When they bike, they bike to the Timbers

Family bikes from Eugene, OR for Timbers match

Adkins Family bikes from Eugene

Photo Credit: 
Photo by Steel Brooks

Paul Adkins’s kids have got the Timbers bug. His 10-year-old girl Rainy Day, eight-year-old boy Torrent, and the twins age 5 Dare (a boy) and Sanguine (a girl) love soccer, and once they discovered the Timbers they insisted on seeing them play. So Adkins, who lives in Eugene, decided to make seeing this Saturday’s game versus Toronto FC into the family summer vacation.

Only they’re coming by bicycle.

Adkins is a cafeteria luddite: the family has no TV or car by choice. They ride extended bikes that look like three-person tandems: parent at the front, small kid in the middle, big kid at the back, all with pedals. They grow their own food and try to live a sustainable, “non-consumer” lifestyle.

But as a web developer he lives the wired life.

“The kids are pretty internet savvy. We’ve seen some Timbers games [online] on ESPN3 but we haven’t watched enough to know which players to like,” he said on Tuesday, before the family set off that evening, riding eight miles from Eugene to the Armitage Campground.

Like a lot of new Timbers fans, scratch the surface and there’s a soccer background. Adkins played a bit in high school, his wife used to be the athletic trainer for the men’s soccer team Columbia University, and 10 year old Rainy Day’s club team went undefeated last season. “We’ve all been playing it lately because our kids are into it. The kids are really excited. We all are.”

Eugene is a 100-mile straight shot by car up Interstate-5, but Adkins’ loose plan was to try out the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway, which runs as far as Champoeg (approximately 30 miles south of Portland). “It’s not a bike-only path,” said Adkins. “We’ll be jogging along the quiet roads, taking our time.” 

The plan was to go about 40 miles a day and use the Warm Showers List, through which cyclists opens their homes – or at least their bathrooms – to touring bike riders.

Adkins also used to be the Bicycle Transportation Alliance’s Eugene representative. “We know a fair number of bicyclists, so we’ll have places to stay in Portland,” he said.

On Wednesday night they rolled into Independence, OR and the loose planning paid off in serendipity. They weren’t showing any Timbers colors, but got talking to a local guy on a bike, Dustin Cotton.   

“He turned out to be a Timbers season pass holder,” said a pleasantly surprised Adkins. “He let us camp on his lawn, brought us hot chocolate in the morning, showed us his scarf and taught us some chants. Now we go ‘No pity in the Rose City’ when we have a big hill.”

The “triplebikes” are made in Eugene and they are efficient. The family did 75 miles on Wednesday, putting them so far ahead of schedule they were looking for swimming holes. The roads were quiet and they enjoyed fields of wheat, peppermint, yellow rapeseed and hay. Dad forgot the camera, and with no cell phone his main connection was a wifi-Skype-iTouch combo in a coffee shop for voice calls and updates to the family’s website Organichaus.com.

“One of our little guys fell off,” he reported, referring to Dare. “We had to slam on the brakes and my wife rammed into the back of us, but nobody got hurt.” Apparently it’s an occasional hazard. “They hang on pretty good mostly, but in town [Eugene] the kids are sometimes ready to fall asleep, and if they fall off the back wheel or the trailer runs them over.”

The Adkins family camped at Champoeg State Park Thursday. Friday they put on 38 miles, including a mile of I-5 near Woodburn to cross the Willamette. “The truck drivers were pretty nice to us,” said Adkins.

Around Lake Oswego they hit a smooth downhill and clocked 38.5 miles an hour. “With everyone all tucked in we were flying!”

They arrived intact in Portland in the afternoon. After cooling off for about 90 minutes in the fountain at Peninsula Park, they were hosted by a Timbers fan near N. Mississippi Ave before making their way to JELD-WEN Field.

Frustrating Timbers draw aside, the family will return to Eugene happy. They’re taking Amtrak home.