(Photo: Carole Giraud-Sevigny)
If you’ve ever ridden a tall bike, you can understand the attraction: Finally, for the first time in your bike-riding life, you’re not just traffic, you’re above traffic.
There’s something exciting and fun about pedaling at such heights. Do it with a few friends and it’s even better. That was the basic inspiration that led southeast Portlander Skye Blue to create Portland’s newest bike gang, The Irondelles.
at the recent Zoobomb Pyle
(Photo: Dan Liu/BikePortland)
Blue fondly remembers her time riding around NE Alberta Street with friends from the (now defunct) Alberta Street Clown House and she wanted to share that experience with other ladies. But The Irondelles are more than just riding partners, Blue has offered up her shop (she’s a seamstress by day) and driveway as a dedicated workshop.
The goal? Teach women how to build their own tall-bikes, without the usual, male-ego-laden testosterone flare-ups that can sometimes creep into other bike-building sessions she’s been around.
Blue describes The Irondelles as, “A tall-bike gang and a group of women who empower each other and have fun riding tall bikes.” They meet once a week to teach each other bike building and welding skills.
So far there are eight members. Blue says five of them just recently learned how to ride. “We taught them one-by-one, in a parking lot. It took a while, but now that they’ve all got the bug they want to build their own bike.” Blue says building their own bike is “stage two” in the process of becoming an Irondelle.
According to member Emily O’Connor, The name Irondelles comes from the French word, Hirondelle. The inspiration comes from France-native and friend Carole Giraud-Sevigny (who happens to be married to one of Portland’s veteran and highly-decorated tall-bike jousters, Corey Sevigny). Hirondelle means “swallow” in English and it’s the name of a rare type of bicycle used at the turn of the 20th century.
The group plans to make their big debut at the upcoming Cirque du Cycling event, which includes pro-level racing along with a community bike parade.
Stay tuned for more from The Irondelles. Blue says they look forward to sharing their skills and leading tall bike rides with the general public.