the atlantic logo.jpg

My friend Xochil was shocked to see me when we met up at the Portland Art Museum last Saturday night, mostly because I was wearing underwear, cowboy boots, and nothing else. Then again, she was barely clothed herself.

After years of giving in to excuses like “It’s raining,” “I’m too tired,” or “I don’t want my bare breasts roving the city streets,” I decided this year to squelch my inhibitions, take off my top and participate in the city’s 10th-annual World Naked Bike Ride.

Along with his broken toaster, Steve Vegdahl brought a slice of bread with him to Portland’s repair cafe one day last month. By the time he left, his toaster was working again—and the sweet smell of toasted wheat permeated the room.

“This is the highlight of my day,” Vegdahl said as he waited for the chrome Sunbeam, probably a 1950s model, to cool off so he could take it home. “I’m a software person; I don’t have a lot of mechanical aptitude. I’m not good at taking things apart.”

Since a woman named Martine Postma established the first repair café in Amsterdam in 2009, the concept of free events at which volunteers with repair skills assist participants with broken furniture, appliances, bicycles, clothing and toys, has spread far and wide.

Like many people who take up bicycle building, Tony Pereira and Ira Ryan are avid cyclists who began experimenting in their home garages, welding together bike frames.

Several years after founding separate bike-building operations in Portland, Oregon, in 2005, both came to a similar realization—that building bikes needed to be about more than passion if it was going to sustain them: It had to be about business too.