Five years and three locations — if you count his basement — later, Cycle Portland Bike Tours has 45 bikes to rent, five employees, and offers 12 tours, a bar with coffee, tea and microbrews as well as bike repair and supplies.
The bike rental and guided tour business last month moved around the corner from its previous Northwest Everett location to a space three times the size at 117 N.W. Second Ave. The television show “Grimm” used the vacant storefront as a location to film scenes of the show’s Exotic Spice & Tea Shop.
“This is a really important location for me,” Ross says, as he looks at expanding his customer base of tourists and regulars. A big marquee sign is visible from the MAX red line advertises “Cycle PDX.”
“A lot of people rent bikes instead of cars when they visit,” Ross says. They’ll take the red line in from the airport and grab their ride on the way to lodging.
The new store is also close to college students — University of Oregon and Oregon College of Oriental Medicine, both on Northwest Couch — who need rentals or bike maintenance, and famous tourist attractions like the waterfront, Voodoo Doughnuts, and Portland Saturday Market.
More surrounding attractions also mean more partnerships with mutual product pushing. Ross notes the pile of fliers on the bar for attractions like The Faux Museum, at 139 N.W. Second — “the world’s oldest museum,” reads the slogan. And “so Portland,” Ross says, for his customers.
Ross’ business strategies seem to be working: Every year since 2008, when the business became official, it has grown 40 to 50 percent. Granted, it started at zero, Ross says. But higher oil prices, more interest in eco-tourism, and concern with obesity created a perfect storm to boost the business from two bikes in 2007 to 30 in 2008. About half his tourist clientele comes from out of country and half from the U.S.
Ross, 29, conceived Cycle Portland Bike Tours — originally Portland Bicycle Tours and now undergoing rebranding — after taking bike tours as he traveled around the world. He returned to Portland and saw a gaping hole in the tourism offerings: No bike tours in the (now) most bike friendly city in the country.
He started with bike rentals, and, relying on his tour guide education from Evergreen State College, expanded to bike tours of Portland’s many unique offerings — breweries, parks, bridges, green buildings, food.
“The thing about Portland bike culture is once you dip your toe in, it’s all or nothing,” Ross says
He hunted for bikes at garage sales, teaching himself how to maintain them through the season. He then sold them each winter to buy more and better products for the next spring touring season.
Now he has enough bikes in different sizes for tourists, wedding parties, executive retreats, or city planners interested in Portland’s infrastructure, another of his self-taught specialties.
And last year he organized and led a ride with Gary Fisher, a member of the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame, for the Filmed By Bike Festival, a film festival of bike-themed short movies.
“I was riding downtown with a couple hundred people behind me and the sun in my face,” Ross says, “and I thought, ‘Yeah, this is what I’m doing.'”
Have you ever wanted to take a stab at designing your very own style of Nutcase Helmet? (Yeah, that is right, create and design a helmet on your own with the chance of it being produced in 2014!)
Now we’re counting on YOU to put your talents to the test and design the next great Nutcase Helmet. So express yourself. Push the envelope. Show us what you got!
Create a striking design for a Helmet. Your design must be submitted on the Blank Nutcase Helmet Template. Be bold. Be creative.
General Category – Open to Adults & Young Adults that are Age 13 and over
Childrens Category – Open to Children that are Age 12 and under.
Everyone is invited to participate in the contest and submit a unique design. All Online Designs must be submitted by March 18th! After March 18th, additional submissions will be accepted at the show on March 23 and 24th!
Contestants may submit up to Two (2) Designs using the Blank Nutcase Helmet Template below.
Think BIG, BOLD, CARTOONY imagery and design as opposed to photo-realistic imagery. Use up to 3 colors as opposed to the entire rainbow. For inspiration, check out some of Nutcase Helmets best sellers – Click Here.
Final selection of the top 3 designs in each category will be done at the PDX Bicycle Show on March 24, 2013!
A team of judges from Nutcase will determine which top designs make the initial cut. From there, designs will be “shared” on our website and Facebook for “public voting”.
The following cash prizes will be awarded for each category:
Grand Prize – $300
Second Prize – $150
Third Prize – $50
Check out Pedal Nation for more info and to download the Blank Helmet Template.
Check out this link that came across the Shift List here in PDX – an Online Bike Video Comp sponsored by Schwalbe, one of our favorite tire companies. It’s like a film festival you don’t have to wait for.
I just learned about BikeGuard Bike Registry, looks neat. Get a Free QR code sticker for your whip and if it turns up lost or stolen the sticker can be scanned to trace back to the owner.
#1 – RYE BEER FEST
The first is the first ever Rye Beer Fest, a new event put on by Taplister, a website that helps beer geeks find their favorite beers on tap and discover new ones in Portland and beyond. This is a fundraiser for the nonprofit organization I’ve been involved with, We Love Clean Rivers, Inc. Funds raised will go towards recreation-based clean ups on Portland Metro rivers.
The Rye Beer Fest, a celebration of the revival of rye beers, will be held at the Spirit of 77 (500 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Portland, OR) during Portland Beer Week. The fest will take place on Friday June 8, from 4-10 p.m. and will feature special one-off rye beers like Hopworks’ Fight for your Rye’t to staples such as Upright Six and Oakshire Line Dry Rye. In addition to rye beers, there will be rye whiskeys paired with the rye beers that were curated for the fest. Entry to the event is free. Beers will cost $1 for a 4-ounce sample, $2.50 for a 10-ounce pour of beer and $5 for a 20-ounce pint. The price of the whiskeys is to be determined. For more: http://bit.ly/Nd1hiu Thanks to TRAVEL OREGON for giving us the scoop!
Great news to hear about the release of “Cycling Sojourner” a new guide book for Oregon Touring by Ellee Thalheimer a local travel writer and cycling enthusiast. I met Ellee the last time I was on the KBOO Bike Show and had a great chat, but learned about her new book from this BikePortland.org story. So glad to hear that this project was sponsored by Travel Oregon and Cycle Oregon, here is an excerpt from the Cycling Sojourner website that says it all:
“I hope Cycling Sojourner will inspire you to take a chance on a two-wheeled adventure in Oregon, a state absolutely overindulged with world-class riding that passes over ranges of snow-capped extinct volcanoes, through river valleys laced with vinyards, along wild rivers teeming with salmon, and past cities with some of the most unique cycling culture and infrastructure in the country. Really, we Oregonians are quite spoiled.”
I hope to get my hands on a copy soon, and will post a more thorough review on the site. Join Ellee on May 8th: for a Release party at River City Bicycles (706 SE MLK Blvd, Portland) from 6:30pm – 8:00pm. Join us for wine, cheese, and stunning travel photos to celebrate the release of this guide book and the amazing bike touring available in Oregon. (Optional RSVP via Facebook)