With Hawaii expansion and a new book, bike-tour entrepreneur Todd Roll is on the move

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Todd Roll in February with his fleet of tour bikes.
(Photos courtesy Pedal Bike Tours.)

Todd Roll of downtown-based Pedal Bike Tours has had a big spring.

Last month, his company — maybe best known to Portlanders as the one behind downtown’s “America’s Bicycle Capital” mural — expanded to Honolulu. And next month, his first book is coming out from Timber Press: Pedal Portland, a compilation of 25 easy city bike rides informed by his company’s experience renting out bikes and leading local tours.

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NYT writer and ‘Life is a Wheel’ author Bruce Weber at Powell’s Books tonight

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A book its publisher describes as, “Part travelogue, part memoir, part romance, part paean to the bicycle as a simple mode of both mobility and self-expression” will be featured at Powell’s Books in downtown Portland tonight. The author is Bruce Weber, a man who has written words for a living as a writer and reporter for the New York Times since 1986.

There are dozens of books about trans-continental bike rides; and many of them are, how should we say, forgettable. But when a writer with Weber’s skill and C.V. makes the journey and devotes 336 pages to his experience, it’s definitely worth paying attention. Weber’s just-released, Life is a Wheel: Love, Death, Etc., and a Bike Ride Across America has already earned critical acclaim and it’s likely to become a favorite of bicycle book lovers.

Here’s more the publisher:

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Microcosm is latest bikey business to open on N Williams Avenue

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Right off the Williams Avenue bicycle highway.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

The local bike-friendly bookstore that also happens to be one of the country’s largest zine distributors and publishers has grown again and joined the row of bike-friendly businesses on North Williams.

“Once we built lofts in our storefront to store books under, and filled up a storage unit down the street, we knew it was time to get serious about finding a new building,” Microcosm Publishing spokesman Tim Wheeler wrote in an email Monday. “Since we’re bike commuters and our customers are bike commuters, we didn’t want to move hundreds of blocks outside the city center or away from our own homes and lives, so we narrowed our search to affordable commercial spaces in inner Portland.”

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Radically sensible: 8 questions for Elly Blue, Portland’s pop bikenomist

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Cover of Bikenomics

As she writes in her new book Bikenomics, Portland-based bike writer Elly Blue backed into bike activism in her mid-20s, when she realized that bikes advanced so many of her other wishes for the country.

Almost a decade later, Blue has organized years of observations about the economic benefits of biking into a 194-page book of deeply rational arguments that’s poised to make a splash. It’s studded with stories from her reporting around the United States and anecdotes from her own life and work. Yesterday I talked to Blue, 35 (founder of Elly Blue Publishing, a columnist for Bicycling.com, self-publisher of the quarterly zine Taking the Lane and a former managing editor here at BikePortland), in an email conversation about the country’s most underrated biking city, one of her frustrations with this very blog, and that one time she finally learned to drive.

You’re the queen of bike statistics. Pick your favorite.

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Three local bike books to nab (and one to await)

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bike books!

Portland is rich with locally written bike books.
(Photo by J.Maus/BikePortland)

Portland has been exporting its biking expertise for years, but the explosion of independent publishing is helping that happen faster than ever.

Case in point: Four new books by young local authors, all currently in development, poised to document and spread local bike wisdom around the city, the region and the country. One’s about moving by bike, one’s about bike touring, one’s about bike-inspired cooking and one is a popular-audience introduction to the role bikes can play in economic growth.

With the days getting shorter and book season approaching, here’s a cheat sheet on a few projects in the works, and how to get ahold of them.

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Book event tonight: A chronicle of life in Amsterdam, the ‘City of Bikes’

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Pete Jordan, a former Portland resident who lived in Amsterdam for the past eleven years, has written a book about the experience. In the City of Bikes: The Story of the Amsterdam Cyclist (Harper Perennial 2013) came out a few days ago and Jordan is back in Portland tonight for a reading.

Here’s more about the book from Powells.com:

“When Pete Jordan arrives in Amsterdam to study how to make America’s cities more bicycle-friendly, he immediately falls in love with the city that already lives life on two wheels. His new bride, Amy Joy, joins Pete, and despite their financial hardships and instability, she eventually finds her own new calling as a bicycle mechanic as Pete discovers the untold history of cycling in Amsterdam.

From its beginnings as an elitist pastime in the 1890s to the street-consuming craze of the 1920s, from the bicycle’s role in a citywide resistance to the Nazi occupation to the White Bikes of the 1960s and the bike fishermen of today, Jordan chronicles the evolution of Amsterdam’s cycling.

Part personal memoir, part history of cycling, part fascinating street-level tour of Amsterdam, In the City of Bikes is the story of a man who loves bikes, in a city that loves bikes.”

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First look at ‘Biking Portland’ guide book

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Biking Portland book

With the release of Biking Portland: 55 Rides from the Willamette Valley to Vancouver, anyone interested in discovering great rides in and around Portland has another excellent resource to turn to.

Written by Alaska native Owen Wozniak and published by The Mountaineers Books, Biking Portland offers much more than cue sheets, maps, and ideas on places to ride. Wozniak has a deep appreciation for natural areas (his day job is project manager for the Trust for Public Lands, a non-profit conservation group) as well as the metro area’s history, geography and politics. “I’ve tried to sneak as much of that stuff between the covers of a biking guide book as possible,” he says.

“I think it’s a great fit because a bike is actually a great way to experience some of the more wonky stuff (urban planning, environmental conservation) that makes our region special.”

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‘Hop in the Saddle’ party launches book with a bang

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Hop in the Saddle book launch party-4

Goldsprints were a hit.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Velo Cult bike shop hosted a hoppin’ party last night as a huge crowd turned out to help launch the bike book: Hop in the Saddle: A Guide to Portland’s Craft Beer Scene, by Bike.

There was a huge spread of food, the beer was flowing, the goldsprints were a hoot, and all sorts of fun people showed up. It’s exciting how Velo Cult has lived up to their promises of becoming so much more than a bike shop. Sky Boyer and his crew are really committed to the community and the space is much more than just a place to fix and buy bikes (watch for a full Velo Cult profile soon).

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Elly Blue and Portland’s bike book boom

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Elly Blue, publisher.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

These are boom times in the bike book publishing world. From big coffee-table books detailing the beauty of bike design, to guidebooks on where and how to ride and everything in between — the cycling renaissance in North America is being mirrored by an equally robust uptick in the amount of new books that document it.

Major publishing houses have noticed and they’re certainly getting a piece of the action; but here in Portland, a growing number of authors are turning to small press and independent publishers.

And who’s at the forefront of this fledgling revolution? None other than activist, businesswoman, writer, journalist and southeast Portland resident Elly Blue. Under her Taking the Lane Media banner, Elly is publishing, consulting on, distributing, marketing, and even writing bike books at a breakneck pace. After cutting her teeth on writing and bike journalism here on BikePortland back in the day, Elly found big success as a columnist for Grist.org. Since that gig ended, Elly has spent the last two years learning everything she can about the publishing business (and she’s also become something of an expert on how to win a Kickstarter campaign).

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First look: New book chronicles Oregon Manifest competition

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New Oregon Manifest book-1

(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Organizers of the Oregon Manifest event are set to release a new book tomorrow. The book, BIKE CRAFT, DESIGN, INNOVATION, is a coffee table quality, 228-page publication that provides an in-depth look into the bikes and the builders of the 2011 competition as well as a recap of the inaugural 2009 edition of the event.

Here’s the official blurb:

This image-rich document of the competition features design details of each entry bike, the three designer/craftsmen Creative Collaboration bikes, on-the-scene shots from the Field Test and judging, and interviews with the winners, judges and the Creative Collaborators. Also included are portraits of the 2009 competitors.

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Portlanders launch ‘Hop in the Saddle’; a guide to local beer by bike

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A trio of Portlander women have joined forces to launch Hop in the Saddle, a forthcoming (they hope) guide book that will take readers on a bike tour of local craft beer breweries and pubs. The project launched via Kickstarter today and its supporters are hoping to raise $15,000 to make the book a reality.

Behind the project are: noted author Ellee Thalheimer, whose Cycling Sojourner guide book came out earlier this year; freelance reporter Lucy Burningham, who has written about beer and bikes in The New York Times, Outside, and other national publications; and Laura Cary, a graphic designer based in Portland. (Check bios of all three of them at HopintheSaddle.com.)

Given what I know about these women, this will be an excellent book! Beyond that, one lucky backer of their Kickstarter campaign will get a one-of-kind, custom “beer bike” built by none other than famed local builder Tony Pereira (who happens to be the husband of Mrs. Burningham). All it takes is a donation of $10,000 or more.

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