Timbers fans converge on stadium by bike, MAX and more

Getting close to 20,000 people in and out of JELD-WEN Field in three hours is quite a feat. The Timbers’ home is not like suburban Chicago’s Toyota Park or PPL Park outside of Philadelphia. The stadium has to contend with restricted parking in an area dense with apartments. And don’t even think of picking up some token groceries at Fred Meyer and leaving the car in their lot.

So we talked to some Timbers fans about the alternative ways they get to the game.

Riding the MAX in from the west side recently before Sporting Kansas City’s visit was Bill Regan with his wife and lacrosse-loving son. Regan works in HR at Nike and has followed the team in the media, but this was his first Timbers MLS game. “We’re coming in early just to hang out,” he said. “The team has been a great addition to the city.”

In the next MAX car were Diane Grazer and her daughter Breanne. They live near the Sunset Transit Center. Normally they take a train that is filled with Timbers fans, but this time they were headed in 90 minutes before kickoff. “We’re hungry and we want dinner,” said Grazer.

Paul Gamboa, his wife Juli and their soccer-loving son Kai (fave player: Jake Gleeson) had driven from Sherwood to get the MAX at Beaverton Mall. They like the free train travel due to their season ticket holder TriMet vouchers – and they also like the atmosphere after a win. “The team could do with a bit more glory,” said Gamboa.

Biking is another popular option for commuting to the game. Season ticket holders have the option of bicycle “valet parking.” Stadium staff install portable blue bike racks along SW Morrison Avenue outside the ground. Anyone can use them, but season ticket holders can leave theirs under the watch of the stadium staff near the ticket office.

The average is around 225 bikes per game on the racks, according to guest attendant Charlie Sheets, age 77. The Kansas City night being so beautifully warm there were 288 before game time. One of those bikes, a Scott Sub 35 (aluminum frame) belonged to Hahn Huang, a young doctor.

“I bike from the South Waterfront where I live, then meet up with friends in the Timbers Army section,” said Huang. “Most of my friends cycle here, or walk from Northwest Portland.”

Indeed the sight of breathless cyclists arriving in packs just before kick-off is growing more common as the summer wears on.

Season ticket holder and Timbers Army Charlie Company man (Section 104) Michael Bluhm rides to every game from Powell Blvd and Southeast 50th Ave. “It’s the quickest way to get here - 25 minutes,” he said. “Most of my friends bike here too and we meet in the pub.”

Before the exhibition game versus Club Atlético Independiente of Argentina in mid-July, Nick Johnson rolled up with his daughter on an Extracycle extension along with his son and son’s friend on their bikes. They had it all: helmets, lights, panniers and snacks in Tupperware. They came five miles from near Grant High School in Northeast.

“I always bike to games, but this is the first time as a family.” He’s a conscientious objector to car whenever possible. “I’ve been avoiding driving for a long time,” Johnson said.

Getting to the ground is part of the fun for Patrick Donaldson, who rides a Stella scooter made by Genuine, complete with vintage-looking sidecar. “It’s like being in a parade,” said Donaldson. “You’ve got the scarf flapping in the wind, people are all waving, practically jumping off the curb to get in it,” he said, gesturing to his passenger, who wished to remain nameless.

Be it TriMet, bike, scooter or even on foot, Timbers fans faithfully make their trek to each and every game.