Levi's Bike Shop rolled into Portland for the grand finale—an epic three day stint with the Oregon Manifest, a competition to design and build the ultimate modern utility bike. The who's who from the custom bike builder arena had all come together for the constructor's challenge in the bicycle mecca that is Portland.
The bicycle is worshiped in PDX like Pope John Paul in Poland. Non-believers have no place, and know to get out of the way.
As pious as they are, make no mistake—Portlandians know how to enjoy themselves. Our pre-party kick-off at the super swank Lizard Lounge shop quickly turned into a kegger, brewed by local enthusiasts.
We had to pace ourselves.
We managed to make it out in one piece for the next day's open house at PNCA, an unveiling of all the competing builder's masterpieces, each a unique expression of the ideal commuter bike for the 21st century.
Eccentric ergonomics, built-in locking mechanisms, and cargo carrying fit for a FedEx delivery man. In fact, package pick-ups was part and parcel of the Manifest's Road Test the next day. All challengers had to ride a 50-mile test course on their commuter invention, including a 3,000ft climb.
Levi's was well represented on the ride by Josh, Andreas, and Billy "Souphorse" (all wearing 511 Commuters of course), and they could attest to the intensity of the mountain pass.
The masses flocked to the Chris King Factory on Saturday for the finish line celebration. King's offshoot Cielo Cycles was not only a competitor in the challenge (they placed 3rd), but also the maker of our much adored custom bike on tour with the shop.
As Manifest fever grew at King's, the Shop was mobbed by revelers at the finish line, and we had an excellent view as expectant attendees crowded around for the competitors nearing the end of the long and winding road.
The favorite (and last year's champion) Tony Pereira streamed in ahead of the pack, popping a wheelie as he crossed the finish line, blaring a Led Zeppelin track from his built in bicycle stereo system. The Best of Show award appropriately went to the consummate showman, who accepted his giant check placard in a purple bow-tie to match his electrified commuter dream machine.
Shannon and Jocelyn, masters of ceremony and architects of the Manifest, bid the crowd farewell after all of this year's Manifest awards were announced. (You can see the full rundown here.) They were fantastic hosts all weekend long, and kudos to all the builders for incredibly innovative work.
For us, we too had reached the end of the road. (Sniff sniff…) Through smog, swamp, dust, field, salt, rock, and sand, this crew made the ultimate commute across this great nation. It was a fitting end in Portland. We got serenaded out by Bon Iver in the middle of the woods on the outskirts of town and then cruised down Burnside for one last night out with new friends.
Our tour was over, but the shop is in it for the long haul. We shall ride again. As always, stay tuned @GetInTheSaddle, and keep it rollin'.—Dominic