th' Capn's Guide to Rallying In Portland

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I had the idea to write this Guide awhile back when it came to mind that potential Lambretta Club USA 2011 Lambretta Jamboree rallygoers ought to know about the possibility of rain during the rally. Yeah, I know, rain in mid-July. That's Portland for ya. Then I thought about riding over light-rail tracks in the rain, which can be hazardous. Then I thought about some of the complications we've had to deal with around planning for serving alcohol at the Saturday night party.

And there was more. After awhile I had a list of stuff I felt people might want to know about when making plans to come to Portland for the 2011 Lammy Jammy. And thus the concept for th' Capn's Guide To Rallying In Portland was born. I hope you find it useful.

FYI, you can also download this article as a PDF at

What Is This Magical Place Called Portland?


Portland, Oregon. P-town. Stumptown. Bridgetown. The Rose City. Soccer City USA. Beervana. Rip City. PDX. Those are the polite nicknames. I won't get into the not-so-polite ones but rest assured there are a few.

Portland is special for many of the same reasons a lot of cities are special. We have some wacky, creative types. We have a thriving food scene. We have a fledgling micro-distillery industry. We have an NBA team and now an MLS team. And we have the usual performing arts stuff like plays, a couple of orchestras, a ballet company, an opera company and a thriving independent music scene.

Some things Portland has that you won't find almost anywhere else: We gave birth to the microbrewing industry in the United States. We have the largest forested park within a city limits in the country (5,000 acres). We have the International Rose Test Gardens. We consistently rank as one of the ten greenest cities in the world. And we are home to the world's oldest teenage drag queen pageant. How can you beat that?

The political attitude is generally left-leaning and Portland almost always goes Democrat in elections. That's not to say there aren't some conservatives or right-wingers here, there just aren't many. We aren't a bunch of left-wing radicals, though. The scene is pretty much a little left of center with a smattering of the rest.

Look up Portland on Wikipedia and you'll get a good idea of what's going on here in P-town. If you are in the mood for some humor then look up a couple episodes of the new TV comedy Portlandia. The stuff they lampoon Portland for isn't far from the truth!

Getting Here

Portland has the usual stuff--an international airport, a train station, a bus station and a couple of interstate freeways (I-5 and I-84) running through it. It's pretty easy to get here.

As of this writing, a round-trip flight from Atlanta, Georgia to Portland and back cost $496 on A Greyhound bus ticket from Minneapolis, Minnesota to Portland will cost $184. An Amtrak ticket from Newark, New Jersey will cost $284. And if you want to drive from Denver, Colorado you will traverse 1,258 miles. There is also a Forward Air terminal for shipping scooters in and out. See? We aren't heathens after all, in spite of what I said about the politics!

If you are traveling to Stumptown and need a pickup at the airport, train station or whatever then let me know and I will do my best to make arrangements. Likewise if you are shipping your Lambretta in and need it collected from Forward Air.

When It Rains It Pours


I'm sure most folks have heard this already, but it rains in Portland. It rains a lot, from late autumn through spring and sometimes into early summer. Our Independence Day backyard cookouts get rained on, even if just a little, one out of three years. The weather is one of two reasons we pushed this year's Jamboree back to the second weekend in July. The other was the timing of this year's EuroLambretta Jamboree in Ireland.

Now, I'm not saying it is definitely going to rain during Lammy Jammy. It may be hot & sunny all weekend! Odds are, it'll be partly cloudy to sunny with daytime temperatures in the mid 70's, overnight lows in the mid 50's and a light to moderate breeze. The record high temperature in July is 107 and average rainfall is three-quarters of an inch.

Doesn't sound so bad now, does it? No, but I felt I ought to give fair warning--there is a slight chance that rain gear may be needed. Watch the forecast and plan accordingly.

Getting Around In Portland


Portland is pretty easy to navigate. The city is cleaved into east and west halves by the Willamette River. Burnside Street divides the north and south halves. The Columbia River marks the northern border of the city and separates Oregon from Washington. The southern reaches of the city kind of seamlessly blend into suburbs. Downtown is flanked by the creatively named West Hills and the river. Beyond the hills lie the western suburbs, a cultural wasteland that even the most intrepid of Portlanders dares not enter for fear of the mind-numbing vanillatude of it all. To the east lies Gresham and across the Columbia River is Vancouver, Washington.

For the most part, the city streets east and north of the Willamette River are laid out in a big grid. East-west and north-south thoroughfare avenues provide relatively easy access to most parts of town. There are ten bridges connecting the east and west sides of the Willamette River, two of them freeways and two with metal grating.

Most folks visiting for the first time find it relatively easy to get around and find their destinations without too much trouble. We will have ride routes with maps, maps of Jamboree venues and AAA-provided street maps available for rallygoers, just in case you get separated or want to explore on your own.

Ridin' The Rails


Portland's streets have their share of road hazards. We have potholes, bad repairs, non-repairs and rough surfaces, just like anyplace else. There are so many bicycle lanes that it's tempting to use them to bypass heavy traffic but don't or you'll be clubbed and thrown over a bridge by a group of militant vegan greenie cyclists.

One extra hazard we have in Soccer City is light rail--electric streetcars and mass transit trains. It seems like there are rails everywhere and more are going in all the time. Odds are very good that you will have to ride through a construction zone or two where workers are installing track.

Light rail track is like any train track--it's slippery and can grab your tires and make your scooter go where it wants you to go! This is especially hazardous when the tracks are wet. There's no avoiding riding over light rail tracks in Portland because they're just about everywhere. So keep a watchful eye on the tracks, slow down if taking a corner on them and you'll do fine.

Portland's traffic lights are assisted by standard sensor triggers under the pavement. You can usually see the lines. They work fine with scooters for the most part, so just stop your bike in a spot where the engine straddles one of those lines and it'll trigger the light for you sooner or later, depending on how the computer for that intersection is programmed. Note that this is especially helpful if you want to trigger a left turn light.

We have a few "hell's intersections." You know, the ones where three or more streets from differing directions and angles converge into one big, confusing, wreck-waiting-to-happen. Patience is required, as is stopping on the aforementioned traffic light sensor.

Rules Of The Road

The Rose City has a couple driving laws that some folks may not be used to. We also have a lot of street signs telling you what you cannot do. We have a police force that is reasonably rider friendly but doesn't have a problem busting you if you do something obvious. Here are a couple things that may be new to you.


•U-turns are illegal unless otherwise posted. If you don't see that sign then it's illegal. That's not to say that many of us don't flip a U-ee when the circumstances suit us but when we do we keep a sharp eye out for the police.

•Right turn on a red light after you stop is okay unless otherwise posted. That may sound obvious to some but I have been in cities where it's illegal. There are also circumstances where a left turn on a red after stopping is legal but that's a little more complicated.

•Lane-splitting is only allowed in California. Ain't no such thing in Oregon, or anywhere else in the country, for that matter. Riding in bike lanes, road shoulders and on sidewalks is also illegal and will get you ticketed if you're caught.

•Parking on sidewalks and at bicycle racks is illegal. While there are a few informal exceptions, you're better off not doing it. Unless you're with a local and s/he says it's okay at that particular spot. Then if you get ticketed you can just hand it over to your friend for payment!

•You must park between the lines. When parking on city streets in an area that has marked parking spots, we have to park our scooters in the same spaces that the cars might park. We can't park in the little corner slots left over or between cars.


•We can park multiple scooters to a single metered parking space. Some parts of Portland use a single parking meter pay station for an entire block. You put your money in, it gives you a sticker that says you paid for X minutes and then you stick that to your bike. When using parking spaces like this, we can part as many scooters as we can fit between the lines into that single parking space. The only caveat is that we each have to pay the meter and get a sticker on our bike. *Note that if you are in an area that has old-fashioned coin meters for each parking space then it's one bike per space. Watch for the hours that paying is required.

Tuning Your Lambretta For Portland

Just about all stock scooters run well in PDX. Elevation is a whopping 400 feet (effectively sea-level), reaching 1,200-ish feet in the West Hills. July temperatures and humidity are typically moderate.

Folks from higher elevations and/or dry climates who have adjusted their carburetor will want to set their carbs back to the factory settings, assuming everything on your engine is stock. You can find stock carburetor settings online at

For modified engines and those with aftermarket carbs from higher elevations and/or dry climates, your scooter will run lean and the engine may overheat or run-on if you don't make carburetor adjustments. Depending on the make and model of your carb, you will likely need to install larger main and pilot jets and may require a different throttle needle, throttle slide and/or atomizer tube. Not all makes and models of carburetors have changeable atomizers and parts from some models of carb are interchangeable with others. When in doubt, always consult your favorite Lambretta technician. Plan ahead and buy a couple extra jets before the Jamboree.

We will have the Ptown Scooters Tech Tent at the Jupiter Hotel--Lammy Jammy HQ--during the day on Saturday, July 9th. Sponsored by Ptown Scooters, Portland's premier classic scooter repair and restoration shop, the Tech Tent will have technicians and tools on site to assist with carburetor re-tuning and minor repairs as well as basic parts and supplies for sale. This is a special, donated service from the good folks at Ptown Scooters and I want to offer my gratitude and thanks to them. Thank-you Ptown Scooters!

Fueling Up


All gas stations in Portland sell 87, 89 and 92-octane unleaded gasoline with 10% ethanol. Our gas has ethanol year round, not just during the winter. I have heard of carburetor maladies blamed on ethanol but I personally have not had any problems that can be traced to the stuff.

If your engine requires an octane rating of higher than 92 then you will want to either bring your own gas or buy 110-octane leaded racing gas from a local motorcycle or race shop. Note that I am not recommending you use racing gas in your scooter! I have never done it, as octane ratings that high are intended to be used in engines with very high compression ratings. Even my freshly-built RB200 Lambretta motor doesn't require anything higher than 92-octane and my stock Series 2 TV175 certainly doesn't.

Here's something that most folks don't run into anywhere else: It is illegal to pump your own gas in Oregon. Yeah, I know, crazy talk. Oregon and Rhode Island are the only two states left in the union where you can't pump your own. You drive up, a station attendant takes your order, you hand him your card and he pumps your gas. If you're paying cash then you usually have to go inside to the register.

Fortunately, most stations know that we motor-bikers are picky about our machines. The station attendant would rather you drip gas on your bike yourself rather than s/he do it, so the "law" usually looks the other way when it comes to us pumping our own. The station attendant will ask for your card, run it and select the octane and then hand you the nozzle. If they're busy they may tell you to go ahead and run the card yourself, but not usually--they like to maintain some semblance of control. But then, don't we all.

Alternate Activities

For folks not going on the rides or not spending the entire weekend rallying, here are a few suggestions for places to visit and things to do in Portland. See more and get details online at

* Oregon Zoo

* Portland Japanese Garden

* International Rose Test Garden

* Lan Su Chinese Garden

* Portland Children's Museum

* Portland Art Museum

* Oregon Museum of Science and Industry

* Portland Historic Races @ Portland International Raceway

* Pittock Mansion

* Portland Farmers' & Saturday Markets

* Powell's City of Books

* Beverly Cleary Sculpture Garden

* Multnomah County Library

* Oaks Amusement Park

* World Forestry Center

* Hike/walk Forest Park

* Ride the Portland Aerial Tram

* Golf one of Portland's many public courses

* Visit Portland's parks, fountains and natural spaces

* Wine tasting in Oregon's sub-appellations

* Sightseeing and hiking in the Columbia Gorge

* Tour Portland's breweries & brewpubs

* Tax-free shopping (no sales tax in Oregon!) in Portland's cultural districts: Downtown, Pearl District, Nob Hill, Alberta Arts District, Mississippi Avenue, Hawthorne & Belmont Streets, Multnomah Village, Lloyd District, Sellwood, Hillsdale, Division/Clinton Neighborhood

Partying In P-Town


Oregon takes a somewhat provincial approach to alcohol sales. The Oregon Liquor Control Commission lays down a variety of laws and regulations that complicate matters in a variety of ways, the most obvious of which is the liquor store.

Liquor (distilled spirits) by the bottle is only available at state-controlled, franchised liquor stores. There are about 30 of these stores in the city limits, so it's not like they're hard to find, but hours can be limited. You cannot buy liquor by the bottle, not even a tiny, little airline bottle, at any other retail outlet in Oregon other than a state liquor store. The closest liquor store to the Jupiter Hotel is 11th Avenue Liquor at 1040 SE Hawthorne Boulevard, about a half mile from the hotel.

Beer and wine are another matter entirely! These are available at just about any and every grocery, market and convenience store, including places like Costco. Oregon does not have a "3.2 law," so the percentage of alcohol of all beer and wine is stated on the bottle and what you read is what you get. Given Portland and Oregon's considerable number of microbreweries, our markets frequently carry a large and varied selection of beers.

Beer bottle shops have also become popular in Portland over the past couple of years. Many bottle shops are attached to pubs or cafes and typically offer large selections of beer and sometimes wine to buy and drink on premises or take with you. The most noteworthy bottle shop in Portland is Belmont Station (, which boasts over 1,200 different bottled beers available for sale!

All alcoholic beverages are heavily taxed by the state. Prices in the neighboring states of California, Idaho and Nevada are lower. Washington state's prices are about the same due to their sales tax. Did I mention that Oregon doesn't have a sales tax?

The legal drinking age in Oregon is 21. As mentioned before, we don't have a 3.2 law and there isn't an 18-21 age policy for purchasing lower-alcohol beverages. If it has alcohol at any percentage then you have to be 21 or older to buy it and/or drink it.

Oregon's liquor laws also impact service at bars, restaurants and other such spots. The Lambretta Jamboree's Saturday night party at the Jupiter Hotel must also conform to the limitations of state law. This means that once the party starts on Saturday evening:

* The courtyard (primary party area) will have one designated entrance with security to check identification.

* You MUST have your ID on your person at all times.

* Nobody under 21 years of age will be allowed in the courtyard once the bar opens.

* We have to hire two OLCC-permitted bartenders to pour and serve all beverages.

* There is no self service of beverages.

* Anybody visibly intoxicated will be cut off by security.

* No outside beverages of any kind can be brought into the courtyard and no unfinished beverages may exit the courtyard.

The Jupiter Hotel also has it's own alcohol regulations in that they do not allow open containers outside of hotel rooms. Yeah, that could be a drag the rest of the weekend, so here's the workaround: Pour your beverage into an opaque cup so that hotel staff can't see what you're drinking. Any plastic cup will do the trick, just as long as it doesn't look too obvious that you're drinking a beer or margarita.

Late Night

Most bars, pubs, lounges and taverns close sometime around 1 - 2 AM on Friday and Saturday nights but there are places open later. Not all places serve a full liquor bar. Most are full bar (beer, wine and spirits) but a minority are beer and wine only. There isn't any foolproof way to tell the difference from the outside nowadays, so you'll just have to walk in and see if there's a wall of booze or not.

Did I Forget Anything?


Not that I can think of at the moment, but if you're reading this and can get feedback to me before July 1st then drop me a note at and I may include it in the printed edition that will be available at the Jamboree. You can also find me on Facebook at and on Twitter as @th_capn.

Here's to seeing you at the LCUSA 2011 Lambretta Jamboree in Portland! This is my hometown, and while I may gripe about the weather sometimes, it's a great city with a lot to offer.


Use with caution, as side effects may occur. The Lambretta Club USA did not endorse or authorize this Guide. Neither did the rest of the 2011 Lambretta Jamboree planning committee, of which th' Cap'n is the chairman. None of these fine folks reviewed it before publication, either. What you are reading is strictly from th' Cap'n, to you, the scooterist. Use only as directed. Do not read while operating a motor vehicle or heavy equipment. Keep away from pets and small children. This disclaimer does not cover misuse, accident, lightning, flood, tornado, tsunami, volcanic eruption, earthquake, hurricanes and other Acts of God, neglect, damage from improper reading, incorrect line voltage, improper or unauthorized use, broken antenna or marred cabinet, missing or altered serial numbers, removal of tag, electromagnetic radiation from nuclear blasts, sonic boom, crash, ship sinking or taking on water, motor vehicle crashing, dropping the item, falling rocks, leaky roof, broken glass, mud slides, forest fire, or projectile (which can include, but not be limited to, arrows, bullets, shot, BB's, paintball, shrapnel, lasers, napalm, torpedoes, or emissions of X-rays, Alpha, Beta and Gamma rays, knives, stones, etc.). th' Cap'n disclaims all liability, including liability for infringement of any proprietary rights, relating to use of information in this document. th' Cap'n does not warrant or represent that such use will not infringe such rights. In fact, that's a very strong possibility. Nothing in this document constitutes a guarantee, warranty, or license, express or implied. th' Cap'n disclaims all liability for all such guaranties, warranties, and licenses, including but not limited to: fitness for a particular purpose; merchantability; non-infringement of intellectual property or other rights of any third party or of th' Cap'n; indemnity; and all others. The reader is advised that third parties may have intellectual property rights that may be relevant and/or irrelevant to this document and the technologies discussed herein, and is advised to seek the advice of competent legal counsel, without obligation to th' Cap'n. In other words, get your own #$^%#$ lawyer before you hurt yourself. Void where prohibited by law, which could be just about everywhere.


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Strip club capital of the world!!