Back in 2003 I went up to Portland for the cyclocross nationals in which I was to try my luck . I would be happy just to finish unhurt and hopefully not last. I had no idea what I was in for. The city of Portland has per capita more cyclists and more cycling fans that just about anywhere on earth. The nationals were held at Portland International Raceway, normally the domain of automobiles but this time it was all about bikes. What I experienced was the most exciting and rewarding racing and spectating weekend of my life. Portland people show up, rain,shine,snow...whatever-they are seemingly unaffected by weather in a negative way. For the elite races a drum corps came onto the infield of the course and created an atmosphere of tremendous excitement for the racers and fans alike. It was this weekend that I fell in love with Portland the first time. The next year the nationals were held in Portland again and I had a similar time and renewed enthusiasm for the town and people. The following year the nationals moved to Providence , Rhode Island but I still went to Portland for the U.C.I. final race weekend where I scored my first top-ten ever at a cyclocross race. It was at this race where I first saw Sacha White and his team , sitting in a hot tub on the course infield before they all went and lined up to do the single speed event in their speedos....bear in mind, it was in the low 50's and raining. This kind of irreverent enthusiasm was making me feel like I was living in the wrong town. Soon after that, the Handmade Bike Show would come to Portland and for me it was the best bicycle show of all time....I had lots of fun and lots of interest in my frames. Great racing, super enthusiastic people and a town with a serious appreciation for independently built bicycle frames....what could be better ? Later that year I heard of an independent custom bicycle show, the Manifest that was to be held in Portland. For me it was chance to go back to my favorite city away from home, after all-Jay Sycip was moving there to work for Chris King, Rick Hunter was thinking of moving there as well....it seemed like lots of folks in my line of work were gravitating north. What I found at the Manifest show was a scene that sadly made me fall out of love with Portland......it was a show that showcased Porltand builders primarily but was open to builders from out of the area. What we weren't told is that if you were not one of the Portland builders , you would be pretty much a second-class citizen largely ignored by the people who came to see the show. A huge show party was held at a large advertising agency and on display were life-size arty black and white posters of about 20 builders from Portland, only three of which whom I recognized. There was a reason for this-most of the builders were pretty new at it, some having built less than ten frames, yet these new builders were being propped up as veritable legends of the art while several of us from California and southern Oregon with about 5,000 frames built between us languished in obscurity. Was our commitment to the craft insufficient ? was our 15-20 years in the buisness not enough to indicate dedication ? Did the fact that we travelled far to take part in this show mean nothing ? That's the way it seemed to me. The other thing I noted about the show was the emerging "Portland school of framebuilding design " Which to me essentially was about copying Vanilla bikes right down to all of the builders getting the same water-jet cutout dropouts with their own logos. It reminded me of Stevie Ray Vaughan......he was incredible as a guitarist/singer but after he died the world got flooded with imitators, none of which would ever be S.R.V. . Similarly, none of the Portland folks have any chance to be Sacha White. I wonder why they just can't be themselves. Once I packed up and disgutedly left the show I headed south for Wilsonville where a Cross Crusade race was to happen. When I got there I was witness to 1,400 plus people signed up to race....an unprecedented turnout for a cyclocross event. I lined up for my 50 plus race and saw about seven rows of racers behind me....the largest field i had ever raced in. I did my laps, finished and realized that the show might have been a bust for me and that the whole pretentiousness of the party was but a sidenote to the real Portland.....the town where people ride in any kind of weather and turn out in the thousands to see folks race in the mud.I fell back in love immediately. I'm coming back this fall......not for the fake show, I'm coming back for the real one.