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Riding along with Paul Jeffery, on his daily ride up Mt. Tabor

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

Paul Jeffery, photographed at
Common Grounds coffee shop
this morning.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

48-year-old southeast Portland resident Paul Jeffery (he goes by PJ) used to enjoy a daily ride from his house near 40th and Salmon to the Goose Hollow MAX stop. From there, he’d zip through the hills and down into Beaverton where he’d pedal the final leg of his journey to his job at Electro Scientific Industries (a producer of high-tech laser systems and industrial production equipment).

PJ’s routine changed back in November when he was part of a 10% workforce reduction. In other words, he was laid off.

Without work, PJ missed the routine of getting up and getting out on his bike. So, at the end of January, he started riding to the top of Mt. Tabor each morning. I met him this morning at Common Grounds coffee shop on SE Hawthorne Blvd (a very nice place I must say)…

Before I knew PJ was currently unemployed, I thought his daily Tabor ascents were some sort of quest. When I referred to them as such this morning, he said, “A quest? Well, I guess it is. I plan to do it every morning until I get a job.” This morning was the 11th day in a row he’s done the ride.

Wherever he ends up working, he’ll be riding there. PJ sold his car — a “beautiful VW Passat” — back in September. “It was sort of on a whim,” PJ recalled, “I only drove it about 500 miles a year and it had some big repair bills coming.”

After chatting for a few minutes, we pedaled onto SE Salmon to make our way up to Mt. Tabor Park. PJ kept a medium pace, turning the gears on his Cinelli fixed gear as a light rain sprinkled our faces. Why do you only ride fixies? I asked (he’s got three others in his garage back home). “I just like the way they feel,” he replied.

When we got to the top of the park, and made our way to PJ’s favorite bench, he pointed out St. Stephens church and the trees just beyond it that mark his backyard…

After taking in the view of Hawthorne Blvd and the city skyline, we rolled back down. While I coasted and enjoyed the view, PJ pointed out that he has work (even harder it seemed) on the downhills too…

Thanks for sharing your ride with me PJ. I hope you find a great job soon and find a new daily bike routine, although going up Mt. Tabor will be hard to beat!

— I hope you enjoyed this ride-along story and photos. If so, you might also like the ride-along with Ryan Good through Forest Park a few weeks ago. I enjoy doing these and think they’re a fun way to meet Portlanders and learn about what’s it like riding in different parts of the city. I have one more planned for the coming weeks and I’d like other ideas. If you have a noteworthy daily commute and don’t mind me tagging along with a camera and notebook, get in touch.

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