Category Archives: Great Ideas

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

Guest Post: Dynamic Duo on a Hill

What has guest blogger Dieter Loibner been doing since we last heard from him? Why, running into an awesome bike-riding dog and her human! Check it!

While her Stasianess [ha! No one has ever nor will anyone ever call me this again:)] was taking the long road to and around Utah for her big two-wheel adventure, us mere mortals, Holden H. and yours truly, were happily mucking about in good ole Stumptown. Java’d up for a jaunt in the hills and across the river, we came up on a rugged-looking cargo bike on SW Cheltenham St. heading for the steep section of SW Cheltenham Court. Up, up, not fast of course, but steady with a sweet cadence. The guy in the saddle clearly knew how to ride this vehicle with style and grace. And his four-legged friend in the basket clearly enjoyed being along for trip. At the top they pulled over, which gave us a chance to catch up, say hi and introduce ourselves. That’s how we met Drew and Sadie.

IMG_0070(© Dieter Loibner)

He is a polysomnographer who hooks people with sleep impediments to machines and measures what there is to measure. She is a 60-pound black lab who looks so darn smart, you half expect she’ll challenge you for a game of chess. What a dynamic duo, I thought. Can’t claim that I ever dreamed of making a living by recording a stranger’s heart rate during sleep, but I freely admit to being jealous of the welding and brazing skills Drew used to build this bike so he can take his trusted canine companion along without her having to feel her age of 14.

“I got her from a guy who was dying of cancer when I met him on a camping trip 12 years ago,” Drew explained. “She liked hanging out with me, so her owner suggested I take her since he didn’t have long to live.” Drew took her in and they became best buddies. Which explains why they ride together now. See how:

Sadie, as the images show, is not exactly a lap dog, but ailments of age keep her from running insane distances through the woods. Up to 30 miles in an afternoon is what Drew said she liked to do when she was young and spry. He doesn’t seem to mind. Perhaps it’s the certainty that change is inevitable and is best dealt with by adapting to it. Besides, it was a good excuse for another project, because he loves tinkering with bikes, especially with portables that have small wheels, which is how Holden and he got into a conversation about Bike Fridays and all that jazz.

Even if Sadie isn’t with him, he likes to ride. Off-road, as he explains, mentioning the Velodirt blog about the Oregon Outback. When he doesn’t ride or build unusual bikes, Drew is painting watercolors, which is a marvelous way of processing the impressions and images his senses record while riding through nature. It wouldn’t be too far fetched to suspect that Sadie might show up in some of these paintings, too;-)

sadie_lake(by Drew)

So, even though we didn’t go far that day, we still met individuals who made us go: wow! This encounter only happened because we were all riding these amazing contraptions. They’re not just self-propelled vehicles used to haul ourselves and the groceries (and occasionally a cute dog) around town. They connect us to others in ways cars can’t. And they have therapeutic powers, which was known even before the internal combustion engine started to rule (and pollute) the world. Check out this newspaper snippet from July 23, 1899:

photo 2(the Boston Sunday Journal)

Never seemed so true. I’m sure Drew and Sadie would agree.

Gladys Bikes: Walking the Walk

That’s right. Gladys Bikes, the super awesome shop that (among other things) authored this Valentine’s Day bike love, is moving to NE Alberta and 29th…

Gladys bikes move

…and today, they did it by bicycle!

This was the first bike move I’ve been to, and I showed up to a glorious mess of people with all manner of trailers, baskets, racks, panniers, and everything in between. A few of them I knew. Some I recognized. Many I’d never seen before, yet there we all were, united in the purpose of moving everything via human power from Gladys Bikes the old to Gladys Bikes the new. Everyone was friendly, helpful, smiling, working together: a mini confederacy risen from nowhere, brought together for something larger than any one of us. If there were ever a doubt that bicycles can help create community, a move by bicycle is the definitive proof otherwise.

Plus, how rad is it that Gladys Bikes, a bike shop, can call on an ad hoc community of other people on bikes to move all their stuff that helps them get more people on bikes? A virtuous loop, if you will, and a classic example of a business putting into practice what they preach. Bicycles can be recreation, transportation, utility, and Gladys Bikes totally put its faith in that to get itself to its new location. Awesome.

They’ll be closed for a few weeks while they get everything up and running in their new spot, but check out their facebook page for information about when they’re open again–and then help welcome them to their new neighborhood!

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.