NATURALLY, IT'S RAINING when my plane lands on Halloween morning, but by the time I cross the Willamette River into downtown, it's cleared. As I step into the lobby of the Ace Hotel, I notice that the 20-foot bike corral outside is brimming with practical yet stylish rides, like a hitching post in a hipster western.
"Is it OK to bring my bike through the lobby while I'm here?" I ask the lady at the front desk.
"Of course," she says, as though I've just asked if the complimentary matches are free.
Once inside my room, which manages to evoke a doctor's office on a sailboat, I set about reassembling my bicycle and am soon out the door, headed for—surprise!—a bike show, where I'm certain to run into some of the attendant culture. The Oregon Handmade Bicycle Show is part of a six-week celebration of cycling. As I ride across downtown, I'm struck by how calm the traffic is. With my coarse NYC riding style, I feel self-conscious, like someone dining in a formal restaurant after decades of throwing elbows at a country buffet. And there are so many people on bikes—normal people, not miserable-looking messengers and delivery folk—that I feel like I should be waving to them. But this would be odd, akin to giving the thumbs-up to the guy next to you at the urinal and saying, "Isn't peeing fun?!"