Category Archives: Great Ideas

Great ideas for bikes, bike gear, or anything else!

Why not get married by bike?

As you know, I’m a big fan of doing whatever it is you need to do via human-powered transportation. I was super excited this weekend, then, when my friends Collin and Diana got married via bicycle.

No, they weren’t actually on their bikes for the ceremony. But they did borrow a bunch of bicycles for all their friends and family who came from out of town, then encouraged everyone to bike to the ceremony at the top of Mt Tabor Park. Then, after the ceremony, everyone hopped back on their rides and made one giant bike parade to their reception at Laurelhurst Park, about 3.5 chill bike-boulevard-miles away.

bike parade(wedding bike parade! Stretching down SE 33rd Ave for many blocks)

It was pretty awesome to be part of a wedding bike parade. Let’s just say there was much bell-ringing, cheering, and, if you look at the tandem on the left in that picture above, you can somewhat see the sound system that rocked us all the way there. Many onlookers wondered what the heck was going on; those we passed who realized it was wedding-related offered their congratulations. It felt like a full-on community effort to get everyone over to Laurelhurst to celebrate.

 Collin and Diana(Aww. Super cute newlyweds:)

Like many things done by bike, it was lovely because of how little separation there was between the festivities and the rest of the world. A wedding bike parade immediately becomes a larger affair–when you’re biking through the community, at human speed, and you can hear the people around you ask what’s going on or yell congratulations, it’s impossible to pretend like you’re the only people in the world, just as it’s impossible for the people around you to pretend like you don’t exist. It forces closeness, in the best possible way.

I’m psyched. If I ever get married, which I won’t, but still, I’ll definitely incorporate a bike parade:) Maybe next year I’ll have a birthday bike parade. Who knows. But I’m pretty into it. Who can argue with a whole bunch of people in a great mood moving through the world together on their bicycles?

And congratulations to Collin and Diana! May your future be full of excellent (and maybe bikey) adventures. :)

Foolproof 10-step way to make your day better

1. Take the looooong way home on the Marine Drive bike path, along the Columbia River, on a sunny day. Watch the various waterfowl swim and dive along the shore.

2. Come up on an older fellow also biking along the path; cheerily call out “on your left!” and smile at him as you pass.

3. Slow down to his speed to hear him ask you how to get back to downtown Portland while still staying along the river as long as possible. Note that he’s from Vancouver, BC and is simply out for a joyride like you are.

4. Start to describe the optimum path for him to follow, and then realize it’d be a lot easier just to show him.

5. Tell him that if he doesn’t mind, you’ll just bike along with him to show him the way. Note his face break into a giant grin as he agrees.

6. Escort him westward along Marine Drive, navigating the crazy tangle of bike paths near the freeway, going past Smith and Bybee Lakes on a lovely water-ful ride.

7. As you bike, listen to him tell you with pride about his three children. Point out interesting things that you bike past and otherwise get pretty excited about how awesome biking around Portland is.

8. When you ultimately get to the intersection of Willamette and Interstate, make sure he knows how to get back to downtown before you split up so you can go to the Community Cycling Center to get new tires for your trailer. Before you split ways, shake hands and wish each other pleasant journeys.

9. Just before he heads down the hill, hear him tell you that this escort is exactly what he thinks makes Portland so awesome. Give him a giant smile and a thank you.

10. Head your separate way to get your trailer tires, super psyched that you totally made someone’s day.

And voila! A good day made instantly better:)  I totally recommend it.

Warmshowers: awesome bike travel resource

For the last three nights, James and I have been hosting Pete, a self-described red-bearded Welshman traveling around the Pacific Northwest on a tank of a $30 bike that he bought and fixed up when he flew in to Portland. It must be a Warmshowers adventure!

I wrote about Warmshowers before when we hosted another fellow, but it seems like a good time to revisit this super awesome bike resource.

Here’s what happened: Pete sent me an email through the Warmshowers site, having seen that I lived in Portland and had an extra bedroom and shower to offer, asking if he could stay for a few days while he fixed up his bike and got ready for his tour. Since I love this kind of thing, I wrote back with our address and a hearty affirmative on the staying here.

James and I went out to dinner with some friends on the evening he was due to show up, so we just left him a note on the front door and unlocked the side door so he could let himself in. Since he’s from the UK, he doesn’t have a phone here, so it seemed the easiest way not to leave him standing around in the dark waiting for us to return. When we got home, the note was still on the door and everything else seemed as it was before, so we assumed he’d just found somewhere else to stay and hadn’t told us–but funnily enough, the next morning, when we heard the toilet upstairs flush, we realized he’d been there the whole evening, fast asleep.  heh. How often does someone live in your upstairs for a whole 10 hours or so without you knowing it?

Anyway. Warmshowers reminds me how much I love people. When I travel-bike around, I’m often annoyed that the whole world seems to be owned, and that you have to pay someone for the privilege of sleeping somewhere (at least, if you’re sleeping above-board and not in a national forest:) So I’m super into any sort of community/network that hooks together people who need space and people who have space they’re willing to share. This seems like a good model of living in general: get the people who have extra together with the people who don’t have enough, and let them share.

Plus, purely from the house-sharing end, I love having people here who are on their own adventures, and I love being able to share Portland and our little slice of life with them. Pete’s off on his grand tour now (though he left a few things behind at our house that he’ll pick up again on his way back)–I wish him the best, and I hope for more warmshowers visitors this summer touring season!:)

National Bike Month

Did you know that May is National Bike Month? I’m always a little skeptical of national fill-in-the-blank months (who comes up with these things, anyway? And who makes them national?), but a bike month is something I can get behind! :)

Anyway, the League of American Bicyclists has a whole bunch of specific events you can participate in to celebrate a whole month dedicated to biking:

  • bike to school day (May 9)
  • bike to work week (May 14-18)
  • And, if a week is too much, bike to work day (May 18)
  • the month-long bike challenge (all of May)
  • other location-specific events you can search for

…but in light of my recent thoughts, I’m thinking of this month not as a challenge for myself to bike more, but as an opportunity to help people around me break down some barriers that keep them from biking. I’d like to challenge myself (and you, dear reader:) to try one or all of the following:  (note that anyone could do this kind of stuff, even if you don’t consider yourself a super hardcore biker) (also note that this is not, nor could it ever be, a complete list)

  • meet someone at their house and bike to work with them (many people would love to bike but don’t know how to find good routes, or are intimidated to do so until someone else shows them it’s possible)
  • for that matter, buy someone a bike map if you have such a thing in your community
  • put lights on someone’s ninja-style bike
  • go for a short bikey joyride to a park
  • outfit someone you love with a helmet
  • bike in a skirt or suit to prove that it’s possible to show up at work looking lovely
  • or, show someone where the showers at work are, if you’re lucky enough to have them. If not, show them how you can end up looking stylin at work after a bike ride anyway.
  • go visit someone who crashed his bike and remind him that he will heal (looking at you, David!:)
  • take someone grocery shopping by bike to prove that it’s possible
  • show someone how to take their bike on transit
  • teach someone how to fix a flat tire
  • take someone camping by bike!
  • and all manner of other things :)

I try to do this kind of stuff all the time, but it’s nice every once in a while to be reminded that I could still be working on it more. How about you guys? Anything else you do or I could do to make people feel happy biking?:)

Oh, and happy bike month!