I have long enjoyed trundling about on bicycles for no particular reason. I love the simplicity of running errands by bike and get a kick out of finding unique and winding routes over the mountain from work to home, but you’re not likely to find me in a spandex suit, calculating my average cadence and number of calories burned. Truth be told, I’m likely to stop and eat a guilt free cookie or pastry on my travels, which altogether negates the exercise value most of the time.
If I’m not on the water, I occasionally wile away a weekend morning biking in a pair of cotton pants (I know, I know, there are wonderful synthetic clothes that will wick the sweat away). While on one such venture, I stumbled on a guy riding a Rivendell bike. A Rivendell falls into a class of bicycles that comes pretty close to the cult of the small wooden boat. Like a wooden boat that pulls up at a dock full of fiberglass models, most people look at a Rivendell and notice it is not your average bike, but they don’t necessarily want one.
These bikes are heavy steel, with elegant pieces called lugs that connect the different tubes together. They’re made for adventures and stand for quality more than speed or fashion. They aren’t custom made, but they are unique enough to have a cult following. Here in Portland, the bike capital of the west, even a Rivendell gets a second look, and when you see one coming with an additional top tube on it, you have to wonder what the story is.
It seemed this guy and I were heading in the same direction and after a few blocks I asked him how he’d come by the bike. He ordered it after eyeing it for a long time and thought if he was getting a new bike, he might as well make it exactly as he wanted it. He was newly arrived from Seattle and like me, was just going nowhere for fun. His name was Andy.
Ever on the prowl for fellow watermen, I asked him if got out on the Sound frequently in Seattle. He replied, “not much,” and I left it at that. We rode around for a few hours chatting about life and soon discovered that we had a lot in common. When he stopped for French doughnuts on the way home, I had a feeling we were going to be good friends.