The bike tourists return

As those of you who have been following this blog for awhile, you know my day job for eleven years and counting is working the desk at a hostel. (Which hostel? Look at my photostreams and you can figure it out.) Now working a hostel has its ups (getting comped bookings elsewhere) and downs (it’s customer service/hospitality, and guests don’t always do the right thing). But being a hostel in Portland means we see a decent share of bicycle tourists. And of course I like that!

Now bike tourists at a hostel in Portland is pretty much a given: Hostels have a long history with bike touring. My employer, Hostelling International-USA (when it was known as American Youth Hostels or AYH) was the preeminent bike touring organization in the US before Bikecentennial-Adventure Cycling Association stole its thunder, so to speak.* And Portland is a popular touring destination, since we are on or near four big ACA routes, and there’s oodles of touring opportunities all around. And oh yeah, we’re a pretty cheap place to stay, all things considered.

So over the years, I have seen lots of cyclotourists pass through, primarily in the summer months but a trickle still through the off-season.  The past year, however, we haven’t been as popular a spot. I don’t think there’s been any dip in cyclists coming through, it’s probably due to things like Air BnB getting more popular, and the fact that people book up our place so far in advance, cyclists can’t squeeze in (though we do work to accommodate them!) And I haven’t seen anyone in months, either. It’s no surprise as we’ve had quite the intense winter.

But on Thursday April 13, I saw my first cyclotourists of the year! And yes, plural. No, they weren’t together, it just was happenstance that I got two different tourists on the same day. The first was an older gent with a sweet mid-80’s Schwinn Sierra MTB and a BOB trailer. He was heading east through the Gorge. The other was a younger Brit with a thoroughly modern bikepacking setup on a Niner. He was heading out to Astoria to ride the TransAm.** Unfortunately, they showed up in the afternoon so I only got a few minutes to talk to both, and neither stayed Friday night. (The Brit originally booked two nights but departed early. I think he got anxious and wanted to get moving.)

But they are the first of hopefully many. Now if the weather ever improves…

*All of the four founders of ACA got involved in bike touring through AYH.

**And yeah, it’s a bit early for that, especially this year with all the cold, wet, and snow…


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