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Reed Threepeats as Portland Bike Commute Challenge Winner

By Kevin Myers on October 10, 2014 03:00 PM

 BTA  organizers Josh Shalek and Claire Michie

Reed’s co-organizers Josh Shalek and Claire Michie Kevin Myers

When it comes to bike commuting in Portland, Reed College and Wieden & Kennedy are the Montagues and Capulets, Red Sox and Yankees, Liverpool and Manchester United, or the Sharks and the Jets. Okay, you get the idea, we’re rivals. Over the past several years, the two organizations have finished at the top of the Portland Bike Commute Challenge leader board for large organizations. And this year, Reed logged more miles during the month of September than did our crosstown competitors.

The winner earns bragging rights for bike commuting supremacy in one of the most bike-friendly cities in the country. Thanks to a side bet by Reed’s co-organizers, Josh Shalek and Claire Michie, a worn pair of Reedie bike shorts will be framed, possibly spritzed with Old Spice, and hung in the hallways of one of the country’s most prestigious and successful ad firms.

The award celebration was held at Portland City Hall the evening of October 9. Reed was awarded a one-by-one-inch 2014 plaque to mount on the trophy it earned in 2010. This marks the third time (2010, 2011, and 2014) that Reed has taken the top prize—officially making it a bike-commuting dynasty!

In true Portland fashion, hundreds of representatives from participating organizations were greeted at Portland City Hall by the Unipiper, aka the guy on the unicycle dressed as Darth Vader wearing a kilt and playing flame-throwing bagpipes.  

Shalek and Michie, staff members in admission and college relations, both work in Eliot Hall, but had not had an occasion to connect before the bike challenge. “It was really nice to meet people outside of my normal work routine,” said Michie. “Josh and I often passed each other in the hall, and occasionally bike commuting, but I didn’t really meet him before the challenge.”

Shalek agreed that it helped to build a stronger sense of community on campus. Reed’s human resources department sponsored three breakfasts as participants arrived on campus from all parts of the city. Gabriel Leavitt in computing led all Reed riders with a grand total of 374 miles, followed closely behind by student worker Nathan Martin ’16 (364 miles), and the alumni department’s Todd Hesse (320 miles).

The organizers got 135 faculty, staff, and student workers to register, including 12 new riders. The harder part was to get them to log their miles. Eighteen of the 135 commuted 100 percent of their commutes. “I enjoyed corresponding with everyone,” said Shalek. “I was careful to find the right tone to nudge people to log their miles on the website.”

The two said they hope to co-organize Reed’s participation next year in hope of winning back-to-back titles!