Remember Alan Koch? I first heard about him in the Oregonian a few weeks ago. He’s the 65 year-old retiree who’s on a quest to ride every street in Portland. I was lucky enough to catch up with him on a recent jaunt around North Portland.
He doesn’t usually ride when it’s below 50 so he got out his trusty red jogging suit to fight the chill. It worked pretty well (and looked damn stylish!), but we both agreed it was each other’s company that kept our minds off the frosty air.
We zig-zagged through neighborhoods, rolled down and around every cul-de-sac and stopped every few blocks to mark where we’d been and where we should go next. It was all very methodical and sort of strange to ride like this. I’m used to making nice big loops, or just getting from A to B. Without the friendly banter and sheer novelty, this kind of riding would have driven me crazy.
But for Alan, it’s the way he always rides and it’s become second nature. He’s comfortable talking and looking at his map while we ride, with his trusty pen always in hand. He says “hi” to everyone we see, he stops at (almost) all stop signs and uses the proper hand signals when he turns. Every once in a while, he’d spurt ahead from a stop and leave me a half-block behind.
He’s a simple guy. There’s really no deep philosophical reasons for his quest. He’s just riding. Sort of reminds me of Forrest Gump in that running scene.
He’s done about 2000 miles since last January and he’s not quite sure when he’ll be done. He just emailed and said all roads east of the Peninsula Crossing Trail are complete. Now the entire West side and famous Skyline climbs await.
Good luck with the roads ahead Alan. I’m sure our paths will cross again.