Picture this: You’ve spent four months prepping for a 368-mile bike ride across Oregon. Your bike is dialed, you’ve trained on it for hundreds of miles, and then when you show up to the race your bike isn’t there.
But, let’s back up for a minute. Four days before the start of the Oregon Outback, I shipped my bike via Amtrak to Portland, Ore., from St. Paul, Minn. My bike was scheduled to arrive in 39 hours. I planned on getting to the Amtrak station in Portland with plenty of time to fill out paper work and get on another train, with my bike, bound for the start of the race in Klamath Falls.
Fast forward. Two friends from Minneapolis and I showed up at the Portland Amtrak station with our bike bags filled with gear two hours before the train boarded. We were set to go!
Except when the station attendant went back to find the bikes he only saw two. He told me the train my bike was on had derailed in Montana and that it would take at least another day for my bike to get to Portland.
I was heart broken. I started to cry. My friends reassured me that it would be alright. I immediately hopped on the phone calling everyone I could think of.
I reached out to a dozen of bike shops near the station, asking if they could help me out, but most only rented road bikes. One shop did have a mountain bike, but it would cost hundreds of dollars to rent it for the race.
After about 30 minutes of calling (and some more crying), I had almost given up. The train was boarding in a little over an hour.
I had stepped outside of the Amtrak station to get some fresh air when Jason Britton, another rider who I met the night before, motioned for me to come over. “What size frame are you?” he asked. I told him 16.5-inch and he gave me a thumbs-up. He was on the phone with a Portland shop, Sellwood Cycle.
When he got off the phone he told me that they had a bike they would let me borrow for the ride. I couldn’t believe it! He said to wait outside, that a bike messenger named “The Ringer” from Magpie Messengers would be there with the bike.
Sure enough, just 30 minutes before my train boarded, a red-haired messenger drove up with the bike. I don’t think I’ve ever given someone a bigger hug in my life!
The bike, a Kona Big Kahuna, was a perfect fit. I couldn’t have been happier to ride it while crushing dirt and gravel for 368 miles on the Oregon Outback.
Huge thanks to Jason Britton, Sellwood Cycle, and Magpie Messengers for helping me out! You turned a disaster into a great adventure that I’ll never forget.
—Amy Oberbroeckling is Assistant Editor at GearJunkie.com