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Confession Day in the Church of Bike

Saturday, January 24, 2015



There are few things more exciting to the dedicated cyclist than New Bike Day.

I have a confession to make, and you, dear reader, are my confessor. I hope you have it in your heart to forgive me. I have not been walking my own bike talk. For even as I write these stories meant to inspire and inform thousands of others in their year-round bike riding, I have been driving around town in my Subaru.

Originally, it was a matter of logistics. Until last Spring I’d been living 20 miles west of my office on NE Portland. Let me tell you, that commute on a good day is no joke. 25 miles door to door with 1,200 feet of climbing, in each direction. 

During summer months, it was fine. I rode my sleek, fast, old race bike because I wanted to get from A to B as quickly and efficiently as possible. But during wet weather there was no way I was riding in the dark, over the hill and through the zoo. The roads over the NW Hills are slimy in winter, with low traction and terrible visibility. Commuting became a seasonal thing.

Last June, I moved back into Portland city limits. Summers in Portland being about as perfect as summers can be, I rode around during the week some, but still wasn’t commuting the way I used to in years past. The main holdup was not having a dedicated city bike. Riding my old Cannondale was becoming problematic.

Because I needed to carry my “office” with me, my laptop, charger, mouse, noise-cancelling headphones, notebooks and any spare clothing had to be carried in a backpack. I’d stuff my waterproof, indestructible, well-loved Ortleib backpack and strap it on…and start to have neck problems from carrying an extra 15 pounds on my shoulders. 


VeloOrange fenders offer a stylish stay-dry option that merges function and design.

Then there was the fact that even though my race bike was 7 years old, it’s still a really nice bike that would cost thousands to replace if stolen. I needed a dedicated commuter.

I already had four bikes (down from nine). And while sometimes I feel like that’s excessive, most of the time, I could definitely add a fat bike, a 27.5" all mountain full-suspension bike, and a gravel bike for backcountry touring to round out my quiver. N+1 is my argument for how many bikes is the right amount. But I was hard hit by the reception, and I didn't want to get some $200 piece of crap junker from craigslist that would be thrown in the scrap heap in six months.

Finally, this year, I was able to invest in a new city bike. She’s a plain steel Virtue road frame—nothing fancy—but the boys at Cat Six Cycles (one of Portland's newest bike shops, in NE Portland) built her up with style. VeloOrange full-wrap hammered fenders keep the rain off my feet, legs, and face. PDW's Whiskey Grips provide both comfort and style in the cockpit. A heavy duty porteur rack now carries my heavy loads instead of my body. And Shimano hubs laced to SunRingle rims provide durable, reasonably-priced wheels made to take a beating.

I named her Emma Peel, after the heroine of the ’60s Avengers series. Like her namesake, she’s classy, stylish, and packs a few surprises under her cool exterior. For one thing, the upright riding position is astonishingly comfortable. It’s prim, proper and I'm able to look around more. It's better not just for safety’s sake, but also because it allows me to take in the fabulous Portland neighborhoods as I amble through them, my shiny new wheels throwing slices of reflected sunbeams, like a spy woman’s throwing knives. 


A Gamoh porteur rack provides a stylish cargo alternative to rear racks and panniers.

The front load cargo handling is the biggest surprise. I expected as much, but it definitely requires an adjustment in handling skills. There’s a wonkiness that I enjoy that lightweight high-performance bikes don't offer. It’s completely the opposite of nearly every other bike I’ve owned over the past 15 years.

I still love my snappy road racer. I still love speed. And although I don’t race much anymore beyond the odd mountain bike short track, Enduro, or Super D, there’s something quite thrilling about pushing my limits. I imagine there will be days I have to hustle across town and won’t have the luxury of time to ride my city bike casually. But for now, I simply allow extra time to get to my destination. I arrive warm, not overheated, wearing a healthy glow and a rosy attitude.

So forgive me, dear reader, for I have sinned. I have already paid my penance in the form of the 10 extra pounds I’m wearing since last fall. As I climb the hill to my new residence on my new bike, I am reminded of the error of my ways with every pedal stroke.  

But, my brothers and sisters—you, the choir—you already know; the Church of Bike is a forgiving institution. Redemption is found not on our knees, but every time we start spinning our wheels, no matter how far astray or how long away we’ve been. 

Can I get an amen?


Üma Kleppinger is a Portland-based copy writer, author and bike addict. A recovering sesquipedalian who blogs about life in the saddle and outdoor adventure, she is also the author of Bike Yoga, a flexibility and recovery program for cyclists. When not writing, she can be found riding and racing her mountain bike throughout the Pacific Northwest. If you have cycling-related news to share, events to promote, or  deep thoughts about this or any other cycling related matters, shoot her a nice email.


Related Slideshow: 14 Biggest Blunders of 2014

Check out Portland and Oregon's biggest blunders of 2014. 

Prev Next

Kitzhaber Fails To Understand What an Ethics Commission Is

In a fairly odd moment of Oregon political history, amid accusations of ethical misconduct, Governor John Kitzhaber appeared to forget, or not know, how an ethics commission works.

In October, amid rising charges that his fiance Cylvia Hayes had pedaled influence as Oregon’s First Lady, to her and Kitzhaber’s financial gain, the Governor asked if the Oregon Ethics Commission could review decisions his office had made in regards to Hayes’ conduct.

An strange move because usually ethics commissions only review ethical issues in concept, not ones that may have already have happened. Ethics commission director Ron Bersin told GoLocalPDX that the body did, in fact, review past decisions made by staff.  

But on 7th of November, the commission rejected the Governor’s request stating that it only reviewed ethical issues that were “hypothetical.”  Perhaps Bersin and Kitzhaber both need to brush up on the rule book.

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Monica Wehby

Republican candidate Monica Wehby started out strong in the U.S. senate race against incumbent Jeff Merkley. However, in her journey to become the first Oregon female senator in 47 years, a series of campaign blunders quickly dropped her poll numbers and support.

The first few months of campaigning, polls showed a close race, with Wehby leading by one pointe a poll by the Daily Caller in May.

However, her campaign trail only went downhill from there. In May, police reports of Wehby stocking her former boyfriend and harassing her ex-husband appeared. 

Then in September, plagiarism claims around Wehby’s health care plan caused a bigger stir.  A health care professional, Wehby’s leading issue was reforming Obamacare.

Wehby admitted plagiarism issues, after first denying them, and blamed a former staffer. However, the public found it hard to look past the incident.

Even big supporters disappeared into the background. The Koch brothers, big-time GOP backers, canceled their October advertising campaign for Wehby.

In the end, Wehby lost the election. With two thirds of the votes counted, Merkely had won by 17 points.  

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Biggest Toilet Flush in History

Portland literally flushed 38 million gallons of water earlier this year after authorities say a 19-year-old man urinated in a large, uncovered reservoir during an early morning walk with two friends. 

Portland Water Bureau spokesman David Shaff said the urine posed little to no risk, yet the city still decided to dump most of the water.

This is the second time in under three years Portland has decided to dump away millions of gallons of water, although this time was much worse. 

The Portland area experienced no water shortages or sick water-drinkers, but some questioned the necessity of the dump. 

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Run for Cover (Oregon): State Abandons Health Exchange

Cover Oregon, the health care enrollment site that promised to revolutionize Oregon health care, was a blunder that just kept growing. 
Governor Kitzhaber’s project kept racking up problems, setbacks, and even lawsuits until Oregon gave up on the venture. 

The enrollment website for cover Oregon was scheduled to launch in September 2013, but was pushed into this year. However, by April the state had had enough with the setbacks and dumped the project onto the federal government. The site became part of HealthCare.gov.

Yet problems did not stop there. Oracle, the software company, sued Cover Oregon for breach of contract. Then the state of Oregon sued Oracle for fraud and racketeering. Now in federal court, the issue is still unresolved.

The state spent over $250 million in federal grant money and there is over $146,000 in legal fees. Cover Oregon is not only one of the worst blunders for the Oregon in 2014, but will probably be for many years to come. 

Prev Next

GOP Picks Richardson

As Oregon’s Governor reached for a fourth term at office, with a $250 million Obamacare debacle around his neck and a fiance unleashing scandals almost daily in Oct., you would think almost any GOP contender with a semi regular pulse and an NRA membership card could have defeated Democrat John Kitzhaber in 2014 — but no.

GOP State Rep. Dennis Richardson, a southern Oregon lawyer, might have been picked simply to put some resistance, to what at the beginning seemed to be a sure win for the wildly popular Kitzhaber. Richardson had a record of conservative stance, which some saw as problematic for winning moderate and independent voters. 

But as Kitzhaber’s political problems mounted, it looked like it could be a horse race after all.  Richardson poured on the attacks as revelations about Kitzhaber's fiance Cylvia Hayes provided ammunition for the media and the Governor’s opponents. 

Richardson campaign, however, was poorly funded, with a GOP machine that was badly organized, by its own admission.   Richardson himself never chose to push out a his record of fiscal discipline which might have resonated more with voters. 
Despite the scandals and gaining ground in the polls, Richardson still failed to win the election.  

Meanwhile, centrist and household name, Chris Dudley, who lost to Kitzhaber by only a few thousand votes in 2010, was probably quietly smacking his forehead.

Prev Next

City of Portland Loses Popularity Contest

Portlanders named one of the year’s biggest blunderers themselves—the City of Portland. The city was officially unpopular in 2014, by the highest percentage in 24 years.

In the city auditor’s Community Survey released on October 29, only 46 percent of residents thought the city was overall doing a good or very good job of providing services.

Portland’s ratings have been low in recent years, the 2014 score was the lowest since the Audit Services Division began the survey. This year, the overall rating was down 22 percent from 2013.

Some of the major complaints about city government involved road maintenance, housing developments and affordability, water quality, and livability in downtown.

Prev Next

Novick and Hales’ Handling of Street Fee

Nothing caused more friction at City Hall this year than Portland’s proposed street fee. Whether you are for it or against it, the idea has created a political pretzel for Portland Mayor Charlie Hales and Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick.

A Transportation User Fee was first introduced to Portland City Council by Novick and Mayor Charlie Hales in May. The original plan involved a fee per Portland households to pay for street repairs and safety improvements.

The plan was scrapped, rehashed and is now looking at a revival.  City council votes has pushed back a to Nov, and then until January. It will then most likely, go to voters in May.

Novick has been working to gain support and build a final plan, but so far has failed to do so. GoLocalPDX contributor Jesse Cornett wrote “[Novick’s] been combative toward anyone who dares to challenge him and in doing so has steeled the opposition and alienated allies. Most recently, he likened the Portland Business Alliance to mass arsonists by stating they’d rather “burn the city to the ground” than accept a compromise. As a result, a vote on the street fee was again delayed.” 

It’s been a mess, you can be a consensus builder or a unilateralist, it’s hard to be both.

Prev Next

Produce Row Cafe

Produce Row Café closed its doors after 40 years and let all its employees go—on Labor Day.

“The Row,” as many of the longtime regulars call it, opened its doors way back in 1974.  This popular Portland pub—the first cafe ever owned by the McMenamin brothers—served as a frosty oasis for blue-collar types and politicians alike for four decades.

Owner Alan Davis, who also owns Multnomah Whisky Library in downtown Portland, purchased Produce Row on Nov. 3, 2008. Davis said it has been one of the most difficult decisions he has ever made to shutter the bar and it was more a personal decision to close Produce Row than it was a business one.

Davis let his employees know on Labor Day that the next day would be their last one working at the Produce Row Café. 

Prev Next

VQ Restaurant and Multnomah County Courthouse

A new county courthouse slated for completion by 2020 will almost certainly be built on land where a portion of a popular downtown restaurant now stands, according to Multnomah County officials.

The county’s preferred site for a new $250 million central courthouse would be vacant county-owned lot next to the restaurant Veritable Quandary, on the west side of the Hawthorne bridgehead.

That news is not good for Veritable Quandary owner Denny King. The forty-year-old restaurant, at 1220 SW 1st Avenue, is using about 2,000 sq feet of that lot for its kitchen and lavish outdoor seating area.  On Monday King made the rounds of TV news media and others saying the development would destroy his business.

Multnomah County Spokesman David Austin said even though it has not officially been voted on by county commissioners “it’s almost certain” that the new courthouse will go on the site.

The VQ, as it is known, is a venerable institution that stands out in contrast to Portland’s trendy and Avant Guard restaurant scene. The bar and restaurant has hosted captains of industry and political powerbrokers for generations.

Prev Next

Democrats Lose Huge Fundraisers with Terry Bean's Arrest

Portlander Terry Bean was one of Oregon Democrat’s biggest financial backers. However, his arrest for sexually abusing a minor meant a major loss of future fundraising for the party.

Before his arrest, Bean had been a leading figure in the gay rights movement and Democratic fundraising. He had bundled over $500,000 for President Obama’s re-election and personal donated over $19,000 to state and local candidates since 2007.

Local public officials and LGBT organizations backed by Bean distanced themselves from him after his arrest, showing both communities will be looking for a new fundraiser and supporter in the coming years. 

Read More 

Prev Next

Anothony Watson Leaves Nike

Anthony Watson, the former Chief Information Officer at Nike, recently left the company after a brief tenure. According to some, the metro-area was just too boring for the Britian. 

Officaly, Watson said he left his position after only 10 months for personal reasons. However a source in a Fortune article hinted it had more to do with enjoying the city you live in. 

Before his departure from Nike, Watson was the only openly gay CIO of a Fortune 100 company. He was recently featured in Fortune’s “40 Under 40” next to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

Before accepting a position with Nike earlier this year, Watson was the managing director, CIO of global operations for Barclays Bank’s retail and business banking in Europe and the Middle East.

Prev Next

Uber Comes To Town—And Leaves

Portland took a bold stand against the controversial, ridesharing company Uber that paid off. While Uber has muscled its way past city regulations and lawsuits across the nation, it couldn’t handle Portland. 

Despite warnings and threats, Uber set up shop in Portland on Dec. 5. The city responded with a lawsuit and fines. At first, it seemed Uber would remain unfazed. Afterall, they were receiving similar reactions in cities around the world.

The company even threw a launch party for Portland supporters just a few days after the lawsuit. 

However, in the end Uber backed down and announced a three month stop in operations until an agreement with the city can be reached. Besides Vancouver, Portland is the only city in successful in driving out the controversial company. 

Prev Next

Byron Beck's Blunder with The Beards

As if the World Beard and Moustache Championship wasn’t controversial enough, GoLocalPDX Lifestyle Editor and Columnist Byron Beck had to go and ruin the whole thing.

On Oct 25, around 300 hairy participants descended on the Keller Auditorium for the WBMC. It was the first year the Rose City had hosted the event and only the third time in history it had been held in the U.S.  

The event came under fire from a German-based First Hofener Beard Club, that stated it holds the legitimate claim to be the world’s oldest international whiskers showdown.

Still, bearded and moustachioed hipsters, grampas, and prospector types arrived in droves.  

Beck, the maniacal master of ceremonies, however, drew the most heat from local media. Chatter at the show is that the event was poorly organized.  As the clock ticked down towards closing time, Beck began to rush contestants through their paces like a school marm hurrying kids off the playground.

“What was supposed to be a well-organized facial hair competition had turned into a race against the clock. The crowd booed as two competitors rushed late onstage during the Garibaldi preliminaries, nearly forcing a recount. Beck seemed panicked as he tried to hurry it along,” OregonLive reported.

While some seemed to understand—English champion Snidely Mansfield told OregonLive "Any time you try to organize this many beardos, something's bound to happen,”—jeers for Beck went all the way up to the Huffington Post and The Atlantic.

Prev Next

Wild Premiere

Actresses Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern joined director Jean-Marc Vallée and author Cheryl Strayed at Cinema 21 for the premiere of "Wild" in Portland. 

For the early December premiere a small stretch of Northwest 21st Avenue was jam-packed with the lucky few who actually got an invite to the exclusive screening as well as looky-loos giving this typically sleepy street a bit of Hollywood glamour.  

Adding to the glam was, of course, the stars of the film Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern who both appeared on the red carpet and in front of the audience just prior to the screening. 

But there was a bit of tension prior to the screening. That's because a few of prominent  local power players and politicos were passed over in terms of walking the red carpet....and wait for it...actually made to wait in line! 

Well-known names from Salem and City Hall weren't exactly pleased to find out that, following quick appearances at a pre-party at a nearby art gallery, they would be asked to trudge to the end of the line and wait for their opportunity to enter the theater.


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