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.