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getting to know a city by bike

June 27, 2011

Cycling in Portland in 2009

Last week, my good friend A. came into town from Portland. A. and I met during our early years of grad school, where we started going by the monikers ‘good twin’ and ‘bad twin’. While the good/bad dichotomy was more of a joke, the twin part definitely has a dose of truth to it in that we have a lot in common and see eye to eye on many things. One of those things is biking. When I visited A. in Portland for the first time in 2009, she offered to show me her city by bike.

It was a lot of fun and I got to experience first hand some of what makes Portland such a great city for cycling. The bike lanes alone were wonderful and we spent an amazing day riding around town with her little son in tow, stopping only to grab food, take pictures, enjoy a neighborhood farmer’s market, and give her then two year old a little play break on a playground.

Cycling in Portland in 2009

Cycling in Portland in 2009

I was still pretty new to cycling then but having a guide lead me and bike lanes that were separate from traffic made it a pretty non-intimidating venture. Then, when A. came to visit me in Munich, Germany in 2010, she rented a bike and we once more spent a day exploring the city on two wheels.

A. and I cycling in Munich in 2010

And so it came as no surprise when she asked whether we’d be biking on this, her most recent visit to see me. I wasn’t sure how willing she would be to ride given that A. is at the end of her second trimester of her pregnancy and every pregnancy is different. While it’s still felt good for me to ride, I don’t expect that everyone feels the same way. But A. was excited to get to know my town with a bike tour and I was happy to serve as a guide.

Campus tour

Campus tour Campus tour by bike

We first rode to campus where I could show A. where I worked this past year. Then we rode on to our city’s little downtown area, where I shared with her our local cupcakerie before proceeding to peruse some of the local stores and the maternity consignment shop, of course.

Cupcakes Cupcake treat after the bike ride


We even biked around with our bathing suits and towels in tow the whole time, thinking that we could stop at the outdoor community pool on the way home to cool off in the water, but we never made it that far. Instead, the day was over before we knew it and we rode home to meet up with T. for dinner.

It was so much fun getting to show A. where I live in a way that actually replicates how I live here. It’s also been nice to have this ‘constant’ despite the changing context of our lives; whether with a 2 year old, pregnant, in Europe, the West Coast, or Midwest, we’ve retained that simple schedule to our visits: hope on a bike and go see the town. Stop, grab coffee, talk, ride, then repeat. I look forward to many more ‘bike dates’ with A. this way. Thanks, twin, for a wonderful visit!

A. cycling at 27 weeks pregnant

Cycling at 35 weeks pregnant

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Bex permalink
    June 27, 2011 07:58

    How wonderful to have a bike friend to share rides with! I often wonder what people think of my pregnant self out on my bike – I bet a lot of people were impressed to see two! Thank you for mentioning that every pregnancy is different! At 23 weeks, I can just get out for five slow miles about once a week, and I’m so grateful for it even though it is a lot less that I used to do. :)

  2. June 27, 2011 10:58

    I see you rode by OMSI in Portland, did you go in? :) My work is just across the river from there :)

    It is great exploring places by foot or by bike, and it’s especially wonderful when you have someone to show you around, give you tips on the best places to go, and go enjoy them with you :)

    And yeah – it’s great to have someone experience the place you live, in the way you live there. Glad you had a great time together! (and hoping you still make it to Portland again one of these days so my wife and I can meet you guys in person, and the little one too, at that point!) :)

  3. June 27, 2011 11:24

    Yay! I love the pictures from your most recent bike ride together. I loved getting to meet the other A. in your life. She is wonderful!! It was great to share a bike ride and an epic lunch with her. I can’t wait till we can all meet up again for another ride!

  4. June 27, 2011 11:24

    I just moved, and my bike was still in the storage unit in my new city for the first two weeks I was here. I felt so lost without it! I have a car, and there’s decent public transit (and my feet, of course), but nothing gives you a feel for the way a city is laid out like exploring it on two wheels. You can go far, but you go slowly enough that you can take in your surroundings. Thankfully, I have gotten my bike out of storage, and now I’ve made it all over the city, and I feel like I actually live here.

  5. Andrea permalink
    June 30, 2011 05:20

    I know it always sounds preachy, but helmets?

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