What's Cool In Road Cycling

Jonathan Maus Of BikePortland.org Gets PEZ’d

Most bike scenes in most cities have some kind of scribes, but they usually are the sort that cover only one aspect of two wheeled life. Not the case in bike-crazy Portland. Come see what Portlanders revere as their one stop, all encompassing local bike newssource as PEZ sits down with Jonathan Maus.

“It’s all about the story”, says Jonathan Maus, beacon of information to thousands of Portlanders when asked what his website, Bikeportland.org, means to him. “It’s not normal, it’s stressful. But there’s not one answer. I love being a part of change, seeing events take off, politics affected. Those things are very powerful and very exciting.” His site has everything from forums, to posted rides, stories of politics in the bike scene, and even a forum for stolen bikes. “That means something to me. I mean, I indirectly help people get their bikes back.” Take one look at him, listen to one sentence, and one can tell he’s earnest.

I am sitting on the patio of the EcoTrust building in Portland, Oregon, enjoying a cup of coffee with Jonathan Maus, creator, editor, publisher, photographer and (as of now) sole contributor of BikePortland.org, a website which serves all things cycling. It is one big jungle juice of a little bit of everything to which Portlanders, about as in love with the bike as Amsterdam, Holland, flock to in droves on a daily basis.

Need the low down on last night’s race series kickoff? Jon wrote a blurb on it. Want to know what happened at the Mayor’s meeting last night about the new bike lanes in the South East neighborhoods? Yup, that’s there too. Want a forum to talk bikes, sell bikes, bitch about bikes, etc? Done! Want to look up an article on the curious, fearless, iconic Zoobombers? No sweat. And the feature of a forum for stolen bikes has reunited many a lost lover, so to speak. Wondering if cops are ticketing cyclists for not stopping at stop signs? Check the forum. Jonathan’s faithful readers are all Paul Revere’s, only atop steel, aluminum, and carbon fiber horses.

“You got a regular job?” I ask.

“Nope”, he says looking down, reflective, nodding, eyes dropping from his tea to his folded hands, “Full time on the site.”

“Married”? I ask.

“Yeah”, he says with half a laugh, “two kids.”

Jonathan originally hails from Southern California, a former Category 3 racer and Art History major at UC Santa Barbara, where he jokes he “minored” in bike racing. He’s since held odd jobs in marketing, and from that background realized the value and the idea of a brand by starting a site where “So many factions, different angles, but none knew what the other was doing. The idea was to create a place where everything, every scene, could come together. I knew it had potential.”

For a bike-centric city like Portland, with all facets of cycling – racing, commuting, advocacy, the near month long bike festival known as “Pedalpalooza”, zoobombing – all coexisting harmoniously, Jonathan Maus is the pied piper. “It’s like cross pollination, bringing all the scenes together. It used to be like silos, each independent of the other. City Hall didn’t know what BTA was doing. Guys are welding tall bikes. Racers are doing their thing, Mountain Bikers are doing their thing, but what happened was, by putting all the news in one place, with photos, then everyone started coming together. They see things they wouldn’t typically access, consume media they otherwise would never be exposed to. It’s a community building thing. With the editorial format readers can’t drill down to what specific info they want, it’s all there for everybody the way the site is laid out.”

“Like high school lunch” I add.

“See, that’s the whole thing. You have everybody in the same electronic room. You have people commenting with other people they would otherwise never, never talk to.”

The smorgasbord that is BikePortland.Org has got something for everyone with two-wheels. There’s not a day goes by that doesn’t see the productive Maus scoping some bike angle. Nigh on prolific at sometimes 4 posts a day, it’s not just what at the surface may seem to be solely an advocacy site. “I’m not an activist,” he deadpans, “I’m just a journalist in bike news.” The site has a daily time line of the day’s rides and events, along with daily posts and stories.

His phone rings. There’s been an issue with a story at City Hall, and a confidant is delivering some news from the Mayor’s office. Maus shifts in his seat with each sentence, his interest in the subject evident.

Maus’ working place is a simple affair.

“Stress”, he says, after hanging up. He begins to rub his eyes with his fingertips, up and down, up and down, “I love this, but there’s a lot of stress. This life is not normal! I mean, I think it’s probably giving me ulcers by now, but I love it.”

Started in 2004 as a bicycle issue oriented blog on a local newspaper’s site, he quickly spun it off into its own name, which it is today. Growing in leaps and bounds it exploded into a city, which is betrothed to the bicycle. (Stay tuned for a full Peztastic expose blowout special on the city itself -ed) He’s just moved into a low-fi, one room office in an Arts building. About 40 square feet, one desk, a view of South Portland, and one laptop, one bicycle, and about 30 metric tons of papers strewn about.

“I used to attend everything I could. But I’m a dad now, and it’s harder for me to be everywhere.” So much so, he’s not only moved into the aforementioned office, but he’s about to begin to search for contributors to help in his quest of being a cycling Portlanders end-all-be-all source of local information.

For his information hungry audience, Mr. Maus is certainly doing the world of the bicycle, and it’s constituents in Portland, Oregon, a great service. Bikeportland.org gets the PEZ stamp of approval!

• Check him out or drop a resume to Jonathan at BikePortland.org

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