Giant Loop Ride 2022 – Day 1: I’m now “that old guy” at the hostel.

The rickety metal tubed bunkbeds creak and shake. I make eye contact with a shirtless German. He tells me he’s going to Crater Lake, flips his phone towards me and says it’s the most beautiful thing he’s ever seen.

It’s day two of my Giant Loop Ride adventure. Day one started at 4am with a taxi ride to the airport. Apparently, my wife values her sleep at more than $60 an hour.

Did you know you can check an oversized/overweight bag with air Canada at no extra charge? Neither did I. I was sure there was a glitch in the system and they would ding me at the airpot, but I got through without a surcharge! I’m astounded to learn I cary 31kg of additional gear on my bike when Moto camping.

On the plane to Portland I meet a guy, Blake, who spent 5 years in Vietnam. We reminisce on expat life in Asia. He offers me a tentative ride to downtown Portland to catch my shuttle. It all depends on his girlfriend’s approval. We greet his girlfriend at the airport. They hug. He introduces the stragglers he met on the plane. Me, and this Spaniard from Alberta named Tino.

I spotted a Klim logo on Tino’s bag as we were exiting the airplane. Turns out we are going to the same event. His riding buddy is on the plane behind him. Their bikes were brought down a week earlier by another friend and stored in Portland. We yammer incessantly about motorcycles right to the baggage carousel.

Blake cautiously, skillfully, experience-edly, suggests the not mandatory whatsoever possibility of maybe giving us a ride to downtown, if there is enough room for luggage, IF that’s where they are headed… There’s a pause, hesitating, maybe a WTF glance is exchanged. I’m learning that if it’s not “HELL YES!” then it’s “FUCK NO!” right? I tell em I’ll take the subway with Tino. She asks a baggage guy for directions on my behalf. No hard feelings, they haven’t seen each other in a long time and I’m wearing muddy motocross boots in an airport.

I’m hot. I’m also lazy. I stuff my favourite, my ultra favourite, hoody from Sam King into my motorcycle boot which is bungee strapped around my suitcase handle with a julienne motorcycle tube.

I’m also hungry. I roll 31kg of gear towards a 4.8 stared Sushi restaurant. The streets are eerily empty, old boxes, garbage bags, and bit of clothing litter the street. Shanty-tents dot the roads and sidewalks. Portland has a LEGIT homelessness problem.

Sushi is tasty but overpriced at $22 for the lunch platter. What’s worse, is that price didn’t even include Wifi. A locked 3g and 5g network they simply said I couldn’t use. Since when does an establishment not provide wifi?

The three and a half hour bus trip to Bend Oregon goes by quickly. A bright and chipper larger lady in her 50s boarded with her brand new puppy dog wedged between her giant breasts, like a swaddled baby. A Bend local, she struck me as the quintessential southern style American making cheerful chatter and listening to the stories of our friendly and funny bus driver.

In front of me, the silent guy, who doesn’t say a word the entire trip. And then there was Jack, we’ll just call him jack because you wouldn’t know if I were lying anyway, and I think it sounds much better than calling everyone “other guy”.

Jack lived everywhere interesting, Mexico, Central America, Africa, near the boarder of tibet… He was headed out on his annual six-week solo hike into the mountains to collect wool from wild goats that his friends in Chile will loom into sweaters and things. Jack is well into his 50s and he informs me that one of his books made the Amazon bestsellers list.

Our bus driver broke near every bone in his body. At two years old he got pins inserted into both ankles. His siblings made him a parachute and told him he could now jump down from the giant hay stack he was perched on. “I fell like a rock tied to a flag”. It was conversation about aches, pains and arthritis that lead to these stories. We established I have A LOT of arthritis to look forward to.

The Oregon Shuttle dropped me right at my hostel where I met Eric from Ride Adventures. He was wearing a wrist brace as he unloaded my Yamaha Tenere 700. It turns out he also has a bunch of pain, nerve damage, scar tissue and such from his extreme lifestyle. He looks like your typical 50-ish balding, beer bellied dude and it’s hard to imagine him wiping out skate boarding, snowboarding, surfing, rock climbing and such. I often forget other people my age and older were once young too.

The T7 runs way better than it looks. I realize it has been almost a month since I’ve ridden. It feels so good. The T7 feels so good. I hope Katoom isn’t jealous. There’s no need to tell right?

On my way to REI I spot a bunch of Kayakers playing in the river under a bridge. They are practicing going up and down the rapids. It looks like the city built something to shape the rapid for them. This city is awesome, it’s like an inland California — maybe better without all the money and makeup.

At my hostel, a historic building named Brew & Bunk, a jam band of 20 somethings with long hair, t-shirts and a whole lot of love are playing. The public is invited to jam with. Everyone gets cheered, applauded and high-fived.

I walk into the living room where two young girls are chatting. “This place is a portal, a portal of love, I knew I needed to be here, I dreamt it and just came, it will change you, you will meet someone here, I know it…” Baily, who poured me my free beer, pops her head in the door, “So that guy from the band, from the Halloween thing, he’s here… yea I overheard this girl on the dance floor say she wished she could be with him but he’s fucking someone else – that’s how I found out…”

This hostel is something special. Not just the company. It’s got a living room filled with comfy couches and shared instruments, a shared kitchen with hanging pots and pans, pool table, food trucks, multiple showers and even a sauna. The vibe though is the best part with all the peace, love and hugs going around. It’s hard to go more than a few minutes without hearing someone talk about rock climbing.

I missed the Mexican food truck by 15 minutes last night. Thats okay though because I consumed an entire supersized bag of potatoes chips, can of Mountain Dew and pack of War Head Jelly Beans on the bus ride down, 2,500 calories derived purely from fat and sugar.

I look forward to finding the Hawaiian Chicken Food Truck today. I got SOOOO much to do. Must order bike parts to this address, repack bags, get sunscreen, SIM card, map routes and ride to Crane Hot Springs. I just knew if I didn’t take some time to document this now it would never happen.

Oh, and one bad thing happened that overshadowed my day for I quite some time. My favourite hoody that I stuffed in my motorcycle boot, it’s gone… it fell out… I retraced all my steps. If you see a homeless guy in Portland wearing a Ride the Vibe hoody, ask I’m if he wouldn’t mind giving it back.

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