North Williams Avenue has yet another claim to its title of best bike street in Portland — the Friendly Bike Guest House. I noticed the sign for the new business a few days ago and yesterday I met the owner of the establishment, Chris Frick, to get a look around and learn more.
Chris has owned the big house just north of Shaver for about eight years. The inspiration to turn it into a bike-oriented guest house came to him in 2009. As luck would have it, Chris came upon the Oregon Manifest bike show while walking in the Pearl. He went inside and learned that United Bicycle Institute was moving in just across the street from his house. Being a former real estate broker and self-described “opportunistic entrepreneur,” Chris’s wheels started turning. At about the same time, the house’s current tenants gave notice and destiny for a bike-themed guest house was set.
Indoor parking in the basement.
Bike art on the walls (this is an original illustration by Pete Yahnke).
The Friendly Bike Guest House has only been open for two months, but thanks to referrals on the Internet, it’s already become a popular spot. Chris has all sorts of tales to tell about wayward bike tourers who call him looking for a place to recharge and rest after thousands of miles on the road. “One guy called me from under the west side of the Fremont Bridge,” he recalled, “I was trying explain to him how to get here… the Broadway Bridge was out, so he was going to have to go across the Steel. I ended up just going and picking him and his bike up in my truck.”
He’s had guests from Australia, the U.K., The Netherlands, France, and other places.
In addition to random guests that find him on the Web, Chris is also listed on UBI’s website as a housing option for their bike school students (who get a discount on their stay). Chris says he is also looking to partner with local custom bike builders as a place for their customers to stay. “If you’re getting a custom bike built, you should really come to Portland and take the time to get fit and meet the builder.”
Chris, 41, has lived in the Boise-Eliot neighborhood since he was three years old. He and his family (wife and two kids) ride around the neighborhood, but he’s far from what you’d call a hardcore bike enthusiast. He’s just a community-oriented guy who saw a niche and is doing a heck of a job filling it.
As a fringe benefit to bike riders, the house comes with secure indoor bike parking and a shop area in the basement with a workstand and full complement of bike tools. If you’re traveling with your bike, you’ll find complimentary bike shipping boxes, packing materials, and lots of local bike and transit maps to use. Inside the house, bike-inspired art adorns the walls and you can peruse a guest book full of entries from grateful two-wheeled travelers. From the front room, you can lay down on one of the bunk beds and watch the constant stream of bike traffic go by on Williams.
Next time you roll by, remember to ring your bell.
The guest house features shared and private rooms, private restrooms, laundry service, and a full kitchen. Learn more at FriendlyBikeGuestHouse.com.