Friday, May 17, 2013

resources for your ride — it's national bike to work day

It's National Bike to Work Day today, which means it's National Bike Month, which, in turn, means it's PDX Bike Month. Got it?

In honor of all of the above, I've written a Local Agenda for today as well as one the other week on some Portland-made biking accessories like bags from Black Star and Queen Bee, caps from Double Darn, and more really cool stuff from PDW and others.

Then, there's the behemoth of a list, featuring classes, co-ops and maps to guide you, dubbed:

Greenest city, best coffee, hottest indie music scene. In the eyes of others (read: national media outlets), Portland is constantly competing for top listicle honors.

In 2012, Travel + Leisure liberally bestowed upon Portland "the best" titles for environmental friendliness, street food and food trucks, public transportation and pedestrian friendliness, pet-friendly vacation, and microbrewed beer (as well as "the worst" weather, naturally). Plus, CNN just named us the best beer town in the USA.

While the recognition is appreciated (and delivers a little ego boost), the measures are, honestly, completely arbitrary. Most Portlanders aren’t striving to be acknowledged—they’re just doing these things because they have a passion for the ideas, ideals and tastes (and to, hopefully, make a living).

As we continually vie with Minneapolis for the crown of America’s #1 bike city, one thing is official: The month of May is National Bike Month, which means the city has also declared it PDX Bike Month. With morning ride bike breakfasts and a free bike summit (the meeting kind, not a hill ride), May is an opportunity for Portlanders to celebrate the thriving bike community and culture that lives here. (Points of pride: Portland has the highest percentage of bike commuters for a large American city and is the only large American city awarded a platinum rating for bicycle friendliness by the League of American Bicyclists—plus more fast facts.)

But if you’re a little intimidated by the scene or simply don’t know where to start, we hope the following list of resources will show you that Portlanders love spreading the bike gospel through activities, education and affordable access to information for riders of all skill levels and ages.

Where To Learn: Hands-On Bike Maintenance and Safety

Tori Bortman, owner of Gracie's Wrench
Depending on what you aim to do with your developing bike knowledge, Portland offers a multitude of opportunities to learn in a variety of environments.

A good place to start is the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s (PBOT) Portland By Cycle program, which hosts spring and summer classes and rides (all are free but some classes require registration). You can learn basic bike maintenance and safety in interactive clinics or discover new cycling routes while practicing these skills during group rides—and maybe you’ll make some two-wheeled friends along the way. Find the 2013 schedule for upcoming dates of interest.

While Portland By Cycle has several dates specifically for seniors, Women on Bikes is a female-only series of free clinics and rides. With activities from now until September, find one that works for you and join in.

For those determined DIYers desiring more advanced training, become a bike mechanic under the tutelage of Tori Bortman at Gracie's Wrench where she offers everything from beginning to intensive tune-up classes and individual tutoring, or learn wheel building from the experts at Sugar Wheel Works.

And if you’re really serious about being official, get professionally certified at the United Bicycle Institute, “the industry's leading technical school offering courses in repair, frame building, and mechanic certification for beginner to advanced technicians.” That’s right, you can literally build your own bike from scratch. Fire up your torch and start brazing that chromoly. (And if you have no clue what that even means, just start hanging out at the adjacent Hopworks BikeBar and maybe you’ll learn through inebriated osmosis.)

Find out where to learn safty tips, how to self-service your ride, and discover a plethora of riding routes inside and out of the city on Neighborhood Notes.

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