July 11, 2014
Adventure-seeking cyclists assemble beginning at 10p.m. at the Alibi Karaoke Lounge on North Interstate in Portland. Shortly before midnight, when the Midnight Mystery Ride is set to commence, bicycles have covered most of the front of the parking lot. Cyclists have their safety lights on, their funky lights lit, and their spirits high for a night of unknown adventure. We follow the Tall Bike!
|Abby (L), Jackie, and Janessa get ready for the Midnight Mystery Ride (MMR)|
Amid the anticipation, several of my fabulous lady friends were gearing up, who I didn’t even know rode bicycles! (A big group of my friends met at the Alibi, but I didn’t know exactly who would embark on the night of mystery.) Naturally, I had to snap a few photos to immortalize the occasion. I also got some photos of fabulous ladies I hadn’t met before, who were also gearing up for an evening of Mystery fun.
|Abby: Road Bike, Jackie: Mountain Bike, Janessa: Hybrid|
Check out how much fun Abby, Jackie and Janessa are already having! They’ve all got helmets, safety lights, and reflective gear for better visibility to automobiles. Not only do these three girls make the perfect trifecta of fabulous, but their bikes perfectly illustrate the three basic varieties available: On the left, Abby has a sleek road bike with very slim tires that have little traction, which is a lighter and faster vehicle for getting around the city than other bikes. Jackie has a mountain bike, which is at the opposite end of the spectrum, with fat, high-tread tires, being easier to ride and better able to handle terrain and weather, but also heavier and slower on the streets than a road bike. (Not a big deal on group rides, since they ride at conversational pace.) Janessa’s bike is a hybrid, which has tires in between the thin road bike tires and the thicker mountain bike tires, and a frame weight that’s in-between, too. The hybrid bike is relatively easier to ride on the street than a mountain bike, and will handle terrain and weather better than a road bike although it won’t go as fast.
|Courtney Robinson and Ali Wimer, sisters|
Courtney recently got married, and brought her husband, sister Ali, and many of our other friends, to MMR! Courtney and her husband rode over 10 miles just to get to the Alibi, and they ride with a neat asset that I’ve heard a lot about but haven’t tried: Clip-ins. These are special shoes with clips on the bottom that snap into special pedals on your bike. The idea behind clip-ins is that it enables you to use hamstring muscles to power the pedals on the up stroke, not just when pushing down. (This is also the idea behind toe clips, which are sold but mostly not recommended by bike experts.) Again, I’ve never tried them personally, but Courtney told a familiar tale of how the clip-ins take some time to get used to and a bit of crashing before you develop the skill to ride with them. Sounds to me like material for a whole new blog post!
|Let’s ride bicycles, sis!|
Ali has a cruiser bike, with somewhat fatter tires than a road bike and the key feature of upright handlebars. (A beach cruiser– as featured in this photo of a Santa Cruz girl in What Every Fabulous Girl Needs to Go By Bicycle II– has upright handlebars and big tires, with a sturdy frame, for an easy conversational-pace cruise down the boardwalk.) Ali has a great front basket, too– great for carrying snacks and drinks she will acquire during the ride, and her sweatshirt. Note how the basket is braced on the front tire to hold extra weight and give the basket extra balance, a key to being able to have a front basket.
Both sisters have lights and glow sticks, and Courtney is even wearing a lei to fit the Tiki theme of the Alibi. She packed many yummy snacks in her pannier bag (seen over her shoulder in the photo), too.
|These ladies are having tons of fun, and the ride hasn’t even started yet!|
The ride itself lasted over an hour, with over 100 cyclists following the route known only to the leader on the tall bike. The conversational pace meant riders could ride along with friends and catch up, and meet new people with a shared interest in cycling.
Some of the new people I met included these ladies in the photo to the left and below. They’ve been riding a long time and one girl even had battle wounds to prove it. The shorts under the dress is a classic ladies’ bike attire hack for wearing what you want without the worry of flashing. (You can also try the penny trick, too.) Stretch pants, or pants that fit around the ankle, are also great for not getting your hems caught in the gears if you don’t have a gear guard.
|Showing her gnarly bruise from a recent fall|
The fabulous lady with the dress/ shorts is also wearing a headlamp, one of the things that will make your cycling life much easier. While having a bright light attached to your front handlebars is preferable for most riders, a fair amount do prefer the headlamp. If you’re going to wear a headlamp with a helmet, my personal recommendation is to do so like she is, and put the lamp around your head before putting the helmet on. I’ve tried to put a headlamp around a helmet before and ended up with plastic and batteries crashing into the street and getting rained on.
|Right before take-off: That’s me (Cate) with no helmet|
After an hour of cyclists mobbing in deep through winding residential roads and taking over a lane on busy streets with traffic (there was still traffic after 1a.m. on Saturday morning– wow), the group arrived at their mystery destination: An abandoned parking lot with views of the Willamette river, the far bank, and the nearly-full moon in the sky.
A bonfire was started, bikes were parked, and the tall bike in the lead with lights turned up his stereo to create a disco dance floor with the bike at the center. There were also some great paths to wander (not too far!) and snacks and drinks to go around while everyone mingled.
My crew lasted until about 5:30a.m. and the party was even still hopping after that. Attendees agreed that July MMR was one of the most fun, well-planned Midnight Mystery Rides they’d ever been on.
|Ali climbs a tall bike with help. It’s scarier than it looks!|
|These fabulous ladies are having fun!|
|Chillaxin amid a sea of bicycles|
|Enjoying the bonfire|
These fabulous ladies were actually on their very first community ride! They met a lot of cool people and received the friendly bike community welcome.
Check out the old-school drop-style handlebars on these two bikes. Nifty, right? I’ve had bicycles with this type of handlebar before; they allow you to ride more upright and to crouch down and ride the drops. Essentially, swift, straight rides are great for riding the drops, and they help you get low when sun is getting in your eyes. A decent touring handlebar if I do say so; my boyfriend has drop-style handlebars on his Peugeot (the Safety Cone) and likes settling down on them. You just have to make sure they’re up high enough so you don’t drop too low and lose visibility.
|I got in on this fun photo action!|
While I didn’t get to take photos of every girl on the ride (unfortunately), one thing’s for sure: They were all fabulous lady cyclists. And we need more of them– many community rides, including this one, have over 3 guys for every girl. So we definitely need to get more ladies who ride involved in the community!
Learn about upcoming MMR and other community rides in the Portland area by visiting the Shift2Bikes calendar at Shift2Bikes.org/cal. The calender not only shows rides, but bike clinics and community tours as well. A great place to start if you live in the Portland, OR area!
|Jackie, Ali, Cate, and Abby glow by the bonfire. Background: Tall Bike/ Center of Dance floor|
|Cyclists milling and chatting around the raging bonfire|