Take me to the Motherland… The Port-Motherland.

Mir’s next move is Portland and the Northwest, get ready for the bike commuter kingdom!

A-O River! To all the bike commuters that may or may not have followed the past year of sporadic, wtf, travel-inspired posts, the one and only Mir.I.Am is taking off for the cycle kingdom known as Portlandia. Awwww yeah, birches. I can’t wait to be part of the transportation majority! Clip my feet and grow me a beard, I’m getting a tattoo and retiring in my thirties… Bring it Portland.

That would be PORTLAND! The MOTHERLAND!!!

Boyfriend and I have be chillin’ like villains here in the Northwest, revisiting old Seattle haunts, eating blackberries off the side of the road, and cramming our heads full of piping hot brown caffeine juice in the good ole-fashioned PacNoWe way.

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Yes. I did it. This is an emo-romance moment post fancy coffee and sparkling water with the Boyfriend in Portland. P.S. America, when did you start offering bubbly water with your espressos? I thought it was a Buenos Aires thing.

And… You know you’re in the Northwest when the Goodwill has a sweet Schwinn “Suburban” with a front basket and chromed out fenders for $40. A-MAY-Sing.

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Okay, okay… that’s enough sepia-toned photos or photos of sepia-toned drinks. What about the beauty of the green trees, mountains, blue lakes, and tiny red folding bikes you borrow from your friends when you are in town for work!? These are the moments that keep me coming back for more:

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Check out that Tiger’s black leather saddle with SHOCKS. It goes “skreaky-skreaky” everywhere when you ride it. heeeheee.
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A 70’s Japanese-made Tiger folder, or the-best-guest-bike-ever-for-when-your-friends-are-in-town… Yes, I am 5 foot and peas, and my friend who’s 6 foot and carrots rides this sucker too.
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All locked up at this sweet Bike Lounge at the Bullitt Center in Seattle. Complete with Showers and a bike tune-up station.

I can’t wait til my sister ships me my old orange Schwinn Le Tour II from San Francisco… In the meantime, I’ll dream of three-speed red tigers rolling through the bougie coffee shops in the ultimate hang town of Portland, Oregon.  Any PDX bike commuters out there, hit me up with recommendations for bike-specific awesomeness!

 

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How could you not love this tiny bike?! Tiger-powered!

 

Commuter Profile: Andrew Li

Editor’s note: Many of you may have seen Andrew Li’s excellent guest articles over the past couple months…well, we loved his work, and he loved doing it for us. So, we figured “why not add him to our staff?” So, welcome Andrew to the Bikecommuters.com team; in our tradition, here is his commuter profile for your reading pleasure.

Name: Andrew Li

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How long have you been a bike commuter?

Since about 2001, I have been commuting by bike. By no means am I car-independent. I would say that about 30% of my commuting distance during these last 10 years has been by bicycle.

Why did you start riding your bike to work and how long is your commute?

I started pretty much out of necessity, in high-school. At that point, I did not have a car. So I carpooled, walked, or biked to school. By my senior year, I realized how fast a bicycle could be, and so I adopted cycling as my primary mode of transportation all throughout college and medical school.

Currently, my standard car-free commute is 20 miles, both directions combined. My longest car-free commute was about 32 miles, again, both directions combined.

How does Bike Commuting help you with your lifestyle (economics, health, relationships)?

Bike commuting allows me to:
1. Exercise (saves me a gym membership) and get somewhere I need to get to, all at the same time.
2. Saving me money not having to buy as much gas (check out the “commuter tools” tab on bikecommuters.com to see how much you can save by biking a few miles here and there).
3. Reduce my time sitting in traffic.
4. Slow down so I can more easily see and appreciate my surroundings and be more aware of the community through which I am cycling, both the good AND the bad. “An unexamined life is not worth living.”
a. I can’t tell you how many little shops and nooks I started noticing when I biked a route that I usually drove.
b. And since I was on a bike, I was more willing to stop and explore on foot.
5. Appreciate my car more, and as such, when I must drive, I don’t get as frustrated when stuck in traffic. Fascinating cycle: I bike to avoid driving, and in the end, it makes me a better driver.
6. Value the food I eat and view it not merely for pleasure but more for its properties as a source of energy and means of improving my performance and health. I was quick to learn that a bad diet easily manifested itself in a weak and weary ride.
7. Reduce your carbon footprint.
8. Cool topic of discussion at dinner parties.

What do you do for a living and in what city do you bike commute?

I am a general surgery resident, and live with my wife in Long Beach, CA. I bike from Long Beach to Torrance for my current commute.

What kind(s) of bike do you have?

My first commuter was an old Taiwanese road bike that my dad bought in the 80s at a garage sale for $20. It was my first love and a real beauty. I rode that bike for about 8 years, until it was stolen. In this photo, I am wearing a mask because Southern California during that year was having a bad firestorm, and so the smoke from the fire was pretty noticeable.

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I had a beautiful Panasonic at one point, but we had to leave it when we moved away.

In college, a friend bequested an old Cannondale to me. However, the front wheel got stolen. So I rummaged through our engineering department and found a BMX wheel that no one needed, and the clownbike was born (see first picture above). I rode that thing for about 2 years all around campus and beyond. Amazingly good handling (small wheels mean tighter turns). It got a LOT of attention, pointing fingers, and great laughs. Riding it, you just could not help but smile and laugh. I also called it the “happy bike.” As tradition dictated, I bequested it to a friend when I graduated.

Currently I own an old Trek Antelope 830 with some simple personal modifications for my commute. Pretty robust so far.

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Any funny or interesting commuting story that you may want to share?

Some of the most interesting experiences for me were during my commute to one job I had in South Central Los Angeles (LA). The ride started in North Hollywood, and I saw the transitions from Valley suburbia, to decadent Hollywood Hills mansions, to the stark Business District and Downtown LA streets rushing with expensive cars, to South Central LA with its stretches of industrial compounds, schools with uniformed children laughing and playing behind high metal fences garnished with barbed wire, and the rattling homeless shopping carts.

One of the most powerful memories I had during that commute was biking by two homeless guys fighting over a shopping cart filled with empty soda cans and about 50 others trying to break it up. As I rode by, one of them overturned the cart, and the sound of a hundred empty soda cans crashing on concrete and my bike tires crunching over them was overwhelming.

What do people (coworkers, friends) say when you tell them that you are a bike commuter?

They usually ask if I have ever gotten mugged before, as quite a few of my commutes have and currently go through rougher parts of town. Overall they are extremely supportive. I even converted one guy at my current work, and he is now a regular commuter.

How about bicycling advocacy? Are you active in any local or regional advocacy groups?

I have been getting involved with bikelongbeach.org. We are trying to get RL’s mobile bike repair unit getting started in Long Beach.

Anything else that you want to share with us?

I think I have gotten more tickets cycling than driving.

Book Review: “My Cool Bike” by Chris Haddon

Our friends at Independent Publishers Group sent us a review copy of My Cool Bike: An Inspirational Guide to Bikes and Bike Culture by Chris Haddon; photography by Lyndon McNeill (London: Pavilion, an imprint of Anova Books, 2013).

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At first, I was a bit skeptical: “aw, man, ANOTHER artsy book about bikes?!?” I expressed my concerns to my contact at IPG, and she assured me that yes, this was another art/coffee table book, but from the author’s very successful (and quirky) series called “My Cool…” Based on her guidance, I gave the book a fair chance, and I’m glad I did.

My Cool Bike is a fun look at the incredibly diverse world of bike culture, where all kinds of people are represented: punks, artists, designers, scientists, tinkerers, adventurers, free-thinkers. This should come as no surprise to many of you; we’re all pretty different from one another, yet we all share a rather passionate love for two-wheeled machines. Chris Haddon traveled to a number of cities and met with a lot of people, and in the process captured a fairly broad set of bike characters who embody bike culture as we know it. Lyndon MacNeill’s photographs really seal the deal, though — the bikes and the personalities behind them are captured in rich color, and those photographs also perfectly capture the joy and enthusiasm of each bike’s owner.

No hardcore racers or superathletes here; the personalities represented in the book seem to not take themselves so seriously, but clearly enjoy the freedom and individuality the bicycle brings to their lives. I think we can ALL relate to that, yes?

My Cool Bike is an enjoyable book to page through — there are no revelations contained within its pages, but I think you’ll enjoy this look at our unique two-wheeled community. There’s really something for every bike fan here; bikes to drool over, fun personalities you would love to go on a ride with, tales of adventures you’ll want to emulate. After seeing some of the collections of bikes owned by people in this book, I don’t feel so bad about the bike jumble in my own garage. While paging through the book, I did find myself wishing for a larger storage space, though!

Take a look at My Cool Bike, available through a number of online booksellers and perhaps even in your local library (if they don’t have it, ask nicely and they might be able to get a copy for you). You’ll enjoy the ride!

Please click here to read our review disclaimer as required by the Federal Trade Commission.

We’ve reached a milestone!

Our site founder RL notified the writing staff here yesterday that we’ve just published our 2400th article here on Bikecommuters.com. That’s pretty amazing!

It’s been a lot of hard work, and a lot of fun, for all of us…writers past and present. But we really couldn’t have done it without you, our readers. Your contributions in the form of emailed suggestions, questions, and the many comments you’ve left (almost 20,000 at last count) make it all worthwhile.

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For those of you who are newer readers, please dig around in our archives; we’ve covered a ton of territory here over the past 7 years and you’re sure to find something riveting, or helpful, or funny…or head-scratchingly weird… if you look long enough. For our longtimers, thanks for sticking with us and being faithful readers and commenters. We appreciate it!

Interbike 2013: Electric Bicycles

As we prepare for the ever so wonderful Interbike show in Las Vegas next month, I can’t help but wonder what might be some of the trends we’ll see. In the last few years we’ve seen more and more brands start to offer e-bikes. Every year that goes by brings more improvements in the technology used, from longer lasting batteries that deliver up to 30+ miles of travel per charge to bikes that can hit up to 50mph. Some e-bikes even qualify for a deduction at tax time; who wouldn’t be happy with a variety of free tax calculators that could be found online ? After seeing this video below, I reached out to Cameron Pemstein, owner of Motiv Electric Bicycles to gain his perspective on what people should expect at Interbike.

BC: What do you anticipate seeing with the trend of ebikes?

Cameron Pemstein: The electric bike trend will continue to grow because smarter IBD’s can see the potential growth in this segment.

BC: What have you seen in your business that people want more of or hope to see in the future with e-bikes?

Cameron Pemstein: We hear this all the time: “I love my bike, but I want to go further!” Our “LR” (long-range) battery offers 28-30 miles distance per charge, so when I hear that customers want to travel even further on our bike, it thrills us to know we have a solution.
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BC: Is the possibility of ebikes traveling over 50 miles per charge coming soon?

Cameron Pemstein: Yes, definitely, it is just a matter of time. Battery technologies are changing at a rapid pace. For example, 5 years ago the batteries that we currently use weighed in at 15lbs, and now they weigh around 9lbs. I am excited to see what the future holds for the e-bike battery.

With that said, perhaps a trend that we might see this year at Interbike in the electric bicycle segment would be longer range e-bikes and probably a few brands offering kits or complete bikes that can go as fast as 50mph. Whatever it may be, I’m looking forward to seeing all that goodness next month!

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