It's hard to explain, but there is something magical about the Pacific Northwest. Of course, that's a very American term because when we lived up in British Columbia for a couple years it would more or less be considered southwest Canada, but anyways ... you get what I'm saying. No one really knows or has explicitly defined what the PNW is as far as geographic boundaries. My hunch is that it starts somewhere in northern California and follows the coastline all of the way up to southeast Alaska. Pretty much wherever there is lots of rain, fog, and dense forest (with lots of loam) there you'll find the Pacific Northwest.
Like I said, we lived up in BC for a few years and even many years ago before that we also lived in northern California in Humboldt County. Now Portland, Oregon is home and in each place the overarching cultural influence stems from rain. In Oregon if you hop east of the Cascades not only is the culture different but so is the climate (the former influenced by the latter) as it is dry and high desert. So what is it about the PNW that creates this unique vibe and culture that makes it also home of the best mountain biking and coffee culture in the world? Rain.
Whereas in California we lived less than a mile from the coast (close enough where our car would at times receive salt spray from the waves pounding the coast) we now live a good hour and a half from it. Earlier in the week to escape the heat (as Portland had a mini-heat wave) we packed up and headed to the coast for a few days. No bikes, just flip flops, hoodies (thankfully), tents, and coffee. We spent most of our time simply beach combing, looking for odds and ends that washed up on the shore, poking around in tide pools, and climbing up and down sand dunes. The whole time (with coffee in hand) I marveled at what life in the PNW is like and about.
I was again reminded of how special this place is when I got home to see in my mailbox the first zine from the great folks at Freehub Magazine. They put out a fresh new zine called Craft MTB dedicated to all-things mountain biking and the culture of the PNW (including you too Canada). I quickly opened the magazine, went out and sat on our hammock and began reading (with coffee in hand). "Man, I love this place," is what I kept thinking to myself as I pored over the pages, read the articles, and soaked in the photos.
I hope this article doesn't sound like some chest-pounding dude who's gloating and in a backhanded way reminding you that you may not live here. Instead, it's a reminder how geography, topography, flora and fauna, and even precipitation can a influence culture. But what really is at the heart of this article is about how not only these very elements have shaped the mountain biking culture here, but Loam Coffee as well.
Words by Sean Benesh, Loam Coffee Founder and Brand Manager.