100 miles on a tall bike

I wanted to do this story before Saturday’s Reach the Beach (a 100 mile ride that goes from Portland to the coast), but I figured it was still worth sharing…

Meet Team JetStream, a group of fun-loving folks who did the entire Reach the Beach ride on tall bikes:

Team JetStream just before launch.
(Photo: Jack-Olsen/Flickr)

Peloton!
(Photo: Gabriel Amadeus/Flickr)

Apparently, a few guys that did it on unicycles last year were looking for a different kind of challenge. According to Portlander Tad Bamford, they all finished the ride but not without egos bruised “because we only beat the unicyclist by 15 min.”

Another member of Team JetStream, Gabriel Tiller, spent weeks building up and modifying his tall bike just for the occassion. Check it out:

Very nice work and congratulations to all Team JetStream members. So, what will you ride next year? Pennyfarthings perhaps?

Learn more about tall bikes in the current issue of Momentum Magazine in an article written by Portlander Mykle Hansen (who is second from the front in the JetStream peloton photo!).

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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Nha^'t
Nha^'t
14 years ago

Those rigs are awesome! Still, surprised no one wore a dress or some other crazy get-up like in some of our events. I love a muscley dude in a lilac wig! (My wife does not, though.)

beerick
14 years ago

I was really impressed by the tall tandem. Hope they made the century. But what a feat for all of them! And the green dude with the furry cod piece(?) was a hero to us all. Or at least me.

MeghanH
MeghanH
14 years ago

I rode behind these fellows for a while heading out of Sheridan…they really took care to ride safely, pointing out lots of holes and unsafe spots.

People everywhere saw them and were amazed. One guy standing outside a bar in Sheridan said, after they went by, “Falling off that thing would be like falling off a roof!”

But I’ll never be able to un-see those guys in head-to-toe green spandex.

Thud
14 years ago

@Nah^’t

Yeah, the wig only made it 30 miles or so. I don’t remember if it was Confucius or Lao Tse, but “Four ounces of polyester above is more taxing than forty pounds of steel below” now has real meaning for me.

OneTallGuy
14 years ago

The talltandem did in fact make it – 11 hours after leaving Beaverton…. one wrecked tire, a blowout and an extremely wonky transmission issue later. Max speed was 41.3 mph down some hill.

Lance P.
Lance P.
14 years ago

Love!

pixiestyx
pixiestyx
14 years ago

Well, one of my friends wore a green full-body suit and a fur thong on his tall bike. That’s a crazy enough get-up for 100 miles.

case
case
14 years ago

those are the nicest looking tall bikes ever! far out!

heather
heather
14 years ago

These guys completely made my ride on Saturday. Y’all are my reach the beach heros for riding into that head wind on tall bikes.

revphil
14 years ago

touring tall, that’s the dream… realized.

speaking of momentum magazine, is that jonathan maus on the cover?

Halley
Halley
14 years ago

haha – Phil, that’s Weiss, but he TOTALLY looks like Maus in that photo!!

I think my favorite thing about our tallies doing the RTB is the skin suits. Far different than how we see our fair friends tooling around the city!

Brian
Brian
14 years ago

These guys were brillant! Lots of fun to watch and soooo glad it was them and not me. I’d rather uni than rock my rump on a tall bike! I’m sure the areo helmet wearing tall biker did much better than the rest in those headwinds!

nuovorecord
nuovorecord
14 years ago

I passed a couple of them while going up a hill early in the day. Many jokes flew back and forth, revolving around the fact I had neglected to bring a rope with which to tow them! Good bunch of guys!

Dizzy
14 years ago

Big Pink Tandem Tall Bike (Dizzinator) ride report

Well Ross and I started out from the Conestoga middle school in Beaverton and almost immediately had to turn back and get something from Jeff’s car. It turns out this is where the bets began to be place among the rest of Team Jet Stream that the Dizzinator and her crew were likely not up to the challenge ahead.

10-11 miles in we had our first mishap. Almost from the start, the other riders were telling us that the 5 year old rear tire looked flat – not surprising given that between the two of us (230lbs and 180 lbs), coupled to the shear weight of the Dizzinator (90lbs) turned out to be 500 pounds. The tire, almost too wide for the frame was rubbing on the left chain stay. What started as a tick, became a “womp womp womp” as the side wall began to give out. Sitting atop a contraption who’s structural engineering never began until the two-beer minimum was met leaves one with a less than complete sense of well being when said contraption starts accelerating down hill with “womp womp womp” keeping the beat. Ross started whining about this point as we reached terminal velocity on some of the down hill sections.

We managed to limp the beast into the first rest stop where it was shod with a new tire and off we went again. The new tire, even though it still had the old tube, did wonders for the ride and it felt like we may have had a fighting chance. About that time, *Clink*. Nope, not champagne glasses the ghost ring had fallen out and was chasing us down the road. We dismounted put it back in, remounted and off we’d go for another ¼ mile when it would happen again. Whenever the telltale sound would occur, it was Ross’ job to crane around to try to keep track of where the little bastard ran to so he could walk back to find it. Max had a word of advice at one such stop and it never happened again.

After leaving the rest stop we caught a fleeting glimpse of the ZooBomb contingent of Team Jet Stream as they headed off. It would be the last we would see of several of them until the finish line….

Cool – new tire, chain ring staying put, getting the grove of pedaling together and BAM! like a shot going off, the tire blew. Dizzy managed to get the beast to the side of the road as Ross jumped for his life while the Dizzinator coasted to a stop with the rear rim running hard on the ground. From the other side of the road we heard, “Hey, I got tools and air if’n you needs ’em.” Ah, rural Portland. The Dizzinator was running presta so I had to use the high pressure air from the neighborly spectator’s compressor to partially fill the tire.
Again we were on our way.

The next 20 miles of up and down saw some impressive maneuvering of the Dizzinator and her crew. We joked when Ross pointed out that we were lifting the inside peddle on the tight down hill turns out of habit. It was highly unlikely that peddles mounted several feet in the air where going to drag at any point.

More of the same as we left the rest stop. “Nice bike”, “how’s the air up there”, “what’s in the pink bucket”, “stop looking down my shirt”. You know how it goes…

Soon after this point we realized that the ghost ring constant ejection was do to a design flaw that made tightening the stokers drive chain ring nearly impossible to re tighten once it came loose. For the rest of the ride I was forced to spend some portion of our “rest time” attempting to tighten the chain ring bolts. I was able to finally wedge a tool onto the back of the chain ring bolt enough to tighten two of the five bolts.

We got into a good communication rhythm as we clocked off the miles. “Coast”, “Peddle on”, “up a gear”, “Down a gear”, “Shifting”, “wait for it” (the 8’ rear derailleur cable made for an interesting partially indexed shifting system where 30 seconds after the intended shift the phantom shift would come.)

In response to “what’s in the bucket?” I started to retort, “rocks to make it fair to the rest of you”. For a while Ross entertained us by counting the metal bikes that past, as this seems to be an outing for thousand dollar carbon fiber race bikes with poorly oiled chains and improperly adjusted derailleurs. That said they passed us one and the same as we trudged along only the occasional safety brakes and swigs of go juice to keep us on the path to the promised land. At last we spotted haystack rock off in the distance. One easily forgets that you can see 20 miles to the horizon on a nice day and that the beach was still a good 25 miles off.

Near the end we had to coax the Dizzinator into the granny gear (which was done through precision back peddling and shifting to access the 24 tooth front chain ring.) so we could ride up the last pitch of a hill and begin to follow the river into the delta and on into pacific city.

As we rolled into town we watched the stoker chain ring as it walked around on its now loose bolts. Knowing at any minute it might call it quits. But it all held together and despite the risk imposed by trailers pulling quads, locals in massive pick up trucks and rouge Honda RidgeLines we made it safe and sound.

Yours truly,