Esplanade closure begins February 1st

Lifestyle column: A biker’s ode to the butt

Posted by on November 4th, 2013 at 3:08 pm

Look familiar?
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Cathy Hastie is BikePortland’s lifestyle columnist.

Gravel and grit from the street kicks up onto my legs. Rain and sweat drizzle between my shoulder blades. Grinding brakes pierce my ears as a semi-truck swooshes too close. Being out in traffic on my daily bike commute can wear down my senses. Day in and day out, you would think I’d complain about the harsh urban visuals as well.

But from my hunched-over posture on my Trek, the view is fascinating. Anyone who rides during the bike rush probably knows what I am talking about. What is perfectly aligned in my sights as the crowd of bikers swarms ahead of me, heading west up the Hawthorne bridge?

I’ll give you a hint – it ain’t the sunrise.

“After 20 years of riding my bike to work almost every day, I have seen a lot of butts.”

How can one not take note?

Numerous pairs of butt cheeks sway and roll with the effort of cranking up the hill. Butts in jeans, butts in tights, butts in skirts, butts in sweats. Like a Dr. Seuss rhyme, there are red ones, blue ones, old ones and new ones. The motion of each derriere is unique. Some remain completely still while the legs piston up and down. Others move side to side with exertion as if the bike they ride were a bit too tall. Some butts sway like a dancer and others are stuck as if with glue to the saddle. There are all sizes and shapes. Like their owners, they are big and small, narrow and wide, pointy, round, puffy, hard, sinewy, and saggy.

lifestyle columnist Catherine Hastie

Lifestyle columnist Cathy Hastie.

After 20 years of riding my bike to work almost every day, I have seen a lot of butts. There is nothing else to focus on when riding in a pack or following one after the other like ants in a line. In a strange juxtaposition of normal societal rules, the fact is we all look at them. It’s almost required. Leaning forward as most riders do, we can’t help but display our back sides to all who follow. And following, we can’t help but focus in on the bullseye ahead of us – the place we are pedaling toward with fixed determination. I lock in on one butt after another as faster riders pass me by. Like a spinning ballerina picking a fixed point in space, I center in on the buns in front of me. It keeps my balance.

All this talk of rear ends could come across as somewhat creepy to people who don’t see what I see every day. Don’t worry, I am immune to the typical connotations associated with this part of the human body when I am hard at work getting to work. The booty in any other circumstances can grab the attention too, but when I’m on a bicycle, it’s just part of the scenery. Fit or flabby, grand or petite, it is simply the motor to our human-powered motion. Very useful indeed.

So don’t get bent out of shape. If you are a biker, I have seen your butt. And you have probably seen mine. Just pat yourself on the back (or further down if you feel so moved) and know that with every downstroke, you are improving the view, creating a tauter, shapelier Portland panorama.

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  • Colton November 4, 2013 at 3:13 pm

    You “crack” me up!

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  • ChamoisKreme November 4, 2013 at 3:21 pm

    that picture make me want to bust out some retro Carrera trade team shorts.

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  • Alli November 4, 2013 at 3:22 pm

    What a cheeky lifestyle column!

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    • JV November 4, 2013 at 4:44 pm

      This column provides commentary we can all get “behind”.

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  • Carl November 4, 2013 at 3:45 pm

    Thank you for addressing this important issue, Cathy. Here is a newly-released ode to butts featuring my sister’s Sprockettes-inspired dance troupe, New York Bike Dance (NYBD):

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  • ed November 4, 2013 at 4:33 pm

    Thanks for this piece of fun and funny reporting on what we all “notice” whether we comment on it or not. And you’re right, the activity of cycling yields great butts and this isn’t subjective – physiologists will tell you the mechanics of cycling on the gluteus maximus will sculpt and develop them more effectively than almost any form of exertion. Call it a perk of cycling that can make the world a nicer place to view. No offense to those whose sculpting is less developed than others – it’s all good…

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  • Johnnie Metso November 4, 2013 at 5:59 pm

    And let me add the more there are the better it is

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  • Racer X November 4, 2013 at 6:37 pm

    And what about that Portland Institution of the WNBR?

    …No need to lead …the pack that day. Best day for a no drop policy. 😉

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  • John Liu
    John Liu November 4, 2013 at 7:45 pm

    Indeed, briefly following a shapely rear is one of the small pleasures of bike commuting. Often the person has fine calves too. Around this time of year, however, those rears and calves go into hibernation, retreating behind baggy rain pants and flapping cagoules. Nothing to do but pedal grimly until the spring brings paperwhites, songbirds, and cyclists ‘ derrières.

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    • spare_wheel November 4, 2013 at 8:11 pm

      what flapping rain pants are to fall, multi-panel spandex tights are to winter.

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  • ron richings November 4, 2013 at 8:43 pm

    For another perspective on butts, just talk with a recumbent rider. Many of us ride with our eyes precisely at butt level.

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  • Ruthie November 4, 2013 at 9:17 pm

    Release The Cracken

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    • Fearless CYclist November 5, 2013 at 4:37 pm

      Cracken might be easier to Iive with than Kracken!!

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  • sir mix alot November 4, 2013 at 9:46 pm

    Y’all just now figured out what i was talkin’ about?

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  • Zed November 4, 2013 at 11:03 pm

    Dig those Portland Poopers.

    Keep’n it all weirded out inspired talking on the booty, booty, shake, down break down mix.

    Way to work it and do it better Portland, Bike.

    Twerk it, work it.


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  • Alan 1.0 November 4, 2013 at 11:21 pm


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  • jim November 5, 2013 at 1:08 am

    Thanks for not bringing up the naked bike ride.

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  • Ryan November 5, 2013 at 6:04 am

    In love with women with big booties in spandex 🙂

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  • Joe November 5, 2013 at 7:51 am

    sometimes if its really hot day and some stands up might just get the view 🙂 also WNBR was amazing like 2 years back when lady passed me
    saying on your left and stood up in front of me. LOL epic ride that year
    * the cops really calmed down after that *

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  • Christopher Sanderson November 5, 2013 at 8:18 am

    Sir Mix-A-Lot would disagree.

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  • RWL1776 November 5, 2013 at 8:34 am

    I experienced the DUMB BUTT move of the year last evening by a cyclist. It’s dark, it’s raining, I am at a stop light, second car in line. On SW Harrison, going east at 6th. A cyclists passes me ON THE LEFT, then pulls her bike IN FRONT OF MY CAR. This is a 2 lane street! When the light turns green, does she proceed forward? NO, she puts out her left hand to signal a left hand turn. There is no Green Box at the intersection. WTF is THAT all about? Does she drive her car like that? DUMB BUTT move of the year. And we wonder why cyclists get hit?

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    • younggods November 5, 2013 at 10:59 am

      You sound mad. And we wonder why people that drive everywhere have large, unshapely butts.

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    • stacia November 5, 2013 at 11:53 am

      You saw her. You did not hit her. Sounds like her move was pretty effective.

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  • Terry Nobbe November 5, 2013 at 11:04 am

    Cathy Hastie: Thanks so much for sharing your perspective on cycle commuting! Although I’m retired, I’ve been adult cycling for over 35 years and never tire from the variables of cycle commuting as opposed to motorized commuting.

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  • BIKELEPTIC November 5, 2013 at 11:49 am

    When you ride with a lot of people in the cycling community, you end up seeing a lot of your friends from behind. Get to recognize their particular panniers or jackets, outline or their bodies, etc. I have often recognized friends or people I know; co-workers, volunteers associates, etc – from behind while riding. Sometimes I’m embarrassed by it. I’ll arrive at a get together and say, “Oh hey, I saw you earlier today, you were about a block ahead of me and then turned off on that street. (I recognized you by your silhouette of you backside.)”

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  • annefi November 5, 2013 at 2:46 pm


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  • pdxpaul November 9, 2013 at 12:28 pm

    I like bike butts and I cannot lie.

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  • jbloe December 9, 2013 at 7:45 pm


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