As I left the Ashland Commons and the town behind, I wound through a couple of bends and suddenly felt like I was in the country again. There were golden hills on my left and farms on my right, before I knew it, I saw the large Ashland Hills Hotel sign beckoning me from the distance.
Before I moved to the city, I mainly pictured Portland as an outdoorsy hipster-capital that was all about unique fashion and the 90’s. It still definitely adheres to those things, but what I wasn’t expecting was the amount of crime found around the city, the abundance of teenage “gangsters”, and the underground culture that still exists from Portland’s seedy past.
I first came across BrewCycle when I was in Sacramento, California. Kendall and I were heading to Rubicon Brewing when 10 people on a bike passed by shouting and cheering as they made their way down the street at snail speed.
In honor of the Naked Bike Ride that went down in Portland on Saturday, and the last night of Pedalpalooza (the month long biking events around the city), I thought it was about time to give you my first installment of Pedal Bike Tours!
Pedal Bike Tours is a company based in Portland and Oahu, and I’ve been fortunate enough to work with them and use their bikes for the past month. To be honest, they’re a company I’ve grown to really enjoy and respect.
There’s no doubt about it, Portland is a haven for cyclists. Not only are there actual lanes solely made for bikes, but I’ve come across some of the friendliest and most accommodating drivers that actually know how to share the road. Time and time again it has been voted America’s best bike city, and for good reason.
With this said, you can imagine there are a lot of options for bike tours and shops around Portland. Well, even with all the competition, I’ve not been let down once from my experiences with Pedal Bike Tours.
I went on a couple of their tours in June, and I label this installment as part I, because I plan to finish up the summer with 2-3 more of their tours in August. Yes, they’re that addicting.
They have a ton of different tour options from which to choose, but the two I went on were the classic Historic Downtown tour and the Wine Country tour.
It was great being able to experience a tour inside the city center and one outside of it, especially since I’m new to Portland and still learning the layout of the place.
The Historic Downtown tour was an insightful look into the city and the historical references you may easily miss as a non-local. I had Crystal and Sarah as my tour guides in a group of about 11 people, and the tour went on for just over 3 hours. There weren’t many hills for this tour, which was a blessing for my out of shape fitness level that has been living in a van for the last two months.
We went through Chinatown and the pavilion where the Portland Saturday Market is held. We rode along the river and crossed two different bridges to gain a variety of vantage points around the city. Portland bridges are stunning, regardless if it’s bright and sunny or dreary with rain.
We learned the history behind certain green spaces and political artwork littered around the city. We visited the humoungous Powell’s Books, Director’s Park, and rode past the oldest Brewery in Portland, Bridgeport.
We stopped in for some samples of fair-trade coffee at Nossa Familia Coffee, we rode by the water as the dragon boat races were going on, and paused at the place where the ZooBomb starts every Sunday. If you don’t know what the ZooBomb is, please redirect your attention here. It’s apparently a very quintessential Portland thing to do, and still on my list of what to do in the city on a Sunday night.
It was hot out the day of our tour, but I couldn’t have been happier riding with the breeze flying past me, exploring a new city I now call home. Plus, I hadn’t ridden a bike in over a year, so I felt like a little kid again.
The Wine Country tour was a commitment. Not only for the duration but also for the effort of riding 10 miles in 90 degree weather with little shade. It was an even hotter ride than the Historic Downtown tour, but with the promise of refreshing wine at the end of the trail, it wasn’t all that daunting.
We lucked out with a great group for this tour. Whereas the Historic Downtown had friendly families that were a bit on the shy side, our Wine Country tour had a bundle of friendly Californian couples and a Swedish Guy that provided some of the best conversations of the day.
Sarah was my tour guide again for this one, and we had a 45 minute drive out to Newberg to get to the start of our journey.
Of course, we somehow arrived on the topic of craft beer while in the car meeting our new tour mates, so when we drove up to our destination and our lunch sandwiches weren’t quite ready from the deli, we all went to knock back a pint before the start of our wine tour. It definitely broke the ice and we only continued to have a superb day from there.
We biked 10 miles and visited 3 different wineries. We worked up a sweat by the time we reached each winery, so it felt like we were really earning our alcoholic indulgence. The wineries we visited were The Four Graces, Adelsheim, and Lady Hill, and our tour lasted for over 7 hours, stopping once in the shade along the way to eat our sandwiches and drink a newly purchased bottle of wine.
The highlight wine at every winery we went to had to be the pinot noir, which isn’t at all surprising being that the pinot noir style of wine is famous to the Willamette Valley.
Although we rode our little hearts out to the first two wineries, the third one was quite a long way away, so Sarah was nice enough to drive us to our last destination.
Note: The wine samples and sandwiches cost extra to the price of the tour, so make sure to bring some form of payment with you, but otherwise transportation and everything else is included.
The aspect I like most about Pedal Bike Tours is the low key nature of their tours. They’re organized to an extent, but they also let you as the patron choose how you would like your tour to go.
On the Historic Downtown, we had the option of grabbing coffee or continuing onto another historic landmark (yes, we chose the coffee). For the Wine Country tour, we had the choice of how long we wanted to stay at each winery, and how many wineries we wanted to go to for the day.
It was a refreshing take on the “guided tour” genre of travel, which I’m not usually a big fan of. In addition to this, the tour guides we lucked out with were either from Portland or had been living there for a good chunk of their lives, so they had an answer or recommendation to all of our questions about the city.
I’ll be finishing up the summer with at least a couple more of their tours, I guess the only question now is will it be food trucks, breweries, or the beautiful Columbia River Gorge?
Here’s a video of the first two tours I went on to give you an idea.
Pedal Bike Tours were nice enough to offer me a discount, but all opinions are always my own.