How long have you been biking?
I'm a late bloomer. I started to learn to ride a bike at age 6, but then we moved to a house with a gravel driveway and a busy road, so I didn't really learn to feel stable on a bike until I was 17. I brought a bike to college, and before I knew it was a huge bike advocate, starting Critical Mass in my college town and loving my bike rides into the countryside of Illinois.
What kind of bike do you ride?
I ride a real workhorse - a Trek 520. It gets me where I need to go, hauls what I need to haul, and fits me like a glove. It's perfect for daily commuting in Portland and also for bike touring, which I totally don't do as much as I'd like to do. It's nothing sexy, but that bike surely does treat me right.
In what ways do you use your bike?
My bike takes me everywhere. My little dog Otis runs alongside me while I ride - he's street trained to stick by me off leash. Friends and I go on in-town and out-of-town adventures, I run errands, get to meetings, etc. But my favorite way to be on my bike is to spend the day exploring the city with my camera.
What makes the neighborhood you live in special?
I love my neighborhood of Woodlawn. My street is only one block long. Our streets are diagonal, originally oriented to point toward the street car station in the early 1900's, and as a result not a lot of people drive through here - they'd get lost. My neighbors and I know each other and I have a ton of friends in the neighborhood. My neighborhood bar is Good Neighbor Pizza, where they're like a second family to me. I love taking my dog on walks through the neighborhood, to Woodlawn Park and down to the railroad tracks on Lombard. Me, my camera and my dog - that's all I need.
Where did you grow up and (if not Portland) what brought you here?
I grew up outside of Chicago. While riding bikes in my college town, a friend wove tales of the mythical Portland, a town, he said, with streets paved of a bicyclist's gold. That was enough to convince me to move here.
Tell us how the “Filmed by Bike” idea came about…
Filmed by Bike started in 2003 as a way to raise funds for the Multnomah County Bike Fair, a bike festival in June, which was a much more grandiose event than it is today. There was one guy in Portland making bike movies - one guy, and on VHS tape at that. We scrounged together a few more movies, somehow, and had a screening. It was standing room only, so we quickly knew we were onto something worth continuing.
Who created this year’s poster for the festival?
This year's poster is designed by Jeff Francoeur, a longtime friend of mine from Illinois who lives just down the street here in Woodlawn. For each year's poster, I choose an artist whose work I admire. I don't give the artist much direction - I love seeing the concepts they come up with. Our posters are always incredible works of art - keepsake pieces for sure.
How do you see Filmed By Bike in 10 years?
We have barely begun to scratch the surface of Filmed by Bike's potential. As people will see with this year's festival, we have big plans to add in more auxiliary events, parties and innovative features that go beyond simply watching stellar bike movies in the theater.
Tell me the story behind your “Proof your Love” collection…
On neighborhood dog walks, I used to keep my eyes peeled for discarded notes on the ground. Nowadays, people just text or email little notes to each other, but just 10 years ago people scribbled things to each other - declarations of love, apologies, etc. I collected what I found and assembled it into a book called Proof Your Love, titled after a harshly worded note where a woman commanded her man, "You better proof your love to me"
If you could change one thing about your bike commute to make it easier or more comfortable what would that be?
I work from home, so I've got it pretty good!
How did you teach Otis to dance?
Otis loves to jump up, grab on, and hug in. The best way to break a dog of such bad behavior is to transform it into a commanded trick. I harnessed that energy into our dance routines, which are still in their early phases of development. We've got a lot of work to do, but one day we'll be famous.
What's the weirdest job you've ever had?
I oversaw a secret shopper program for Bally Total Fitness, which required me to listen in to phone calls of front desk staff trying to talk people into coming to the gym. There were some real meat heads working there who said ridiculous things to get people into the gym. It was a temp job.
Do you think there’s anything different about the way men and women bike?
Women are more likely to care about what they look like on the bike and when they get off the bike, so that can be a barrier to women riding. I'm working on a video project through ORbike that will profile women riders who look awesome and ride rain or shine.
Is there a song, album or book that changed everything for you? What and why?
I recently went on a two-month cross-country Americana road trip, just me, my dog, my truck, bike and kayak. Along the way I discovered Jonathan Wilson, a gorgeous voice and really lovely music. It became the soundtrack to my trip, and now every time I listen to it I'm transported back to those magical places - the incredible quality of light in Marfa, Texas; the striking red rocks of Arches National Park; the complete blizzard I drove through crossing the mountains outside of Boulder; the many hot springs I soaked in.
How do you feel about helmets?
It's a personal choice. I wear one because I think it's the smart way to ride, but if people want to go without one, that's their own decision. We can't hold people's hands through life, they need to make their own decisions about safety and if they don't want to be safe, then they deal with the repercussions.
What are some of your favorite local haunts?
My neighborhood :) The fringes of Portland, especially to the north. Industrial areas. And I'm a complete sucker for Expatriate where the atmosphere is incredible, the food is amazing and the drinks are perfect.
How do you carry all your stuff when you’re biking? What do you do with it when you arrive?
I travel with my computer a lot. I have a dapper looking bike bag that hooks onto my rack. I gave up carrying stuff on my back long ago, panniers are much classier and they keep your back from sweating in the summer. I like to travel light so if I don't need much, I use my pockets, or a small-ish purse. But I've also got a trailer for those bigger hauls. The thing about a trailer is, though, it never comes home empty. You'll always find something to pick up along the way.
If someone you knew wanted to start riding to work (or play) instead of driving, what advice would you give him or her?
1) Know your route. Plan how you will get there the day before you head out - and make sure your route includes a lot of mellow side streets where you'll feel safer.
2) Give yourself extra time. Nothing sucks more than a stressed-out ride, and that's when you start to make dangerous maneuvers.
3) Dress for work and for the weather. It's not a race - so go your own pace and don't get all nasty sweaty.
4) Ask biking friends and coworkers for advice.
5) Always bring a lock and lights - you never know when the day will turn into happy hour and you don't want to miss out on the fun.
6) Ride predictably and confidently. Don't make sudden moves, ride defensively, assume drivers don't see you.
7) Look up, smile, appreciate the views, breathe the air, enjoy the ride. If you're crossing a bridge, stop for a photo - a classic Portland biker move that never gets old. Instagram that shit - you did it - way to go!
Ayleen is wearing the 24 Hour Dress in Charcoal.