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Take Those Cargo Bikes and Race 'Em!

Posted: June 13, 2011 in Uncategorized

 It’s become a bit of a tradition.  In the middle of June, every year for the past few in Portland, the Cirque du Cycling and Laughing Planet put on the Mississippi Criterium and bike parade.  It’s a big event in the little North Portland neighborhood, there’s a bike parade, a fun and exciting pair of criterium bike races and new for this year because it’s Portland, a cargo bike race. 

I have many a time said how much I’d love to have a cargo bike, and I’ve said many a time to my patient wife that once we have a garage a cargo bike of my own is not far behind.  Well, we have the garage but have put the cargo bike on hold for a (gasp!) car, because a cargo bike ride to the coast for a day is stupid.  I still really like the cargo bike and when this race came into being I was pretty stoked about getting in on it.  My race team, Team Beer, had an almost finished cargo and I was pretty sure it wasn’t going to happen with them (though they did pull it out and Kevin Z. rode to a very respectable 4th place finish) so I called my friend Andrew who’s a cargo bike messenger and hatched a plan.  Andrew and I are pretty similar when it comes to doing silly crap to make people smile so when I suggested we tag team the race, and by tag team I meant we’d switch places each lap meaning one of us was always in the cargo area.  I knew we’d be at a slight disadvantage compared to our competition, what with hauling an average of 190 extra pounds around, but we’re the participating type, not the serious racing type.

The race was up and down Mississippi St, about 6/10ths of a mile per lap.  Each lap you had to pick up an item, we grabbed a sink, one of those heavy door springs like you see in a grade school and a piece of PVC pipe.  Some racers were complaining about the lack of really big cargo but we were happy for the lighter load what with the extra person and all.  Andrew and I really put that bike through its paces and I think we were looking at a total machine and cargo weight of a little over 500 pounds.  Even with that, we didn’t come in last!  That was victory enough for us.  We celebrated with a couple of hard earned beers and many a high five. 

Thanks to Kevin of Team Beer and Clint of Team Lotion (Embrocation) for coming up with the race idea.  Thanks to the organizers of the Cirque for embracing a really Portland racing concept.  Thanks to Joel at Splendid Cycles for the sponsorship of the race and the emceeing.  Finally, thanks to all the spectators out there, they cheered very loud for us and were going berserk for the race itself.  Good times on the bike for sure.  Maybe I’ll have my own rig to race next year.

By: Matt Case

Photo credits:  1st Sam Churchill,  2nd Jonathan Maus of Bikeportland.org

Posted: June 13, 2011 in Uncategorized