Hello, friends of Tweed! Better late than never. Here is a report of the Albany (Ore.) Tweed Ride done by a Portland Tweedista, Shawn Granton of the Urban Adventure League!
Albany, Oregon. One of the major towns of the Willamette Valley, population around 50,000. It’s not well known outside of Oregon, since there are larger cities with the same name (cough, cough, New York state’s capital, which the Oregon town is definitely named after), and dwarfed by other cities in the Valley (Corvallis is barely ten miles away, home to Oregon State University.) I’ve passed through Albany many a time on the Amtrak and the I-5. But I’ve only “spent time” there twice in the eighteen years I’ve lived in Oregon: In 2009 on my Willamette Valley Tour, where I crashed for the night, and on 2010 on a Cycle Wild trip passing through (while we stayed in Corvallis, the Amtrak only stops in Albany.)
So I was intrigued by the notion of a Tweed Ride happening in this unassuming town. But they’ve been doing one since 2017. It fits the bill, as Albany has an emphasis on historic preservation. (In fact, the ride happened during their big historic month.) I’ve been wanting to check out other Tweed Rides in the Northwest (there ain’t many), so I decided to head on down and explore the town.
I took Amtrak down on Friday May 10th. Taking a bike on the Cascades is easy (pay an extra $5, bring the bike to the baggage car) and I got into town around noon. I took a leisurely tour on my Robin Hood path racer, hitting up the Natty Dresser (a men’s shop who hosts the ride) plus a brewpub or two. Albany is pretty small, so getting around was pretty easy, and the town is flat. I got a room at a historic hotel (206 1/2) which meant I was centrally located.
The big wrinkle in the trip was that the power decided to go out in central Albany just before 5 PM. In this modern day and age, I don’t carry around a lot of cash and/or food when I do a trip like this, so I had one beer at a brew pub that was still open (paid with cash), then rode out until I found places that still had power so I could get dinner and find an ATM. Thankfully it wasn’t that far away, but it was still annoying. More annoying? That the power went on by the time I got to the hotel, but decided to go off when I was about to hop in the shower.
Saturday morning, 11 May. The weather forecast was for sun and pushing 90F, the tail end of a three week dry and warm spell in the Northwest. While I love my Tweed, I am also rational, so I dressed more for a Seersucker Social. There was about two dozen folks who showed up for the ride. Oscar, the proprietor of the Natty Dresser, gave out a few prizes, then led us on about a five mile tour of central Albany, stopping to talk about many of the historic things to be found. (I did not know about the canal they built to Lebanon!) We had a mid-ride break where some fine folks put out some water and snacks for us.
The ride ended up at a local brewery where there was a vintage bike show and swap meet. I had considered entering the Robin Hood in the vintage show, but opted to just hang out instead. I chatted up both the Albany Tweed folks and the Corvallis Tweed folks (Corvallis had their ride just a few weeks beforehand.)
And then it was time for the trip to end. I rode over to the train station to catch the 5:10 Amtrak train home.
It’s always fun to check out other Tweed Rides, compare notes and the like. So far, I’ve been to a majority of the Northwest rides that I know of: Portland, La Conner, Snohomish, and Albany. I still need to check out the Ballard and Corvallis Tweed Rides. And maybe some day there’ll be a Vancouver and/or Victoria ride again!