The Portland 555 Head This Way

Perhaps you've heard. Perhaps you can feel it in the air. Perhaps the obnoxious sound of Japanese two-cycles is making the hair stand up on the back of your neck right now, even from three states away. The Portland 555 is headed this way. Fourteen riders from Portland, Ore. to Knoxville, Tenn. No bike over 500ccs, made later than 1975, or worth more than $500. Does this sound familiar?

Just hours before departure on June 20, 555-er Zac Christensen took a break to answer a few questions from Chris Barrett.

Q: Where and when should we gather to welcome you to Knoxville?

A: Whenever we get there (but shooting for July 2nd) at Back Room BBQ [100 N. Central St. in the Old City].

Q: What's the bike most likely to, um, determine the rate of progress? Did I see a 175 on the site?

A: The CB175s and 200s are for sure the slowest (50 mph cruising speed) but the numerous RDs are the most likely to slow the rate by unexpectedly reducing their rate to 0 mph and then staying there for sustained periods of time. If you average the duration (13 days) of the trip by the total distance (3,000+/-) then I think we will be coming in around 8 mph?

Q: Why are you guys seeing the Knox 555 as inspiration instead of the bad examples they so obviously are?

A: We have spent years doing stupid stuff as fast as possible, but the Knoxville guys turned that whole concept upside down by showing us that stupid stuff can be done much, much slower and be equally fun. That and the concept somehow frames and legitimizes what is actually just two weeks of yahooing.

Q: How do people out there in Gore-tex- and Pinot noir-land who have never been here imagine this wonderland called Knoxville? Did they tell you we have tails?

A: We are all familiar with Dolly Parton, the Aldridge Sisters, whiskey, and the work of the motion picture artist Johnny Knoxville. But everyone is looking forward to receiving more detailed reports on Knoxville. A lot of the Oregon 555 guys are also really excited to try the adult beverage you call "mountain dew"—the Knox 555 guys have told us it tastes just like Midori.

Q: I couldn't navigate your website very well; rather, it wouldn't let me join. If K'villains wish to be supportive, how best?

A: Our IT guy (me) totally sucks and should be fired. We will be making updates from the road so people can check out our status. If folks want to help out I am sure we will need to wet our whistles once we get there so come on out and tip one back with us. Oh, if you have any BBQ laying around then maybe bring some of that.

To learn more about the riders, the bikes, the myth, click to