Free Range Bike, Roaming The Weirderlness, Portland, Oregon 2014

Portland is ‘The Land Of’ therapists and recovery, so it is fitting that I should open this blog by reminding us that Sigmund Freud defined mental health as “the ability to work and to love.” Which covers just about everything that can be done in Portland. For a bike.

That’s why I love riding in Portland — I just fit in.

And which is why I don’t mind confessing to you, supportive readers, that I am a bicycle. A Free Range Bike. Born and raised in Portland, Oregon, with the freedom of rain – gaurd treads, wind energy at my back, and permission to roam the Weirderlness.

Oh, although I have no human rider, I have one or two more important things — a pair of Nike Airs strapped into my pedal harnesses so they don’t slip in the rain. Mango Yellow Schwinn, with a GPS nav pad named Ingrid. She is wrapped in gortex couture.

I love pedalling around Portland, people-watching and gleaning unusual stories for my blog. Oh — my name? Free Range Bike.

If I were to place a single’s ad in a Portland weekly, it would likely read something like, “SYB seeks community-minded discussion partner who shares a passion for tread on wet asphalt. Must be civic-conscious, attend gatherings and pick up trash around the city using chewed Bubblicious stuck to bike tires. Preferences include a willingness to go three blocks out of the way to avoid riding over a native NW plant.”

But there is no need to place such an ad, because yesterday I found my true love, and am smitten down to my sea sponge handle-bar mitten.

I named her Barista. She is a spotted tree frog I met in the bottom of a recycled hemp coffee cup at an outdoor table at the “Where Have U Bean All My Life?” coffee kiosk near Pioneer Square.

She’s marvellous. She rides with her face to the wind atop my handlbars and takes copious mental notes of the environmental health of the city. A frog is the perfect barometer of mental — I mean ecological — health. (Think bus exhaust, etc.). If a frog can travel through an area and not mutate, the situation is pretty good. She hopes to get her data published in a local science journal someday.

I am somewhat concerned, however, about the risk level she is willing to use to gather information. This morning she went down into the spigot of a sidewalk drinking water fountain to check on the flouride (etc.) content, and she overdosed. Almost didn’t make it out, and collapsed when she did. I was only able to save her using CPR with my air pump.

While I deeply love Barista, I also have a concern about her jealousy toward Ingrid. Last night there was a spill — the botanical fermented orange juice in my cup holder spilled onto Ingrid and caused two hours of battery disruption.

Barista swears it was an accident, but we didn’t speak for an hour, while I waited in hopes she would confess to me the intentionality of the matter.

But today we are back on track, after coffee at the “Girlz Will Be Boyz” bike shop. That is my bike-cave, where I find my private conscious connection to my universal bike tribe. After a few deeply inhaled puffs on a compressed air pump, my head is clear on Barista’s motives and after seeing her dedication at the drinking fountain today, I am certain of her ethics.

Did I mention I am in training for the Hood to Coast marathon? Barista is helping me get over my fear of bridges so I can enter this year. The last time I crossed the Hawthorne, the panic attack was so severe I had to pull over and grip the railing.

A dozen cars stopped — they thought I was going to jump — to talk me down, the embarrassment of which only worsenned the attack.

It was resolved. An SUV with a spare bike rack gave me a lift over the bridge. Will attempt again next week, with Barista guiding me through. She is very calming.

Right now I’ve got something else more pressing to attend to. I want to surprise Barista with tickets for a date to see the Portland Opera this weekend. Rigoletto. But The Shnitz won’t allow bikes inside the seating area. So I have signed up for classes to become a trained and registered Therapy Bike, so they have to let me in. And Barista can see the performance from my water bottle.

I must sign off now — there is a homeless guy chasing me, trying to get back his cigarette butt, off my rear tire, where I picked it up using a chewed wad of Bubblicious. I like to keep our Portland streets free of such detritis and debris, but the guy may have a point, as he is shouting Henry David Thoreau quotes at me. Perhaps it would be best to call a truce, return his ciggy butt and discuss Walden (was it made for the mind or for greeting cards?) on the library steps.

More later —


Free Range Bike

Portland, 2014

(copyright2014FreeRangeBikebyHeidiDHansen. All rights reserved. No reproductions without author consent, please).


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