PORTLAND — Outside, the stunning spring sun splashed down on a massive showcase of Nutcase bike helmets donning the wall of the Portland Art Museum.
Near perfect cycling weather in one of the great cycling cities called like a temptress.
Yet, it became increasingly difficult to leave the comfort of the experience inside.
Because inside the museum, the wheels of your imagination spin effortlessly and endlessly at the exhibit Cyclepedia: Iconic Bicycle Design, which opened June 8 and runs through September 8.
While any cyclist will wax on about the wonderful feeling of wind in your hair, it might be just as difficult not to go on and on and on and on when trying to describe the sensation of stepping into a hall with 40 bicycles suspended in midair.
It takes a moment or two to grapple with the perspective.
And then …
Then it sweeps you away, as if you are along with the boys racing into the woods beneath a full moon with ET nestled in your front basket.
Each bicycle appears to be in flight, free as ever, awaiting the next adventure.
Michael Embacher, an architect, designer and bicycle collector from Austria, says his fascination with bicycle design sparked his collection of 210 bicycles.
It began when he inadvertently bought a used bike that was somewhat rare.
Since then, he’s bought bicycles of all types.
His collection is unique, he says, because he buys what’s available — never searching out a particular bike.
He’s come to appreciate bicycles because they are “a manifestation of human creativity and clever ideas.”
Among the bicycles in the collection is a Bike Friday New World Tourist that Embacher purchased from an individual in England.
Like nearly all the bikes in his collection, it’s a real bike that was actually ridden.
When thanked for including Bike Friday in this exhibit, Embacher’s sincerity poured out.
“No, thank you for designing such a wonderful bicycle,” he said.
An enthusiastic and engaging personality, Embacher says he owns three Bike Fridays, including an original diamond frame and a Pocket Rocket to go with his show bike. The diamond frame is his favorite ride of the three.
As with all the bikes in his collection, he can quickly point out the elements that drew him to purchase each one. And he rides many of them. That’s the point, he says, to ride.
One bicycle, in particular, captured the imagination of many at the opening of the exhibit.
It’s a TAGA, which transforms from a bicycle for carrying a child into a child’s stroller in seconds.
It’s the only bike in the exhibit that is set up in its secondary form, rather than its bike form.
It drew countless questions of how it transforms into a bike. Once Michael explained it, the volunteer Bicycle Guides [that included me], could explain it to others.
Michael’s attention to detail became evident as he savored the fact that the bike drew so much interest.
“That’s why we displayed this bicycle like this,” he said, flashing a clever smile, “Because otherwise it looks like another bike, and you might just walk by and not notice it.”
The Whitsell Auditorium was filled with nearly 500 guests when Michael gave a lecture in the afternoon.
It doesn’t take more than a moment or two to understand the essence of Michael. He gets excited about bikes in an instant. It’s nearly impossible not to feel a connection.
He opened his lecture with one of my favorite quotes about cycling that I haven’t heard much from anyone. It’s from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle:
“When the spirits are low,
when the day appears dark,
when work becomes monotonous,
when hope hardly seems worth having,
just mount a bicycle and go out for a spin down the road,
without thought on anything but the ride you are taking.”
As most cyclists know, it’s all about the experience. The ride. Each one of the 40 bicycles is a tribute to some individual or individuals who came up with an idea on how to enhance some aspect of the cycling experience.
Back home in his attic, Michael has the rest of the bikes in his herd of 210. When asked what’s next, Michael smiled. Then he answered the age-old question of how many bikes is enough.
“No more,” he says, “I have enough bicycles. Two-hundred and ten is a good number.”
Add comment June 16, 2013
We apologize for those of you who have been waiting for our new catalog that includes our Silk. We now have electronic versions available. CLICK HERE TO ORDER
Add comment June 14, 2013
The New York Times reports that cycling is the top sport for head injuries.
Add comment June 5, 2013
Here’s a neat article in the Bellingham Herald about 76-year-old Alfred Arkley who rides his Bike Friday to stay in shape.
Add comment May 29, 2013
Add comment May 29, 2013
[EDITOR'S NOTE: As a long-time writer for newspapers, magazines and websites, I've always had an audience to share my life with. I'm a writer, which means I have to write. It's more than just something I do for my career. Today the Bike Friday Community is my audience. I hope you will indulge me as we step away from cycling for this entry. Thanks from my deepest soul. RAZ]
Five kids. FIVE KIDS!
That never struck me much growing up, that I was but one of five children of Jane and Reiny Rezell.
Growing up in Milwaukee, and later Brookfield in Wisconsin, I spent most of my hours being a handful on my own. I didn’t have time to contemplate the fact that my mother juggled five kids — four of us boys.
It didn’t really hit me until I started a family of my own, and had two daughters. Then the daunting task of raising five kids became the stuff of legends for me.
As I began to ponder just how to be parent, I wondered about the ultimate question: How did they do that?
How did my parents get me to be who I am? How did they raise five, in my humble opinion, really amazing kids?
See, I love my life. I wouldn’t change anything about it. Ever. I love who I am. I consider myself an obsessive optimist — always focused on the bright side.
I jump into bed each night, not roll in. I can’t wait to see what tomorrow has in store. I love to face the next challenge. And savor the details of life.
How did they do that? This week I wonder, how did SHE do that?
If I think back, one element of growing up jumps to the forefront: You could not exist in Jane’s house if you were grumpy. No moping. No sulking.
If there’s one word I heard more than any growing up, it was simply this: SMILE!
If you weren’t smiling, you weren’t living. Not really living.
I wasn’t an unhappy kid; I just made the mistake of walking around now and then without a smile on my face.
So she would say, SMILE! And I did. My eyes would sparkle. My face would crack. My spirits would soar.
When I did, the world transformed right before my eyes. No matter what obscure thing I might be doing, suddenly had a meaning. I learned to appreciate it. Every moment.
I think about that every morning as I ride my bike to work. I attempt to smile at everyone I pass. Say hello.
Now most of the time it’s nothing more than a passing greeting. But every now and then …
I’ll pass someone who, even though they haven’t made it to work yet, is having a crummy day. It’s written all over their face.
I smile. I say hi.
Their eyes sparkle. Their face explodes into a smile. I can see that I made a connection. Made a difference.
I smile and say, “Thanks, Mom.”
I’ve traveled all around the country, and many parts of the world. I’ve lived in Wisconsin, Iowa, California, Colorado, Texas, Tennessee and Oregon.
As I chased every challenge I could uncover, my parents were always behind me, 100 percent. They never questioned me. They supported me.
We always knew that. We always knew no matter what, Mom and Dad were there if we needed them. It’s easy not to fear failure when you have that safety net. It makes life a thrill.
There is no more brilliant example of that than when I had to go to Las Vegas to help my brother Tom.
I called my parents and filled them in on the situation. Without hesitation, without missing a beat, Mom said, “We want him to come home.”
We WANT him to come HOME.
She didn’t say, if he wants to come home, we’ll be here,
She didn’t say, whatever he decides, we’ll support him.
She said, We want him to come home.
That was 20 years ago. My brother straightened out his life, and lived with my parents. For the past 13 years, he lived alone with my mother. Taking care of her. This past year has been tough. A real challenge.
Tom came home. Made it a home. And kept it a home.
For that, my brothers and sister are forever in his debt. Words can’t express how we feel about him. Our pride. Our love.
Tom couldn’t put into words how he felt. He asked me to. He said, “I’ll always remember Mom for who she was.”
What Tom is saying is that he doesn’t necessarily want to remember this past year. The decline. The hardships.
That’s understandable. It’s phrase you hear a lot in these situations.
I went home last month to visit Mom, and say goodbye, while she still had a pinch of life left.
It wasn’t easy. It was a challenge. I wondered how I would react when she would ask, “Which one are you?”
Then again, I remember even at her peak, she could be looking right at me across the room and yell “JIM TOM JOHN JOE BARB…GRRRR…”
Then she’d get around to whomever she was yelling at. So I was a bit prepared.
I spent a few days at the hospice with her. One day at lunch, with all the aides in the lunchroom, they began asking about Mom. About who she was.
I told them: Five kids …
Then, they told me about who she is. She’s the sweetest woman. So easy going. So calm. Always talking.
I thought, yeah, that’s my Mom.
Later, we sat together. She looked at me. She asked, “Which one are you?”
I smiled. John, from Oregon.
Her eyes sparkled.
A smile crept across her face.
I knew I made a connection.
Joan is our best friend in Oregon. I texted her to see if she would be around Memorial Day weekend to take care of our black lab, Ridgely.
Mom passed away peacefully in her sleep May 19th, at the age of 87.
Joan texted back: Sorry about your loss. She raised a great son.
It hit me straight in the heart. I chuckled and said to myself, Yes, Joan, you would say that. Because you’ve never had the pleasure of meeting the other four.
Five kids. FIVE KIDS.
That’s amazing. Thanks Mom, we love you.
Add comment May 27, 2013
[EDITOR'S NOTE: Bike Friday owner Mike Anderson sent us this report from the 2013 T.E.A.M. Sports Face of America ride for disabled veterans in April. What better way to celebrate Memorial Day that sharing his experience?]
By Mike Anderson
The 2013 T.E.A.M. Sports Face of America ride featured 100 disabled veterans alongside 400 other riders.
The ride challenges disabled and able-body riders alike over a hilly 110-mile course from the Pentagon to Gettysburg. As such, it is not a race, but an event for building companionship and cooperation over shared obstacles.
There was a broad mix of riding talent, from competitive able-body and disabled riders to many, both able-body and disabled whose only ride this year might have been the FoA.
The ride was very well organized, with plenty of support vehicles, marshals riding along with us, and rest stops every 15-20 miles.
Riders on hand bikes and recumbent bikes often have a difficult time generating torque going up hills; many had poles attached to the backs of the bikes, so other riders could push the bar with one hand to assist on the hills.
Over the two-day ride, I rode alongside about 15-20 of the disabled vets. Very few talked about the cause of their injuries, but most joked about them. Plenty of “give me a hand” type comments. Between those visits, there were also some opportunities to span between groups and do a few fast miles along Maryland and Pennsylvania country roads.
We began in the Pentagon parking lot at 7:30 on Saturday morning, April 27th.
After cracking the frame on my Gunnar Roadie 10 days before the ride, I set out on my Bike Friday.
We did a quick lap of the Marine Corps Memorial, and crossed the Key Bridge into Georgetown before heading north into Maryland.
Our first rest stop was at Avenal, Maryland next to the site of the Congressional Golf Tournament. Plenty of volunteers turned out to provide snacks and encouragement.
The disabled vets were pretty easy to identify by their bikes. During the second leg, I rode with David, a Navy vet from Pensacola. His wife was also along on the ride.
Dave was paralyzed below the waist and rode a very streamlined hand bike (ie, very low torque for his arms) with no assist bars. It was amazing that he was able to climb the hills with such little torque.
After stopping to help another rider fix her flat tire, I rode the final few miles of the leg into the rest stop alongside a vet named Duane, who lost both legs below the knees and was riding an upright road bike. He was a former competitive rider from Phoenix who still rides around 15,000 miles per year. (That’s a ton of miles … an average of over two hours a day for an entire year.)
On the third leg, on the way to lunch, I rode along with Mike from San Antonio. Mike lost a leg in Iraq and was on a hand-bike. I got to work on my one-handed push technique with Mike on a few of the hills on Saturday.
I ate lunch with Lon Dolber, one of the organizers and major supporters for T.E.A.M. Sports. In addition to the annual bike rides and a Sea-to-Sea ride from California to Norfolk, T.E.A.M. Sports has sponsored activities around the world: climbing Mt. Victoria in Africa, bike rides in Vietnam, and others. Their events are not just targeted to veterans or the disabled community.
I think that is one of the great things about this ride that I hadn’t really considered. Instead of an event focused on some group or other group, this ride and the T.E.A.M. Sports challenges are about cooperation and common effort, breaking down the physical barriers that divide us into groups every day.
As we were about to depart after lunch, I had to make a last-minute repair to my bike. The organizers were about to throw me into the Sag wagon, but I got my bike working and set off.
My reward was no pace car and speed limit; I got to ride along as fast as I could until I caught back up to the group.
Once I caught up, I rode with a blind vet and his guide on their tandem bike. The guide was familiar with Bike Friday, and they were both strong riders, so we rode along at a 20+ mph pace for a few miles as we chatted. There was at least one other blind rider as well but I never did catch up with him/her.
After resting overnight in Frederick, Maryland, we re-assembled early on Sunday morning.
I made it to the meet up point an hour early, at 6:00 a.m. seeking an emergency repair on my bike. My rear shifter cable seized, leaving me with three only gears on Saturday.
Larry Black, a rock-star mechanic and owner of Mt. Airy Bikes [Bike Friday's Dealer in the DC area], was one of the volunteer mechanics supporting the FoA ride.
Working in a makeshift loading dock workshop, Larry fashioned a dental pick from a sharpened spoke and was able to free the snagged cable inside my shifter. He rehung the cable and tuned up the rear cassette, all while servicing countless other riders with various maladies (including the entire drivetrain on one) and got me to the start with enough time to enjoy a bearclaw and a banana.
Every rest stop was the same. Larry Black saving our butts. If you find yourself in the D.C./Landover area in need of any help with a bike, look up Larry.
After a social first leg, the second leg on Sunday is where the hills kick in.
Another rider (Scott) and I assigned ourselves to Lamar for the entire leg. We traded off assisting Lamar over the hills.
Along the way, Lamar explained a game he used to play growing up in the country: Hey cow. If you see a group of cows, and yell out “Hey cow”, you get a point for every one that turns to look. I tried it out. The cow complied.
The third leg was our final leg before staging for our final mile into Gettysburg. This leg turned into the battlefield.
I joined Pickle and Sully (the other two riders from HQ AF/A9) to shepherd Mike (same guy as Saturday) through this leg.
I hadn’t even realized we were in the battlefield park until we came around a turn and were surrounded by the grave markers from Pickett’s charge. I remember reading about the importance of terrain and hills when I studied the battle of Gettysburg.
Riding the battlefield afforded a great appreciation of the small rolling hills. I can’t imagine a more beautiful way to appreciate the battlefield than by bike.
We held up a mile outside of town so all the riders could finish together. We rode through hundreds of supporters to the finish line.
A few speeches, pictures, and awards later, we enjoyed lunch and beer.
I really enjoyed the entire ride and appreciate all of the support friends and family provided. In addition to my registration fees, I raised $600 for T.E.A.M. Sports. Hopefully I’ll be able to ride again next year and, with further support, can raise more.
Add comment May 26, 2013
If you love bikes, the Portland [Oregon] Art Museum is a must-see destination this summer with its exhibit: Cyclepedia: Iconic Bicycle Design.
The exhibit is a display from the private collection of Michael Embacher, a bicycle aficionado and designer who wrote the book “Cyclepedia.”
Bike Friday’s New World Tourist is part of Embacher’s collection, and one of the 40 bicycles selected for display in Portland.
“I am not much for art books on the coffee table in the living room, but when I first saw our customer Michael Embacher’s book Cyclopedia I knew he was an appreciator of bikes in my own sense,” Bike Friday Co-Founder Alan Scholz says.
“He has collected some of the most interesting bikes built in my lifetime, and a few before. When you see the picture of his attic in his house in Austria you will know you are not the only one that says the right number of bikes is just one more!
“He has collected a huge range of cool designs that are some quite a ways from ‘common’ bikes. If you like bikes you will really enjoy Michael’s pick of bikes to collect for your bike geek enjoyment.”
Bike Friday will be partnering with the Portland Museum of Art throughout the exhibit’s run to help visitors understand and appreciate what Bike Friday has to offer.
It is a fantastic opportunity to justify a trip to Oregon: Come pick up your new Bike Friday and visit the exhibit.
One of the coolest aspects of Embacher’s work can be enjoyed whether or not you can make it to Portland. It’s the Cyclepedia iPad AP that is available on iTunes and just a blast to play with [especially the Bike Friday display].
As Bike Friday finalizes its appearances in Portland during the exhibit we will announce them here.
Add comment May 16, 2013
The biggest motivation for our Pre-Loved program is to see that everyone has an opportunity to own a Bike Friday.
It might sound a little far-fetched in these cynical days of focus on the bottom line, but really, at the end of the day, we just want to see people on bikes: American bikes Made in the USA.
With that said, we ran across this most interesting manner in which one can obtain a Bike Friday tikit.
Best of all, it’s free!
You might wonder why we’d be promoting someone giving away a Bike Friday when we could just as easily sell you one.
But it pains us to think there is a Bike Friday out there in need of a wonderful owner who can use its versatility to change his or her life, just as this one did for the previous owner [sorry, you’ll have to read the blog to learn how it did that).
So here goes. Read, enter and GOOD LUCK!
Add comment May 15, 2013