Saturday, June 28, 2008

Multnomah County Bike Fair 2008!

Today's Multnomah County Bike Fair, which just happened to take place in Colonel Summers Park about a hundred yards down the street from my house, marked the beginning of the final day of this year's Pedalpalooza. Pedalpalooza is, of course, two incredible weeks of bike weirdness that happens every June here in Portland. It kicks off with the World Naked Bike Ride, which I attended, but didn't post about this year. And I apologize for that. At any rate, P-looza's almost over, and I managed to catch a good chunk of the festivities this afternoon. It all began with a performance from the Metal Shakespeare Company:

Naturally, this attracted Superman, who came to get his rawk on:

Next up was Portland's favorite all-girl mini-bike dance troupe the Sprockettes:

What could possibly follow that act but unicycle jousting:

And since I never posted about the naked ride, here's a video put up just after the event by Jonathan over at This year's ride exceeded last year's amazing turnout by at least a factor of three. Some estimates number this year's participants at 2,600! It was, needless to say, quite an event, and I even managed to rope a few of my friends into it this year. None of whom are in the video, near as I can tell, anyway. Enjoy:

Naked Bike Ride - Portland, OR from Jonathan Maus on Vimeo.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

A Typical Portland Saturday...

So Risa and I headed off this morning to check out the grand opening of Flavourspot's new location on Fremont and Mississippi. This grand opening was commemorated by free waffles, which generated quite a line, as evidenced in the photo above. Faithful readers of this blog, as well as those of you in North Portland who follow the local waffle scene, will know Flavourspot as Portland's home of the "dutch taco." Here's Dave, servin' up the goods:

There was, of course, the obligatory pile of fixies, complete with color coordinated rims and top tube pads, chained up out front:

Once we were loaded up with waffle goodness, we headed to Zenger Farm to dig a pig roasting pit for next weekend's Summer Solstice party, then made our way to the Bike-a-palooza bike jousting extravaganza at Col. Summers Park. The event started with regular bikes, followed by tall bikes, then the small bikes. Here we see a competitor readying himself for the mayhem:

And here, the mayhem itself:

And of course, the aftermath:

But not only was there regular bike jousting, this year's event featured pedicab jousting:

And not only did this year's event feature pedicab jousting, it featured NAKED pedicab jousting:

Yeah, yeah, I know, censorship sucks and all that, but while these guys were brave enough to bare it all for the public, in all fairness, they didn't sign on to be blogged. So even though it may be a little out of keeping with the spirit of naked pedicab jousting, I figure it's only right to enlist everyone's favorite poison control icon to stand in for their naughty bits...

And speaking of naughty bits, mine will be on full display this evening, starting at 11:59 pm, which is when Portland's installment of the World Naked Bike Ride begins. For those of you who will be there, I look forward to baring it all with you in the name of protesting Big Oil. As for the rest of you, gather your courage for 2009!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Now Here's Something to Make You Smile...

Down but not out, indeed, LGS!

Jim Kunstler predicted a while back that we'd be seeing a lot more small scale urban agriculture with the decline of cheap oil, and it would seem that his notion is coming true, as evidenced by this rather interesting story on yesterday's Morning Edition. Urban Farming, the group profiled in the story, has already begun to expand beyond its native Detroit, into New York, Newark, Los Angeles, the Twin Cities, St. Louis... What I find really interesting is that rather than following the community garden model, they take a totally open source approach and make their projects available to the community at large; neighbors, volunteers, even the homeless (especially the homeless...) are welcome to give to or take from the project what they can or what they need. What's left over goes to local food banks. Pretty amazing stuff!

I think we'll be seeing more stories like this one in the future: Communities left behind by a shrinking manufacturing economy finding new ways to make do for themselves. It's a shame that so much has to be lost in order for people to rethink their relationship to their surroundings, put it's all part of the game, I suppose. But enough with my cynicism, already. This kind of thing really does give me hope for the future.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Stanley! Back In Motown! Where He Belongs!

All is right with the world again. A once proud city now burdened with the weight of its own failed legacy gets a brief respite from reality. Woodward Avenue is at this very moment doubtless littered with confetti, empty beer cans and thousands of unconscious white people...

Monday, June 2, 2008

Remembering Sheldon Brown, 1944-2008

Well, I don't know how it is that I'm so far behind the curve on this one, but I've just learned of Sheldon Brown's death, four months ago, of a heart attack, and am deeply saddened by the news.

To say that Sheldon Brown was a walking encyclopedia of the technical knowledge and lore of cycling would be a ridiculous understatement. Sheldon was nothing less than a guru. That he was wacky and eccentric, endlessly entertaining and generous, and enough of a lunatic to ride his bike through the dead of winter in Massachusetts only serve to illustrate further what a unique and special person the cycling community lost back in February. Sheldon had long been employed as a mechanic at the Harris Cyclery in West Newton when he established their online presence in the world wide web's salad days of the mid-nineties. What began as a bike shop's webpage grew into an enormous resource which gained Sheldon a far more enormous cult following. In recent years, he would receive as many as 1,000 e-mails a day! Despite this incredible amount of correspondence, when I e-mailed him last year with a bottom bracket related question, he answered my inquiry not just promptly, but at considerable length. Unfortunately, he had all too much time to answer his mail by then, as primary progressive multiple sclerosis had robbed him of his ability to stay upright on two wheels (although he did manage to soldier on for a time with a recumbent tricycle).

Not merely a tireless advocate of two-wheeled locomotion, Sheldon Brown was also a well travelled wanderer, a philosopher savant, an inveterate basement engineer, a gifted amateur photographer... but above all, he was the personification of grace and passion and generosity. He is irreplaceable. Sheldon, you will be sorely missed!