPedaledGreenLaneProject). So don’t be shy and send us an email us so we can set something up.
(Rode Trip is a new short series of bicycle vacation ideas. Some touring. Some day trips. All fun.)
You know a road has a reputation when you tell people you’re going to ride it and they give you a “it takes all kinds” look. Laura’s dad moved to Palm Springs a few years ago and we try to work in a visit to the desert city every time we visit California (especially during the winter). During past visits, I would look wistfully at the mountains that rise out of nowhere on the edge of town and ask, “Where’s that go?” Pointing, of course, to an impossibly straight road that appears to cut a path deep into the mountains. “That thing? That goes to the tram. You’d have to be crazy to ride it on a bike.” And that is how minor obsessions begin.
In 2013, Tramway Road was featured in stage 2 of the Tour of California. It was an exciting mountain-top finish after a long hot day of riding. Riders had been moving at breakneck speeds through the flat desert valley. Once they made a left to go up Tramway, all hell broke loose, and the peloton shattered like a beer bottle in a bar fight. The swarming group was thinned out and the Columbian rider Acevedo edged out the American Tejay van Garderen when the road got stupid steep.
For us, watching bike races through flat lands is a bit of a yawn fest, but watching them suffer in the mountains is a beauty to behold. It’s hard for us to relate to bike racers as they hammer at 30mph on the flats, but when they are defying gravity and willing their bodies up mountain peaks it is somehow more universal, it reveals the human condition.
All the poetry to say that I was determined to ride this road on our recent winter visit. There’s not a whole lot of ride reports about Tramway Road online. Apparently, it’s the sort of ride people do and then keep to themselves. The best description comes from Tough Ascent. He quotes some pretty compelling stats from The Complete Guide to Climbing (by Bike) in California:
-2nd steepest climb in southern California at a 9.5% average grade
-#1 fastest descent in southern California
-#1 climb with the greatest length of > 10% grade in southern California (1.6 miles long)
-#5 most scenic/spectacular climb in southern California
Additionally, a few more stats:
Length: 3.8 miles
Elevation Gain: 1910 ft
Average Grade: 9.5%
Last 1.2 miles: 12%
Last 1/2 mile: 14.3%
The ride report on Tough Ascent was written in 2010. While the vertical geometry of the road hasn’t changed since then (it is still a straight and steep climb with the steepest sections at the end), the road itself has been much improved. Recently repaved, the road surface is now silky smooth and makes for a great uphill experience and a very exciting descent (to say the least). Also new to the road is the addition of a really wide walkway that is separated by a concrete curb! This makes it wonderful for walking or running. When we were out on the Tramway, it was being well used, so kudos to Palm Springs for turning an otherwise featureless road that only cars could enjoy into something that is great for more users.
Back to the riding. After a few days of walking around downtown and enjoying some great food (Bill’s Pizza, by the way, is awesome and offers GF pizzas and craft beer, although service can be slow), we decided to tackle the hill. To beat the warmer temperatures and especially the traffic, we started out fairly early. We’d recommend getting to the base of the climb probably no later than 8am, if not earlier.
The ride itself is pretty straight forward. You go up. Since we were riding early enough, the traffic was extremely light and we could ride side by side and talk. There are very few turns and it’s essentially straight, so it can be a bit disheartening when the point in the distance moves towards you at a glacial pace. A better strategy is to look around while spinning. It’s easy to imagine the desert as a flat and featureless plate of sand, but this road shows that it is anything but. The mountains, particularly during the early morning light, cast some magnificent shadows. Even better views can be had if you stop and turn around. It’s easy to focus on the slowly moving road beneath you, but you’ll miss the best part – spectacular views of the valley below.
The riding is challenging but not impossible (especially if you are used to riding hills and have good gearing). For most of the climb, the grades were pretty reasonable. At some point near the top, you are greeted with a ticket booth and entrance of sorts. This is NOT the top, though it is tempting to stop there and turn around. It is also about here that the road kicks up a bit more and will cruelly test your lungs and legs. This is where, as Phil Ligget would say, we were experiencing a “spot of bother.” Fortunately there wasn’t too much further to go and we pushed on.
The top is actually quite anti-climactic from a scenery perspective. There is the tram station and a tram car where you can take pictures, but the views of the valley are occluded by the mountains. After a few quick snaps, we put on our jackets and began the screaming descent back into Palm Springs. As you go back into town, you get some spectacular views of the desert valley and wind farms in the distance.
Palm Springs isn’t the kind of place that often makes it on top bicycling lists, but the Tour of California put it on center stage. From what we have heard, the city is slowly moving forward on becoming a more bikeable city. In our opinion, it makes a great winter cycling destination for anyone escaping colder climes. 80 degrees and sun in the middle of winter? Yes please! We toured through the desert cities a few years ago and it felt pretty bike inhospitable, though there were some true gems like Box Canyon Road to Mecca and the road that traverses Joshua Tree. If Palm Springs continues down the path of slowly becoming more bike-friendly, it could really be a cycling oasis in the middle of the desert.
(Keep our adventures going and the site growing! If you’ve enjoyed our stories, videos and photos over the years, consider buying our ebook Panniers and Peanut Butter, or our new Brompton Touring Book, or some of the fun bike-themed t-shirts we’re designing, or buying your gear through our Amazon store.)
Apologies for the website being quiet. The last few months have been a whirlwind of pre-production, filming, editing (lots of editing) of Oregon Scenic Bikeway videos. We’re finally winding down for the year, which means we can partake in some actual bicycle travel! Our plan (using the term loosely) is to head South to California. We’re taking the Amtrak down to San Luis Obispo, our happy spot, to spend a few days of some leisurely riding and relaxing in the sun. From there, we’re planning a quick trip to Ventura and possibly Ojai then off to my parent’s place near Burbank for Christmas. After a few days of riding in the mountains, we’ll head South again visiting friends along the way. The trip will be an honest to goodness ramble with a loose schedule
Of course, we couldn’t resist the temptation to shoot some video and make a little series out of the trip. Episodes will be short (probably 2 to 3 minutes at the maximum), with some fun and interesting content. We’re doing no pre-production so we’re winging the stories as we go. But, if you want to meet up or have something interesting and bikey to check out email us! We’re so looking forward to exploring again by bike and hope you’ll follow along. And if you have ideas or want to meet up, don’t be shy.
We’ve been quiet, but it’s because we’ve been busy. The last few weeks have been spent nose to the digital grindstone so to speak editing all the footage we shot this summer. Proud to announce that our latest Scenic Bikeway vid is out and might be our best yet! So sit back. Watch. Enjoy!
A Bike Tourism Riddle: What does it mean when the car-free weekend at Crater Lake National Park gets hit by an icy storm that, at best, makes the cycling highly unpleasant and, at worst, makes it downright treacherous – and, yet, hundreds of people still flock to the park with their bikes?
When we arrived at Crater Lake on Saturday afternoon, the ranger at the entrance gate asked if we were there to bicycle around the rim. She looked nervous for us, so I jokingly asked if it had snowed yet. Yes, she said, they had gotten some snow that morning. But the forecast is supposed to be a lot better on Sunday, she added hopefully. We paid our entry fee and she wished us luck.
For years, there have been high-level conversations between bike advocates and park management about closing the rim road to cars for a short period of time and opening it only to people on foot or bike. In June, park management finally agreed, and it turned out to be one of their highest grossing weekends ever. That paved the way to make it an annual event – the third weekend of September – and we instantly made travel plans when we heard the news!
The trouble with the third weekend in September is that, at 7200 feet, the weather can be just about anything. This past weekend, the weather decided to be stunningly cold and craptacular. At noon on Sunday, the rim was socked in with a freezing fog so thick that you couldn’t see the water from the edge. Visibility was maybe 15 feet and plants on the hillside were covered in ice. Suffice it to say that we never actually rode our bikes.
Instead, we hung out with the 15 or so friends who had also made the 5-hour trek from Portland. We camped out, despite the awful weather, and ate at one of the restaurants in the park. And we marveled at the incredible number of bikes we saw strapped to incoming cars.
To be honest, we were worried that the weather would scare everyone away and that, if nobody showed up with bikes, an incredible opportunity would be lost. Without a doubt, the weather did scare some people away, but it was also quite clear how eager folks are to experience riding a bike at Crater Lake without the noise or stress of sharing the road with cars. Put another way, even if nobody actually rode a bicycle through the wintry weather on the rim road, hundreds of people showed up (and spent money) at Crater Lake over the weekend simply because the park promised the opportunity to ride without cars.
Despite the weather, we think this weekend was a bike tourism success, and we encourage Crater Lake National Park to continue their commitment to an annual car-free weekend.
Beyond just Crater Lake, though, this weekend has important applications to bike tourism efforts worldwide. Bike tourism doesn’t need to be complicated and it doesn’t necessarily need to be all about the bike. Oftentimes, people on bikes feel like they’re inserting themselves someplace where they’re not particularly wanted. As soon as you create a space where people on bikes feel welcome, they’ll be there, even if they can’t actually ride their bikes, and they’ll be loyal. Bike tourism is also one of the few real-world instances where, if you build it, they will come. In the case of Crater Lake, building ‘it’ was as simple as closing a few gates and keeping an existing road open to bikes only.
A few weeks ago, we were asked to film the annual Policy Maker’s Ride on the Historic Columbia River Highway. The ride was meant to bring key policy makers to the Historic Columbia River Highway so they could see what could be possible with a completely re-connected HCRH. The ride brought together elected officials, staff from various DOTs, bicycle advocates, business leaders and even the mayors from the neighboring cities. It was an amazing event to be part of.
What was most remarkable for us was that everyone in attendance was keenly aware of the historic highway’s amazing “bicycle tourism” possibilities. Sure, you could blaze through the Gorge on I-84, but you don’t really experience it. Perhaps more importantly, by taking the interstate you move TOO fast and aren’t stopping at the small communities along the way. The mayors from Troutdale, The Dalles, Hood River and Cascade Locks were there (mayor Doug Daoust, who hadn’t ridden a bike in years, rode the the whole way!) and each spoke about the benefits of having a re-connected historic highway and a steady stream of cyclists passing through. These aren’t Portlandia bike hipsters or hardcore bike-campers, but they recognized the potential of having the historic highway easily navigable by bike.
The ride also celebrated a new stretch of off-road bike path. You can now ride from Troutdale to Cascade Locks without getting on the less than pleasant I-84. For all the fanfare though, there was still a very serious call to action. The HCRH trail is not complete. The last 10 miles, which will be the hardest to construct and costliest to fund, is still at stake. In order for the Gorge to truly be a world-class bike destination, that last 10 mile stretch must be completed. As it stands now, cyclists who want to ride from the greater Portland metro area to Hood River have to negotiate a terrible stretch of I-84. Most notorious is a portion called Shell Rock (aka Death Wall) in which the shoulder shrinks to the width of a sidewalk AND curves, leaving a cyclist to sprint around the corner to avoid speeding traffic.
This is a long-term project with lots of challenges (financially and politically) along the way, but we are pretty confident it will be worth it. Right now, riding to Hood River via the Gorge is a pretty good ride. Having a complete Historic Columbia River Highway will make it a truly GREAT ride, worthy of being a world-class bicycling destination. Only 10 more miles to go!
We get a lot of questions about the gear we use for filming. Since I’m packing to do another Scenic Bikeway shoot tomorrow I decided to lay everything out and take a picture of it all. Our primary camera is a Panasonic GH3 which is capable of both stills and videos. There are, I suppose, “better” cameras in terms of resolution, sensor size, etc., But for our purposes, the micro 4/3rds format is really the best solution. We needed a system that we could carry easily by bike. By using a small camera, everything else tends to be smaller. The lenses are smaller, the supports and other contraptions for camera movement are smaller. I’m as much of a camera nerd as the next guy and would love to shoot with a RED or Black Magic, but honestly, I don’t think those cameras would survive a days worth of shooting after bouncing around in one of our panniers. So operating on the truism that “the best camera is the one you have,” the GH3/GH2 is the best camera for our purposes.
Everything is carried by bike with a mix of panniers, Wald 137 basket, some PVC pipe and Revelate Mountain Feedbags (makes great lens holders). For the eagle-eyed, you’ll notice an Abus Bordo lock in the mix. I use it for a counter balance for the camera on the jib
GoPro Hero 3 Black
Olympus 45mm 1.8
Panasonic 25mm 1.4
(Would love to add the Panasonic 35-100 2.8 and 12-35mm 2.8 in the future)
Benro Video Tripod
Nice Industries Aviator Jib
MeFoto and Joby ball head
Manfrotto quick release bases and plates