Bike Snob’s take on Portland and our ‘bike-obsessed populace’

“I secretly hoped Portland “bike culture” was so highly evolved that people were actually using cycling as the basis for spiritual and metaphysical discussion in the same way that the psychedelic scene of the sixties inspired some to explore Buddhism and alternative philosophy.”

The infamous author and blogger Eben “Bike Snob” Weiss has a feature article in Outside Magazine’s May issue that is all about his trip to Portland back in October.

The long piece touches on nearly every aspect of our bike scene — from bike builders to bike polo, even making a stop at our bike shrine and The Bike Temple. Mr. Weiss even chronicles his visit to BikePortland headquarters back before he decided to out himself in the name of promoting his forthcoming book.

Here’s how he describes riding through the city:

“…So despite having no job, one morning I join the masses of people streaming over the bridges and into the city center on bicycles…

At no point do my fellow cyclists look at me judgmentally, attempt to race me across the bridge, or speed brakeless off of it, run a light, and scatter a group of schoolchildren—all crucial to cycling in NYC. The Portlanders simply ride, unflappable save for their jackets, which flutter in the autumn breeze.

I can’t even manage to get lost, since everywhere I go there are not only bike lanes—some even curbside, buffered from traffic by parking spaces with door zones—but directional signs specifically for cyclists: DOWNTOWN 1.5MI 9MIN.

There’s only one uncomfortable moment, as I exit the Hawthorne Bridge without indicating my direction.

“Nice signal!” a woman behind me snaps.”

When Weiss emailed to say he’d like to stop by our office, I Googled his name and found some rumors that he was the Bike Snob. I asked a few insiders and no one confirmed it, and I didn’t care to press into the matter. I still think it’s funny that it was indeed the Snob who stopped by that day. Here’s what he writes about our interaction:

“So, using my real name, I contact Jonathan Maus, editor/writer of the widely read news blog BikePortland.org, and simply tell him I’m an adrift New Yorker seeking a greater understanding of Portland’s bike culture. He not only replies but invites me to his office, next door to a coffee shop with a “bike-thru” window.

Maus is tall, friendly, and polite and looks kind of like the actor Eric Stoltz. His bike, which looks Dutch, heavy, and practical, is parked outside, unlocked.

“You know, people are saying you’re the Bike Snob,” he tells me after greeting me. (It appears I’ve been popular-search-engined.) I laugh this off… “

Bike Snob on The Bike Temple:

“I suppose I secretly hoped Portland “bike culture” was so highly evolved that people were actually using cycling as the basis for spiritual and metaphysical discussion in the same way that the psychedelic scene of the sixties inspired some to explore Buddhism and alternative philosophy. Instead, the “collabo” between bikes and religion seems to be only a PR tool or an excuse to hang out in a basement and (judging from the general vibe, anyway) get baked.”

Read the entire piece in the May Outside Magazine or online. Weiss is coming to Powell’s for a book signing on June 19th.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

Thanks for reading.

BikePortland has served this community with independent community journalism since 2005. We rely on subscriptions from readers like you to survive. Your financial support is vital in keeping this valuable resource alive and well.

Please subscribe today to strengthen and expand our work.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest

27 Comments
oldest
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Ian
Ian
14 years ago

I like stories like this. They are further confirmation that we live in a happy bubble for bicycling – a 2 wheeled ghetto of sorts where the cars swirl around us and we can help build our own reality. Visitors are always welcome.

-Ian

david....no! the other one
david....no! the other one
14 years ago

Too bad we don’t have a first hand account of what he was astride. J?

Phil Hanson
14 years ago

“Instead, the ‘collabo’ between bikes and religion seems to be only a PR tool or an excuse to hang out in a basement and (judging from the general vibe, anyway) get baked.”

Okay, this part struck me as funny (but maybe only because I’m baked).

Bill
Bill
14 years ago

Nice photo on the Outside website! Did you get published in the print-mag as well?

Marcus Griffith
Marcus Griffith
14 years ago

Calling the bike temple a bike advocacy group is like calling Jeffery Dahmer population-management advocate.

As for the esteemed “Paster Ted”, he may have delusions of becoming the next “Rev. Phill”, but Ted is man of little substance, no originality and the usefulness of gearbox on a fixie. However, I would rather him being getting baked win Portland than vandalizing restaurant tables in Vancouver (yeah, Ted, I still remember that)

Ruben
14 years ago

After cleanly running that through my sarcasm checker three times, I believe I have found the least satirical thing BikeSnobNYC has ever written!

Janet
Janet
14 years ago

Considering the diversity and vitality of Portland’s bicycling ecosystem, why would anyone travel across the country and check out Ted’s basement?

I do agree that NYC is gaining ground on PDX. A great place to start building bike infrastructure would be east of 82nd. Talk about undiscovered potential for bike blvds.

Paul Johnson
Paul Johnson
14 years ago

@Phil: Clearly there is a need to legalize recreational marijuana.

Ian
Ian
14 years ago

Marcus,
Your comments about a single individual not even mentioned in the story are completely inappropriate. Please settle your issues with “Ted” through direct communication rather than passive aggressively attempting to slander him in the comments section.

raliegh montebello
raliegh montebello
14 years ago

@David….No! the other something something: clapped out blue on-one il pompino. I beat him at that crusade race. That night, my bike was stolen. Hmmmm…..

Marcus Griffith
Marcus Griffith
14 years ago

Ian: Thank you for clarifying your lack of awareness of the meaning of “passive-aggressive” and “slander”.

Camp Bike Fun
14 years ago

I second Ian.

are
are
14 years ago

geez, marcus, got harsh?

velo
velo
14 years ago

There, there Marcus, something got your dander up? Libel might be more accurate then slander in this case, but I suspect you get Ian’s point. All the same, what are y’all talking about? Actually no, I don’t care.

To the actual topic: Bike Portland & Bike Snob are basically the two best bike blogs around, rock on for bringing them together!

Cecil
14 years ago

Eric Stoltz? Oh please, you are MUCH better looking than ES. And most likely a better actor. Of course, a ROCK would be a better actor than ES.

matthew vilhauer
matthew vilhauer
14 years ago

marcus-publicly airing your personal opinion of ted is trite, tactless and tasteless. and you call yourself a journalist? hmmm… okay, maybe in vancouver. i know both of you, consider you both to be friends and can honestly say ted certainly lacks your vitriol. just let it go.

so is portland a place where wing nuts pedal around in their own bubble or a place where savy cyclists are trying to create a pedaling utopia? i hope folks think of the portland area (yes i live in vancouver) as the latter and if bike-snob made a trip here to check out the scene we must be doing something right.

AaronF
AaronF
14 years ago

I just want to let it be known that Marcus Griffith doesn’t recycle.

There, I said it.

BURR
BURR
14 years ago

wow, you guys all just tossed this thread in the toilet, congratulations! Are you trying to make a good impression in NY, or what?

spare_wheel
spare_wheel
14 years ago

“wow, you guys all just tossed this thread in the toilet”

WTF, people!!! you are completely invalidating bike snob’s pdx bike-hippy stereotypes. not cool, dudes.

Tourbiker
14 years ago

bikes are tools…bikes are for riding,mobility,pleasure,sometimes all of the above…I can imagine many NY’ers..reading this thread thinking..some of you really need to get laid more.

use a tool or be one..how’s that for zen biking.

david....no! the other one
david....no! the other one
14 years ago

@Raliegh,
Sorry to hear of your loss. Think of the win. Maybe Johnathan should be awarding cerimonial “Bicycling Keys to BikePortland”, in the spirit of WorldWide cycling(gold colored spoke wrenches)?

Amos
Amos
14 years ago

Nailed it!

Eben: Thanks for stopping by! I hope whomever was staffing the shop that night shared!

Truth is, there has been no getting baked in our holy spaces that I’m aware of, although it wouldn’t surprise me if I found out that it had happened, nor would it bother me. Sure, I guess the religion thing is a bit PR, but it’s also a bit sincere, as well. I myself am the son of a preacher and have been steeped in religion all my life, this is my opportunity to share my background and knowledge with the masses but actually advocate for something I believe in.

Marcus: I don’t like what you said about Ted, but it’s good in a way because I think you’ve made it very easy for people to accurately judge the kind of person that you are.

All: Thanks for your support so far, the Temple is going strong (our website, however is in the process of a domain renewal, so it may or may not work depending on when you try it.) We’ve just returned from an epic pilgramage to the new Mormon temple in Vancouver BC and we look forward to sharing our stories with you all when we have a moment and the site is back online.

In the name of the wheel, the chain, and the hollow frame,

-Deacon Amos

matt picio
14 years ago

Marcus and I have had a number of disagreements on this site, and I agree that it’s uncool to post personal remarks in this fashion. That said, I do respect Marcus in that he is one of the commentors on this site that posts with his actual, full name and therefore “owns” his opinions and takes responsibility for his posts. People can make their own judgements about Marcus based on what he writes.

Love the review of Portland by NYCBS, though I suspect he’d have had a better opinion of both the chapel and Bike Temple had he been at the opening of either. “Snapshot” views of any location or organization in Portland are somewhat hazadous or disingenuous – an experience can easily be very good or very bad. My big disappointment with the “Outdoor” review is that NYCBS didn’t zoobomb. (not that Zoobomb really needs the press, but they’ve become pretty iconic for Portland – so have the Sprockettes, but Zoobomb is a weekly affair)

Adams Carroll (News Intern)

Thanks for all the comments. I’ve re-read Marcus Griffith’s not-so-nice comment about Ted and I’ve read an email or two from readers telling me to edit/delete it.

I think, given the fact that I know both gentleman and given the context and tone of this thread, I’ll let it stand as is.

I’ve emailed Marcus directly about it and told him to please not be so mean to other commenters in the future.

As for Bike Snob and this post.. I agree with Matt P above that it’s impossible for anyone to fully comprehend stuff in our bike scene like Bike Temple with just one visit.

Jim Lee
Jim Lee
14 years ago

What did Sid Vicious ride?

JoseR
14 years ago

Jonathan,
I’m not sure as to the signing date, but BikeSnob’s site is posting that the signing is on Sunday, June 20th (Fathers Day). Not sure as to which one is right, but I’ll be there either way!

carye bye
carye bye
14 years ago

I agree with Matt Picio — when you drop in to a place when it’s just a regular day you may not get a real sense of a group. Personally after a Pilgrimage field trip with Bike Temple – I’m a huge fan of the work that Ted & Amos do — I think their connection to bikes and spirituality makes perfect sense — and is real..