Oregon’s infamous bike-touring con man is still going strong

Oregon’s infamous bike-touring con man is still going strong


The infamous “Ian” in 2012.
(Photo: Chad Butler)

A con-man named “Ian” who we exposed for the first time back in 2012 is still at it. And while I don’t support the way he supports himself, I have to admit I’m envious of his lifestyle.

To get you up to speed, we too were initially duped by Ian when we published a story about someone who came to his aid after meeting him in central Oregon in May of 2012. After our story went up, a stream of comments came pouring in from other people who’d met him. They all shared different stories about his supposed hardships and bad-luck and how he just needed a little extra money and a ride to get back on his feet. Readers shared stories about being duped by him as far back as the 1990s and he’s probably been doing this for much longer that that (prior to the ubiquity of the Internet, how would anyone connect the dots!?).

Just over a year after our story, the comments started coming in again.

April 7th, 2013

“He’s BAAACK….. I saw Ian today in Arlington OR, by the public restrooms at the city park just off the freeway. He was pushing an overloaded bike / trailer combo. He was wearing the same orange jacket as in the top photo on this page. He tried to start a conversation with me by asking the time. I replied “Sorry Ian, I don’t have any idea what time it is.” He left the area immediately afterwards. I think he got the idea I knew who he was.”

May 21, 2013:

“Ian was in Waldport Or yesterday. He stopped by the Green Bile Co-op. Having encountered him before, I did not accommodate him. He was able, however, to sponge a free cup of coffee from the adjacent Espresso shop. He spent 3 hours sitting at the outdoor table”

January 15, 2015:

“Ian is on the road, pushing his bike through Lewiston, ID. I stopped and mentioned to him that he has quite a following on the Internet. He didn’t seem too concerned. I asked him where he was from and how long he had been riding the bike. He said “Alice, Australia” and “twenty-five years.” He said there was no better place to be than on a bike headed somewhere. He mentioned that he has worked all across the country. He was headed to Joseph, OR and then on to Baker City. He didn’t ask me for anything, but looked down at his rear tire and gave the bike a push to show me he was low on air. I don’t know if he was using that to get sympathy or a ride somewhere. The last I saw him he was pushing his bike to Clarkston, WA.

And just a few minutes ago, reader Maya Moore shared the most recent Ian sighting:

“Okay, we just met this guy in Ashland, OR a few days ago! We live near the bike trail and so invited him in for a burrito. Then we put him up at a nearby campground (paid for it and 5.00 for laundry money) His story was so odd, it made me wonder. Why did he chose to bike across the US in the dead of Winter? Was he really from a family of miners? Does he really work for Quantas Airlines? The things I DID believe (that he was robbed in Eugene, that his friends were driving him to SF to get a new passport) apparently aren’t true. Not sure what to believe at this point!”

We’re not sure what to believe either Maya, but we do know this man is dedicated to his craft and shows no signs of slowing down. And I have to admit, part of me never wants him to.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

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