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Climbing into the Chris King Gourmet Century

Matt's Parlee

Chris King is truly the Willy Wonka of the bicycle industry. He makes the best hubs, bottom brackets, and headsets (among other bike parts) in the most wonderful factory in Portland, Oregon. Chris King parts are famous for lasting nearly forever without requiring maintenance, though their factory isn't an industry secret. They will give you a tour if you ask nicely and you can learn all about how they make these great parts, source everything from the best places, and do their best to recycle every unused piece into something useful. They also have an amazing employee café featuring chefs producing food that would rival the star chefs seen working at the biggest startups like Google and Twitter. Their bike-to-work program is unrivaled in Portland and every employee seems ecstatic about working there. Simply put, when Chris King does something in this world, it is always on point, well done, and approaches perfection.

I don't like the word "perfection" personally. Trying to attain it invariably sets you up to fail, as so few things come out "perfect" with any regularity, but despite my avoidance of that term, I'd say almost every Chris King part I've used on a bike of mine has been simply perfect. I've done Chris King's Gourmet Century ride of theirs three times now and every time has been better than the last. Chris King teams up the best chefs in the area, comes up with a couple small snack type meals for rest stops, plans a fantastic mid-ride lunch, and then goes all out for an epic sit-down dinner at the factory when the ride is all over. The Portland ride now sells out within hours of it being announced (they cap it at 450 riders), and they've branched out to a mountain bike ride in Bend, Oregon ...