Bike Central and Ti Cycles
As of this April, trackie and roadie resource Bike Central is no longer central. It's in the hills. Bike Central is now renting space in Ti Cycles, the gear-heavy workshop that births some of the best titanium frames in town and now leads Oregon's team for the Bike Design Project, a competition to build a next-gen urban cycle. Bike Central mechanic Dean Reed is known for his prickly approach to customer service, but also for his depth of knowledge on bikes built for speed, while business partner and fellow mechanic Jen Featheringill doubles as one of Oregon's top-ranked female road racers. This is a place to get your bike custom-fit for racing ($250), and Dean has a particular knack for custom-built wheels ($75 an hour for labor). The shop's got a serious Italian and Japanese fetish when it comes to parts, from Campagnolo and Zullo Pista to Nitto and Sugino. Or you can go with a Ti Cycles frame built into a racing machine by Bike Central.
6200 SW Virginia Ave., No. 200, 244-6754, ensellebikes.com. 10 am-6 pm Tuesday-Friday, 9 am-4 pm Saturday.
"En selle" translates to "in the saddle," and it's for people who plan on remaining in the saddle long enough to win a race. This high-end road-bike shop in the Macadam neighborhood is a one-man show by Jack Liskear, a pro-certified mechanic on Campagnolo, Shimano and Mavic. The train-car shop—lined on the left side with bike apparel and a small selection of bicycles, on the right with a gleaming tunnel of wheels hung from the ceiling—offers custom fits and builds with frames by Land Shark or Switzerland's BMC, prepared after complete measurements and videotaped rides on a standing bike in order to fully optimize the bike's efficiency. Unsurprisingly, the tidy boutique doesn't do this cheaply. It's a shop for serious athletes or, you know, people who like nice things.
6149 SW Shattuck Road, 246-0330, obra.org/track. Open May 1 to Aug. 28.
Portland's Alpenrose Velodrome, right outside the dairy from whence your morning milk comes, is one of the steepest in the country, with tracks that bank up to 43 degrees on tight curves. Rather than a gentle oval, it's shaped like a cribbage board, with long, flat straightaways and tightly curved sides that sneak up on you. But if you don't feel like you're up to taking your track fixie aboard and riding almost horizontally, there's always the stands. Alpenrose might host anything from six-day races to track nationals during the season, but there are guaranteed to be races every Thursday, while on Fridays Bike Central hosts Fast Twitch Fridays, with sprint races galore. For beginners who want to test their mettle, an instruction schedule is posted on obra.org.
Lewis and Clark State Park, Troutdale.
Larch Mountain is often the last ride people take to prep for Cycle Oregon, the 400-mile, weeklong ride that takes a different route each year. Larch is not particularly grueling or particularly demanding except in one detail: its relentlessness. The ride to Larch's summit is a 23-mile uphill trek without reprieve, topping out at about 6 percent grade for the last stretch. For that, you get a 23-mile downhill ride on the way back, through some seriously beautiful countryside. So you can cool your burning thighs with the breeze. Start at the Lewis and Clark State Park recreation area, then head east on the Columbia River Scenic Highway (at times named Crown Point Highway or Larch Mountain Road) until you're at the top. You'll know you're at the top because it doesn't hurt anymore (mile marker 14.5). Eat your snacks, then coast back down. You wanna really go for it? Leave the car at home and ride East Burnside Street all the way from Mount Tabor to Troutdale, upping your mileage to 70 round-trip.
PIR Mondays and Tuesdays
Ah, luxury: A road race on a hill-free, closed course. On Monday nights at the Portland International Raceway, it's the ultimate free-for-all, a 6:15 pm novice race that lets any Joe or Jill from the street try their luck as a criterium-style racer. Otherwise Mondays play host to women's racing and men's Masters (ages 30-plus) racing of skill levels all the way up to elite, while Tuesdays give the young male turks their run of the roost. Mondays also host short-track runs in a muddy course. Afterward? Off to the Dancin' Bare strip club just a bit south of the racetrack.