A hub of bicycle-related businesses on Martin Luther King Jr., Blvd in Northeast Portland has become a one-stop shop for performance-minded cyclists.
On Monday evening, the Portland Bicycle Studio opened its doors to the community for an up-close look at high-end helmets and bikes — but the event also gave attendees a chance to see how several business owners have come together to offer an impressive list of services that cater to Portland’s vast crop of bike loving, performance-minded athletes.
The anchor of this bike hub is the Portland Athletic Center of Excellence (PACE), a top-notch facility for physical therapy, massage, and training. PACE serves athletes of all stripes (including dancers from the Portland Ballet and NBA stars) and they’ve got several staff members with impressive resumes in the bike world.
Massage therapist Kurt Marion is a former pro road racer who is now sought after by the likes of Lance Armstrong’s coach Chris Carmichael. When the director of Lance’s current squad, Team Radioshack, needed a soigneur, Marion got the call. Thankfully, for local bike racers, he turned it down.
Oregon native Russell Cree owns Upper Echelon Fitness. A former bike racer, Cree was director Sportif of the Broadmark Capital Elite cycling team when they won the Elite Road Championship in 2005. Cree is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and his practice focuses on physiology, coaching, and bike fitting for cyclists and triathletes.
It’s a short walk through a hallway from the PACE patient area to a large workout space Cree says was converted from a parking garage. There are all manner of exercise equipment against the walls, one of which features a huge logo of local track racing team, Brihop. In the depths of winter, group indoor riding classes are held here. The centerpiece of the indoor riding sessions is an Inside Ride Super Trainer. Manufactured just a few miles outside Portland in North Plains, the Inside Ride is a bicycle treadmill that can mimic the toughest climbs in the world.
On the other side of the PACE offices, Cree runs his Upper Echelon Fitness business in a space he shares with Portland Bicycle Studio.
Portland Bicycle Studio is a venture started by Molly Cameron, a local professional cyclocross racer and owner of Veloshop bike shop in downtown Portland. With Veloshop running smoothly on its own, Cameron now devotes herself full-time to this new endeavor. At Portland Bicycle Studio, Cameron is sort of a match-maker for people with discriminating tastes in bicycles. “I’m an advocate for my clients,” she explained to me on Monday night.
To serve her clients, Cameron taps into her deep knowledge of high-end bikes, gear, and how the human body can most make most efficient use of them. Along with bike fitting expertise, Cameron acts as a trusted advisor for people who want a custom bike, but aren’t sure which bike is right for them. At her studio, Cameron can go over the options, perform a professional fit, and then communicate with the bike builder and take care of the entire ordering process from measurements to delivery.
Earlier this week, Cameron delivered a bike to a client from one of her favorite builders, Nick Crumpton. Crumpton — who holds more medals from the North American Handmade Bicycle Show than anyone in the world — is one of the few custom builders who works with carbon fiber. The bike, which cost $10,000, was the most expensive Cameron has ever sold.
At the event Monday night, Cameron was busy talking to a packed room full of friends and prospective clients. The impetus for the event was to see the latest from Belgian-based helmet maker Lazer and high-end road, time-trial and cyclocross bike maker Ridley.
Local track racer Zak Kovalcik models a time trial helmet from Lazer.
The Ridley time trial bike. The less you see, the faster it is.
The gear was stunning. Lazer has been making helmets since 1916 and they’ve outfitted world champions and now they’re looking toward the urban commuter market. Ridley is also an exciting bike brand, offering very well-made, drool-inducing bikes.
But for me, the most exciting thing I saw at the event was yet another collaboration of bicycle businesses sure to find their place among Portland’s burgeoning bike economy.