Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Wall Street Journal profiles local couples’ drool-worthy bike garage

Posted by on December 2nd, 2011 at 8:52 am

Screen grab
from Marketwatch.com.

Today’s print edition of the venerable Wall Street Journal features a story on Tim and Sue Butler’s Southeast Portland condo. The Butler’s are both serious cyclists, with Sue’s name gracing these pages on several past occasions for her pro cyclocross exploits.

So, why is the WSJ profiling their condo? The house itself is gorgeous (nice enough to get a feature in Portland Monthly Mag last year), but it’s the $1.5 million* amazing bike garage that caught their eye.

According to a video with WSJ reporter Nancy Keates that appeared yesterday on Marketwatch.com, the Butlers’ bike garage is filled with their 22 bikes, has a separate workshop room, a sauna, and its own bathroom and shower to clean up after those long rides.

Check out the video below for a peek inside…

Very nice. I just hope they’ve got a good security system.
NOTE: This story and headline initially referenced a “$1.5 million” bike garage. That tidbit was taken from the Wall Street Journal video that appeared yesterday, before the print article. In the article, it was made clear that $1.5 million is the cost of the entire house, not just the bike garage. We regret the error. — JM

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  • thefuture December 2, 2011 at 9:16 am

    It’s worth noting this home was designed by an excellent Portland architecture office called Path


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  • Doug Smart December 2, 2011 at 9:20 am

    Wow! I drool. Some will likely want to criticize this as extravagance. I figure it’s their money. If I had the $$ to spend, I doubt I would go that far but I would definitely upgrade from just getting the bike under cover on the patio.

    I love the reporter Skypeing from home, and especially the side glance when the squeaky toy goes off at about 1:06.

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  • Kristen December 2, 2011 at 9:33 am

    I read the original article in Portland Monthly… what a gorgeous house, definitely drool-worthy!

    I too hope they have an excellent security system.

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  • Christopher December 2, 2011 at 9:36 am

    I don’t race, but my wife and I will definitely be building our house around our bikes. This is great.

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  • A.K. December 2, 2011 at 9:48 am

    So awesome!

    Thought if I had such a bounty of bikes I’d probably keep it on the down low…

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  • Marcus Griffith December 2, 2011 at 9:57 am

    I wonder if this puts Occupy Portland and the Bike Swarm in an unique conflict? Clearly, having the money to build a $1.5 million bike garage puts someone in the 1%. On the other hand, its bikes.

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  • Chris I December 2, 2011 at 10:13 am

    That house really sticks out like a sore thumb in that neighborhood.

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    • Kirsty December 2, 2011 at 6:54 pm

      I know it’s a controversial house, but I actually quite like it aesthetically. It looks better than a lot of modern “upscale” designs, which are essentially just kellogs-cornflakes-box-school-of-architecture, but with mock-tudor vomited all over them.

      And don’t forget, most revered architectural styles were new and strange at one point. When the Sistene Chapel was built, there were probably a bunch of whiners going on about how ugly it was! All older buildings we adore were scaffolding once, and workmen whistling.

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    • Cecil December 2, 2011 at 7:24 pm

      The house is a classic example of an owner and/or architect that thinks only of the structure and not of its environs. It is structurally quite interesting, but it has been plopped down into a neighborhood in which it does, indeed, stand out like a sore thumb. Every time I walk past it (which is often because I live nearby), I am shocked all over again by its arrogance. In another place, in another setting, I’d admire it for its design. In its actual setting, it is, indeed, a sore thumb.

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    • resopmok December 2, 2011 at 7:57 pm

      It looks like a unit from a pearl district high rise that got spit out and landed on that lot. It’s not so much that the house is ugly (which it is), but it was placed there without any respect for the aesthetic of the neighborhood (or the neighbors themselves). And to be frank, I’m a bit offended by the flouting of wealth these days, even if it is environmentally conscious.

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  • Lance P. December 2, 2011 at 10:18 am

    The %1 are billionaires. Not, pro cyclocross racers.

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    • Mike Fish December 2, 2011 at 10:58 am

      No, the 1% aren’t just billionaires, they’re many millionaires as well.

      As for who makes up the 1%, it depends how you define the 1%. Is it defined by income or by net worth? If it’s income (money made by working a job), then people who made $344,000 a year and up are in the 1%.

      If we’re going by net worth, then households that have about 9 million dollars of assets are more are in the 1%

      I think it’s possible this household is in the 1% for net worth. Not judging, just hypothesizing.


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    • q`Tzal December 2, 2011 at 11:23 am

      To get your ranking on the “Evil Rich B@$+@rd” scale you have to divide by the amount of calories expended to earn said money.
      This is why sports stars are less evil than CEOs.

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      • Stretchy December 2, 2011 at 11:59 am

        I used to work with a few people who have managed to work their way up to Director and VP level positions at various companies. The norm was for them to put in about 70 hours/week every week and, it wasn’t unusual for them to work far more.

        You assume that CEO’s don’t work very hard and they’ve just had everything handed to them. Most put in extremely long hours and, even if they don’t, they’ve probably paid their dues by working insane hours while climbing the corporate ladder.

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        • sorebore December 2, 2011 at 3:07 pm

          By insuring that the reduction of labor fits the bottom line , thereby sealing their advancements, profit shares, retirement, etc. etc. Yes, they do work hard. The CEO’s of our country are still hard at work derailing our labor base, ignoring the plight of our neighbors to the south while enjoying their indentured servitude to trim there lawns, pick their vegetables, and cook their meals in 3 star restaurants, while middle class income in France avgs. around $100.000 USD a year. This provides six weeks paid vacation, socialized medicine that works… with home calls by doctors ( I have witnessed through relatives) as well a surgeon in every ambulance,free college education, paid maternity leave for mothers and fathers, paid wedding days, paid moving days, it goes on and on.
          I will get called out on a lot of this by people who will defend our ways here in the “good ‘ol USA, but lets face it, the middle class has been slowly squeezed for 35 years now, and I do not believe it will ever bounce back. And in the mean time every one will be in denial that other systems work better, and they will quibble over b.s. like someones 1.5 million dollar home ,sport stars, and the best way to be a bicycling martyr.
          And in that, the CEO’s win… everyday.

          P.S. btw.. it seems the French enjoy protesting even during the Tour De France if needed.

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        • resopmok December 2, 2011 at 8:00 pm

          There’s people who work 70+ hours a week but still only make minimum wage. Hard work should be rewarded, yes, it is a quality sadly missing among many in our workforce. CEO compensation is, however, a bit excessive in my opinion.

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  • mike December 2, 2011 at 10:40 am

    Is this the same sue butler that had a fund raiser for her to go to world cross championships. Someone that has that place to live in shouldn’t need to ask for hand outs!!!!!

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    • Jim F December 2, 2011 at 10:53 am

      Yes. Same person, apparently. Wow, some balls. Remember that next time someone is asking you for money. Stunning house though.

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  • Matt December 2, 2011 at 10:44 am

    Nice house, but this should be filed under “Lifestyles of the self absorbed”

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    • q`Tzal December 4, 2011 at 11:06 am

      “champagne wishes and caviar dreams.”?

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  • John Lascurettes December 2, 2011 at 11:01 am

    Keep in mind, this is a $1.5M house that was built with a bike garage in mind instead of a car garage. It’s silly to call it a $1.5M “bike locker” unless you’re going to call all average homes “car ports” too.

    Part of what helps drive up the cost of the home was the green design throughout the structure (and the custom design), but not because it was a fancy “bike locker”.

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    • davemess December 2, 2011 at 12:24 pm

      That was kind of my thought. I didn’t see anything in that garage that would come close to adding up to 1.5mill. Even if you count all the Ridley’s and Specializeds they have.

      It kind of just looks like my garage but a new build. I have about the same set up, with my bikes, a training area for my rollers and trainer, and work space. pretty easy to fit that in a one car garage space. And my whole house cost $126K.

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    • mark kenseth December 2, 2011 at 1:16 pm

      My thoughts hinge on the title as well. It seems like a $1.5 million house. A specialty bike garage with a separate bath/changing area, with many expensive racing bikes. Maybe a $100,000 garage/carriage house with bath/sauna? Maybe another 100,000 in bikes and accessories? Seems like another misleading title.

      In other news:
      Originally a $1.5 hundred shed…
      This amazing old shed has many holes and separated siding for air-infiltration and cross-ventilation which dries wet bikes sustainably. Miscellaneous bike parts and lube are handy on a used shelving unit. An old towel hangs. A rolling door vertically opens by hand to double or even triple the work space. And get this, the originally $1.5 hundred shed is not far from the house. A hop, skip and a jump away is a warm house with a bathroom to remove those smelly, nose-cringing clothes.

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    • was carless December 2, 2011 at 4:49 pm

      The article said the lot the house was built on cost $220,000 and was purchased in 2008, during the height of the boom.

      The house would likely be significantly cheaper to build today, as labor, building materials, and land are all heavily devalued since 4 years ago.

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  • Babygorilla December 2, 2011 at 11:29 am

    Wow. Just wow. I’m generally pretty cynical in my postings, but I think I’m done with this site. A $1.5 million house for a “financial analyst” and his wife and they’re holding fundraisers as the thing’s being built and it took the comments to point this out on a site that is simultaneously cheerleading the OWS/Bike Swarm movement? I hope that the community support last winter saved the Butlers enough to upgrade to a redwood sauna.


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    • Chris I December 2, 2011 at 11:55 am

      I think we need a separate story about this fund raising business. Sounds like a major breech of ethics. I have to admit, when I read the story, I was wondering where the money for the house came from, as there is no money in cyclecross, at least not enough to do this. So it’s okay for Sue to fund raise for her cyclecross pursuits because she doesn’t make much money at it? We need an explanation.

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      • sorebore December 2, 2011 at 3:18 pm


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        • halfwheeled December 4, 2011 at 10:22 pm

          Ditto here, too. As someone who did purchase a pint at the fundraiser, some answers might be nice. I feel like I was duped. πŸ™

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  • BURR December 2, 2011 at 11:34 am

    Conspicuous consumption at its best

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  • Nola Wilken December 2, 2011 at 11:36 am

    Uh – I think there’s a problem with this story and the headline. I think the whole place INCLUDING the bike garage cost $1.5 million. They did NOT spend 1.5 million on a 600 sq foot bike garage – check out the link to the orginal story above.

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  • AC December 2, 2011 at 11:51 am

    Nice house!
    Good for them!

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  • matt f December 2, 2011 at 11:52 am

    Incredible house! Awesome design!

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  • noah December 2, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    Consulting the New Portlander checklist…

    -Practices a hedonism disguised as spirituality? βœ“
    -Purchased during the housing bubble? βœ“
    -Built an expensive, oversized house that’s poorly integrated into the surrounding neighborhood? βœ“
    -Still believes self to be of modest means? βœ“

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  • Greg December 2, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    This is what happens when you bring too much attention to your expensive stuff:

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  • Paul Johnson December 2, 2011 at 2:37 pm


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  • mark kenseth December 2, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    Thanks for updating the headline. Of course there was a grossly outlandish headline…it was the Wall Street Journal, part of the Rupert Murdoch media empire (which includes FOX News), aka, the sensational press. Thanks for bringing it down to Earth.

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  • q`Tzal December 2, 2011 at 3:31 pm

    Despite, perhaps because of, this conspicuous display of wealth we can see that the Age of the Automobile is passing.

    Here is a couple who are materially wealthy and have spent that money on bicycles instead of automobiles. It is indicative of a societal shift of not seeing bicycles as a childish waste of money and time.

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    • was carless December 2, 2011 at 4:52 pm

      Exactly! They could have just blown $1.5 million on a car.

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      • q`Tzal December 2, 2011 at 6:31 pm

        Can’t you buy a decent jet plane for that?

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    • Mike December 2, 2011 at 6:48 pm

      Do you actually believe they don’t have some nice cars to go along with their bikes? I’m sure there is an audi parked on the street. People with thay many bikes and that nice of a house don’t commute by bike or ride mass transit.

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      • q`Tzal December 3, 2011 at 2:25 pm


        Now we know they are evil!


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  • spare_wheel December 2, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    that house is in my neighborhood and i always wondered who would build such an out-of-place monstrosity.

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    • ac December 2, 2011 at 4:55 pm

      perhaps someone who carefully thought about how they wanted to live and then put their own money into making it happen? instead of buying a home already built for someone else with values from a different century

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      • noah December 2, 2011 at 5:34 pm

        Exactly! For instance, I value great music like Frank Zappa and great art like the works of Damien Hurst. So I had a professional curator decorate my lawn with cross-sections of cow carcasses; and I play “Dinah-Moh Hum” in a continuous loop all day and night, but on the finest weather-resistant outdoor speakers.

        The cow was from a local farm, the speakers were made with local wood, and all the professionals I hired were all local at more than a living wage. Who are my neighbors to judge?

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        • resopmok December 2, 2011 at 8:07 pm

          John Cage would be very proud, except for the fact that you are playing recorded music.

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  • was carless December 2, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    3 stories isnt a “monstrosity.” I live in Buckman neighborhood, and many houses near Belmont are much bulkier, taller, fatter, and longer. But they are “historic” so its alright.

    Modern houses have to be small, so as not to affront the bohemian classes.

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    • Chris I December 2, 2011 at 6:32 pm

      It’s the size and the style that makes it stick out. You can have a modern interior and all the functional exterior amenities of a modern house while still meshing with the neighborhood architecturally. It’s a free country, style-wise, but one should consider the overall appearance of the neighborhood when building a new house.

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      • John Lascurettes December 2, 2011 at 7:34 pm

        Style is fashion and fashion changes.

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        • Cecil December 2, 2011 at 7:46 pm

          which is why one might want to think twice about the fashion one inflicts upon their neighborhood.

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  • ladyfleur December 2, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    My husband and I have 17 bicycles and 1 motorcycle is a dedicated 440 sq ft “bike locker”. It’s called a 2-car garage, something almost every suburban home has.

    The difference is that people see the homeowners’ large number of bikes and dedicated bike space as excessive while having a similar space dedicated to their three cars would be seen as ordinary.

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  • Stripes December 2, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    Wow, what an awesome facility! If I had a gazillion dollars, aside from the usual investing and donating a bazillion to charities etc. I would totally buy a few great new rides. I know people will gripe about yuppies with far too many material things, but let’s face it, bikes are pretty cool! And it’s a lot better than people with 25 cars parked in their garages.

    The only thing is, I don’t know if I would be advertising the fact that I owned hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of bikes, and then letting the same magazine give out my address with a photo. To repeat what the person above said, I really hope they have good insurance!!!

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    • sorebore December 2, 2011 at 6:28 pm

      If I had a gazillion I would leave Portland.

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      • q`Tzal December 2, 2011 at 6:41 pm

        I’d buy up every square foot within a 1/4 mile of the Beaverton Creek MAX Stationβ€Ž and rebuild it to the specs of the <a href="http://www.carfree.com/district.html"<Carfree Cities Districts if only to see if would be a place that would function.

        Sort of a large scale commercial/residential demonstration project.

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      • Stripes December 2, 2011 at 6:45 pm


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      • kgb December 2, 2011 at 9:33 pm

        I’m sure we can put together enough for a one way bus ticket, when and where do you want to go?

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  • bike family December 2, 2011 at 6:21 pm

    This house looks terrible in our neighborhood and blocks the view of others.
    i was shocked when i saw she was fund raising last year, this makes it even more shocking.

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  • kgb December 2, 2011 at 9:36 pm

    The fund raising sounds troubling, but I like the house, I certainly wouldn’t have wasted my money building it there though.

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  • wsbob December 3, 2011 at 2:40 am

    That is a very square house. Some people have assembled amazing structures with similarly shaped overseas shipping containers, but the natural wood exterior siding of this house is far nicer than those containers’ painted steel sides.

    Homeowners with bikes as nice as these people have, and with a special room inside the house to keep them, likely means their won’t be kid’s bikes laying out on the street and strung out all over the front yard. That’s got to be nice for the neighbors.

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  • Rol December 3, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    My favorite send-up of modernist fetishism, featuring loads of funny recaptioned photos from e.g. Dwell magazine: http://unhappyhipsters.com

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  • sorebore December 3, 2011 at 7:30 pm

    My reply was denied by J.M., I assume. I feel if you are going to lash out in such a juvenile manner to my opinion, I am entitled to a witty response, but I was shut down.

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    • Paul Johnson December 5, 2011 at 6:19 am

      Yeah, the moderation tends to be overzealous to say the least. Good luck posting if you’re on FiOS.

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  • Jon December 4, 2011 at 5:08 pm

    Don’t bother trying to make fun of any of the people criticizing the homeowners. Your comments won’t show up.

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  • matt savage December 5, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    Portlands old houses are gross… I’ve rented many and wouldn’t be caught dead spending a half million on one. I say tear it down and build something new. In 20-30 years, the majority of those houses surrounding the Butler’s will be gone anyway and their house will be considered a classic.

    As far as fundraising…? Obviously people have no idea what it costs to train and race at the international level as a privateer without a full factory sponsorship. I just race for fun on weekends and I’ll spend over well over 1k a month between equipment, entrance fees, travel, training, food… Her racing budget is probably more than my income…

    I say good for them! They’ve worked hard, succeeded and are reaping the benefits.

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    • wsbob December 5, 2011 at 6:39 pm

      “…and their house will be considered a classic. …” matt savage

      Well, they don’t have to wait 20-30 years…it’s already a ‘classic’ example of how excessive compromise can take quality materials and wind up with an awkward, boxy looking structure.

      But it they and some of you people commenting that have said so…like the house and think it’s gorgeous, more power to you. With any luck someone will build a house just like it in your neighborhood.

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    • Hugh Johnson December 6, 2011 at 5:30 am

      For a city that prides itself on it’s “green” image, most of these old houses are anything but. Full of toxic lead paint and who knows what other bad things. They consume tons of energy to heat and cool. Sure it’s cool to say your house was built in 1900 I guess, but I sure would not want to live in one. To each their own.

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  • k. December 5, 2011 at 1:32 pm

    I’m sure glad I didn’t help out with that fund raising. I’d be a little peeved right now. The Butlers are tone deaf at best.

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  • sw resident December 5, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    Jonathan – are you going to follow up with an interview with the Butler’s regarding their fundraising? It would round out two stories about them and would give them a chance to defend themselves.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) December 5, 2011 at 2:51 pm

      Thanks for the input. I’m considering it. Haven’t decided yet.

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    • matt savage December 5, 2011 at 3:56 pm

      I think she identifies very well why she raises funds here: http://www.suebutlerrides.com/2011/01/worlds-bound-truth-of-my-journey.html

      Clearly racing is something she wants to accomplish on her own. What’s wrong with reaching out to the local cycling community for help in representing us in such a prestigious event? It’s not like she was getting something for nothing, her sponsors contributed some pretty amazing awards for the raffle. Even many Olympic athletes have to raise funds like this so they can afford to train and compete.

      So her husband built a modestly sized, fancy house… Big deal.

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      • resopmok December 5, 2011 at 6:27 pm

        Then why doesn’t she continue to ask for donations as compensation for the time she spends training instead of working? She would certainly need sizable contributions to pay her half of the mortgage. I could probably spend time training to become a professional athlete as well if I didn’t have to go to work everyday in order to survive. It already isn’t something she’s doing “on her own,” so why should she need contributions to support what in my opinion could be classified as a cycling vacation to Europe?

        Maybe there is more to the story, a missing puzzle piece which explains how her husband contributes nothing to her support except providing a really nice roof over her head. I haven’t seen comments from either of them here yet to help us understand, or any other real explanation about what many see as rather scandalous behavior by a couple who are already pretty well off.

        I find it ironic, too, that proprietors of this website have covered occupy portland and the bike swarm in great depth, but whose position remains tenuous at best over the raising of criticism against members of the “1%.” Let me restate that Tim Butler is a financial adviser. Why does his wife need to ask for donations from the cycling community to support anything she does at all?

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        • sorebore December 5, 2011 at 9:06 pm

          Bob Roll,Overend,MissyG, Lemond, Boyer,Halderman,Kiefel,Mount,Stieda, Grewal,J.Howard, all lived or practically lived out of box vans at one time. Some had more money than others, but many of them paid their own way out of pocket I am sure, at a time when there was much less to gain monetarily. Competition at any level is going to take lots of money and cycling is not a sport for those of limited means unfortunately. I am interested to see how this plays out, along with Johnathan’s choice to follow up. It seems that people wish to have some deeper questions dealt with.

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        • matt December 5, 2011 at 10:42 pm

          “Why does his wife need to ask for donations from the cycling community to support anything she does at all?”

          Maybe because she’s not a gold digger looking for a sugar daddy? She’s clearly doing it on her own, her own way. I don’t think they need to justify their lifestyles to anyone, let alone face the inquisition that’s building here. BTW, it wasn’t just a “donation” it was a raffle, there was thousands of dollars of product at stake that people would have jumped at under any circumstance.

          I’d hardly call suffering day in and day out, year round, making incredible personal scarifices, for a chance on one day to accomplish something great a “cycling vacation in Europe…”

          Sure, she has a privileged life, but it hasn’t come without hard work and consequences.

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          • sorebore December 7, 2011 at 11:08 am

            “Sure, she has a privileged life, but it hasn’t come without hard work and consequences.”

            …well she could have the privilege of racing provided by inheritance and a linage of good fortune and just perhaps,never worked a day in her life. Don’t get me wrong, I have no qualms either way, and perhaps you know her struggles more than others. Those without personal knowledge are going to judge her no matter what, unfortunately.

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  • Doug Klotz December 5, 2011 at 11:30 pm

    Alright! Architecture criticism on Bike Portland! For how amazing the house must be inside (can’t get that video to play), it sure is not amazing on the outside. I think that a fair percentage of people who buy houses in old neighborhoods do so because they like the way older houses look. At least there was, then, an attempt to add features to the outside that (horrors) were there to make the house look better from the street, within a vocabulary developed over centuries. Now, the way the interior looks is the standard, so the uglier the outside, the more you can claim to be rejecting the old ways, and be proud of it.

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    • no fan of hypocrasy December 6, 2011 at 9:15 am

      There are urban infill houses and condos all over town that are 3-story modern designs mixed in with post-war bungalos. Let’s all get over it and stop critiquing the qualitative as if it were quantitative.

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  • L December 6, 2011 at 5:37 am

    Last I checked, BikePortland has “we rely on your support” on the main page and the “biking community” either supports it or not depending on how individuals want to spend their money. It’s clear that Jonathan has enough money to have three kids. Does that mean individuals shouldn’t support his web site? Because he clearly has enough money to travel on trips, own a car, own a home? Come on people! You spend your money and allocate it as you wish so let everyone else do the same. Don’t like how someone else spends their money? That’s your problem.

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    • noah December 6, 2011 at 10:46 pm

      If Sue Butler were providing a great service to the community, your argument might hold some weight.

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  • sorebore December 6, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    No matter what people think about all this,( and it seems some feel a bit ruffled and mislead by a raffle for some reason), it may not be the choice of home for me, but I would MOST definitely have a 2000sqft. shop and a nice 300 sqft space to crash in, if I were in their tax bracket!! (Nestled in St.Johns to save on property tax of course… priorities! πŸ™‚ )

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  • Glenn February 21, 2014 at 8:37 pm

    I know nothing of these people. But the house is an eyesore _in that neighborhood_. It is an area of millworker’s specials and Craftsman bungalows. One of the beauties of traditional cities and towns, is that regardless of the architectural merits of any _one_ structure, the whole is harmonious. I don’t blame these people in particular, they simply display the arrogant cult of individualism so common here in the U.S.

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