‘BikeSummer’ and Portland bike culture circa 2002

Posted by on June 22nd, 2012 at 8:53 am

BikeSummer 2002 photos by Ayleen Crotty-2

This happened 10 years ago.
(Photos by Ayleen Crotty and Amy Stork)


Long before there was Portlandia or Pedalpalooza, Portland’s bike culture flourished. Far from a recent fad, the vibrant culture that exists around bicycling in this town is now at least a decade old.

A few years ago I was given a CD with the words, “PDX Bike Culture Photos” scribbled onto it. The woman who gave it to me is Ayleen Crotty. Ayleen is one of the people who helped build Portland’s “bike fun” movement into the amazing thing that it is today (she’s also the founder of Filmed By Bike, the Midnight Mystery Rides, and more).

BikeSummer 2002 photos by Ayleen Crotty-1

BikeSummer 2002 photos by Ayleen Crotty-25

BikeSummer 2002 photos by Ayleen Crotty-19

Long before I moved to Portland in 2004, folks like Ayleen, Amy Stork (who took some of these photos), Ethan Jewett, Timo Forsberg, Carie Folz, and many others, were already out there on their bikes. They were celebrating urban bicycling in a way that wasn’t being done in many other places: They were giving away free breakfast to bikers on the bridges; they were dressing up and putting on zany, bike-inspired events like tall-bike jousts and themed, costume rides; they were riding their bikes to mystery destinations at midnight; and sharing what they love from the seat of their bikes with anyone who wanted to come along for the ride.

Ayleen’s CD got lost in stacks of paper in my office and I just recently stumbled across it. And I’m glad I did. The photos in this post were taken by Ayleen and her friend Amy Stork. They offer a glimpse into the beginnings of the bike fun culture many of us enjoy today. In 2002, BikeSummer was an annual event that moved from city to city. After it came to Portland, Ayleen and her friends didn’t want the fun to end, so they decided to keep it going (it was called “Mini BikeSummer” in 2003 and then assumed the Pedalpalooza moniker one year later).

BikeSummer 2002 photos by Ayleen Crotty-18

BikeSummer 2002 photos by Ayleen Crotty-15

BikeSummer 2002 photos by Ayleen Crotty-16

I asked Ayleen about those formative years. “BikeSummer was a success because Portland was hungry for it,” she said.

Back then, she says, the focus was to let people share their skills and interests by leading bike rides — which is pretty much how Pedalpalooza remains. After BikeSummer was over in 2002, Ayleen and others got together for a wrap-up meeting. “The rallying cry at our meeting was, ‘what’s next!?’ as in, ‘where do we go from here?’ Words alone cannot adequately capture how that room was buzzing with eager energy.”

BikeSummer 2002 photos by Ayleen Crotty-11

BikeSummer 2002 photos by Ayleen Crotty-12

BikeSummer 2002 photos by Ayleen Crotty-13

That energy remains. Many people who were around during BikeSummer 2002 are still showing up to Pedalpalooza rides today and the spirit of bike fun is stronger than ever. We all owe a debt of gratitude to Ayleen, Timo, Amy, and all the passionate and bike-minded folks who came before us.

To me, there’s something very comforting in these images. They’re an anchor to a shared history and a validation that we’re doing it right. In Portland, coming together to ride bikes and creating community on the streets enjoys a long and proud tradition that we’re all a part of.

BikeSummer 2002 photos by Ayleen Crotty-7

BikeSummer 2002 photos by Ayleen Crotty-8

BikeSummer 2002 photos by Ayleen Crotty-5

BikeSummer 2002 photos by Ayleen Crotty-3

BikeSummer 2002 photos by Ayleen Crotty-4

BikeSummer 2002 photos by Ayleen Crotty-6

Here’s to the next decade of bike fun!

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Todd Boulanger
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Todd Boulanger

Ahh…the memories those first few photos bring to my mind. That alley dead baby race still is one of the best events I ever went too.

Ayleen
Guest

Thanks for helping us relive the Glory Days, Jonathan and for breathing new life into these old (shot on film!) photos.

And, of course, the names mentioned above are but a few of the main people who helped us get where we are today, many of whom are still tirelessly making bike fun happen.

Happy Pedalpalooza!

RyNO Dan
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RyNO Dan

Chvnk666

Mickey
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Mickey

If there was only some way to warn them of the yuppie invasion force headed their way

Bike-Max-Bike
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Bike-Max-Bike

Loved Bike Summer, it took place during our real summer, you know when it’s warm/hot and unlikely to rain/be cold. Sad it never returned.

Joseph E
Guest

Yeah, why is Pedalpalooza in June, instead of July?

Organic Brian
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Organic Brian

Some Fun Trivia:

Amy Stork created the Shift email list on Riseup (long before moving to Twisp, WA).

It was Ethan Jewett’s idea to use “Shift.”

After BikeSummer 2002, but before Pedalpalooza, some Shifty funnists had the idea to use the name “Mini BikeSummer” while some Zoobombers were simultaneously planning “MiniBike Summer.” Of course there is a lot of overlap among Shift/ZB and so the two parties found out about one another’s plans, giving rise to the name “MiniBikeSummer.”

May I borrow the disc with photos???

Daniel R. Miller
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Daniel R. Miller

To show that great minds think alike, or certain times are ripe for certain things, Shawn Granton came up with the idea for a “Midnight Bicycle League” (and made a nifty sticker for it) at nearly the same time, but more or less independently, that Ayleen decided to institute the Midnight Mystery Ride. That was to the beach on Swan Island. The first “official” Shift ride was Bike Caroling in December 2002 door to door (yes to actual stranger’s doors) in SE and then to Peackock Lane, singing Xmas carols that Amy Stork rewrote with bikey lyrics. (There was event shortly before that organized by Sara Stout to make bikey holiday decorations to hang on people’s bikes to just basically spread the good cheer about bicycling.)

Joe Adamski
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Joe Adamski

The changes in ten years have been mostly wonderful and positive. A much larger community has coalesced around cycling. With those stronger voices come better understanding and more support. To everyone from Mia Burk to Phil Goff to Ayleen to Shift v.4, and too many to name: the adventure continues!

skwirl
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skwirl

It’s worth noting that the first MMR and, to some extent, early Zoobomb were promoted heavily at Critical Mass, where there was already an eager and active audience. Say what you will about the role of CM today, but any homage to the early roots of Portland Bike fun should account for that. Many cities around the world still have CM as their primary bicyclist gathering. CM –> NoPoBiWo bingo was always a guaranteed good time.

Katelin
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Katelin

Aww, I lived in PDX from 98 to 2011 in my 20s and 30s and remember bikesummer as a real sea change for Portland. The tall bikes came down from Vancouver BC and never left. These are great memories.