Roll down Lagoon Avenue on Swan Island in Portland’s Industrial valley, past the Daimler Factory to the end of the road, and the towering cranes reach toward the hazy skies over Vigor Industries behind chain link fences and security gates.
First thought is obvious: This just might be a little bit too far off the beaten path, even for stout Northwest cyclists in search of the unique.
But as you roll down the road past the Vigor parking lot, you see a connection you wouldn’t imagine. Bicycles. Everywhere. Hundreds of them.
Once through the security gate, it becomes obvious. This place is huge. And what better way to have workers in hard hats get around the massive complex than bicycles? They are everywhere. Every way shape and form.
Parked in groups of 20-30, bicycles outside the huge factory work bays with door openings large enough to roll in, well, a ship, catch your eye. The bicycles distract me enough that I realize I’ve rolled past a huge “10” painted on the side of the building, so I pull a U-turn.
Decked out in his Vigor Industries hard hat, in soiled heavy-duty gray work pants and hearty jacket as if he walked off the set of Flashdance, a worker waves me down.
“You’re looking for BUILDING 10,” he said, pointing farther down the road. “This is Building 4, Bin 10.”
I smile and wave, and head down to building 10. Inside the Oregon Handmade Bicycle Show slowly emerges from an empty factory floor. Show director Aaron McBride tells me this show is the fourth in a series of Art Shows in the venue.
It all fits together. The raw and gritty atmosphere of the shipyard reflects the simple beginnings of bike building that eventually gives way to true art.
The Oregon Handmade Bicycle Show is presented by the Oregon Bicycle Construction Association, so while a lot of these guys are homegrown frame builders, what they dress their bikes up with are quality components from some of the world’s best.
And some of the best begin right in Oregon, with Portland’s Chris King.
Suffice to say, there was plenty of bike stuff everywhere to catch your eye, and make for a fun weekend all about bikes.