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'It's not called 'Coast'': Zed Bailey on bringing new energy to Shift, starting tonight

Posted by Michael Andersen (News Editor) on July 17th, 2013 at 10:52 am

Zed Bailey
Bailey (in character, not his usual garb) at
Open Bike Night in January.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Zed Bailey doesn't know if anyone will show up to Velo Cult tonight to talk about the future of bike fun in Portland. He doesn't know because he didn't put the event on Facebook.

Instead, tapping the low-tech xerocracy that drove bike-fun events in Portland ten years ago, he photocopied a bunch of neatly designed flyers for "Shift 3rd Wednesdays" from July through December and handed them out at PedalPalooza rides.

It was an invitation for more people who like bikes to get involved with Shift, the loose team of volunteer bike lovers responsible for Portland's monthly Midnight Mystery Ride, for Breakfast on the Bridges, for PedalPalooza and, in many ways, for putting Portland's bike scene on the map. It's a ten-year-old organization in need, many of its organizers say, of a burst of new energy and direction — a burst of energy that Bailey says he'll be working to create as its new facilitator, starting tonight.

The Shift business meeting at Velo Cult is 7 to 8 p.m.; after that there's a social hour until 10 p.m. Everyone's invited.

I met Bailey, 31, at Velo Cult yesterday to talk about his vision for Shift, his funnest bike ride ever, why Facebook might be useful but can never be cool, and of course to sit for some shots in Velo Cult's free photo booth.

Why do you think Shift matters to Portland?
We're often comparing ourselves to Copenhagen for numbers, and I think it's a poor comparison. I think what we bring is the pedal party capital of the world.

You're accepting the role of "facilitator" for Shift. What's that mean?
I was nervous at first to step into that whole realm of things because I was afraid I was going to step on toes, and I have stepped on some toes. But I've been encouraged and inspired by Chris Fool, who was the former facilitator of this meeting but basically doesn't have the energy to continue forward with it.

A lot of people who established things, they have kids now, and they have their own gigs going on. So we're going to have to raise a whole new generation of people to carry that torch that goes back to 2002. There's definitely this need to get younger people involved. [Or] not so much that we need younger people, it's just that we need new passions.

How long have you been in Portland?
Off and on: three years.

Where were you before?
Salt Lake City, Utah.

What's the bike scene like there?
It's actually really tight-knit and vibrant. I've lived there for eight years. I started a blog called Saltcycle, it was just me posting various things. And over the years it's grown to amass this huge community. [But] I felt like I wanted to come out to a place where I could quantify my efforts more.

Tell me about the first time you got on a bike, or got back on.
(A little embarrassed) I was a poor college student. I like many people started with a really awful bike. It was Critical Mass [in SLC] that actually changed my whole perspective of bicycling, in 2005 or 2006. Before that, I'd ride on the sidewalks. We'd have stereos and everything – it was more of a party, a real rich experience.

"We're trying to reignite some of those original passions that people felt when they created rides like the Midnight Mystery Ride, the World Naked Bike Ride, all of these rides that are now classic rides, that continue on."
— incoming Shift facilitator Zed Bailey

You say you want to improve "networking" in the bike community. What do you mean by that?
A lot of the networking's not reality. It's over the Internet, where it's a pseudo-reality. I want to do face-to-face connections, where I can actually collaborate with people and see them. Social networks like Facebook aren't a replacement for that reality, and people are longing for that. It's my hope that we can actually move to create a network that's local and sustainable and replaces Facebook for the cycling community.

Why?
That's what we do in Portland. We do it better, we do it bolder, we do it local, we do it with more love. And you can't do that with Facebook. I use Facebook, and I use the social networks, but I'm trying to push outward from that.

You said you stepped on toes. What happened?
I overreached and used the name a bit much, and I didn't get the consensus of the community. [But] Adriane Ackerman, she came up to me and she said that she was inspired by what I was doing because it was that same origination of fun coming again. We're trying to reignite some of those original passions that people felt when they created rides like the Midnight Mystery Ride, the World Naked Bike Ride, all of these rides that are now classic rides, that continue on.

What other changes would you hope for?
I think we need to be more creative, is what it comes down to. People get excited when there's new things. People were really excited when me and Dan [Kaufman] did the Magical Midnight Mystery Tour. Instead of going from A to B, we went from A to B to C. I stood up and said "I am no longer the walrus!" And then Dan stood up and said "I am the walrus! Coo-coo-ca-choo! Coo-coo-ca-choo!" And took us to the next place. Anything can happen on the ride – that's what excites people.

I sort of think there should be a Clue MMR. Some rider, nobody knows who it is, ends up missing or dead or something. And then you have to find out through a series of clues around the campfire.

We definitely need more costumes, though. I think that's what stands out in Portland – people love to dress up here. It was Chuck Palahniuk who said in Fugitives and Refugees that we [Portlanders] lead three different lives. I think that's true with the bicycling community – we use costumes to create alternate identites.

What was your favorite bike ride ever?
The Mormons have this day that's called Pioneer Day — it's probably bigger than their Fourth of July. We came up with this idea on this shoestring tangent … "Knights Nights of 1347." We wrapped ourselves in tinfoil and I put on this soundtrack that was like, "All Your Base are Belong to Us." All these people were waiting for the parade to come and we came in mass all through the city dressed as robots and we blew their minds.

What one thing would you ask people to do for the local bike fun scene?
Pedal to whatever you're passionate with. If you're passionate about coding and that's your schtick, then make that your pedal. If you're passionate about meeting people, then make that your pedal. The thing is, we need to be pedaling this infrastructure forward. That's why it's called Shift – it's not called "Coast." There's going to be people who get heartaches, there's going to be people who get sad, there's going to be passions, just like any shift. But shift happens.

(Laughing.) I've got lots of little one-liners.

Qs & As edited for brevity. Shift's monthly meeting is 7 p.m. at Velo Cult, 1969 NE 42nd Ave. in the Hollywood area, on the third Wednesday of every month. If you're unfamiliar with Shift events, here's a 51-second video Bailey made explaining them:

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  • BikeFunFinder July 17, 2013 at 11:11 am

    I will be there around 8. We can talk BFF. Oh, and i'll have stickers for anyone who wants one.

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  • Joe Adamski July 17, 2013 at 11:22 am

    When Shift formed, there wasn't FB or Twitter,etc. Had there been,it would have been used to the max. Its a balance to not rely on electronic media at the risk of excluding those multitudes who make full use of it.Beyond that, go for it. Shift appears to have gone through a bunch of phases and evolutions, just avoid any beauracracy and 'chain of command' thinking, and it probably will move on just fine.

    Recommended Thumb up 9

  • Carl July 17, 2013 at 11:37 am

    As someone who feels a little burnt out on bike fun, I'm so pleased to see Zed pouring some more fuel on that fire.

    Recommended Thumb up 10

  • ken luke July 17, 2013 at 11:45 am

    I have that same jersey! Funny thing is, I got it off ebay from someone in New Jersey (no pun intended... well, maybe a little bit. But the seller WAS in NJ).

    Recommended Thumb up 1

    • Jason H July 17, 2013 at 1:08 pm

      I saw one once for sale at a shop in L.A. and thought it was strange. I've still got my team issue one from '95/'96 when I was on Raindance/Team Finlandia.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • steph routh July 17, 2013 at 12:24 pm

    RAD!! Thanks, Zed. Saw the 1/4 sheets at Velo Cult and rejoiced.

    Recommended Thumb up 2

  • Zed July 17, 2013 at 12:32 pm

    Thank you for your support.

    I wrote this to the Shift List and would like to share it with the rest of you:

    Tonight, we have the ability to come together to create the next revolution in bicycling.
    Tonight, we are starting something that will start as small as a seed and grow as big as a tree.
    Tonight, it's up to you to bring what you do best.

    All you cyclists, roadies, mountain bike runners, fixed gear fanatics, bike -sexual and -curious, casual crusiers, party pedallers, bike soundsystem blasters, bicycle coding masters, big wheel rollers, freaky bike riders, tall bike tourers, open bikers, hand cyclists, fat tire smashers, disco trike pullers, bike business owners, advocates of better streets and those of you who, like me can't simply fit in any one label, or no label above; but know the world could use some more bicycles and people to pedal them; come give us some of your bikey fun love.

    ( Unicyclists, we even have some for you. )

    I will be facilitating, but this is no more mine, than it is yours.

    SHIFT is ours.

    Let's share it and care it into the future.

    z.

    p.s.

    We will be having a social hour around 8p-10p.

    Musicians bring your guitars, banjos and musical instruments. Poets bring your poetry. Dancers bring your dance. Hoola Hoopers bring your hoops. Let's pedal party this down.

    Recommended Thumb up 5

    • Craig Harlow July 17, 2013 at 1:19 pm

      Add "family cyclers" to that list :^)

      Recommended Thumb up 4

  • Zed July 17, 2013 at 12:39 pm

    "Knights of 1347."
    To clarify, it was Nights of 3047. :)

    Robots, not knights. I can see how that could be confusing.

    Watch the video of this here:
    http://vimeo.com/46414934

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • BIKELEPTIC July 17, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    While there's no problem with pamphlet pushing - Shift and the people organizing rides/events have done it for years, the amazing thing about social networking, is that it is just that - social and well. . . networking. It attracts people that may not otherwise have heard about it. When I went to my first Shift event in May 2009, nary it was my first bike "thing" in Portland (since working with the SL bike advisory committee for Utahns for Better Transpo) so I was excited, scared and nervous to meet a bunch of new people. I had been invited by word of mouth from a friend. They had heard from the website about the Shift meeting. Since then, the biz meetings and social meetings have been firmly listed on my google calendar. And guess what? That first meeting I bit off a huge undertaking and have been attached hook, line and sinker. I only regret that I didn't get drawn in sooner - it would have made my first year in Portland much more exciting.

    As someone who has a background in marketing, a well-rounded approach of advertising from all angles is more likely to catch more people's attentions. While pedalpalooza was a good venue for netting in new members, as well as leaving flyers at bike shops - don't completely go luddite - Shift has a twitter acct, facebook page, group, listserv, calendar. If we already have them in place, what aren't you utilizing them? It just doesn't make sense to use what's already set in place.

    Recommended Thumb up 8

    • Alan 1.0 July 17, 2013 at 2:33 pm

      ...a well-rounded approach of advertising from all angles is more likely to catch more people's attentions.

      Keep Portland Eared

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • zed July 17, 2013 at 3:38 pm

      It is assumed I am choosing to make Shift go luddite.

      This is far from the truth.
      As mentioned we all have something to pedal and if you can pedal up this hill of social networking, facebook included, then Shift to it.

      I however, will be over here growing my own little piece of bike culture and you are welcome to join.

      But in no way am I calling for a facebook free world, just opening eyes to something bigger, bolder out there to be had.

      Perhaps, a new network akin to facebook that is local and built for Portland Cyclists by Portland Cyclists?

      Where do I sign up?

      Recommended Thumb up 1

      • BIKELEPTIC July 18, 2013 at 12:32 pm

        it's called shift2bikes.org and they have a calendar of events and active email list/message board. Website is already there for Shift. Sounds like you're wanting to start another group. You're more than welcome to. We have a lot of clubs, here in town. Dropout Bike Club, Active Right of Way, etc. I can't figure out why you can't utilize the facilities that are available instead of being so contentious and trying to make things more difficult than they need to be.

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        • zed July 19, 2013 at 2:25 pm

          You, yourself and everyone else who disagrees with the direction that this is going are welcome to attend the monthly Shift meetings and give voice to your dissent.

          It doesn't take much to sit behind a computer and disagree with ideas. It take a lot more to meet face to face and speak of the places that we share and come to an agreement.

          I look forward to have that real life face to face discussion.

          Shift happens the 3rd Wednesday of next month.

          I am not facilitating.

          Hope to see you there.

          peace.

          z.

          Recommended Thumb up 0

          • BIKELEPTIC July 19, 2013 at 10:23 pm

            I would love to join the meetings, and have volunteered through the mailing list and emails to help and to organize events more times than I can count in the last five years. Unfortunately, my job conflicts with the 1st and 3rd Wednesday evenings. Look forward to hearing the call for volunteers in the future online, however, as I am generally the first to step forward.

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    • Hart Noecker July 18, 2013 at 11:53 am

      Clitoral Mass is coming to Portland.

      Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Sky- Velo Cult July 17, 2013 at 1:09 pm

    Thanks to Zed for making the move to Portland and then proceeding to do all he can to take bike culture up a notch. Nice injection of energy, creativity and leadership.

    Recommended Thumb up 9

  • captainkarma July 17, 2013 at 2:27 pm

    Use all media, sure. But I notice lots of folks going on e-media diets... not unabomber luddite, but scaling back from the immersion. Besides, some just can't afford the admission charge to be hooked in. Then there's that whole NSA thing, tracking your phones and internets even license plates now, so pamphlets are good options to have available. Justsayin.

    Recommended Thumb up 3

  • BURR July 17, 2013 at 3:00 pm

    I'm beginning to think that, like Critical Mass, Portland has started to outgrow bike fun. And I never did get the whole costume thing. Dressing like a superhero on your bike is about as silly as kitting up in lycra to go on a ride...

    Recommended Thumb up 8

    • buny July 17, 2013 at 5:44 pm

      word!

      Recommended Thumb up 1

    • Rebecca July 17, 2013 at 6:42 pm

      Get off my lawn!

      Recommended Thumb up 4

  • Craig Harlow July 17, 2013 at 3:21 pm

    I *hope* I can make it there this eve.

    Here's a suggestion for this monthly meeting: reach out and include strangers; be on a mission to introduce yourselves to people you don't recognize. Don't let even one person leave there feeling like "some random hanger-on" because they just couldn't connect. Groups and subcultures and associated identities are fun for those that are in on the gig--just make sure that those dynamics don't insulate you from new faces that just don't immediately fit right in.

    I think if you do this, your ranks will be better able to grow, and diversify, and flourish.

    Recommended Thumb up 11

    • Joe Adamski July 17, 2013 at 10:16 pm

      I believe the thing that I carry still from the early Bikesummer/Shift days is the willingness to include, without question a middle aged suburban dad into the ranks of younger, certainly better educated bike-fun folks. That inclusion piece is even more critical today, to encourage the embrace across racial and economic divides. Its not an easy equation to solve, but a fair number of cyclists are cyclists primarily in response to economic drivers. Are they part of the constituency or too squicky?
      I think I know the answer, but the conversation begs to be held.

      Recommended Thumb up 4

  • zed July 17, 2013 at 3:41 pm

    Craig Harlow
    I *hope* I can make it there this eve.
    Here's a suggestion for this monthly meeting: reach out and include strangers; be on a mission to introduce yourselves to people you don't recognize. Don't let even one person leave there feeling like "some random hanger-on" because they just couldn't connect. Groups and subcultures and associated identities are fun for those that are in on the gig--just make sure that those dynamics don't insulate you from new faces that just don't immediately fit right in."

    Good idea.

    Let's bring this culture of accepting everyone together.

    Recommended Thumb up 4

  • Joe July 17, 2013 at 4:15 pm

    bike=culture and Zed is awesome, some killer rides Ive been on this year!

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Amy Stork July 17, 2013 at 8:37 pm

    Go Zed! I love what you are doing. Also, I am not sure the "early days" of Shift wouldn't have happened (or not as well?) without the "Shift List" for ride organizing, and we did a monthly(?) weekly digest of rides on there, etc., so it was a bit of a precursor to what people do now. That said, the flyers were very fun to make, and I applaud you for bringing them back. It's cool that Shift is still around at all!

    Recommended Thumb up 5

  • Stripes July 17, 2013 at 9:37 pm

    I used to volunteer extensively with Shift, and can definitely vouch for the "burnout" factor. It is a very tight-knit, at times somewhat "cliquey" community and bunch of folks (I hesitate to type that word, but honestly don't know how else to put it). Everyone is best friends with everyone in the group, everyone has dated everyone in the group, and it can feel a bit incestuous and melodramatic from the outside. It would be GREAT to see some new life and some new ideas brought to the group, to drown out the "ew" factor, if nothing else.

    That being said, you can't deny, they organize some darn fine events. In fact, you could say, they definitely have their "shift" together! (sorry).

    Recommended Thumb up 3

  • Sysfail July 18, 2013 at 9:04 am

    I still do bike fun rides all the time. Portland has sooooo much of it coming out it's ears. Mention a few other fun classics in PDX: MCBF(June), Zoobomb(weekly for 10+ years), and Dropout rides(monthly for 8+ years!)

    I don't really think Portland Bike Fun is doing anything wrong at all or that there is nobody doing anything. Just a few key people that want to take a break from being at the center. Glad Zed wants to host the shift meeting and I attend probably 4 shift meetings a year.

    Also kind of get the sense some might feel that since the turn out on their new ride is low that nobody cares about bike fun anymore. The thing is that there are probably 8 other bike events happening at same time. The number of regular and new bike events is really overwhelming.

    My 2 cents.

    Recommended Thumb up 5

  • Maria July 18, 2013 at 3:59 pm

    Way to go Zed. I'm new to Portland but really appreciate that there seems to be room for everyone to throw a new bike hat into the ring and keep things moving along. I"m not one for costumes but I enjoy seeing other people get into it. The party atmosphere here is definitely unique and fun. I'm interested to see how amped up it can get.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Zed July 23, 2013 at 8:18 am

    The event was a great success!

    Thanks Bike Portland for spreading bikey fun!

    New seeds have been planted, now its growing season for the serious call of Bikey Fun.

    Next month, a new facilitator will be hosting the event. I hope to see you all out. By simply showing up, you are inspiring all of us to continue to grow SHIFT.

    Thank you from me + the Shifties,

    z.

    http://shift2bikes.org/cal/viewmonth.php?month=08&year=2013#21-2

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Toya July 23, 2013 at 3:26 pm

    I'm all for the injection of energy, but Zed over-committed on Pedalpalooza and had to cancel rides. Zed's making big statements here and it's falling on the heals of his failure to commit.

    I'm skeptical.

    Also, from what I saw, things were going very well and tons of formerly Pedalpalooza events are now happening at different times of year, like Karaoke2Karaoke and scavenger hunts.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • zed July 27, 2013 at 8:56 pm

      O Rly?
      Failure, you say?

      I am skeptical too.

      This Zed character is shady.
      I wouldn't trust him to build up a bicycle community by himself.

      Better come to the next SHIFT meeting and make sure it's done right.

      I heard someone else is facilitating the next meeting too, so he can't screw that up and fail on the over-commitment for follow through.

      Let's go to the meeting and tell him how SHIFT should be ran.

      Better yet, let's forget Zed.

      The dude is shifty.

      Instead let's step up and do it better together and forget this whole faux representation of SHIFT.

      Cause really, aren't we all SHIFT?

      Recommended Thumb up 0

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