An especially good time at the Festival di Ticino

Feb 8, 2010 by

Emiliano Jordan, who won one of two grand prizes, stands with one of the Electra bikes.

Emiliano Jordan, who won one of two grand prizes, stands with one of the Electra bikes.

By Emiliano Jordan

I moved here for the community, not for the racing. Don’t get me wrong, the racing is hard and competitive; the courses are challenging and beautiful and the calendar is full. But if I only wanted racing, I would have moved to Southern California or stayed in Tucson. It’s the community that surrounds bike racing — the cycling community at large — that drew me to Portland. It’s the number of cyclists, the amount of bike paths and the recognition of cycling as a legitimate form of transportation and even materials transportation.

At the center of this is the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA), the beneficiary of a fund-raising raffle that took place Friday night at Bike n Hike with generous donations from companies like Chris King, Rapha, Showers Pass, Endura, Doctor Will Bar, Ortlieb and, of course, a double grand-prize donation of two $1,100 Ticino city bikes from Electra. The raffle brought together an eclectic crowed that mixed bike racers, promoters and coaches with recreational or soon-to-be recreation riders, and even a Frank Zappa look-alike in old school pink BMX pants.

The specific goal of this fundraiser was to help the BTA with the “Build It” project, a project aiming to add 600-700 miles of bike paths to Portland with the end goal of seeing 25 percent of Portlanders using a bicycle as a habitual form of travel. I was happy to see Brad Ross of the Cross Crusades and the Portland Twilight Criterium, Chris Swan of Upper Echelon Coaching and a slew of other promoters, coaches and racers supporting the BTA.

The energy started off right as the high roof and bright lighting of the Bike ‘N Hike space combined with the upbeat band to provide the right ambiance to a hopeful and happy crowd. Once Bike n Hike’s Nick climbed up on the counter and started the raffle, the energy only got more intense. Screams and smiles from the winners along with clapping, cheering and laughing from the crowed followed every announced number. Company representatives and owners, getting caught up in the excitement, started pulling more product from bags and cars. The crowd, doing the same thing, bought more tickets from the roving BTA staff.

Finally Electra Bicycles got its turn. The company had flown four representatives up from California to introduce to Portland a new line of bikes inspired here at the North American Handmade Bicycle Show. The new Ticino line takes the excitement of Portland’s bicycle community — in the way it captured Southern California’s beach cruiser culture — and brings it to a full line of seven bikes.

The line features a lot of classic styling, much of it “borrowed” from ’40s and ’50s era components. All of the retro parts feature modern upgrades. For example, the very classic steel looking rims (modeled after Fiamme’s Red Label Rims) are actually double-wall alloy. The higher-end Ticino hubs are modeled after older Campagnolo high-flange hubs and might take a second look to distinguish if it wasn’t for the pressed sealed bearings visible from the sides. (Electra did leave what must be an aesthetic grease port and clip on the center of the hub, where a loose ball hub would require a shot of grease as part of regular maintenance). Also, some might remember, the Campy hubs were notorious for cracking on the flange, so Electra beefed this up with some extra material to strengthen the hub and flange.

When I spoke with with Scott from Bike n Hike the day before the raffle, he was mixed with excitement and nerves. Everything was done, it was just time to wait and see how many people would show. Festival di Ticino marked the first time the shop had tried to organize something like this, and nobody knew what to expect. Now looking back on it, I’m sure everyone is pleased, it might have even gone beyond everyone’s expectations. It went beyond my expectations as I walked out with an Electra bike.

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