the ümabomber

MAKING AWESOME HAPPEN ONE BIKE RIDE AT A TIME

Ask Your Doctor…

batman robin vertical video smack

It’s that time of the year again, when millions of people break out their smartphones to record painfully long videos at holiday get togethers, sportsball games, and anytime their kid, cat, or dog so something (or nothing).

Thankfully, the vast majority of these videos never see the light of day. A few billion, however, get uploaded to Facebook and YouTube and an alarming number of these are vertical videos. The reason for this? Vertical Video Syndrome.

Vertical Video Syndrome—or VVS—is a serious condition afflicting millions of Americans. Symptoms include a stubborn refusal to turn the damn smartphone sideways before starting to record video.

Many people are unaware they are living with this condition. They haven’t bothered to consider that because human’s eyes are horizontally placed in their skulls, our field of vision is horizontal. VVS doesn’t just affect those suffering the disorder—it affects loved ones, family and friends as well.

vertical video is bad stop it

Hey girl… Every time you shoot vertical video a baby unicorn dies.

But now, there’s a cure.

If you or someone you love suffers from VVT, call now and the Ümabomber or one of her trained assistants will come to you and slap you silly every time you try to shoot vertical video.

That’s right—our caring and dedicated therapists will travel to you and slap the living shit out of you until you learn to turn your smart phone sideways when shooting videos of your dog slobbering on your newborn.

Serious side effects may  occur, including: headaches, confusion and liking it.

Ask your doctor if getting a clue—finally!—is right for you.

 

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What Women Want

I’ve been sitting quietly at Interbike, deliberating over whether or not I should say anything about #sockgate. Personally I think Jules has said it best, and has offered all too familiar and awful examples of WHY the sock debacle is a problem. Ditto Katherine Fuller’s piece in Dirt Rag.

Many—if not most— of my riding buddies are men and some think #sockgate is funny and say we should lighten up or “get a sense of humor”. I do stand up comedy in my spare time. My sense of humor is intact and pretty broad… and frankly, a bit crass at times. I’ve been a tomboy my entire life, mixing it up with rowdy boys and dirt baggers. And I’m realizing how so much of the bike industry—nay, THE WORLD— is full of men who just don’t want to grow up. That’s the only possible explanation for the continued imBROsition of such childish antics in a professional milieu.

Riding bikes has been a top priority in my life. When I moved to Bend, Oregon in 2011 friends assumed I was moving because I fell in love. I had fallen in love…with the trail access! Bend offers hundreds of miles of twisty singletrack right out the back door. There was no guy in the picture, my bike made me do it! I’ve also taken jobs in the industry—chosen passion over profit—when I could have worked in another industry entirely for much more money.

Most of the women who work in the bike industry tend to do so for the same reasons so many men do: because we love bikes. We love riding. And we love sharing our love of bikes with others.

When we are systematically and routinely depreciated because of our gender, it hurts in too many ways to list. We can’t just “lighten up” or “get over it” because this isn’t an isolated instance. It’s never an isolated instance, anymore. This treatment is endemic in the bike industry.

So many men I spoke with about the sexist double standards women face in the bike industry don’t “get it”. They don’t have to. That’s the benefit of male privilege. What disturbs me more is they don’t CARE to. At least not until they have daughters, or a woman they love and respect faces this sort of bullshit and they realize not caring is the root of the problem.

I’m not a militant feminist, or a man hater, or any of the other things I’m likely to be called by posting this piece. Jules’ and Fullers’ pieces paint the picture better than I am. If you want to understand why women don’t find things like sockgate funny, read their stories. I don’t have a solution to bridging the gender gap, but I do believe greater empathy and knowledge will be a good start.

Also… Dudes. Be excellent.

That is all.

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Booty Is In the Eye of The Beholder

Dear Ümabomber:

My exhaustive research, that has taken place over the last 12 years, has concluded that all asses look better while on a bike seat. Since I do not have the time to undertake Phase II of my research plan I am instead going to ask you: Why? What makes bike butts look better?

—B.B.

Dear BB:

Funny you should ask that. Just this weekend the World Naked Bike Ride took place here in Portlandia, where I saw many, many naked butts on bikes. Thousands, to be honest. Actually, more than 10,000 people rolled through the city, supposedly as a peaceful protest. What is being protested depends on who you ask. I talked to a few people, and came away with the notion that it’s sort of a protest free-for-all.

“Corporate personhood!” yelled one pasty-white, buck-nekkid rider. “Rape culture” said another woman, resplendent in green and pink body paint. “Oil dependence!” hollered a guy wearing combat boots and nothing else. According to the Portland event Facecrack page, the WBNR is a show of “support for human-powered transportation, safe streets and body positivity.”

By Surefire (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons from Wikimedia Commons

By Surefire (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons from Wikimedia Commons

Personally, I don’t see how getting naked on a bike makes the streets any safer or promotes human powered-transportation in any real and significant way, but that’s another story for another time. I predict many, if not most outsiders see the World Bike Naked Rides as debauchery on wheels. Indeed, many people seem drawn to it as a way to cast off inhibitions, get drunk and party—kind of like a sports ball tailgate party, only everyone’s on bikes instead of pickup trucks. And naked.

I think many of the can’t-look away/must-stop-gawking voyeurs who flock in droves to annual WNBR event, with their folding chairs and coolers full of Coors Light secretly worry that attending the WNBR will somehow make them want to also become gay. I mean, if Obama’s homosexual chemtrails haven’t done the job already.

READ: Obama’s New Homosexual Chemtrail Superweapon Tested on America, Causes Entire Country to Turn Gay

What makes butts on bikes look better? I thought of your question as these many clothing-free butts rode by. And while most of them were quite shapely and lovely, if we look at this from a body-positive perspective I have to ask you a question in return: Booty is in the eye of the beholder, no?

For example, I’m drawn to toned and athletic butts, personally. But I know plenty of men (and women) who like bigger butts with a little extra padding. More bounce to the ounce, you know?

Big Butts: A Bum Rap?

A guy I recently dated (very briefly) actually preferred a woman with no junk in her trunk. Now, I have a pretty plush posterior. Sure, I could probably drop a few pounds, and be more muscular and defined, but frankly I rather like my body the way it is. It’s not super chiseled, and I’m what most people would consider average build, but taller than average, standing at 5’10”. I’m pretty muscular and hella strong—especially on a bike. But the only way I’m going to have a ripped 3% body fat ultramarathoner physique would be to eat nothing but celery sticks and lettuce and drink only light beer (eeeuuuw, shudder) and run ultramarathons every day and what fun would that be?

Doesn’t each one of us deserve to be accepted and appreciated for our own unique physique? I thought about whether or not the quality of my life would vastly improve trying to measure up to this guy’s ideal, and in the end decided it wasn’t worth getting all butthurt over, so I gave him the boot. After all, my male friends tell me I’m a hottie, and it wasn’t like HE was a rock star Greek god.

In other words, one man’s junk in the trunk is another man’s treasure, right? When you say butts look better on bikes, I wholeheartedly agree they do. But maybe it has less to do with folks’ rumps, and more to do with the fact that bikes automatically make their riders appear sexier all over—sort of the ultimate accessory, one that’s both functional and fashionable.

The Science Behind the Behind

From an exercise physiology perspective, riders who rely solely on their quads to push the pedals are missing out on the powerhouse muscles of the glutes.  The largest muscle of the buttocks, the gluteus maximus, extends the hip, providing power with each pedal stroke. The smaller gluteus medius and minimus muscles make up the hip abductors, which allow for external rotation of the femurs and lateral movement of the hips. These smaller glutes don’t deliver power during the pedal stroke but provide stability, overall, and definitely contribute to a toned, shapely butt.

Casual recreational riders won’t necessarily experience the same booty-building benefits as hard-core enthusiasts or competitive cyclists. Regardless, nearly ALL regular riders will notice a more shapely behind, as regular exercise not only helps tone muscles, but also helps with weight loss.

Casual riders who want a more toned butt will have a hard time getting that effect unless they are doing significant climbing or riding out of the saddle. To improve glute strength (and shapeliness) just about everyone would benefit from adding squats and lunges to their daily exercise repertoire (for an extra fit fanny, leg presses and hamstring curls add even more definition).

Here’s the perfect soundtrack for your next training ride or dance party, with special Ümabombed lyrics, below.

I LIKE BIG BIKES and I cannot lie
You other suckers can’t deny
That when a bike drops in with a whole lotta travel
Ya get jiggy and come unraveled
I get sprung
Wanna pull up tough
Coz I’m shredding that trail so buff
And yo, those berms you’re roosting
Railing trail you can’t stop boosting
Oh baby, wanna hit those jumps
And drops and gaps and pumps
Are you pickin up what I’m throwing down
Time to schralp some browwwn powder
So, fellas! (Yeah!) Fellas! (Yeah!)
Has your girlfriend got the bike? (Hell yeah!)
Tell her to ride it! (Ride it!) Ride it! (Ride it!)
Ride that big phat bike!
Baby got bike!

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Popping My Trail Poaching Cherry

free forest park protest ride
I’ve been a cyclist for over 25 years and a dedicated mountain biker for the past 8 years. I have ridden trails all over the Western US. And I have never poached a trail that was closed to bikes. Not ever. Until today.

Today I popped my poaching cherry.

People who know me can’t believe I’ve never poached a trail. I’ve been an outspoken advocate for bike access on trails since I started riding dirt. I’m also a noisy upstart, an outspoken firebrand, and I rail against the machine. With a name like The Ümabomber (the nickname comes from the Marzocchi Bomber suspension fork), it’s easy to see why people would expect me to ride rogue.

But I’m also possessed of some weird conscience that feels horribly guilty when I go against the rules. In part, it’s that I don’t want my actions to negatively impact the work others, like the Northwest Trail Alliance, are doing to try to gain access to more urban trails. I want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

But there’s a problem with that problem.

The problem is The Problem is manufactured. The problem is a matter of perception. Mountain bikers (and cyclists in general) are perceived as threats and/or nuisances to most non-bike riding humans in the United States. People—especially anti-progressive people—love to hate what they don’t understand; gays, people of other nationalities, other belief systems, other social classes, bike riders.

As soon as we throw a leg over a bike to ride, we are perceived as less human. On the trail, we are perceived as earth-raping, nature killing monsters. On the roads we are perceived as obstacles to other people’s enjoyment of reality—or their escape from it. At best we are perceived as being in the way, a nuisance. At worst, we become targets for impotent and misplaced anger and rage. Read the comments section of any newspaper any time a cyclist is murdered by an inattentive driver. It’s a horrifying display of the absolute worst of humanity, and for many cyclists, it’s a big reason why they turn to off-road cycling for fitness and recreation.

After the recent Portland Parks & Recreation decision to ban bikes from a trail system where bikes had not been identified as threats to the preservation of a large city park, it was clear that railing against the machine would no longer be enough. It was time to ride.

So, today I took my bike to the trails in one of the largest public parks in the country, on singletrack that is closed to anyone except hikers, their (illegally) off-leash dogs, and uber-fit long distance runners.

Frustrated mountain bikers stage protest ride in Forest Park (video).

I also took about 65 friends with me. My deflowering was public: the loss of my poaching virginity made the evening news. Even more poignant, the trail is named Wild Cherry.

Together, we pushed our bikes up one patch of singletrack. We were courteous. We made way for people to pass. We said hello. We didn’t descend upon them—wheeled hellions —screaming blood curdling death cries, snatching up their soft, furry canines in our talons to rip to shreds and feed to our young. We didn’t hate.

I can’t say we met the same courtesy in everyone we encountered. And don’t look now, but according to the comments left on the news reports of our ride, there are many, many people who feel they can and should run us over with their cars and trucks and murder us in cold blood…simply because they hate us. You’d think we were pedophiles instead of people who ride bikes; that’s how much hate vitriol America has in their hearts for us.

Protest riders walking on single track

Protest riders walking on single track

As rides go, it was anti-climatic. Short and bittersweet. The purpose of the ride was to show our numbers and to take the trails with the same unapologetic ownership the other user groups take for granted. As we headed out for the trail, I climbed up on a garbage can and delivered our message:

Dear Portland: We’re here. Our numbers are growing. We are not terrorists. We are people who ride bikes. We live here. We work, and pay taxes, and volunteer in our communities. We vote. We do more trail work and volunteer more than you do. And we build better, more sustainable and environmentally beneficial trails. You need to stop treating us like we are some kind of criminal class. We are going to ride. Get used to it.

the prohibitionists: Fritz and Fish

As Vernon Felton mentioned in his recent article, Portland does not deserve to be awarded any kudos for being “bike-friendly”. Portland is bike-friendly if you are a commuter, sort of. Certainly, Portland does not deserve the League of American Bicyclist’s award of Platinum Status for Bike-Friendly Cities when she systematically and repeatedly refuses to accommodate and actively discriminates against an entire user group.

I propose a new designation: Prohibition Status.

In the 20s, prohibition supporters were referred to as Drys and anti-prohibition adherents were called Wets. Here in Portland, as mountain bikers, we are under siege by a new breed of “dry crusaders”, anti-progressive NIMBYs who reject reason and logic and refuse to share what isn’t even theirs to give. (Incidentally, on this day—April 7th—in 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt took the first step toward ending Prohibition by allowing people to buy and sell beer.)

So while I applaud my local trail advocacy groups for their letter writing campaigns and ongoing conversations with city policy makers (and especially for filing suit against the city) I think my days of playing nicey-nice with the Drys are over. I simply refuse to be part of The problem any longer. I refuse to play into the expectations forced upon me by other, more entitled user groups, these new prohibitionists.

See, I’ve had my trail poaching cherry popped. Amanda Fritz made me do it. And now there’s no going back. I’m going to ride more…dirty and wet.

Thanks to Ruandy Albisurez for the lead photo.

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PDX MTBers: Free Forest Park Protest Ride

free forest park

Not too long ago I wrote about the crappy stance the city of Portland takes when it comes to mountain biking.

Then in early March, as if on cue, Portland Parks and Rec took another dump on area cyclists by banning bikes in one of the few public areas where bikes had been allowed on trails.

This is not the first time the City has yanked the rug out from under advocates, planners and builders who  dedicated extensive resources over the past couple of years. Numerous MTB advocates have attempted to work with the city in good faith, to try to craft a solution to include more trail access for bikes in Portland.

What really stinks about this latest maneuver was how and why the City turned tail. I’m not going to detail the particulars about this betrayal of public trust; suffice it to say city Commissioners rather arbitrarily and capriciously decided to cut off a mountain bikers (which had not been identified as a threat to the areas conservation goals), while simultaneously taking no measures to address actual threats that had been clearly identified by an advisory committee. In other words, Portland hates mountain bikes.

On March 16th, a ride was scheduled to protest the River View decision and the city’s abandonment of public process. Organized by local rider and racer, and fellow bloggerati, Charlie SponselThe River View Protest Ride drew over 300 riders. Ironically, the ride happened on city streets, circling the River View area as heavy rains in the days before the ride rendered the trails vulnerable. To demonstrate mountain bikers’ commitment to good trail stewardship, the decision was made to stay off the trails, and take to the streets.

mayorhales-letter

The protest drew attention from dozens of media outlets—both national and local—who covered the event, and within days the city was shifting in its seat, made uncomfortable from all the heat. Pressure from International Mountain Bicycling Association, People for Bikes, and League of American Bicyclists, in the form of a letter sent to Mayor Charlie Hales and all four city commissioners. Portland’s status as a “Platinum Status Bike-Friendly City”—as anointed by the League of American Bicyclists—is in jeopardy, as hundreds of cyclists of all stripes insist Portland no longer deserves the title. As Vernon Felton points out in his article which begs a redefinition of what a Platinum Status Bike-Friendly City is, Portland really never deserved the title in the first place with these policies and attitudes. (And have you been on Williams Avenue since the city turned it from a perfectly functional and useable bikeway into a clusterfuck of a rat maze death trap for both cars, bikes and pedestrians alike?)

Other municipalities across the country have been able to accommodate similar user groups, with minimal or no user conflicts. Yet Portland’s elected and appointed officials have—for far too long—catered to certain well-funded, elitist NIMBYs who have negative and inaccurate perceptions of who mountain bikers are and what they’re about.

Fair and equal access to public lands is all Portland mountain bikers are asking for. Scratch that—we aren’t asking anymore. We’re demanding. We live here. We pay taxes. We volunteer in our communities. And we vote. But what the City of Portland needs to recognize more than anything these days is we’re mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.

River View was the tipping point for Portland area mountain bikers. It’s just the beginning. Both IMBA and NWTA encourage riders to keep up the letter-writing campaigns, and I support that call to action. But I also suspect this is Portland’s reaction to such efforts:

 

portland city commissioners at work

By all means, keep writing those letters. And as soon as you’ve mailed them off, get on your bikes and ride. Because we need to be visible. We need to make a big noise. And we need to keep the heat on the city for as long as it takes to effect significant change.

Next week we take the battle to Forest Park. One of the largest city parks in the country, Forest Park offers 70 miles of trails spread out over 5,000 acres—yet a mere 1/3 of a mile of the available singletrack open to mountain bikers. And what happened at River View happened with Forest Park time and again over the past several years.

Next Monday, April 6th at 6pm another protest ride is scheduled and open to participation. The first FREE FOREST PARK RIDE will meet at the Thurman Street gate at Leif Erickson, rain or shine. Ride details will be revealed at the start of the event, but it should be noted this ride is intended as an act of civil disobedience—not a joy ride.

To add your voice—and your bike—to the mix, rsvp on the facebook event page here. And if you can’t be there, please share this event and help spread the word.

forest park hates mountain bikers

 

#freeforestpark #portlandhatesme #portlandhatesMTBers

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