BICYCLES AS ECONOMIC ENGINE: OREGON CITY SEEKS TO BOOST FINANCES AS “BICYCLE TOURISM” HUB

Bikes = business.

(… and joy)

The lovely Ladies (and Lady-lovers) in Oregon City have received the go-ahead from the Urban Renewal Commission to convert their deserted Amtrak station into a thriving center for bikey goodness and tourism. Wonderful!

More on the development from The Oregonian:

The city-owned station at 1757 Washington St. is vacant and is served by a few trains per day. The historic building, once the town’s freight depot, lacks any glimmer of life. There’s no inside seating, no one on duty, no snack bar, vending machines or payphone.

Meier wants to convert the building into a comfortable way station for visitors, especially those who arrive with bicycles.

The Amtrak station would be a hub that would directs people to destinations around the city and county, said Adam Beykovsky, who is working with Meier.

“The idea is to push people out into the community,” Beykovsky said.

Oregon City is “a dying if not dead mill town and we need to look at something else … envision a new picture for ourselves,”

Cities embracing Ladies are seeing the benefits to their economies (another example of that here, too), not to mention the benefits to everyone’s quality of life.

The features of the new cycle-centric station include:

North End
- Comfortable waiting area with informational displays for Amtrak riders
- Restrooms and drinking fountain for bottle refills
- Community bulletin board for local activities and cycling events
- Oregon City and Mt. Hood Territory tourism information
- Snack bar with desserts, cold sandwiches, coffee, and pedal-powered smoothies
- Featured local craft beers and wine tasting
- Bicycle-themed lounge with couches, television, books, maps and art
– Small retail space for bicycles, accessories, and minor repairs
– Brochures re bicycle group rides, overnight tours, train packages and bicycle rentals

South End
-Map room with web access for trip planning and information exchange
- Office and meeting area for the Oregon City Trail Alliance and representatives from various cycling advocacy groups and tourism organizations
- Meeting area for organizing group rides and storing supplies and gear
– Kitchen area for organizing food service for group rides
– Showers for touring cyclists

Lovely! Facilitating bike commuting, travel, vacation, and fun is in the best interest of any forward-thinking, and economically competitive, town or city. Way to go, Oregon City!

I know I’ll be checking out this hub (pun-intended) once it’s up and running.

The Sauvie Island bridge on my sunny, MLK Jr. Day ride. St. Helens within view, bike between my legs. Lovely!

The Sauvie Island bridge on my sunny, MLK Jr. Day ride. St. Helens within view, bike between my legs. Lovely!

Till then, what places do you like to bike for the sheer joy of it? Sauvie Island is an easily accessible, nearby location I try to visit and appreciate on a regular basis. Ladies from other cities: what natural features and rides are near you?

Keep riding, investing in local economies, and building community, Ladies!

XOXO

THE COMMUTING CHRONICLES: A LOVELY WINTER RIDE

This morning when I awoke next to my window, bathed in hues of pink and peach and radiative heat loss, I knew my ride was going to be gorgeous, clear, and frozen.

In winter, the normally celebrated lack of cloud cover and/or presence of sunshine is a meteorological announcement of the frigid conditions outside my door. Planning my commuting garb ahead of time proves about as useful as preparing a meal for unconfirmed guests: the variability of Winter weather means decisions are made day-of lest I be left broiling in rainpants on an abnormally warm day or thawing in wet, frozen jeans.

Based on the chill and beautiful views, I started gathering necessary supplies: warm socks, scarf, hat, warm gloves (thanks, Mom & Dad!), down coat. I decided that on a day like this, cuteness need not be abandoned for spandex, goretex, nor any other highly engineered “-tex” you can think of. This Lady was braving the frozen dawn in a skirt.

My adorable pencil skirt: worn proudly atop two-wheels this morning.

My adorable pencil skirt: worn proudly atop two-wheels this morning.

I used to think through my layering, but at this point it feels relatively routine. Underwear (which, outside of added warmth in winter, are unnecessary in my opinion), leggings, wool socks, pencil skirt (practicality note: be prepared to expose a lot of thigh, or in this case, legging). On top: tank top, t-shirt, wool hoodie (Icebreaker has amazing layering that is well worth the expense), down coat, rain shell. Layering gives you a dial on your internal thermostat: stop and take shit off when you’re over heating or when you arrive, add more when sweat starts to evaporate and you begin to feel chilled. The flexibility of layering allows me to dress in lovely attire rather than spandex and “cycling” garb.

Next to-do: basic component check. The precise “not-too-squishy” squeeze of my tires to assess adequate inflation, a look at my brakes to ensure brake pads are not entirely worn (also effective: the equally precise “metal-on-metal” sound check that tells you pads need replacing), and a squirt of lube across the length of my chain (which is essential this time of year. Every month or so you should also clean your chain of winter build-up using a wet cloth, then re-lube it.). All checks out? I’m on my way.

With the weather so gorgeous, I left home early this morning just so I could relax and enjoy my ride. Occasionally taking time to savor sunshine and beautiful scenery is essential to my happiness, and this was a perfect day to do so. Riding on a bike boulevard, a glorified low-traffic road in Portland, means seeing other cyclists, especially at rush hour. Two Lady-lovers in front of me, a Lady or two behind me, occasional spandex-clad racey-types speeding past me, the obligatory tight-pantsed helmet-less rider on a fixie (which reminds me: have any of you seen Premium Rush? I had the pleasure of experiencing this gem of modern cinema with friends. If you appreciate bikes and absurdity, it’s a must watch.)… we create a temporary community. I smile at people passing and just generally appreciate the blessing of a working body and people to share the ride with.

My 5-mile-each-way commute includes a categorized climb about 3/4ths of the way in. That means my legs are burning, my heart is pumping, and some days I feel incredibly strong and empowered, other days it means incessant cursing and huffing. Today as I sat stopped at a light preparing for The Climb, a cyclist behind me grabbed my attention to compliment my blue tires. It was so sweet, and I thanked her and wished her a lovely day. This exchange exemplifies one of my favorite parts of commuting on two-wheels: how often do we have genuine interactions with strangers in our daily lives? Well, I can tell you, not often enough!

Despite the traffic, I had a relatively uneventful, beautiful commute. Just a few days ago on the stretch of my ride I refer to as “the gauntlet” (look for a post on this next week), a Lady I recognized as my regular waitress at a local diner was felled by a car cutting into the bike lane. She was in a lot of pain, but luckily OK. Cycling is far safer than most would have you believe, but incidences like that remind me to appreciate every day and every pedal I have the opportunity to experience.

Today was a beautiful ride. Ladies (and Lady-lovers), I hope yours was as well :)

Keep riding, smiling, and rocking pencil skirts, Ladies!

XOXO

PS- What’s the best part of your commute in the winter? Leave comments and share advice below!

COMMUTING CHRONICLES: THE LAST MILE

Good morning, fabulous Ladies! Welcome to our first post in a series we’re calling “The Commuting Chronicles”; stories and issues raised while traversing Lisa Marie’s and Annette’s daily two-wheeled commute.

Planners and city officials often bring attention to the idea of the “last mile problem”, meaning public transportation can get you within the vicinity of your destination, but the last stretch between public transit stop and end-point discourages transit use, leading to more people traveling via personalized steel-coffin. Combining bicycles and public transit? Voila! Problem solved!

In Annette’s case, “the last mile” was the inverse: a portion of her riding that felt unsafe and intimidating (and exhausting!). Read more about her conversion to riding, the anxieties and neuroses invoked by The Tram, and the joys of overcoming perceived road blocks (pun intended!).

I started using my bike for regular transportation as soon as I moved to Portland.  Grocery stores, coffee shops, restaurants. But I couldn’t bring myself to ride work, the place I go more often than anywhere else.

My office is on the top of a steep hill. I wanted to ride to work, but to get up this hill I had two options: either ride up the hill next to cars on narrow roads, or park my bike at the bottom and take the Portland Aerial Tram, a beautiful pod-structure dangling frighteningly from a line. To most new commuters, the risks of riding on twisting and heavily trafficked narrow roads would make the tram an easy choice. But I’ve always been afraid of heights. I’d never tried or even thought to change that about myself; avoiding heights was simply a rule I chose to follow, limiting me in a small way. So for too long, I put off deciding between these options and just continued taking the bus.

Duh-du-duuuuuhhhhh

Duh-du-duuuuuhhhhh

At some point, though, I realized that this was silly. I knew this fear of heights was less than completely rational. I wanted to ride to work and didn’t want to be my own barrier to doing that. So I chose to give the tram a try.

The first couple weeks I rode the tram, I would get there after a joyful outing on my bike and then immediately switch to a state of fear.  As the tram lifted into the air, I clung firmly to one of the interior poles, staring straight ahead but completely focused inward, trying to get a grip on the dizzy spells I’d experience when the tram swung back-and-forth. Based on what I’d seen of desensitization and exposure therapy on a couple disturbing episodes of A&E’s Obsessed, I was proud just to be able to ride it without drawing attention to myself, and grateful to face this fear outside of the gaze and judgment of a national audience (in any case it would have made for boring television).

During my third week of riding the tram, without thinking I scurried onto a crowded tram as the last passenger at the end of my work day.  The cabin was stuffed with people, leaving me with the option of panicking and manically explaining my special need to access the pole in a sea of chill people, or just holding my ground. Social anxieties won out, and I decided to go for it. I braced myself as it swung, and felt surprisingly okay, familiar with my surroundings and the whole experience after weeks of riding the tram.

My glorious, and less anxiety producing, view from the tram

My glorious, and less anxiety producing, view from the tram

Over the subsequent weeks, I evolved to always standing without support, at times seizing a prime spot towards the front in order to look down at the city in action, or straight ahead to admire the stunning view of Mt. Hood. My awareness has gradually shifted completely from fear to appreciating the experience of riding the tram – even looking forward to the thing I’d once dreaded the most.

What’s been most surprising is how this change has opened my mind to trying new experiences I would have assumed would be too frightening in the past but have found thrilling — aerial silks and trapeze classes, snowboarding, etc. I had no idea how limiting this fear was until I’d tempered it to the level of a satisfying adrenaline rush, allowing me to stay mindful and experience the fun of these new and challenging pursuits. And I indirectly have my love of bicycles to thank for that.

Oh the things a Lady experiences… on and off two-wheels.

Keep riding and letting go, Ladies!

XOXO

TWO WHEELS & A LADY ON PINTEREST

All the bikey Lady-porn you could ever desire! All in one place. Home decor, beautiful bicycles & accessories, essential gear, photos taken commuting around Portland, and sentiments to ride by. Check out Two Wheels & A Lady on Pinterest!

Lovely commuting <3

Lovely commuting <3

THE WINTER COMMUTE: ESSENTIAL GEAR

Today’s commute was a rainy one, Ladies. Fun fact: You can measure the moisture content in the air by how much my eye liner streaks post-commute (see below). But I arrived home refreshed and happy.

Top left - me and my bike. Bottom & top right - what should be a view of the OHSU skytram and surrounding vista from within the tram, respectively.

Top left – me and my bike.
Bottom & top right – what should be a view of the OHSU skytram and surrounding vista from within the tram, respectively.

On Making Smart Investments in Gear

I know a lot of Ladies are hesitant to ride because they don’t have the “right” gear for a Winter commute. Although I’d like to dismiss that as silly, I just recently made the switch from riding in frigid weather while wearing yoga pants (often calf-length) to more appropriate alternatives, and I would say there’s really something to investing in some “luxury” pieces (read: full-length pants) before subjecting yourself to the elements.

Had I known at the time that I’d soon begin blogging, I’d include here a Frametastic photo compilation of my splotchy, reddened calves and me frowning as a probably unnecessary bit of encouragement for some savvy cold-weather shopping – too late for that, though, because This Lady shelled out for stylish cycling-optimized pants and warm fortified leggings.

I prioritized my limited shopping budget towards gear purchases that were the most important for safety first, then comfort items; in hindsight, striking a balance between those priorities would have made for a far more pleasant transition into Winter riding. You don’t have to be totally decked out in Gore-tex, but you’ll be able to enjoy the ride without an iron will if you do something more than wear a garbage bag as a poncho.

Must-Haves

All Things Safety-Oriented on dark days and while riding on slick roads:

A bright front light, a blinky red back light, any add-on you like that’s reflective, and a helmet. I’ll assume that if you live in the Pacific Northwest you already have a good raincoat.

I have an ugly sporty helmet that I keep hoping will get stolen (so I can replace it without feeling wasteful). If that ever happens, I’ll replace it with this one in black:

Fabulous Sahn Helmet

Fabulous Sahn Helmet

Gloves: You may actually want two pairs to switch back and forth between while one is drying. Dry hands are a great way to start a cold, wet, ride, and wet gloves are miserable to put on. They can also help ensure a secure grip on handles.

 

Also Worth Buying

Fenders: Most Ladies prefer not having mud splattered across their backside.  Fenders are trusty add-ons that not only reduce the likelihood of that happening to you on a rainy-weather commute, but also help you avoid being a jerk by reducing the mud-splattering on cyclists riding behind you. I didn’t know that last bit until very recently…

Water-Proof Bag or Pannier (likely also a Rack to hook it to):  For work-commuting Ladies on a rainy day, a waterproof bag is the perfect vessel to bring a change of clothes and shoes in

I’ve been really pleased with the design of my Ortlieb Shopper Pannier, which has a reflective side patch for increased visibility as an added bonus.

A present from the best In-Laws ever

A present from the best In-Laws ever

Wool Clothes: Honestly, you’re probably going to get wet out there. Clothes made of wool are warm and dry really quickly.  There’s no need to spring for bike-specific clothes, although it’s nice when clothes have been designed with the Lady cyclist in mind.

Huge Scarf: Great for keeping your neck and face warm during the initial freezing leg of the commute.

THE WINTER COMMUTE: A LADY EDITORIAL

It’s snowing in Portland.

Lisa Marie commuting in winter... and philosophically rambling while pedaling.

Lisa Marie commuting in winter… and philosophically rambling while pedaling.

Ladies are festooned in fashionable coats and scarves; audible squeaks and rubbing arise from chains and gears collecting coats of seasonable grime; cheeks flush and noses pink from exposure; quiet snow-dusted streets bear the narrow, singular tracks of Ladies who’ve tilled fresh path through the dawn’s wintry welcome.

The added goodness of riding this time of year is above and beyond all the blissful benefits of riding in calmer weather: the chill and precipitation remind us through experience and sensation that we are human, that life is fragile, and just how much happiness and enjoyment we can experience when we learn to tolerate temporary discomfort.

When I leave my home, bundled and bracing, I’m usually in a state of continuous clenching (and sometimes a stream of muttered obscenities). But once I’m riding through the chilled air, my body warms, my mind clears, and I release into the comfort of being active; of blood rushing, heart pumping, and warmth that permeates even the coldest days. Sometimes my hands thaw, sometimes they don’t, and my nose is usually somewhere between faucet and drizzle. But by the time I arrive at my destination, I’ve accepted whatever state I’m in with a smile and a shrug.

And this is my daily reminder of reality: seasons change and weather, much like life, is unpredictable and sometimes unpleasant. When we’re enclosed in the trappings of the traditional American way of life, we start to expect simplicity. Couch to car to cubicle and back again. When do we ever really experience anything? This artificial ease keeps us from moving our bodies as intended, from thinking and exploring life beyond a surface that speeds by at 60mph. Humanity has become mislabeled an inconvenience.

But us Ladies (and Lady-lovers) out experiencing the weather, actually feeling what it means to be alive, see so much more in every person, inch of pavement, and ounce of bespeckled scenery we pass.

When I’m atop two-wheels, even the greyest Portland day is overflowing with the color of life in its dayglow brightest. And I just sit back and enjoy the ride, grinning and snotting all over myself and my city.

XOXO

COMING UP THIS WEEK:

Exploring the lovely, sometimes frustrating, multi-faceted experience of the winter commute! This week we’ll be discussing riding tips, basic maintenance, and all things year-round riding.

THE CYCLE CHIC-ISH MANIFESTO. (OUR 100TH POST! WELCOME NEW LADY-BLOGGER ANNETTE)

Lisa Marie, Annette, and the Cycle Chic-ish Manifesto

Lisa Marie, Annette, and the Cycle Chic-ish Manifesto

Loyal Lady (and Lady-lover) readers of TWAAL – thank you for reading and riding! As I mark my 100th post as a blogging Lady, the blog will be expanding and improving.

Annette, a fellow Lady, will be joining the blog on a regular basis, and in upcoming weeks check-in with us for practical tips and discussion about living life joyfully atop two-wheels. We’ll also be adding a regular feature, “The Commuting Chronicles”,  exploring the experiences and contemplations involved in daily bike commutes. Our stories, your stories, and the stories cities and streets help create. We’re building a community of Ladies (and Lady-lovers), and all of us are helping build happier, healthier communities of our own. One ride at a time. Keep it up, Ladies! And thanks for being a part of making our streets what we know they can be.

Lisa Marie – XOXO

And now, for Annette’s first post on the blog we introduce

The Cycle Chic-ish Manifesto: A Happy Medium

Why isn’t there a distinct cycling niche of ladies I can relate to?

As Lisa Marie put it, almost every bicycling subgroup fits into some type of EXTREME: “FIXIES!; cycling in outfits that cost more than the bike itself; speeding past life at 30 mph in spandex; drowning in neon yellow seated in a recumbant for commuting only.” Certainly, I value each of those subgroups; I only wish there was an additional one. I’m not an extreme fashionista who puts style above all else, but I’m also not an extreme athlete who puts performance above all else including style. You’re just not going to find me decked out in neon yellow or exposing designer clothes to a rainy commute.

I’m not riding to be seen, but I also know that while I’m riding I will be seen. I’m not riding just because it’s physically demanding, but I recognize that it is physically demanding and I like that. I ride because it’s super fun, efficient, and a healthy thing to do. With the existing subgroups, it’s difficult to fit cleanly in one group without compromising these values. And without an identifiable group, it’s no wonder more ladies like me don’t make cycling a staple mode of transportation year-round.

The Cycle Chic© Manifesto is everywhere – have you seen it? I can’t get over the disparity between what it promotes and what I value about cycling, the reality of the city I live in, and — more fundamentally — what I aspire to be. I present an alternative manifesto below hoping to represent a growing niche of chic-ish lady cyclists in Portland and beyond:

  1. I ride at a pace that strikes a balance between getting where I’m going and enjoying the ride.
  2. My style will contribute to feeling confident and finding joy in riding for transportation, fun, and wellness. In every season.
  3. I am aware that my presence on a bike contributes to safer and better bicycle infrastructure. I appreciate the contribution that all other cyclists make to bicycle-friendly city planning and will seek additional ways to further that cause, including supporting a sense of community with other cyclists.
  4. I will learn to properly care for my bicycle, including how to make basic repairs.
  5. I will acquire, where possible, fenders and a basket or bag that is aesthetically pleasing and appropriate for my cargo needs and the weather from a small, local business.
  6. I will respect the traffic laws.
  7. I will plan routes ahead of time for safety and pay careful attention to my surroundings. I acknowledge that not even Portland is as safe or seamless to ride in (yet) as Copenhagen, so I will ride defensively and mindfully.

WHY I RIDE

Looking good, Lady-lover!

Looking good, Lady-lover!

This “Why I Ride” comes from Hart, a Lady-lover and active transportation activist from Portland, OR:

I’m no Lady, but I definitely ride for the Ladies.

Simple and to the point. Thanks for the Lady shout-out, Lady-lover! Glad to have you on the streets alongside us.

Check Hart’s lovely article about livable streets and the true cost of highway projects here.

Keep riding and loving the Ladies, sir!

XOXO