Let’s just clear something up right off the bat. If you’ve ever doubted Portland’s genuine passion for all things cycling, just remember that the city hosts a month-long festival every June called Pedalpalooza. That’s more than 30 days of events to add to an already-impressive biking resume; one that includes a commuter rate of 7.2%.
Hey, there’s a reason it’s called Bike Town, USA.
Stats and celebrations aside, however, to truly understand what makes this progressive American city such a hub of cycling activity you’ve got to get down to the anthropological level. And to do that, you really need to talk to Tiffany Gray and Matheas Grau-Michaels.
Experience Portland Bike Sharing for Yourself:
“We have a bamboo bike trailer handmade by a local guy,” says Tiffany, as if to immediately dispel any doubt that these two represent the quintessential Portland cycling duo. “We’ve done all sorts of things with it: transport several hundred pounds of wine on our tandem from 100 miles away, move entire households, transport people, kegs, hundreds of pounds of lumber…. the list goes on and on.”
Indeed, Tiffany and Matheas even owe their relationship to cycling. Meeting late one brisk February evening at the same traffic light, their chance encounter would lead to a first date spent riding around Portland together.
“Our shared love of cycling was definitely one of the things we loved about each other right off the bat,” Tiffany explains. And as luck would have it, it’s a mutual passion they’re all too happy to share.
Over the past two and a half years, the couple has helped more than 70 cyclists ride the streets and trails of the Rose City, thanks in part to a Spinlister profile that’s teeming with both bikes and 5-star reviews. Their “fleet” ranges from single speeds and bamboo fixies to road bikes and even tandem recumbents – everything an out-of-towner or a new city resident needs to get out and explore on two wheels.
“I like the access to efficient cycling infrastructure, and the laid-back approach to life many people have here,” says Matheas, referencing Portland’s well-documented reputation for bike-friendliness. “I’m always amazed by the endless passion and creativity that people have for bikes.”
“It’s also a climate that’s pretty conducive to year-round cycling,” Tiffany adds. “If you are prepared for some rain.” This is the Pacific Northwest, after all.
Comments on the weather notwithstanding, their advice to first-time cyclists is usually pretty straightforward: make sure you’re comfortable on the bike (this is particularly true for the tandems); read up on cool places to go; take a minute to figure out how to properly work the locks; always stick to the best/safest route possible. And don’t worry, they’ll help out with all of it.
“I really enjoy feeling like I’m part of a greater cycling community,” says Matheas, whose Dropout Bike Club builds custom bikes and helps organize parties year round (especially during the aforementioned Pedalpalooza). “It can be really inspiring to organize and participate in events that bring people together. There’s never any shortage of bike fun you can get up to.”
It’s the kind of enthusiasm you might expect from two passionate Portlanders who care as much about their city as they do about the bikes that carry them, and you, through it.