21 December 2008

Please Stop Using Bikey as an Adjective

Call me scrooge, a curmudgeon, what have you...but is "bikey" even a word? Not that I'm a rigorous linguist, I believe that the vernacular has to have room to grow and reshape as it has forever, but this psuedo-word is definitely suffering from overuse. I'll admit the first time I heard it I found it catchy, whimsical. Maybe even tried it on a time or two in print or conversation. But here's the thing: for it's own sake the use of the term needs to be reined in. Exhibit A: the home page of the BikePortland.org facebook group has no less than three invocations of the term currently. Such a unique and tenuous term needs careful handling during its gestation or suffer the fate of words that become inextricable linked to the time and place of their emergence, such as '80s Valley lexicon stalwarts "radical" or "totally". It's a word that calls attention to itself and should be reserved for use as a hook or surprise, maybe once every three weeks at most. Because everyone who sees it is going to use it, and then it's not special at all, now is it?

Here's a Christmas message from my kids. I think I'll need to spike their hot chocolates with Motrin on X-mas eve to get them asleep.

It's the first day of winter and we're blanketed by 8-inches of snow right now with more on the way. Longer days marks the first of several lifelines mother nature offers during this tilt away from the sun's love here in Portland, Ore.--exactly halfway between the Equator and the North Pole. Have you ever studied body language? If the earth and the sun were at a singles' bar right now the sun would be buying drinks and the earth would be pretending to look at something on her Blackberry.

So what am I going to do with my extra minute of daylight tomorrow? I'm going to try to come up with synonyms for bikey.

16 December 2008

The Streak Ends...Another Begins

123 days. Today the streak of consecutive days commuting by bike was broken. "Wintry Mix" may be a confectionary delight with Chex cereal, pretzel sticks and white chocolate waiting to be invented, but it's also the forecast for Portland this evening. We've had five straight days without breaking the "frozone." Having telecommuted on Monday and with the roads improving, an office appearance seemed appropriate before we get socked in again. I would have been inclined to attempt the ride, but wanted to get the children and wife in safely. So I drove them to work and picked them up out in Beaverton. Yup, no bike today--but we carpooled!
I'm viewing my inertia in this blog to be seasonally affected. The countdown to the winter solstice at five days, the waning entries are bound to round the corner here shortly.
Ike wanted me to say, "I love my bicycle, thank you."

Just found my old Star Search audition tape! Arsenio loved me, but unfortunately Sinbad was judging this week.

We listened to Hip Hop Lyrical Robot by UB40 about 8 times in the car today as the traffic was horrific. I broke the streak with a real flourish, spending about four hours in the car with the drive out to Jenn's work, my job, back again and home. I'd much rather bike on ice to tell you the truth. Funny thing, so many people asked me if I biked today. About a dozen, I'd say. Hope I didn't let you down.

28 November 2008

Bike Friday is Triptophan-tastic

Bike log, DAY 105 (Commute Day 69)

Well, I've successfully navigated the quarter turn of my year of car-free commuting. We've been having a relatively dry autumn here in the Pacific Northwest, but have had a dose of wet weather this month.

My biggest impediment of late has been a back ailment. I've slogged through the last two weeks, but it makes it a little difficult to find the inspiration some mornings. Feels like I'm coming out of it now though.

This month I received a very nice surprise from the good folks at Cycle Tote. My very own trailer donated by the company in support of my effort to abandon the car for a year. I came home from work to find a big package on the front porch. They, like New Belgium and Black Sheep, are a company based in Fort Collins. I will have to plan a touring trip with the family. Tallulah keeps asking me to get her a bike seat, and I have promised I would. Any suggestions? The Burly trailer she currently rides in is getting a little cumbersome as Ike has moved on to a bike extension set up.

My thanks to everyone who has encouraged me over the last 3 1/2 months. Hard to believe that I'm almost one-third of the way through.

Happy Cycling,


21 November 2008

Tell Metro Where to Put It

Where to put $21 million worth of transportation funds, that is. Metro is currently seeking input as to which projects to greenlight with Regional Flexible Funding dollars. From the Bicycle Transportation Alliance blog:

The process by which Metro allocates federal dollars for bicycle, pedestrian, transit and freight projects began last month. Metro has narrowed down the list of possible projects to $58 million worth - but there's only $21 million to spend!

But more specifically tell them how to spend, or rather why they should, the $2.1 million required for the Twenties Bikeway proposal. The deadline for comment is December 1. From the Metro website:

The Twenties Bikeway is a proposed bicycle facility running north-to-south parallel to the Interstate 5 and Highway 99E Regional Mobility Corridors. The Twenties Bikeway is a 9.2-mile corridor, of which 2.3 miles currently exist as bicycle lanes. Of the remaining 6.9 miles, 5.5 miles are to be developed with bicycle boulevard treatments and 1.4 miles are to be striped with bicycle lanes. Route is on NE 27th from Lombard to Ainsworth, NE 29th from Ainsworth to Knott, NE 28th from Knott to SE Madison, SE 27th from Madison to Stephens, SE 26th from Stephens to existing lanes south of Woodward. Project also adds improvements on SE 27th, Crystal Springs Boulevard and SE 44th from Bybee to Harney Drive.
This will fill a direly needed link in the network of dedicated bike passages in the heart of eastside, residential Portland. Remarkably, "Bike City U.S.A." has no dedicated north-south corridor for bike traffic from the Eastside Esplanade all the way to the I-205 bike path (which has been frequently closed in sections over the last year for construction of the new MAX line).

Don't believe it. Check it out for yourselves:

This map is produced by the Portland Office of Transportation. Similar to Metro's famous Bike There! maps, the purple and blue lines are multi-use pathways and bike lane striped roads respectively.

I'm often flummoxed as I look at these maps and try to figure out how to head out to neighborhood street festivals and the like with the family in tow during summer. My wife likes to feel safe in local traffic on a bicycle, especially with our young children in the bike trailer and tag-along bike extension. I'd even like to go to the grocery store on the bikes with the whole family so we could totally abandon the car on the weekends, but traffic on 28th over I-84 can be kind of treacherous. The Banfield is really the concrete river of Bridgetown that channels traffic north-south to certain corridors in the same way that the Williamette does East-West.

So please, if you live in the area and feel likewise, or if you support the example the city sets for the rest of the country, take this opportunity to address a shortfall of Portland's otherwise deserved bike friendly reputation.

Click here to comment in favor of the Twenties Bikeway.

19 November 2008

Welcome Carlitos Gillette

It's been a while. There were a couple of Ridden's windows knocked out and some graffiti tags on the west side of the building. Inside there was a pair of adult diapers and a full palette of indoor soccer balls. Also, bonobo feces and a Lance Crackers peanut butter-and-malt plastic wrapping.

Now this isn't about pointing fingers or asking anyone for money. But there needs to be a certain amount of recognition as to the level of commitment an operation like this entails. For just the price of a cup of coffee, a scone and a King-size Charleston Chew a day, you could finance both monkeys and typewriters via a low-risk annuity fund that in twenty years would produce more replica diplomas than you'd know what to do with.

Look, I'm not suggesting you run out and quit your job, leave your family and get subdermal gill vents. That's so 2012. What you want to do is draft a strongly worded letter wherein you politely suggest to your maker a physiological impossibility. I'm just saying.

Whoa, settle. The 80s references were fun but let's get real. Everyday's not sunshine and jerk chicken. Nor is it clacker balls and mentos...or even Wacky Wall Walkers. So screw your head on right and get your ass back in there! What you do with your elbows, kneecaps and phalangeal is your own business and not appropriate discourse in this forum.

13 November 2008

My Telecommuting Nemesis

So about two years ago, I enrolled in Midtown Atlanta's Commuter Rewards program, which dishes out fabulous cash and prizes (aka $10 gift cards) to commuters who keep a log of their clean commutes online each week. At the end of the month, they send out an e-mail with a list of winners and top achievers.

Imagine my chagrin to see that this month's top clean air "commuter" is a dude who logged "112 telework trips in a 90 day period." This begs the question: How does a person telecommute more than once a day?

Adding insult to injury is the inherent lack of effort involved in "telecommuting," especially when compared to the mortal peril of riding a bike to work in downtown Atlanta. I picture this person reading his e-mails in a cozy, softly lit breakfast nook, ripping into a pepperoni hot pocket while I dodge right-turning Escalades and have kids on the sidewalk throw old Reeboks at my face.

30 October 2008

Mickey Mouse Panhandler Traffic Hazard?!?

People. You gotta love 'em...and/or question their core motives.

I've been following the Bike Portland blog for awhile and lapping at their saucer all the while. One feature of the site that particularly intrigues is a geographical interface where users can map close calls for the community at large. A kind of google maps to alert bicyclists of trouble spots.

My work commute looked nearly free of the color-coded pins that connote reported scrapes or possible problems. The only spot that did have flags was west of the Hawthorne Bridge.

I should preface any further remarks with the following disclaimer: my daughter loves Mickey Mouse. People who know me know I love a good non sequitur; this actually isn't one. The corner in question is one typically occupied by a tuxedo-ed pan handler who wears Mickey Mouse ears and plays trumpet during evening rush hour. The kinda guy you want as the subject of your very first student film.

So I was surprised to see multiple reports citing his existence here as endangering bicyclists.

This fellow camps out on the corner in rush hour in a white suit. He waves flashy things, smiles and plays trumpet badly for tips. This activity obscures a cyclist's view and makes it difficult to see merging cyclists and pedestrians crossing the bridge. It also annoys drivers who inch up further from their normal stopping place, trying to see the road and get out of eyesight of this guy. When cars move forward a cyclist cannot proceed straight but must U around the hood of the car. I haven't been hit but see the potential. Please get the city to do something about this.

I've never experienced him, let's call him Goofy for the purposes of this post, I've never experienced Goofy as anything other than a delightful momentary distraction on the ride home. Back in the days of Johnny, I even tipped him a time or two for the merriment his sublimely infectious, and impossibly over-sized, mouse ears brought to my toddler daughter--needing a distraction while stuck in traffic.

But some bikers out there think the city needs to "do something about this."? As Mickey would say, "Gosh!"

21 October 2008

You heard?

There's a couple of new developments in the local bike community that have garnered much interest in the last few days. The first is the opening of the two-way bike lane through the transit center in the Rose Quarter. It's a place for bikers to meet, hang out, talk about their likes and dislikes while sipping on some great Indonesian herbals or, from what I understand, absinthe. Actually, it's a through route where once there wasn't (but, as always, there's no loading in the green zone). It's never been a major commute thoroughfare for me personally, but I know a lot of people where motivated to see this done. And now it is. I'm going to make my inaugural ride this evening. I'll report back my experiences.

So I gave the new lanes a twirl last night on the way to swim lessons at Matt Dishman Community Center. It was over before I knew it. I can say that it's a heavily biked corridor. Mostly my experience confirmed my initial reservations about bike bells.

The second bit of news of interest to bikers is the issuance of bike lights by city cops in advance of planned citations for not having them. This morning I had my first ever run in with police on my bike. Traffic was lined up at the five-way intersection at Burnside. So I did what I like to call the penta-coast through the gap in traffic on twelfth heading west on the Ankeny bike boulevard. I touched my brakes gently before cruising through perpendicular to the stopped one-way traffic. A safe move because the traffic's not going anywhere but admittedly illegal.

View Larger Map

At the front of the line was a motorcycle policeman who communicated his disapproval over his PA. "You need to be content to stop."

"Content to stop," the phrase stuck with me for the remainder of my ride. It was almost philosophical. Where else in my life could I apply this axiom. The ramifications of this reflective approach seemed endless, beyond the immediate biking application. I turned the phrase over in my mind repeatedly as I pondered it's meaning. And then I thought, "Maybe he said, 'You need to at least attempt to stop.' "

16 October 2008

you know what's great on a bike ride? fresh asphalt.

13 October 2008

Bailout = Better Biking?

Living in a state whose legislators tend to focus their energy on better shootin' and commandment postin', I was amazed to read about Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenaur's successful maneuver to attach a bicycle commuter act onto the federal bailout bill last week. I had to read the article twice to make sure I wasn't seeing things, but indeed, the $700 Billion bailout bill will also (in a small indirect way) help the plight of bike commuters.

08 October 2008

Bridge to Somewhere (Milwaukie's Somewhere, Dammit)

My morning included a mini-biathlon, running to the bike shop (Se7en Corners) and biking in to work from there. I almost made my maiden voyage over the Ross Island Bridge (the terror ride of Portland's seven metro bridges) but had sense enough to take my mechanic's suggestion and backtrack north to the Hawthorne Bridge. In so doing I passed an elementary school and was amazed by the abundance of bikes in the playground on a drizzly morning. Turns out there's a reason for this.
Had some time to kill before the shop opened, so ended my moratorium on paying 75-cents for a daily periodical (the Oregonian was less than half that when I moved to Portland seven years ago) and ponied up for some ink stains. What I was treated to were the latest artists renderings for the proposed pedestrian bridge over the Williamette.
You know, to me, the "modest" wave frame girder would be best. Given the current economic climate "showy" design doesn't seem particularly appropriate even if the project started years ago or the designs don't vary that much in expense. I also like that the girder waves invoke the waterway underneath. Hey, that was honest sentiment. No snarkiness or sarcasm. What's happening to me?

07 October 2008

It's Officially Folly

For a while there I thought we might have a four-way tie, which would have meant the somewhat cumbersome title Frank Black Sheep Folly for the new bike. Thanks to Nevik for suggesting the name.

24 September 2008

A Blogspot Confessional

Forgive me, Blogger, for I have sinned. It's been 6 days since my last submission.

I neglected to post the following photo taken at SE Ankeny and 28th which might have helped my reader though I doubt it because my mom neither lives in Portland nor is a nurse at OHSU.

Then there was the run with the lovely Office of Transportation intern, Beth, who was surveying bike traffic for the city at the same corner which might have made a interesting offering.

I could have also mentioned the Kerns Neighborhood meeting and the effort underway to plan a bike light giveaway this month.

There's also the Bike Commute Challenge which I've been coordinating at my workplace and has been going on all month that would have been a worthy inclusion. Alas, none of these posts came to pass as I frittered aways Summer's final days.

Oh, then there was the bike commute out to Beaverton to pick the kids up at daycare which ended in a taxicab at the Burger King drive thru.

A lot actually happened in the intervening days, I'm realizing. Maybe one day I'll write about them.

Yea, though I ride in darkness, pending the time change, my heart cries out to mankind. I will invite 10 friends on Facebook as penance.

17 September 2008

An Open Letter to Pacific Audit Solutions

To Whom it May Concern:

16 September 2008

Waves to Wine 2008

This past weekend was the 25th annual Waves to Wine event in California. The event is a fundraiser benefit for the California chapter of the MS Society. My wife Michelle, who works for The North Face, signed us up through work.

This was a massive event - I've never done anything like it. I have to respect how well-organized the entire thing was, from start to finish. There ended up being 2000 registered riders, the majority doing the 75 mile route both Saturday and Sunday. There was also a century route for the more adventurous, along with a half-century as well.

View Larger Map

We walked our bikes and gear over to ATT Park, about a mile from our house at 6AM on Saturday, to find the parking lot already thronged with bikers & support crew. After dropping our bags off with the truck, we hooked up with the other North Facers, all resplendent in their sleek black jerseys. Of course, everyone was gravitating around the breakfast tents, trying to load up on last-minute calories before the start.

To cope with the massive amount of riders, they were staging the departures, and we were slotted for a 7AM start. As we all rolled out of the starting gate, they had what seemed like 15 volunteers just ringing cowbells and cheering us on.

We were in a huge pack of cyclists as we cruised up the Embarcadero, around the tip of the peninsula, and up to the Golden Gate Bridge. I had never biked over the bridge before, and it was spectacular. Once across the bridge, we dropped down into Sausalito and up into the Marin headlands, over Mt. Tam. Oh man, were there some huge hills there! That is where some extra training could have come in handy, without a doubt. There were a lot of people struggling to get up those hills. Somehow, I managed to get behind a dude with a boom box strapped to the back of his bike, and he was blasting out the tunes, which was semi-annoying, and semi-helpful...at least he could have been playing Eye of the Tiger or something!

But make it to the top we did, and this is what we saw:

The calm Pacific view helped drop my heart rate back to normal. From there, we wound along the coast past Stinson Beach & Point Reyes, then headed inland to Cotati, where we camped out for the night.

On Sunday, we wound around to Sebastopol, and then up to Healdsburg. Day 2 was a much mellower ride, but after the first day, it was still pretty challenging. The rolling hills of wine country were amazing, I can't wait to get back and explore more of those back roads.

A great part of the whole ride was how well-organized it was, There were rest stops every 10 miles or so, with Gatorade, water, snacks and also mechanics to make sure everyone's bikes were in top shape. On top of that they had support cars going up & down the route, helping out if anyone had any problems.

Rest stop on day 2

All in all it was a great weekend, and a great event that ended up raising close to 2 million dollars to benefit the MS Society.Now we know we're going to start training for next year now! Maybe by that time we'll be bold enough to go for the century ride...or maybe not.

15 September 2008

Faster Mustache 24.08

Hello, this is Da Trouble Twin checking in with another east coast dispatch. . .

Sometimes in Atlanta (as with many other cities, I imagine) it's easy to fall into a geographical routine. I tend to ride my bike on the same routes, I tend to hang out in the same parts of town, and stick in the same general regions most of the time. On top of that, I usually experience a particular area of the city at a consistent time of day.

So last weekend, I had a really refreshing experience riding in a 24-hour urban bike relay race through the city. Although I was already familiar with most of the streets and areas on the race route, it was cool to be forced to engage different parts of Atlanta at different parts of the day than I'm used to.

To provide some background, the concept of the race goes like this: teams of 1-6 riders take turns doing a 12-mile loop through the city. Along the way, there are 5 checkpoints you have to hit to make sure you are riding the full loop. At the end of 24 hours, the team with the most completed laps wins.

Most of the course ran through the main residential thoroughfares of Atlanta's east side, but the part that I enjoyed the most was a 3 or 4 mile chunk through the heart of downtown. As the time of day changed, the energy and character of the downtown area changed as well, particularly in a neighborhood in the southwest corner of downtown called Castleberry Hill. Like Atlanta itself, Castleberry is filled with a lot of different types of people and places all colliding together in one location. It's hard to explain, but there is this wild mashed-up vibe down there where high end art galleries sit next to decaying pawn shops, and makeshift homeless encampments are within eyeshot of million dollar residential lofts. The whole neighborhood sits in a really disorienting section of downtown where some streets are elevated over the railroad tracks, some streets are down below by the tracks, and some streets just kind of dead end into concrete barriers. The result is a lot of scrubby undeveloped plots of land that have a fringy, almost rural feel even as they loom in the shadow of the downtown skyscrapers and the golden state capitol dome a few blocks away.

In one of these zones down by the tracks is the Elliot Street Pub. It was the last checkpoint on the route, where you stopped heading west and returned back around to head into town. The night of the race, it was also one of the city's de facto cyclist hangouts, where racers would have food and drinks while waiting for their next turn to do the loop. Around 10 or so, the Elliot street scene started getting really animated, and patrons would whoop and holler encouragement as you made the turnaround on your bike. By 1:30 in the morning, the encouragement had gotten much more physical, and Elliot Street became a gauntlet of sorts, with people alternately hugging you, patting your shoulders, and/or slapping your ass as hard as possible for sport. By sunrise, tailgaters for the nearby Atlanta Falcons game at the Georgia Dome had already begun to arrive and park down by Elliot street and were all too ready to carry the torch of cheering on / heckling the cyclists as we carved our way through their downtown encampments.

I had the good fortunate of running the last leg of the race for our team. I've done some races where you ride a long distance over the course of a few hours, but never a race like this where you ride as fast as you can for 40 minutes, take a break for a few hours, and then race as fast as you can again. By that final lap on Sunday, I'd ridden over 70 miles, slept a little under 3 hours and my legs and mind were starting to weaken. But at the same time, that final loop around the city was one of my favorite. There were lots of people in the neighborhoods out walking to church or to get breakfast, and a cool breeze blew through the streets downtown. When I crossed the finish line, my teammates had a cold beer waiting for me, as we celebrated our unspectacular-but-respectable 9th place finish.

13 September 2008

Poser Elitist Suffers Talk Radio Withdrawls

Exposing hypocrisy has long been a tradition of blogs. I believe it was Jedediah Locklace in the early years of the New Republic who exposed Abigail Adams' Jeffersonian tendencies on his blog, written by candlelight on a drum skin with quill ink on the eve of the 1800 election and published as a broadside outside taverns throughout the eastern seaboard, effectively establishing the two-party system.

It's in that spirit of flawless and inspirational journalism that I endeavor to bring you these accounts of car-free commuting. But a funny thing about exposing hypocrisy is the level of effort investigative journalism entails. Try as I might, I just can't seem to intuit surprising, fact-based false positions perpetrated by important people. Although I did once witness a strip tease by Sarah Palin at a dive bar in Nome, AK in the mid Eighties. I was with Joey Biden who used to score the best blow in those days. Like I said, it was the Eighties. Does anyone else think Biden looks like Big Earl from What's Happening!!!? But I digress...

As I was saying, the effort involved at exposing hypocrisy has forced me to look for a shortcut. And so, as is my predilection, I'm turning the magnifying glass on myself. Ouch, it burns.

You see, it's been a month and a half since the last time I drove a car to work. And though I work for the liberal media, I can only listen to depressing Morning Edition stories about the grim situation in the Middle East or the rising death totals in Iraq (on the way to work no less) for so long before I'm compelled to look for loose railing on a bridge to drive through. That's how I happened to discover ESPN's Colin Cowherd on my drive in. Ssshhh...it's my secret.

I can't tell you how much self-loathing the act of listening to sports radio would instill in me. I would change the channel before I turned off the car engine just in case I happened to have a passenger at lunch or on the way home for fear that I'd be exposed. If I could render a snapshot of the image of myself I'd least want to project to the world, I'd have inline skates, short shorts and tube socks and a headband with a cigarette in one hand and a transistor radio tuned to sports talk in the other. Actually, I rather fancy myself in tube socks and a headband.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not ashamed to have or admit to rooting interests in the sporting world. I have a baseball team that I follow and even stay in touch with the old college gang via a fantasy football league I belong to. But when I listen to these talk shows and hear the minutiae and aping analysis of the call-in listeners I shudder to think I'm one of them. And then I stay an extra three minutes in the parking lot with the engine off to hear what they have to say.

So on the growing list of benefits of bike commuting add this: it's executed a restraint that I'm incapable of under my own volition and forced more discerning media consumption upon me.

If anyone asks, corroborate my story. I was listening to Frank Deford.

09 September 2008

DIY Adult Toys at Root of Three Alarm Fire

My Internal Dialogue on the Ride Home Yesterday

That's funny I've never seen smog in Portland before...

...oh, that's not smog that's a charcoal black column of billowing smoke...I wonder if I should get my cell phone out of my bag and take a picture for my blog...no, it takes really crappy pictures. I'll just find some pictures on flicker.

Hey, that looks like it's coming from the base of the Hawthorne Bridge. People are riding over the bridge though...

...I should have taken a picture from the South Waterfront that was a much better angle. Are people still calling it SoWa? I haven't heard that one in awhile. I'd like to try Bambuza one day.

Boy, that's really some fire. Oh, I'm going to have to ride right through that toxic smoke.

...I don't really have to cough but I'm going to force myself.


I can't see the fire anymore.


We interrupt this mildly interesting blog post to deliver some mind-blowing information. As I was researching this story for some pictures I discovered that not only is Empire Labs a manufacturer of rubber products such as conveyor belts, etc. but also the popular "Clone-A-Willy" adult toy. So while the mainstream media is recycling the narrative of a three-generation family-run operation, the blog-o-sphere, specifically Melissa Ooms the OregonLive blogger for Kerns Neighborhood, gives you the true skinny, or rather, thickness.

Oh yeah, the company owner is named Edward Hutchinson. Strange truths.

08 September 2008

Day 24 (Commute Day 14)


Have you been reading my diary? I noticed Dorito fingerprints and the pages smell like throw up. Stay out of my stuff!

05 September 2008

Day 21 (Commute Day Twelve)

Blogerians Unite!

With Patriot Day loomng and all this talk of Country First! I thought it would be appropriate for me to fly colors. I prefer this revolutionary era flag to the stars and bars. It's what hangs from the flag mount in front of my house. I'm not a strict originalist ala Antonin Scalia, but I do think it captures the sentiment the framers had in mind (or at least the various militia that waged the revolt and established our country). God Bless America, and I mean that. I'll be flying old faithful come November 5th. Make that a guarantee.

You're good people. Let's set politics aside and get to the more pressing issue: Bike Bells. The votes are in and I've tabulated the results. Of the five votes received, I voted twice. So I'm throwing those out. I sorta hoped I wouldn't be the lone dissenting vote in favor of clown horns, but the numbers don't lie. My other vote was actually for bells. People with a knowledge of the poll and a mastery of subtraction will have deduced that Ridden readers opposed bike bells 2-1. That's not a reduced ratio. That's in actual votes.

Regarding bells, now that I have one, I still do what I always did, which is whistle. As an audible warning I still find it friendlier than either "ding" or "on your left." But I'll concede that a lot depends on circumstance. I try to gauge my audience. Elders, moms with strollers get "on your left" in advance and "excuse me" as I pass. Delivery trucks cutting me off in the bike lane get a different auditory warning.

04 September 2008

Day Twenty (Commute Day Eleven)

(Saw this on the ride home last night and had to stop to snap a pick. )

Dear Blogeria,

Try as I might I can't get the thought out of my head: Mom was right. Not in the pre-fab marketing survey sense wherein Choosy Moms choose Jiff, but rather in the visceral exhortations imploring me to "get that out of [my] mouth," "[not] pick at that" or "let [my] brother out of the dryer". Seems there's some impulsive instinct hardwired in moms that lets them instantly detect bad ideas and communicate them in unwavering proclamation.

Moms know stuff.

So it comes as no surprise that I'm really dragging my heels on telling my parents about the car swap for fear of her optimistic but half-hearted support. I called them the weekend of the event but couldn't bring myself to relay the news via voice mail. And here we are three weeks into the Year of the Bike and I'm still writing "Pig" on all my checks.

Today, I'm pulling off a commute trifecta heretofore undocumented in modern times: Bike, light rail and jogging. I had a doctor's appointment in far-off suburbia this morning, so I took the MAX into the city and rode south on the waterfront. On the way home I'm leaving my mostly unused mountain bike at work for would-be participant's in September's Bike Commute Challenge--a local event put on by the non-profit Bicycle Transportation Alliance--who lack a functioning bicycle, and I'm running to the trolley which goes to the light rail and then running home from the nearest stop. I couldn't figure out a way to work in the aerial tram.

As I recall, there was another thing mom used to say in the waning days of summertime when the Match Game reruns were over and the sibs and I were climbing the walls with boredom (and driving her up same said walls): "Get out and ride your bike!"

Yeah, mom was right.

03 September 2008

Day Nineteen (Commute Day Ten)


It feels like forever since my last post. What are you wearing?

Name that Bike!

I made my first customization to my new ride this morning. This will be my most critical piece of hardware on those cool, misty mornings ahead. The only problem is it blocks the neat-o Black
Sheep logo.

I'm looking for suggestions for a name for this ride. Kevin McEvoy from Jacksonville, Fla. suggested Folly. I really like that name but I'm going to open it up for a public vote and will abide whatever's decided in this forum. Send me your suggestion via comments. I'll pick the best three or four (if I get that many responses) and post a poll. Preferential treatment will be given names with an -y or -ie suffix or that are easily ammendable as such.

Here's a full shot of this ride for your reference.

Happy Cycling!

29 August 2008

Day Fourteen (Commute Day Eight)

Hey bloggies,

Want to thank East Coast M for that fluffing of the masses. (Again, hi mom!)...um, awkward. Anywho, in case you missed it buried in the comments of "Day Seven," here's where Da Trouble Twin turned BBJ faithful on to the following testimonial of the power of ding.

From the East Coast Desk

Internet enthusiasts, make some noise! I can't hear you!!!
Okay, sorry. I was thinking maybe I could be my brother Sean's "hype man," (like Flavor Flav), but I guess blogs don't really work like a live hip hop performance. . . or maybe that's exactly what they work like.

Anyway, this is Sean's east coast correspondent, Matt. I decided for the purposes of this blog, I'd refer to myself as "East Coast M (Da Trouble Twin)." I also decided I'm going to make things extra fun for everybody by using a lot of exclamation points!!!

So, like Sean, I ride my bike often, and encounter interesting people and experiences along the way! My hope is to occasionally jump in with a folksy and unexpectedly sage "Southern" perspective on the plight of the bicycle commuter!

Firstly, riding a bike in Atlanta is a lot like riding a bike in Portland, but with a greater daily chance of running over a diaper filled with chicken bones!!

Once, on a ride, I encountered a wet fanny pack stuffed with women's lingerie ads. . . and losing lottery tickets!!

One final detail -- there is a pie factory on my bike route to work, and it is on a big uphill incline, so you really have to breathe deeply as you pass it. Depending on the time of day, they either are baking the crusts or the lime filling. The crusts smell like a perfect autumn day with a loved one, sharing a bag of roasted hazelnuts on a worn wicker bench.

The filling, on the other hand, smells like Pine Sol and skunk throw up!!!

Signing off,
East Coast M (Da Trouble Twin)

28 August 2008

Day Thirteen (Commute Day Seven)

Spoiler Alert: Project Runway Finalist Revealed

My sister is visiting from Atlanta and happened to see Project Runway host Tim Gunn on the back of a bicycle in Laurelhurst Park. No joke! Pedaling the bike was presumptive Runway finalist...do you really want to know?

27 August 2008

Day Twelve

How do you know you're old?

I get this question all the time. Usually it's phrased as a statement, such as, "God, you're old," or "You're really getting up there, aren't you?" One indicator is your children. The resurgence of 80s wonders like the Ninja Turtles or Transformers initially imbued me with youth. Made me feel hip and young again. In touch with the preschool set. And then it happened. My son discovered a new show on the 4KidsWB Saturday morning cartoon lineup. Biker Mice From Mars. It's a show from 1993 that's been remade that I had no idea existed in the first place. That's how you know you're old, officially.

Ike's taken to assuming the character of Vinnie, the wiseacre of the group. Though I didn't have the patience to sit down and watch the show with him, I did download the theme song from iTunes. An infectious power ballad that gives "You Got the Touch" a run for its money in the frequency-of-listens department. The lyrics come quite naturally to the synching lips of any air guitaritst, "Biker Mice from Mars, Mars, Mars..." The fading echo effect is particularly crucial to delivery.

I hope you enjoy this video of the boy's rendition. We downloaded the song on Saturday morning and had reached a play count of 42 sometime in the early afternoon.

As Vinnie says, "This'll crack up the ladies."

BBJ Bustin' Loose

Team BBJ (ByeByeJohnny) is growing. Look for posts from guest contributors in the coming weeks including those from crack investigative reporter Vince Roberts who turned in the following expose detailing fraudulent activities among the ranks of supposed cycle devotees in the wake of the Tour de Fat gala. His probing questions paint the sad profile of a man in denial over the poor decision-making that's led him down a difficult path.

25 August 2008

What's in a Name?

As I recall, my Creative Writing teacher in college used to stress the importance of titles. "Titles," I think he might have said, "are so important because they convey meaning beyond the words of the narrative."

I'm realizing that the monikers for my blog posts, while straight-forward and informative, lack something in the visceral engagement category. And while I may revert back to the previously established convention of temporal markers in the future, I'm thinking the liberty of relinquishing that convention might lend a stronger connection to these posts.

In college, when I still used to read for sport, my favorite novelist was Kurt Vonnegut, but I also enjoyed short stories a great deal (easing myself into illiteracy perhaps). One of my favorite short story writers was Ring Lardner. My writing style, basically, was to steal his voice with an early nineties update--think voice mail messages in place of letter correspondence.

I'm going to go into the archives and dig up on of my old short stories as an example...please stand by...here's a video interlude in case, like me, you've skipped the written word in favor of still photos at 30 frames-per-second--in which case you're not seeing this anyway, you pompous fathead.

Speaking of same...

Hmm, I can't find the story of which I'm thinking. Maybe later.

23 August 2008

Day Eight

"When the going gets weird, the weird go pro."
--Hunter S. Thompson

I gotta say I've never been associated with a more professional bunch of weirdos than the folks from New Belgium Brewery who put on Tour de Fat. Here's a video they put together.

And I'm in awe of Karla, last year's swapper. So collected and well spoken. I'm honored to share her company, or, I should say, will be honored at the end of my year with the swapper mantle. She's actually done it already. I'm just starting down that road.

We had a great talk after the cameras stopped rolling. She's an incredible human being and an inspiration to myself and, I'm sure, many others out there like me.

Ride on, Karla!

22 August 2008

Day Seven (Commute Day Five)

I don't know me anymore.

But this may be the most constructive midlife crisis anyone's ever endeavored.

First came the cruiser bike--or rather the giving-away-of-the-minivan for a cruiser. I never would have envisioned myself on a cruiser bike (but I've always had an appreciation for different bike styles, so I can understand in some ways coming around on that one). But bike bells? Who am I? Two days ago, I hated bike bells. I'd always considered them a saccharine coating to a personality disorder. A worm in a caramel dipped apple. It's how certain bikers can non-verbally signal their superiority from the passing lane in utterly gratuitous fashion. If you don't know what I'm talking about, you're probably one of those people. I love you anyway for riding your bike.

Or so went my old mode of thinking (and if anyone actually read this blog--hi, mom--I'm sure I'd get dissenters). Over the course of the last week though, I've turned a complete 180 on bike bells. And I'm not even running for office.

It started at the Tour de Fat parade on Saturday. I'd never been among a triumphal cacophony of bike bells such as that. You can't imagine my pride as hundreds of human curios filled the closed-down corridors coursing through Portland's swanky Northwest neighborhoods inviting gapes and gasps from the doorways and street fronts of franchised boutiques. Those little bells rang out like angels lifting our collective from the asphalt and delivering us to an alternative reality where R. Crumb's Mr. Natural sits with a wicker basket of free kazoos. Did I imagine it, or did everyone there sense it too?

I might have easily dismissed the occurrence and never given it a second thought, but then a funny thing happened yesterday on the Hawthorne Bridge. Bike advocates, as they're wont to do, gathered on the west side of the bridge giving away stuff to folks on two wheels. As much as I like free stuff, as anyone at the non-profit where I work whose seen me shovel in hummus from the break room that's been sitting out for three days can attest (maybe that explains my vision), I tend to keep going, taking the off ramp from the bridge to the waterfront, even with the lure of muffins or coffee as is typically the case.

But yesterday I stopped. They were giving away bike bells.

21 August 2008

Day Six (Commute Day Four)

Today I dusted off the road bike. It fit me like an ex-girlfriend. Can I say that here? This is a safe place, right? I gave my wife the url to my blog today and told her there might be some objectionable content. "Not yet, but on the way," I said. What doesn't divorce us only makes us stronger. In that vein, I guess it was only a matter of time before I released this video. An important message from a friendly bike advocate named Theresa that I met after the Tour-de-Fat hoorah. Hon, I swear, all we did was hug. Twice.

20 August 2008

Day Five (Commute Day Three)

Another rainy morning but, sheesh, that's nothing. My back seized like an unfrozen Neanderthal watching Pokemon. I wasn't sure I could get out of bed, let alone ride a bike. But after twenty minutes of stretching I thought the physical act might loosen me up. Plus I'm not ready to break my streak of two straight days on the bike. Eight hours of desk work later, I'm ready to mount my ride for home.

I realize that there's expository backfill woefully missing from these pages. Here's a primer on how this all began. My submission video to "win" a bike in exchange for a car, donated to charity, with the promise to commute by bike for a year.


19 August 2008

Day Four (Commute Day Two)

It didn't rain on the way in to work today. It rained on the way home. I'm thinking of traveling to drought-stricken regions and offering my services as rainmaker. Giving away the car certainly seems to have brought uncharacteristically wet weather to Portland. I'm learning to appreciate the cruiser style bike though. Especially those fenders. The old road bike hasn't been ridden since Saturday. And Johnny still sits at the curb taunting me.

If you missed it, check out the ceremony. I've had about 9324 of New Belgium's 1554 Black Ale at this point.

18 August 2008

Day Three (Commute Day One)


"What is that awful racket?" These were Ike's first words out of bed this morning. "Oh great, it's raining."

It's not that we're not used to rain out here in Portland. Just not now. Not like this. Earlier this summer we strung thirty-some days together without a drip of rain and here on my first day of the yearlong car-free commute comes the rarest of anamolies on the Portland weather scene: an early morning summer thunderstorm--with raindrops the size and volume of genetically modified grapes.

I thought I'd have some time to gear up for the rainy season. Instead I grabbed some swim trunks, river shoes and a windbreaker. Plus these tacky orange-lens bike glasses my wife bought me. I looked more like a tourist on the Oregon coast then a bike commuter.

Everything felt different today. My road bike replaced by a cruiser. I had to revert to my old pannier bags as the one's provided by Black Sheep are better described as -resistant than -proof when used as a hyphenated adjective in combination with the noun water. They didn't quite snap on the rack. Plus no clipless pedals. [Actually, there are. One side of the pedal is flat, the other has clipless attachments. My bad. --sph 8/20]

What's worse, they hadn't towed Johnny yet so it was sitting there mocking me--with the window paint adornment from Friday's video shoot (when I thought it would be funny to let the kids experiment in some adult-supervised vandalism). Those little Mickey Mouse stickers are driving me crazy. I so want to scrub them off. But it isn't my car anymore. Just a public eyesore parked in front of my house.

Then I started riding. Instantly I'm drenched. But it's warm. The traffic on 7th is backed up blocks to Burnside. What gives? With all my hand-wringing over the commute, I couldn't have gotten out of the house before 9 am. I cruise past dozens of vehicles in the bike lane to arrive at the Morrison intersection where the answer's revealed. The electrical storm caused the light to stick on red.

Pathetic and soaked I turn to the only other rider I've seen today, who is stopped at the light. "There's only advantages to bike riding."

What did he say? I asked him to explain.

"You don't have to wait in traffic."

That twist of perspective made the rest of the ride a breeze. And the new bike rode like a dream. We waited for a break in the cross-traffic and made a break for it. I'm not sure how long the cars were there.