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Athletes Lounge, a fixture in Portland’s triathlon scene, is closing

Posted by on August 22nd, 2016 at 1:14 pm

The Athletes Lounge tent at a race.

The Athletes Lounge tent at a race.

Portland’s only bike shop that specialized in the needs of triathletes is closing its doors. Athletes Lounge in northwest on Vaughn and 26th plans to close by October 1st.

Gary Wallesen has owned the shop for nearly six years after purchasing it from its previous owner who had run it since 2007.

Wallesen says the business isn’t strong enough to remain open. “Last year the numbers were down, this year numbers really down,” he shared via email last week. And he also offered some external reasons he feels the bike shop business is especially challenging these days. “The business environment is changing, online [shopping] is growing, a shop in town discounts everything and hurts all others. There is a big inventory of new bikes in Portland and the market.” Wallesen said the triathlon market is particularly flat (pun intended).

He even shared one cautionary tale that might point to larger trends: “I think people are looking to ride, but the roads are getting more crowded and a little less safe. So markets that take riders of the road might be doing better.”

Overall, Wallesen says the issues he dealt with are likely impacting other bike shops. “Change is happening. I really don’t know who will survive. Our city is going through a shift.”

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The closure of Athletes Lounge will have a big impact on the local triathlon scene. The shop was an ardent supporter of local races and, as shops often do, acted as a gathering place for enthusiasts old and new. Here’s what the Portland Triathlon Club tweeted upon hearing the news:

Portlander Dan Silvernail bought a bike from Athletes Lounge last year. He said not having the shop will leave a void because, “No other bike shop in Portland knows the first thing about triathlon, in fact most bike shops laugh at triathletes. And newbie triathletes will no longer have a local source to help them with technical advice.”

In addition to selling many top brands of triathlon bikes and accessories, the shop also offered high-end rentals for people who wanted to compete but didn’t have a bike.

Ironically, Wallesen tells us that the store has been busy since he announced the closure. “Now that things are on sale, people want to shop. Retail isn’t dead, it’s just not on sale.”

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

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Ted Timmons (Contributor)
Editor

I dislike the “subtweet” blame on their competition. Notice they bought it after bankruptcy/closure and it is closing again.

There are lots of reasons- internet, competition, (perhaps) waning interest in tris, chemtrails, business location, a tough industry …

RH
Guest
RH

Freeways are getting backed up, which leads to side streets getting backed up, which leads to more conflicts with cyclists and auto drivers. Safety is a concern. I’ve noticed a change the past 2 years.

bikeninja
Guest
bikeninja

Sad to see, but is it the chicken or the egg that this years Portland Triathalon was canceled?

PDX Tri
Guest
PDX Tri

Athlete’s Lounge owns the Portland Triathlon event. FYI.

waterpopp
Subscriber

That doesn’t surprise me. Road bike sales have been down the last two years. Sorry to read this.

bikeninja
Guest
bikeninja

As automobile caused climate change kicks in, more bodies of water warm up and become infested with Zika, Brain eating Amoebas, and Toxic Algae, making the swimming leg of the triathalon less attractive to would be competitors. Way to go Auto drivers!

Lester Burnham
Guest
Lester Burnham

Maybe you are just being silly, but where is your information source?

bikeninja
Guest
bikeninja

Its good old logic 101 applied to the information that is all around us.

a) main driver of anthropogenic climate change is rise in Co2 in atmosphere caused by burning fossil fuels

c) 100’s of millions of automobiles the world over burn fossil fuel and emit C02

d) Increasing temperatures in the atmosphere are leading to increased temperatures in the oceans, rivers, lakes and bays.

e) the organisms that cause Zika, toxic algae blooms and are brain eating amoebas thrive in warmer water ( see recent news articles on all these things happening this summer around the world)

f) as water bodies warm up due to climate change more of these natural phenomenon will occur to the detriment of humans using the same water bodies.

g) Triatheletes swim in bodies of water and don’t like becoming infested with brain eating amoeba or injesting toxic algae!

Conclusion: Driving cars will contribute to the decline in Triathalons.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

My conclusion is different: That driving cars will contribute to an increased number of triatheletes that have had their brains eaten.

Is this really such a bad thing?

rachel b
Guest
rachel b

Mmm… Brains…

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

transport accounts for 1/4 of GHG emissions.

https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/sources-greenhouse-gas-emissions

Mike 2
Guest
Mike 2

Cattle farms will result in higher unemployment and divorce.

Its good old logic 101.

Mike 2
Guest
Mike 2

What about the non-auto caused climate change? Granted, automobile use has accelerated the process, but it’s not as though automobile drivers are the sole source of of climate change.

bikeninja
Guest
bikeninja

The widespread use of the automobile and its cousins trucking and fossil fuel agriculture that are at the core of the unsustainable industrial system that together causes most climate change. Without autos we would not have millions of acres of parking lots, shopping malls, suburbs, drive-thrus Mcmansions, that take oil, or create the need for massive quantities of coal fueled electricity for cooling or heating all this infrastructure. The huge coal fired power plants in 4 corners area of the southwest were built to supply the power to pump water to phoenix so miles and mile of airconditioned houses could be built and equiped with cars. Without autos we would not have big box stores filled with crate sized boxes of honey roasted peanuts or electric massage chairs or 50 gallon plastic coolers. Getting a few people out of their cars will not cure climate change, but if humans had made better choices 100 years ago and never opened up the pandoras box that is the motor car ( etc.) we might not be in the dire situation we are in now.

Hello, Kitty
Guest
Hello, Kitty

Cars made it possible for humanity to migrate through Europe and Asia, all the way to North America. If not for cars, we might still be living in idyllic savanna huts on the edge of the forest, hunting game and eating wild berries.

Dwayne
Guest
Dwayne

Except that humans migrated to North America around 23,000 years ago and the car was invented 130 years ago. So aside from 22,870 years of history you are fairly accurate.

Adam
Subscriber

So they used bicycles, then?

Pat Lowell
Guest
Pat Lowell

*Whoosh*

Adam
Subscriber

Actually, bicycles were invented by the ancient Neanderthals 50,000 years ago, but the technology was lost when their species was absorbed into modern humanity.

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

I believe you mean “culturally appropriated”.

pdxpaul
Guest
pdxpaul

That giant sucking sound is entropy. It’s getting closer every day.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Every post I make brings the heat-death of the universe that much closer. So long, suckers!

rachel b
Guest
rachel b

Hear, hear, bikeninja! Nicely, succinctly summed up. Har, H. Kitty & Adam. 🙂

meh
Guest
meh

Sometimes you can be too specialized in your product offerings. Tri is a very specific and small market to work in locally. If you don’t have enough of a local market then you have to focus on how to increase your visibility and that is really going to have to be through e-tailing.

I wear many hats
Guest
I wear many hats

Its sad to see a local bike shop close. However, triathlon was, is, and will be a niche sport with exponentially high prices for equipment. People are figuring out they can ride a bike for exercise without a $10,000 bike.

dwk
Guest
dwk

I always think it is funny that the figure of 10,000 dollars is thrown out as “really expensive”, for a bicycle.
Meanwhile, people spend 10,000 for a 10 year old piece of crap car that will be a give away charitable donation in about 5 more years.

SD
Subscriber

The cost of time trial bikes are about the same as equivalent road bikes. The important question is the mileage/value from the bike. If someone is training for and competing in triathlons, they are getting the value out of their investment.

kittens
Guest
kittens

I am appalled that there are people willing & able to spend $10k on a single-purpose bike. How is that even morally justifiable? As you ride by homeless camps on Springwater and downtown. I would be mortified.

There are people who LIVE on less a year and I am just talking about the US. here.

Ted Timmons (Contributor)
Editor

I am appalled that there are people willing & able to spend $10k on a single-purpose car. How is that even morally justifiable? As you drive by homeless camps on Springwater and downtown. I would be mortified.

Adam
Subscriber

sed ‘s/bike/car/g’ comment

Works every time.

Ted Timmons (Contributor)
Editor

You think I wrote the comment it by hand? 🙂

I wear many hats
Guest
I wear many hats

I should add, $10,000 bike that only handles well in a straight line.

Eric Leifsdad
Guest
Eric Leifsdad

Which straight line would that be?

I wear many hats
Guest
I wear many hats

Dirty 30

kittens
Guest
kittens

Pretty sure you can do more than one thing with a car no matter how crappy. Bikes are great but not for a lot of things modern life, as it is presently arranged, requires.

Ted Timmons (Contributor)
Editor

From behind the windshield it may look that way.

Check out quaxing.

Not that we’re set up for zero cars, but.. it’s pretty easy to slice out the vast majority of SOV trips.

Adam
Subscriber

Anything required out of modern life you can do with a car, you can do with a bike, given more time or shorter distances.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

I actually wrote to City Counsel a couple of weeks ago asking that they move the Seaside closer to Portland to in order to, as I put it, “shorten the distance”. I haven’t heard back, but I expect Fish and Novick to oppose, and, at this point, I’m thinking we’ll have better luck with Wheeler than with Hales. He seems a bit more in touch.

I’ll keep you posted.

Adam
Subscriber

There’s definitely no fun places to hang out along the water in Portland or anything.

Tom Hardy
Guest
Tom Hardy

You forgot Collins beach. Nice easy ride from downtown by bike.
Try it sometime Adam H. You might like it!

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

I should clarify that I wrote to the city’s lawyer. Doh!

Eric Leifsdad
Guest
Eric Leifsdad

You can’t sleep in a bike.

Adam
Subscriber

Okay, fair point.

Adam
Subscriber

Although you could probably fit into a bakfiets with a canopy, given you’re not too tall. Doesn’t sound terribly comfy, though.

Eric Leifsdad
Guest
Eric Leifsdad

Yeah, yeah, I know you can totally sleep in a bike which is not an 8lb $10k plastic toy, but it’s funny because sleeping in a car should not be in “Anything required out of modern life”. The best jokes have the thickest manuals, they say.

Adam
Subscriber

This is really the crux of the issue. No one should be forced to sleep in a car because they lack alternatives.

Hello, Kitty
Guest
Hello, Kitty

I carry my bed-bike in my car, so I can choose which to sleep in. I always have a choice.

B. Carfree
Guest
B. Carfree

There’s a fellow who spends most of his time in Eugene, but I met him in Davis in the ’80s. His bike has a sleeping compartment made of rigid insulation. He was featured on the cover of the long-since defunct Auto Free Times. I suspect he sleeps more comfortably on his bike than most people can sleep in a car.

Alan 1.0
Subscriber
TS
Guest
TS

I get the joke you’re making, but it’s a false equivalency. A car is a general purpose mode of transportation. A tri bike is only good at racing and training for triathlons. You can’t really use it as a general purpose mode of transportation for commuting and running errands.

I’m saying this as someone who doesn’t own a car.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

I’ve seen people living in those camps riding a $10K bike.

Ted Timmons (Contributor)
Editor

I think Kitty set up the Kittens account just to tee up this fantastic reply.

Austin
Guest
Austin

I am appalled that there are people willing & able to justify putting a price on someone else’s health, fitness, recreation, etc.

Sure, $10K on a bike seems silly, but hot dang we are not here very long, we may as well find ways to enjoy ourselves. I’m pro-Bernie, but I realize even a Bernie needs a vacation house one in awhile.

Zimmerman
Guest
Zimmerman

I’d like to see your monthly budget, especially the line item that points out where every dime that doesn’t go towards your absolute necessities is given directly to the homeless. Do you own anything you don’t need?

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

You seem to be assuming that the people buying these bikes do nothing for others. Are they obligated to give all of their money to others who have less?

Mike 2
Guest
Mike 2

I am appalled that there are people willing & able to buy a home in Portland at these inflated prices. How is that even morally justifiable? As you ride by homeless camps on Springwater and downtown. I would be mortified.

Mike
Guest
Mike

Some times it takes a $10K bike to go fast enough so you don’t get shanked as you ride by the homeless camps.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

I built something like this, which I use in the area. Using recycled parts, I kept the cost well under $10K.
comment image

rachel b
Guest
rachel b

🙂

pdxsciencemom
Guest
pdxsciencemom

Just to clarify, my son and I bought commuter bikes at Athletes Lounge for about $600 each. And they had bikes in the $800-$1000 range, as well as much higher end bikes, ranging from $2000 to $8000. (I think you have to add upgrades to get to the $10k figure, but I could be wrong.) My point is, this isn’t a shop that only catered to affluent, elite triathletes.

D.J. DeA
Guest

Athletes Lounge
did a a great job of advocating Triathlon for all, spent good dollar a bad $ ideas intending and helping the sport grow. They a great of educating and gearing up so many people. Athletes Lounge was locally owned, ambassadors to the sport and more importantly an active lifestyle .

lop
Guest
lop

>“I think people are looking to ride, but the roads are getting more crowded and a little less safe. So markets that take riders of the road might be doing better.”

Aren’t on street bike counts going up?

B. Carfree
Guest
B. Carfree

Are they? I know separated bridge counts are, and that after most of a decade of flatness the PDX US Census numbers bumped up for 2014, but the shop owner said things went south in 2015/6.

The Census numbers for 2015 won’t be out for another month. Does PDX have some actual on-street, not separated or diverted, bike counts? Does it have counts on the same stretches of roadway that extend back far enough in time and count both bikes and cars to give a good picture of the current trend?

I’m hoping someone here has the answers. It would be interesting if people are riding more but tri-ing less and it would be bothersome if the amount of riding overall is simply dropping.

lop
Guest
lop
lop
Guest
lop

For the spreadsheet I linked to with bike counts, the counts are done for a couple hours in the morning or afternoon rush for one or more days, then they multiply it by a factor to get a daily estimate. There’s only an estimate given where they have a bike count for that year (eg nobody counted at SE Powell and 148 in 2015, so no estimate is given, 129 bikes counted 4-6 pm on the springwater at 122nd gets extrapolated to an estimated 645 daily bikes). From 2007 to 2015 sum the estimated 24 hour bike counts, 70-96% were at locations with counts from the year before. Only considering the locations where counts were done in a year and the year before, here’s the year over year growth rates:

2015: -0.6%
2014: 3.1%
2013: 2.6%
2012: 2.8%
2011: 6.9%
2010: 8.9%
2009: -7.3%
2008: 34.5%
2007: 17.8%

Note this is based on the 24 hour estimates, not the raw counts. This isn’t normalized for population growth, and any reasonable error bar for this measure would be greater than the 0.6% decline from 2014->2015.

Tom Hardy
Guest
Tom Hardy

I think a lot of riders are resurrecting a lot of 30+ year old Schwinns their parents used to ride.

kittens
Guest
kittens

Wow, I guess the 1% had a bad Monday! I am simply pointing out the fact that the specialty high-end bike market is just as representative of our current trend of income stratification as anything else. Yes, there are other luxury goods which rival or exceed that of a fancy bike, with less benefit.

I am simply pointing out that for someone with modest means, the idea of spending this much on what amounts to a two wheeled toy is kinda gross.

Ted Timmons (Contributor)
Editor

Sure. Call me (or others) the 1%.

Shaming anonymous Others who spend money on bikes in a way that doesn’t match your car-centric view is entirely off base, though.

Adam
Subscriber

I think I have a solution to this problem. Everyone should be forced to race on $100 department store bikes.

Jl
Guest
Jl

Alpenrose has $5 bikes and straight lines are not required…

nuovorecord
Guest
nuovorecord

Like they did in “Breaking Away!” Huffy Roadmasters!!!

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

I’d rather ride the Masi.

dwk
Guest
dwk

I ride my 5000 dollar two wheeled toy 6000 miles a year. I have about 50,000 miles on this “toy”.

TAJ
Guest
TAJ

After you paid taxes, it was your $5K to spend however you saw fit. You could have bought a car (albeit perhaps a bad one), taken a trip to Europe, or done any number of other things. You bought a bike. A good choice IMO.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

You should have invested in $5K of Hello, Kitty paraphernalia. That would have been money well spent!

Adam
Subscriber

Or better yet, a Hello, Kitty bicycle, complete with pink streamers!

Ted Timmons (Contributor)
Editor

Do I get credit for Pusheen stuff?

Tom Hardy
Guest
Tom Hardy

I spent $3k on my bike used and have put over 75,000 mile on it. It is in better shape than 99% of the the other bikes on the road in Portland.

Ted Timmons (Contributor)
Editor

I would love to hear more about this. Maybe Jonathan (or I) can write it up if you don’t want to.

Paul H
Guest
Paul H

I spent $800 on my bike in Jan 2008 and have a little over 36,000 miles on it, but at this point, ongoing maintenance costs have dwarfed the original purchase price. I generally do not buy high-end replacement parts (other than the Conti Gatorskins which keep me flat-free on my commutes), but maintaining a well-traveled bicycle is not cheap.

Tires, tubes, chains, cassettes, chainrings, bottom brackets, pedals, brake pads, cabling, lights — they add up. I do most of the work myself (so add the cost of tools to that list), but even I pay up to have a professional handle some jobs. I ride all year, so wet-weather gear is also part of the cost of riding a bicycle.

I’d guess that the direct costs of maintaining an automobile for 36,000 miles aren’t outrageously higher than those for a bicycle. The indirect (e.g., insurance, taxes) and social (pollution, noise, land use, injury and death) costs are the automobile’s real ways of dragging us down.

I wear many hats
Guest
I wear many hats

I have ‘raced’ triathlons in my distant past. The gear required seemed ludicrous. There is a gear arms race out there.
bike 3-10 k
add electronic shifting 2k
‘crabon wheels 3k
skinny aero water bottle $35
Pointy helmet $100
Wetsuit $200-$500
Garmin computer $300-$500

rachel b
Guest
rachel b

Must the helmet be pointy? Forgive my ignorance… Now I’m interested in triathlons! p.s…ok–I glooged “pointy helmet triathlon” and saw one. How disappointing! I was imagining something more like a dunce cap, or a hennin.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

You’re thinking of the Klan. Triathalon is different — they’re the ones with the brain eating amoebas.

rachel b
Guest
rachel b

Hmmm. The limp dunce caps of the Klan were NOT what I was envisioning. A hennin, now, might protect a triathlete from the brain eating amoebas…

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

that’s why it is called “discretionary spending”.

Mike 2
Guest
Mike 2

Good for you! Stand up to those elitist 1% snobs who spend their money how they see fit!

What they really should be doing with it is whatever you see fit.

Mike
Guest
Mike

Yeah, but riding a $5000 bike is oh so nice!!

rachel b
Guest
rachel b

I ride a $250 bike, but I recently had it encrusted in diamonds.

Huey Lewis
Guest
Huey Lewis

Had to stop in there to get a part for a repair on a tri-bike. Owner of bike didn’t want to go to that shop. Brought to our shop instead. Athlete’s Lounge guys were some of the rudest bike shop dudes ever. Second only to a shop down the road in Lake O (similar situation as outlined above). Sorry, triathletes of the area.

RF
Guest
RF

Well that’s not true at all. Athlete’s Lounge guys are great. Sorry to hear this news.

Huey Lewis
Guest
Huey Lewis

Actually it’s quite true. They were incredibly unpleasant. I feel I took some heat because they were able to put 2 and 2 together to see we were doing a repair they thought should have been theirs. Not my fault! Customer came to us so as to not deal with Athlete’s Lounge. Hmmmm.

pengo
Guest
pengo

I don’t doubt you had that experience, but I worked in shops for close to a decade and never ran into the idea that a repair was “ours”; there’s plenty of work to go around. Every now and then I’d openly call other shops (AL included) looking for service parts and other shops (AL included) would call me, all without anyone’s feelings getting hurt and often with at least a small discount given to a wrench in a bind.

David
Guest
David

Completely disagree with this. I found the staff at AL to be exceptionally welcoming and generous with their time and expertise. I also witnessed them take the extra time to help newcomers to the shop and newbies to various sports get comfortable and acquainted.

Thanks for the many great years AL!

Huey Lewis
Guest
Huey Lewis

There isn’t anything to disagree with, exactly. They were in fact very rude to me! To me! You can’t disagree with me on this as you are you and not me.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

I totally disagree.

Huey Lewis
Guest
Huey Lewis

Hello, Kitty…don’t mess with me! hahaha

SD
Subscriber

Hard to know the validity of your one vague anecdote, but it certainly does not reflect the experience of many many people who are grateful for everything that athlete’s lounge has done for the NW triathlon community. If you actually are interested in how people feel about an important local business closing and not just looking to dismiss the hard work of a lot of great people you can check out the link below.

https://www.facebook.com/AthletesLounge/posts/1158269814246750

Huey Lewis
Guest
Huey Lewis

I’m sure a lot of people will miss this shop. But they were pointlessly rude to me and I’ll dismiss them as I please. We work in the same industry (because bikes are great. It’s definitely not for the money!) and the way they acted and talked to me surely was not an isolated incident. I only feel bad for the customers that viewed them as a resource.

J
Guest
J

I too have been treated like dirt by AL employees as a fellow industry person. I don’t wish any ill will towards anyone that will lose their jobs there soon, but I hope their attitude dies with that shop. As for the shop itself, I’m not sad to see it go at all.

know_elle
Guest
know_elle

It IS too bad to see a local shop closing. I wonder if they considered moving to a less expensive location (instead of NW) to perhaps lower their costs? Hopefully other bikes shops in the area see the coming opportunity to cater to an (apparently small) subset of cyclists by establishing/hiring some expertise in the triathlon field!

jered bogli
Guest
jered bogli

Aero bars, I blame them. Nobody wants to ride a bike with aero bars. But seriously, i did a half iron man last year, it sucked. HOWEVER, the fine folks at Athletes Lounge were great, good advice, wetsuit rental, zero attitude, they made it much easier for me – sorry to see them go! and NO I didn’t use aero bars because nobody wants aero bars.

Ted Timmons (Contributor)
Editor

I use aero bars sometimes. It’s nice to be able to rest my arms with another position. I actually need to put the quick-release bits on my current “adventure” bike.

(Tri sounds like a lot of fun but I hate swimming and running and competing)

Hello, Kitty
Guest
Hello, Kitty

I also use aero bras when I want to look extra sleek!

John
Guest
John

Aerobars happen to work great for balancing a pizza box for the bourgeois crowd. Ask me how I know… 😉

Kyle Banerjee
Guest
Kyle Banerjee

A surprising of hating going on considering that this place is supposed to be about bike advocacy.

I’m surprised there is not enough interest in tri to support a shop in PDX. Heck, there are multiple recumbent shops and ‘bents can get a lot more specialized than tri bikes.

So what if someone spends $10K on a bike if they can afford it? Make people feel unwelcome, and most go somewhere else. People in the market for high end bikes might also have options like racing power boats or Porches. If we’re going to shame people, how about the other people who ride spendy bikes (including the huge custom market out here).

One thing I’ve noticed is that many sports/activities are very unwelcoming to people who are well off. There seems to be some idea that you have to earn the right to have decent equipment (or in the case of this blog, there is a vibe that no one has the right to this stuff).

If we’re going to be serious about getting more people on bikes, we need to get more people on bikes without additional requirements that they belong to any particular scene, have particular views, etc. It really needs to be just about cycling.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

BikePortland, particularly the comments section, is full of lifestyle cyclists. They tend to view triathlon riders with disdain.

Hello, Kitty
Guest
Hello, Kitty

I’ve met too many triathletes who’s brains have been eaten by amoebas… not fun.

nuovorecord
Guest
nuovorecord

The comments section on BP is powered by smug.

Hello, Kitty
Guest
Hello, Kitty

It’s a sustainable energy source.

I wear many hats
Guest
I wear many hats

The Bikesnob NYC used graphic to describe this phenomenon. The Roadie hates the Triathlete hates the Cyclocrosser hates the Triathlete hates the Roadie to infinity. Commuters hate anyone fast. Everyone hates on the person who races on MUP’s in a pointy helmet with their face staring at their front wheel and their hands off the brakes. Hence the snark.

SD
Subscriber

Yet the Athlete’s Lounge cycling team raced cross and road, and many of them race triathlon without hating on anyone.

I wear many hats
Guest
I wear many hats

I’ve had mixed experiences with the AL team. Some great, some terrible, but that’s life right? The toughest dudes I know are on the AL team. Its great to see people out having fun on bikes. We’re all people right? Tone is unintelligible in prose unless deployed by an expert. I know for a fact, that I am no such thing.

SD
Subscriber

Yeah… I really don’t get how some cyclists that identify with a certain style of cycling criticize other types of cyclists. The triathlon stereotype really doesn’t hold up with most people doing triathlons and even the ones who might fit the caricature are pretty decent people. I’m hopeful that something inherent to riding a bike will help people move beyond indulging in petty stereotypes.

Pat Lowell
Guest
Pat Lowell

Yeah, I find the onedownmanship here to be as gross and discouraging as its opposite. God forbid anyone ride a nice bike in Portland faster than 10 mph while wearing lycra.

Pat Lowell
Guest
Pat Lowell

Also, triathlon just isn’t popular in Portland, not sure why. Back East tri is almost as popular as running (and probably more than cycling), and every little town has its own tri event, similar to half-marathons here. At least a couple of companies that I know of have tried to put on new tri events here, but they just haven’t gotten traction.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

People in the NW prefer to ride expensive bikes with kind of knobby tires around a dirt circle for 45 minutes instead. I think it’s because you get to hit the pub for a beer a lot sooner.

Forum Law Group LLC - Bicycle Law
Guest

Triathlons and other forms of non-utilitarian riding aren’t more popular because Dirty 30 is the only way out of the central city w/o hills or half an hour of stop-and-go-slow. AL is closing partly because we lack “escape routes”–safe routes for people to get on a bike and “just ride.” Anyone see the documentary called “Happy”? Spoiler: it says three things make people happy: 1 family/friends, 2 giving back, and 3 “flow” experiences, which are basically sustained, immersive activities that give you some subjective sense of accomplishment. Like riding a bicycle. Cycling for “flow” (including “fun” or recreation or sport) is arguably more important than for utilitarian purposes (when you can’t have both) because it is a “peak” human experience. A lot of bike commuters started out biking for fun, probably more than the other way around. Aside from a few folks working on Salmonberry or FP access, most advocates like BL or BTA or BPers–and state and local planning and funding processes, and efforts to attract businesses and tourists–neglect the importance of having places for people to roll out their door and ride for an hour, or five hours, for whatever reason, on whatever bike.

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

Ironically, some of the most expensive bikes around are made right here in Portland.

Adam
Subscriber

If you racing or riding long distances for recreation, then lycra is absolutely the right tool for the job. What I argue against, however, is the notion that you need to wear special clothing and ride bikes with dropped handlebars for urban transportation. Many bike shops are still selling bikes under this rhetoric. All this does is create additional barriers to cycling for transportation.

Kyle Banerjee
Guest
Kyle Banerjee

What people need in terms of equipment and clothing is ultimately a function of what they actually do and what they think they need. The reality is that you don’t really need anything. However, some people are all about the gear, and if that’s what motivates them to be out there, it’s not a bad thing.

One of the things I always tell newer riders is to find shops where the look and feel of the place speaks to them because most shops are set up to meet a particular set of needs best. So if they feel like something is being pushed on them, that might not be the place for them.

Adam
Subscriber

Sure, riders should wear whatever feels most comfortable for them. My problem is with the bike shops and publications that try to sell racing culture to people interested in riding for transportation. Most people don’t need a racing bike to go to the grocery store and would likely be more comfortable with a Dutch-style bike that doesn’t require stretchy clothing. Use the right tool for the job.

dwk
Guest
dwk

Of course the people who own and run the bike shops have no idea what people want……

Kyle Banerjee
Guest
Kyle Banerjee

What we need to do is get the word out there that bike shops are very different.

If you walk into a shop set up for racers, they will push race stuff on you. But if you go into a shop set up for utility riders, you will likely have an unsatisfactory experience if you’re interested in performance gear. As far as publications go, why would anyone read something that doesn’t appeal to them?

Style of bikes is very personal and is connected with riding style/needs. My friends often ask me for advice on gear and what shops they should use. With the exception of lighting, I always recommend something other than what I use because their riding interests are very different than mine.

Adam
Subscriber

Sure, the problem is for new riders who don’t know where to start. An honest bike shop would point a customer to another shop that better fits their needs, but I certainly don’t blame shops for taking the business anyway. Though, the industry is partly to blame too, since they are always trying to sell you more and more bikes and accessories that you don’t need. There’s really no difference between a cyclocross bike and a gravel bike, but manufacturers are happy to sell you both, and much of this trickles down to the shops and consumers.

This is why I believe bike share is so transformative. Many people don’t realize that they actually want an upright bike for transportation until they try it for themselves, and bike share offers low barrier to that.

dwk
Guest
dwk

“Many people don’t realize that they actually want an upright bike for transportation until they try it for themselves,”

Who says?
What is your projection for?
I commute on Williams everyday and I see mostly drop bar road bikes.
Obviously people are riding what they want and what suits them.

Mike 2
Guest
Mike 2

Who says?
Who says?!!!

Adam H. says!

Again, “many” cyclists could mean 2 or 3. Just like the “many” bike shops pushing drop bars on all these naive and unsuspecting consumers.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

My parents went to Portland and all I got were these stupid drop bars!

Adam
Subscriber

@Mike 2: Please don’t take my statement as claiming that bike shops are pushing drop bars on people that don’t want them. My concerns are mostly with the cultural pressures around cycling for transportation. For someone belonging to the 92% of people currently not cycling for transportation, but would consider doing so if it was safer, do you think they’d be happier on a racing bike or a utility bike? If everyone they see is riding around bent over on drop handlebars, perhaps they will think that is the kind of bike you need for commuting. Never mind that it is probably less comfortable and could get their pants all greasy. To be fair, this is less of a problem in Portland than other cities.

There is a reason that there are no bike share systems with drop handlebars: upright bikes appeal to a wider range of people, are more comfortable, and are more appropriate for everyday cycling for transportation. Plus, they often come with everything out of the box, rather than having to add lights, fenders, racks, etc. aftermarket.

I won’t criticize someones choice to commute on a bike with drops, but we should make people aware that they have a choice. Case in point: the amount of times I get criticized on this site by “fast riders” for riding a slow upright bike. That’s cultural.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

I challenge you to find one comment that criticizes you for riding an upright bike. You get criticized for the way you ride, not what you ride.

Adam
Subscriber

I have zero desire to rehash that conversation, I was merely using that as an example. Instead maybe take a look at all the backlash against bike share system launches where people claim that no one will ride the heavy clunky bikes, then are immediately proven wrong after the bike share launches. Or arguments from the VC crowd that claim one must “behave as a car” to ride a bike. Or go take look at more evolved bicycle cultures in the Netherlands or Denmark – you won’t see many people riding fast bikes with drop handlebars.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

If you want to ride an upright bike, go for it! If you prefer drop bars, go for it! If you like aero bras, wear one! If you like lycra, don’t do it! Why is this even a conversation?

Ted Timmons (Contributor)
Editor

I’ve made comments and teased Adam about it.

It’s all about subcultures. Adam doesn’t recreationally ride up Larch Mountain or race gran fondos. I don’t think he builds tall/freakbikes. It’s all good.

Adam
Subscriber

Because a lot of those things are barriers to entry for cycling for transportation, and are generally unnecessary if the right bike is purchased. Other than that, ride and wear whatever you want.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Maybe he can try Orange Crush, if they’re still being run.

Adam
Subscriber

Again, it’s all about the right bike for the job. Although I have ridden my city bike 40+ miles through the hills, I would probably recommend a lighter, skinnier-tired bike than the one I rode (and would honestly make this recommendation to myself next time :-P). On the same note, I would also not recommend a $10,000 tri bike and full lycra to ride 5-10 miles to work or the grocery store. There’s certainly nothing wrong with either scenario if that’s what you really want, but the rider will likely be happier on the bike meant for the job, and happy = more likely to ride again. That’s all I’m saying.

Adam
Subscriber

And yes, I realize that those examples are two ends of a spectrum, and that bicycles are highly versatile machines and that there is plenty of middle ground. My bike is actually technically a touring bike that I turned into an upright city bike after a year of riding with drops because I could never quite get comfortable on them. My next bike will be a Workcycles fr8 cargo bike and I plan to turn the touring bike back into a more longer-distance bike (though still no drops). Trust me, I get it. I actually really enjoyed customizing the bike and adding/removing stuff from it constantly. But not everyone is as bike obsessed as we are and there are plenty of people that just want things to work out of the box (like a car does, for example) and have no desire to constantly tweak stuff on their bike. But if people think that obsessing over your bike is the only option, they might not bother taking up cycling for transportation at all, and well, that would be a shame. Bike share seems to be the cure for this problem, though.

Ted Timmons (Contributor)
Editor

yep. combination of “whatever makes you happy” and “there are other bikes than this one type you see a lot of”.

This is part of why I love shops like Gladys: they aren’t sport-focused, they don’t expect you to be a crazy bikey nutjob, it’s okay if you know you don’t like a shifter that you turn with your wrist (for instance).

Adam
Subscriber

Yep, Gladys is great. I’d go there more often if it wasn’t so far from home. 🙂

Ted Timmons (Contributor)
Editor

It’s over 5 miles for me and is my primary shop.

Technically Athletes Lounge may have been my closest shop.

Adam
Subscriber

To be fair, I rarely go to the Alberta district in general, since it either requires riding over the Alameda ridge, or taking two buses. You’re close to 21st Av. That and West End were my go-to shops when I lived on the west side.

Kyle Banerjee
Guest
Kyle Banerjee

You modified a touring bike so it would be like an upright? Depending on what you did, that could adversely affect handling/safety though the difference would probably be unimportant at low speeds.

Have you ever tried to get fitted for it? If you can’t get comfortable, you might have a biomechanical issue, but it also might not be fitted properly or you could have the wrong sized frame.

Adam
Subscriber

By “modified” I really meant that I put a front rack, a different handlebar, different saddle, and wider tires on it. Yeah, the handling is a bit different having the grip area closer to me, but I rarely exceed 15 mph anyway. I did actually get a fitting and it helped, but I still found myself really never using the drops and rarely using the brake hoods even. I realized, why have drop handlebars if I’m on the tops 90% of the time?

Mike 2
Guest
Mike 2

Adam H.-
Drop bars does not mean racing bike. Just like a flat bar does not mean mountain bike or utility bike.
Sure, a shorter, more upright cockpit will be more comfortable to someone not in shape or with little core strength, but blaming bike shops for rhetoric pushing for drop bars and the cultural pressures around cycling for transportation blah, blah, blah….
People on bikes. It’s good, regardless of the bike style they prefer, or their attire, or how much they spent.

Why does it always seem like riding a bicycle in Portland becomes about some cultural injustice? Always an us vs them. 1% vs everyone else, “cagers” vs cyclists, commuters vs racers, renters vs homeowners, kitties vs kittens, etc. vs etc. Never mind the fact that most of us cross over several of the lines.

Ted Timmons (Contributor)
Editor

I get sweatyass. I will wear lycra (under clothes) for more than, say, a 3-mile ride in town.

And I’m an avid lycra wearer on sportsy rides, which I try to do often.

Adam
Subscriber

Me too, which is why I never wear cotton anything.

Mike 2
Guest
Mike 2

Really?! Many bike shops? When was the last time you went into a shop here in Portland to buy a commuter bike?

But then again, two or three bike shops could be considered “many” by some.

Adam
Subscriber

January of this year, and I purposefully went to a shop that specializes in city bikes. Go to most shops in Portland and you’ll find that the majority of bikes have dropped handlebars. Which is fine if that’s the kind of bike that you want, just don’t get angry at me for wanting to ride slow and upright.

Mike 2
Guest
Mike 2

You are free to ride whatever speed you want on whatever bike you want – I really don’t care. What surprised me is your assertion that many bike shops are pushing drop bars for commuting. Maybe the shops I worked in are different, or among the few that did not push that.

Zimmerman
Guest
Zimmerman

I just don’t get it.

I commute on a bike with drop bars. Why? I like the shifter/brake lever integration and most importantly, it gives me a ton of places to rest my hands. What in the hell is uncomfortable about drop bars?

Tee
Guest
Tee

I don’t either, I love riding bikes with drop bars. Even around town. Then again, I also only ride in spandex and pack a change of clothes (when necessary).

Adam
Subscriber

I tried drops for a year and was never able to get them to not hurt some part of my body. Also, I got tired of changing clothes at work. Some people may like drops, but I am not one of them.

Zimmerman
Guest
Zimmerman

Strangely enough, I rode my bike with drop bars today and didn’t need to wear lycra. I think maybe both of you should consider steering and braking with your hands instead of your shorts. It might improve your experience.

Ha!

Spiffy
Subscriber

what’s a long distance? I’ll ride 50 miles in a day in my jean shorts… granted it’s only 25 miles at a time with hours in between… I ride to work 8 miles in my work clothes… I’ve never owned lycra and I’m getting rid of the 3 cycling shirts I haven’t worn in 4 years…

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

I’m anxiously awaiting a heated discussion on jorts vs. lycra…

rachel b
Guest
rachel b

Tobias Fünke!

Adam
Subscriber

There are dozens of us! Dozens!

Ted Timmons (Contributor)
Editor

I really like that we have a thread to let off some steam. Thanks all.

rachel b
Guest
rachel b

We need a Never Nude Bike Ride.

John
Guest
John

Oh there are people here in the comments whose sole purpose is to hate on bike advocacy.

colton
Guest
colton

I sure wish the comments on BP had something similar to what they do on slashdot.

Ted Timmons (Contributor)
Editor

hot grits?

a beowulf cluster?

Adam
Subscriber

I prefer cold grits, you insensitive clod!

ac
Guest
ac

Sorry to hear Athlete’s Lounge is shutting down!
Gary is a good dude and was an enthusiastic supporter of local events.

(all the tri hate in here is sad)

Bike Guy
Guest
Bike Guy

Was anyone else introduced to road cycling via triathlon? Bike Guy was. Sorry to see Athlete’s Lounge close.

It is interesting to think about what will happen to tri in the future. Bike Guy’s thought is that the races themselves are too expensive, particularly compared to an OBRA road race.

I wear many hats
Guest
I wear many hats

I was introduced to road riding through triathlon. I just thought it was funny that my performance was dictated slightly by how fast I could change my shoes from bike to run. To each their own right?

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

I’ve always thought triathalon would be more fun to watch if participants had to run in their cycling shoes.

Ted Timmons (Contributor)
Editor

Full road cleats. No SPD-style MTB shoes allowed.

Lester Burnham
Guest
Lester Burnham

I find it appalling that people in this city will buy $6 pints of beer when some people don’t even have water to drink.

Matt S.
Guest
Matt S.

7 when you factor in a tip

MonicaInPDX
Subscriber

I’m a “lifestyle/car-free” cyclist in general, but a few years ago I learned to swim and did a couple of sprint triathlons, with the first one being a practice one hosted by the Athlete’s Lounge. I enjoyed the whole-body workout of the sport, I used an inexpensive road bike, and it was something I could do with my school-aged daughter (many of the tris offer a kid’s event on the same day). I’m hoping to get back into running and swimming soon and am sad to see Athlete’s Lounge close. Thanks for what you offered middle-aged moms in addition to elite athletes, Gary.

Ted Timmons (Contributor)
Editor

This shows the part people don’t talk about- when someone says “racing requires all this high-end equipment” .. but it doesn’t. Winning may require it, feeling like you’re part of the subculture may require it, but this isn’t unique to tri or CX or road racing or even cycling.

Adam
Subscriber

Also, the people that are constantly cycling through the latest and greatest provide an excellent secondary market for those who don’t want to spend thousands of dollars every year.

Ted Timmons (Contributor)
Editor

“cycling through”

HEYOOO

Yeah, if you are into roadie bikes, the OBRA list is handy.

Matt S.
Guest
Matt S.

At the amateur level, which everyone is unless you’re being paid to participate, and in that case, you probably aren’t doing anything but an Ironman tri, but to make my point—really the only thing that separates one from winning is the time spent on the bike, or in the pool, or on the track.

Sure, you do need a quality, efficient road bike to participate in triathlons, but you don’t need a $10,000 bike or even a $2,000 bike for that matter. You put two different people on bikes, one on a $10,000 and the other on the 2k one. The 2k one rides 20 plus hours a week and the one on 10k rides just a few hours. The 20 hours plus-er is going to blow the other person out of the water. Shoot, they probably could ride a Schwinn cruiser and still win.

That is what’s so silly about the amateur level, people become obsessed with the consumerism of the sport and think they can make up for the lack of training by buying a more expensive bike. But what’s funny about all of it, it’s all supposed to be for fun! No one is getting paid to swim, bike, run unless you’re like a Chrissie Wellington!

ElPana
Guest
ElPana

I worked in the bike industry for a while now, the majority of Tri customer are as obsessive with the internet research as they are with their training. Then they come to a brick and mortar store asking to get internet pricing. Like the value of advise and the ability to have your product the same day are nothing. This is want happen!!! Sad indeed!!!

Forum Law Group LLC - Bicycle Law
Guest

I bought a bike at AL six years ago and won a race on it this year. I am middle aged and it is like a Lotus except it keeps me fit and It cost less than the nav package on a Corolla. No shop is perfect but AL we will miss you.

rick
Guest
rick

Where might you shop now?

rick
Guest
rick

More people live in Washington County now than in modern times, yet five bike shops have closed since 2011 in the county.

TriAgain
Guest
TriAgain

As a 30+ year veteran of triathlon (and frequent bike commuter) I am used to the ignorance and bias people hold about my chosen sport. I just wouldn’t expect to see it in full display on a blog that’s supposed to support cycling…holy cow people. Check your ignorance, bias and hate.

Ted Timmons (Contributor)
Editor

There’s a fairly strong anti-spandex contingent ’round these parts.

It’s what humans do- divide a subculture into mini-subcultures.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

I’ve basically created a nano-sub-culture that’s only big enough for me. The rest of you are losers!

SD
Subscriber

Its also how marginalized groups destroy themselves, to the delight of those who benefit from the status quo.

Adam
Subscriber

I think the animosity you find here is because of the fact that cycling for transportation and cycling for sport have absolutely nothing in common except the bicycle. The needs are completely different when you’re racing on a closed course vs. riding a bike to work. I honestly don’t care if you want to use your bicycle for sports, but understand that I may not value the opinions about transportation as much coming from a “sports person”.

TriAgain
Guest
TriAgain

Respectfully disagree. I spend a considerable amount of time concerned for my life – not on the 1% of time I’m on a monitored course, but the 99% of the time I’m just out riding. I commute and train on the same routes – and support separated bike lanes, safe intersections, improved lighting, signage, safe routes to school, and clear rules for all of us to safely co-exist. I support transportation funding including for bike/pedestrian infrastructure. My mind set is the same whether I am training or commuting. And I have never owned a $10,000 bike, and never will, and don’t know anyone else who does, either. And yes I swim in open water, including a river near all us, am perfectly fine and but also advocate for improved water quality, too. Just saying – let’s not conquer and divide when there is too much at stake to get divided over sloppy misperceptions.

Matt S.
Guest
Matt S.

I consider myself an elevated enthusiast that rides a bike for sport, I don’t compete. When I ride, it’s always “live” infrastructure, not a closed course. I rely on safe, smart bike routes like everyone else, shoot—maybe even more when I consider the mileage I’m covering within the city limits and the frequency in which I ride these routes.

If you ride for sport here in Portland, you have to by default be pro ‘healthy’ bike infrastructure…

SD
Subscriber

What????

Do you think that people who race don’t commute or vice versa? Where do you think people who race train for their races? You may not be aware of this, but in the last several months several people with longstanding involvement in triathlon lost their lives to cars while out riding. For someone who constantly posts about bias and insensitivity, it is interesting to see you hold on tightly to your own misperceptions.

Adam H. says “I may not value the opinions about transportation as much coming from a “sports person”.”

Maybe this is an attempt to narrowly define a certain type of individual whose opinion you don’t value because you know this is a problematic thing to say, but a lot of these “sports people” will have many more hours on the road and more miles on their bikes to support their opinions.

q
Guest
q

Yes, a friend of mine who was a world-class triathlete was killed this summer while she was on a training ride (in California, where she’d recently moved from here).

When you’re riding your bike, it doesn’t matter why you’re riding your bike, you’re still riding. The impact from the car striking her from behind in daylight was the same as if she’d been commuting or going to the store.

Pat Lowell
Guest
Pat Lowell

“… cycling for transportation and cycling for sport have absolutely nothing in common except the bicycle.”

Congratulations! This is officially BikePortland’s Most Ridiculous Comment Ever.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Dang. I’ll have to think of something to retake the title.

Pat Lowell
Guest
Pat Lowell

How about a creative definition of “sports people”?

SD
Subscriber

Thanks for saying this, Pat.
This was exactly my immediate thought as well… and I probably edited the word ridiculous out of my reply to Adam’s comment 5 times.

Pat Lowell
Guest
Pat Lowell

I totally agreed with your comment, SD. And as someone who is at once a daily bike commuter (who enjoys drop bars and wears old gym t-shirts over lycra shorts), a “sports person” (who is very slow), a driver (who is super cautious but does not have 360/night vision and sometimes enjoys having a place to park my car), I resent the compulsion some folks here have to try to dismember me into various component parts.

dwk
Guest
dwk

This just might be one of the dumbest posts ever…..