3 Tips for Shooting Better Photos by Bike

Taking photos while riding a bike is hard! Dangerous even. I’ve been taking photos on my bike with an iPhone, cheapo digital cameras and DSLRs now for many years.

There are plenty of gadgets you can spend your whole paycheck on to make better pictures, but the best and cheapest way to improve your photography is thinking and learning.

Here are three tips I’ve found extremely helpful when shooting photos by bike.

Camped in Paddler's Meadow on Steens Mountain

Camped in Paddler’s Meadow on Steens Mountain

Take lots of photos

Best advice I have is take photos. Lots of photos. That camera isn’t doing any good in your backpack, pannier, desk drawer. Have it accessible and stop and take photos constantly. This unfortunately involves lots of racing ahead, stopping, shooting, and then hurrying to catch back up. I really like the Peak Designs Capture Camera Clip on my backpack strap for super quick access. Porcelain Rocket makes a nice padded handlebar camera bag too. Look at them all and choose the best by looking at the bad designs to note what makes the good ones good and the bad ones bad.

Use a large memory card and don’t fret about the editing you’ll have to do later – it’s worth it.

Eula Ridge, Oakridge Oregon

Eula Ridge, Oakridge Oregon

Move around

I’m not a professional photographer by any means, but what I’m lacking in technical knowledge I make up by running around a bunch. I squat, lay down, climb trees and jump in creeks to try to get a unique crop. Being able to identify the aspects of what makes a scene interesting is crucial. Find an angle that includes the neat clouds, an out of focus branch in the foreground, a rider, or some natural elements that frame your subject. Sometimes it works out. (the Oakridge shot from above I literally scrambled 20′ up a downed tree to get). Bonus: you’ll be a stronger riders, as a result.

Spend time looking at photos you love and think about what makes them attractive to you, then try to emulate that set up as you move around shooting.

Stormy sunset, Syncline Trail System

Stormy sunset, Syncline Trail System

Photos are just light

Photos are light bouncing and soaking. Pay attention to what’s going on with it. Are the shadows crazy? Is your subject backlit? Is there some strange fog or weather system? Before I got the above mountain bike shot of Syncline, the weather was wet and dreary all day long making for some pretty flat photos. But right before the day drew to a close, the sun popped out and lit up the trees and grass on the hillside before disappearing again. I didn’t have time to grab more than that one underexposed shot before the moment had passed, but it works!

How do you take photos?

Do you love to document your bike adventures? How do you manage to take photos while riding? Share your ideas (and questions!) below.

Gabriel Amadeus is an expert bikepacker who has explored much of Oregon’s rugged outback. He is a designer, explorer, photographer and writer. Gabriel is also one-third of Limberlost, the adventure tour company on a mission to share a richness of life.

Weigh In on New Options for North Tualatin Mountains

NW Trail Alliance wants you input on an expanded opportunities for people to enjoy and explore the North Tualatin Mountains.

From their most recent newsletter:

Last fall our partner in recreation, Metro, initiated a land use process with Multnomah County. This is an important step in delivering on the plan to offer a parking area, trailhead and about five miles of new trails at Burlington Creek Forest. Metro hopes to obtain approval from the county early next year and break ground for trails as soon as summer 2019.

Please review Metro’s application and provide comment to Multnomah County on the project here.

Comments from mountain bikers like you, supporting Metro’s application will help ensure this project comes to fruition!

A few highlights to consider including in your comments could be:

  • Metro is recommending trails optimized for off-road cycling to meet the existing and growing demand for this type of nature based recreation and it’s important to provide a variety of opportunities for people to experience nature in different ways
  • Throughout the planning process, Metro has taken an approach based in science and shaped by community input that ensures healthy habitats and provides meaningful experiences.
  • With careful planning, it’s possible to create opportunities for people to enjoy nature while also protecting it. Well-designed and constructed trails will limit habitat impacts by minimizing erosion and stream crossings, by providing corridors for wildlife to move, and by leaving the canopy intact.
  • The shared trails will be family friendly and designed for beginning and intermediate riders. Northwest Trail Alliance will be a key partner for Metro in the maintenance and monitoring of these trails.
  • Make sure to share a brief story of why you enjoy cycling on soft surface trails and how you, your friends and your family connect to nature.

5 Mind Blowing US Bike Trails You Have to Experience

Exercise enthusiasts crave long, outdoor bike rides. While soaring through beautiful landscapes, it’s almost too easy to forget about the heart racing, the lungs pumping and the legs burning. Once that glowing sunshine hits your skin, and the wind breathes fresh air into your sweaty clothes, you will never want to return to a stationary bike in a dark, crowded gym.

Preparing for the Trails

In order to make the most of an outdoor biking adventure on vacation, you must nourish your body. Pre-workout meals should provide enough fuel to accomplish the journey, so fill up on complex carbohydrates and lean proteins such as sweet potatoes and grilled chicken. Choose whole grains and foods high in fiber, so the body can digest the food easily, but slowly. For longer bike rides, pack nutritious snacks like nuts and dried fruits for an extra burst on energy while on the move.

Looking for more ways to enjoy your vacation time?  Visit this link to signup.

On a practical note, always hydrate in preparation for a bike journey. Pack sufficient water in lightweight, refillable water bottles as bike trails sometimes have water fountains. Also, dress accordingly for the elements, in ways such as wearing sunscreen and breathable cycling gear in the heat, or wearing water-resistant clothing in inclement weather. As long as you take the necessary steps to prepare for a long bike ride, you can fully enjoy the experience without worrying about logistics.

1. Shark Valley Trail

(Photo: Bonnie Gross)
Located in Everglades National Park of Miami, Florida, this trail is ideal for beginners. 15 miles of flat, easy road gives bikers the chance to soak in the sunshine while catching a glimpse of some Florida wildlife like birds, turtles, and alligators. Winter is the best time to visit, as the warm temperatures and blue skies are comfortable; Florida’s summers are a bit too scorching hot for an enjoyable outdoor exercise.

2. Big Sur

With up to 100 miles of scenic coastal road, this California bike trail stretches from Carmel to Cambria, and is perfect for advanced bikers. Blessed with wonderful weather year-round, Big Sur provides consistent photo opportunities with its stunning cliffside views. Be sure not to drop your camera as you push your bike up the mountainside, which is full of long inclines.

3. Valmont Bike Park

The diverse mountain terrain of this bike park in Boulder, Colorado, has trails for bikers of all levels. Full of easy rides like “Escape Route”, difficult rides like “Corkscrew”, family-friendly tracks, and various obstacles like jumps and slaloms, Valmont has something for everyone. Visit in the spring or fall for that perfect breezy weather and explore the 42 acres worth of trails.

4. Cady Hill Forest

(Photo: Josh Matta)
For some classic New England fall foliage, take your bike to the mountains of Stowe, Vermont. Summer provides bikers with warmer temperatures, but September and October decorate the forest tracks with crispy, multicolored autumn leaves. The area covers about 9 miles, and the single and double tracks of the mountainous terrain make for great intermediate level rides.

5. Captain Ahab

(Photo: Moab-Captain Ahab Trail in Utah, Bureau of Land Management)

Located in Moab, Utah, the advanced mountain landscape of Captain Ahab challenges skilled bikers with steep climbs and technical turns. As a reward for the difficult ride, the rich red rocks and the sweeping views of surrounding rivers and forests create an exceptionally scenic ride. Spring and early fall are the best times to tackle this 4.3 mile trail.

Getting Back in the Saddle: Reclaim your confidence

We often talk about getting back in the saddle as if you need the motivation to ride more, but in some cases it’s not about finding the motivation to exercise, it’s about finding the confidence to ride again. If you’ve been off your bike a while, whatever your reason may be, you may be consciously or unconsciously nervous about riding basics, and that’s completely understandable.


How many times have you heard the old adage “It’s just like riding a bicycle. Once you learn you never forget!”? I help people learn to ride bikes and I often hear from my clients that they once knew how to ride, but have forgotten. They might know the basics of how to ride, but they can’t recall with confidence how to start, stop and steer. While it’s true that it’s hard to forget how to pedal, it’s the getting rolling and stopping that (literally can make people nervous. You might even feel this after a winter season off the bike.


First off, if your bike has been sitting in storage, pull it out and take it to your local bike shop to make sure everything is running properly. Bikes with flat tires are extremely hard to pedal and steer, and if your brakes don’t work, you’re in trouble from the get-go. Bike shops will gladly help you air up your tires and give your bike a free look-over for safety. They will advise you if you need any pressing work. Be sure to take it in well before you expect to go for your first ride in case your bike does need some repairs; at this time of year shops are pretty booked up.

While you’re at the shop, have the experts give your helmet a once-over. You might be surprised to find your helmet is older than you think.


Ask the bike shop staff to also check your seat height to make sure you feel comfortable. The optimal height for your seat is usually judged by full leg extension when pedaling. However, this means you may be farther from the ground than you’re comfortable. It’s okay to start off with your seat a bit lower until you regain your confidence. Don’t be surprised if the bike mechanics don’t think to suggest this, and don’t be shy about asking them to put the seat low enough that you can comfortably get on and off. You can always raise it later when you’re feeling more confident.

Speaking of getting on and off the bike, make a habit of squeezing at least one brake when mounting or dismounting. That way the bike can lean to one side and you can comfortably step off without the bike moving forward and backward underneath you. Often when people tip over, this is caused by the bike moving around as they attempt to mount or dismount.


As you regain your biking confidence, having a bike you’re comfortable on is key. You might love your current bike, but if you don’t, consider borrowing a bike from a friend while you practice your skills. An upright bike will help you feel most comfortable and stable. Many bike rental locations offer upright bikes, and this can be well worth the investment. As you become more comfortable, you can revisit your bike and thinking about what you might like to change about your bike. Armed with that knowledge, you can talk with a bike shop expert who can walk you through your options of modifying your current bike or perhaps investing in an entirely new bike set up.


Find a calm, open, flat place to practice. School running tracks and under used parking lots are usually a nice option. A very quiet road might also work, though these areas can be tricky as the surfaces aren’t even – they arc towards the curb – so they tend to be more challenging. While you might think your local bike path would be a good choice, paths are often narrow and of pedestrians, other cyclists, dogs on retractable leashes, children, and other unpredictable stressors. Your goal is to find a place that’s relaxing, free from distractions and has the smoothest pavement.


As you start pedaling, keep your eyes up and look out. Our bodies naturally steer in the direction we’re looking so keeping your gaze down at your pedals or front wheel doesn’t work well. Look out at the world in front of you and keep your chin up. Take your time working on starts and stops. Pedaling will likely come easy, but the getting started and coming to a gentle stop are the harder parts. To help with both, put your bike in a low gear (the ones where you spin faster/it feels looser. If you’re not sure how to adjust your gears, have the shop show you and ask them to leave it in a low gear. As you come to a stop, relax and keep your feet on the pedals till you come to a complete stop. Freaking out and touching down on the ground early is the second most common way people fall down while learning to ride a bike. You wouldn’t jump out of a moving car, so why try to jump off a moving bike?


Once you get comfortable with starts and stops, move on to changing the gear shifter on your right side. These are the gears you will use most often and they make the smallest changes, so it’s easier to start on that side. You’ll need to pedal and keep the chain moving to ensure a smooth gear transition. Reminder: keep your gaze up to maintain your balance. If you feel like you’re spinning too quickly and the bike feels wobbly, shift back to a gear that gives you a feeling of more tension and less spinning. This will help you balance much better.

When you master the right side shifter, play with the left. The chain has much farther to move on this side, so you often have to hold the button or grip longer to get it to shift. If you think you shifted but hear a lot of metallic noise, you are not quite in gear. You either need to nudge your shifter more or hold it longer, depending on what type of shifter you have.


Finally, if you want to ride in the road, legally you have to signal so one-handed riding is a skill you’ll need. When all road users understand where the others are headed, the road is safer. Unpredictable riding is a recipe for a terrible accident. When you’re ready to turn, simply point boldly right or left by extending your arm confidently out. Forget anything you’ve ever heard about a bent elbow with your hand pointing to the sky – that simply doesn’t make sense and comes from the days when cars didn’t have turn signals.

If you have a lot of weight on your hands, it can be tricky to remove one to signal your turn. It’s better to slow down and regain control of your bike than to haphazardly signal your turn and risk falling over. As your approach your turn, take a breath and prepare in advance.

The real key to riding one handed is to take a breath and engage your core when you lift your hand from the handlebar, which will stabilize your body and take some of the weight from the bars. While stopped, practice exhaling sharply and making a sharp “tsst” sound with tongue against your closed teeth. You will feel your core engage. It sounds a little silly, but will help you understand the feeling of engaging your core, which will start to come naturally. Start with small lifts and work your way getting your hand further and further from the bar until you can ride with your hand straight out. This skill also comes in handy when you need to look over your shoulder to check for cars that may be coming from behind.


With a little patience and practice, you’ll soon have the skills back to feel safe and confident on your bike, ready to conquer a summer of fun. A closed street event like Sunday Parkways or the family ride course on a supported ride is great ways to get back on the bike in a comfortable setting. See the ORbike calendar for a list of season-wide events.

And of course, if you need a little extra help, I’m always available!

Tori Bortman is ORbike’s resident bike mechanic. She is also an educator, consultant and the owner of Gracie’s Wrench. Tori’s new book, The Big Book of Cycling for Beginners, was recently published by Bicycling Magazine.

Learn More
Are you ready to take the plunge reclaim your confidence? Check out Tori’s workshops and classes and sign up today.

Preparing For Fall Riding

Summer has come to a close, though in many parts of Oregon it certainly doesn’t feel like it. We’ve been enjoying some gloriously sunny days and seeing cyclists o the roads in big numbers.

But let’s be honest, we can’t live in paradise forever and if we’re not careful the rains will catch us off guard before we realize it. The best defense is to be prepared.

The rainy season can be a contemplative time of year. Cozy up with a book, get caught up on house projects, play games, surf the internet a little more, watch movies, enjoy an online casino for US players, or just relax with friends. But you know, it’s also an awesome time of year to ride a bike!

Here are some of our favorite tips for riding in the rainy season.

1) Gear Matters

Invest in awesome gear that works well. Prices vary wildly on gear, but with a reputable company you get what you pay for and your gear will last. It is worth the investment, so dedicate yourself to your bike life.

2) Find Your Friends

Friends. Ah friends. They hold us accountable. They keep us motivated. Solo, you just might change your mind and decide not to ride. It’s cold. It’s wet. No one will know if you don’t go out for a ride.

But when you make plans to ride with friends, it’s not so easy to ditch.

Find your friends. Show up. Ride. Revel. Relax.

3) Designate a Drying Area

You’re going to get home or get to the office and have a mess of sloppy wet gear. If they don’t dry well, they’ll stink. And they’ll still be wet the next day, or for your ride home.

Designate an area where your gear can air out and hopefully dry. Put towels or rugs on the ground so you don’t have to worry about dripping.

4) Have Fun with In

Well, it’s never going to be as fun as a sunny climb up Saltzman or a country road cruise, but rainy day rides can be fun. Go places you wouldn’t usually go. Notice how the tree greens seem richer.

And at the end of the day, celebrate that you did it. You were resilient. You were powerful.

You rode.

Rain or shine.


More Info

In the upcoming weeks, we’ll be publishing more articles with tips for riding through the rainy season and riding through the winter.

We’d love to hear from you! Are you new to the area and struggling to adapt to our rainy climate? Let us know what information we can share to ensure you can stay on your bike. Are you a seasoned veteran with all sorts of hacks and tricks? Let us know! We know you have valuable wisdom and we’re eager to hear it!


7 Essential Bike Buying Tips

So, you’re finally going to buy a new bike. Exciting, but where do you start? Buying a bike can be an overwhelming and intimidating adventure, unless you’re armed with these very basic tips.

1) Know how you want to use the bike.

Do you want to go fast and zip around town? Carry everything? Bike tour? Mountain bike? Race cross? Sit upright? You’re not going to find a bike that has it all, so think through what is most important to you. Also, what are the shortcomings of your current bike? Think about your dream improvements – they’re out there – and be ready to clearly convey this to the shop staff right away so they can steer you in the correct direction.

2) Go during off-peak hours.

All bike shops want to sell you a bike, they truly do. But how much time they have to devote to little-ole-you depends on how busy the shop is, so go during off-peak hours. Generally this tends to be early to mid afternoon on weekdays.

3) Bring your list.

Write down what you want and what your questions are so you’re prepared. It’s easy to get flustered when surrounded by all the pretty bikes – and lose track of your goals. Do not leave the shop until all your questions are answered and you’ve conveyed everything you want to say. Do not be afraid to ask questions. You should have lots of questions. See #7.

4) Don’t buy the bike today.

Your bike should be a wise investment that lasts you for many years to come. Three years from now you should be miles into your ride thinking “Dang I love this bike!” Don’t rush into the process. First visit shops to test ride, take your time and explore. Visit many shops, try bikes on a whim. Ask around, conduct online research and get second and third opinions. It is perfectly acceptable to test ride a bike more than once.

5) Make sure the bike fits you correctly.

I wish this one didn’t make the list, but unfortunately it does. The majority of bike shops are doing a fantastic job of providing friendly service to get people on the right bikes, but I’ve heard too many stories of mis-sizing to let this one slide. Have the shop adjust your seat before you hit the road on a test ride. If it’s not comfortable, it’s not right for you. Adjust the seat some more and try a different size. If they don’t have your size, ask if they can get it. Do not buy the wrong size just because you want that bike. It’s not unheard of (nor common) for a shop to try to push someone onto the wrong size because it’s a bike they need to get rid of. To be fair, it is also not unheard of (and probably too common) for buyers to fail to analyze their own comfort before buying a bike.

6) Consult Other Resources

Use bicycle guides or other forms of information as a reference to ensure you’re making the best decision.

7) Factor in accessories.

If you are new to owning a bike, it’s important to take into consideration your essential accessories. Your budget should include a high quality lock ($45), a helmet you’ll enjoy wearing (min. $35), front and rear lights (min. $30), a quality rain jacket that truly does the job ($100) and a home-use bike pump ($35). This could easily add up to $250-400 but these are long-lasting items you simply cannot do without.

8) You are in charge: do not be intimidated.

Bike shops can be intimidating for the uninitiated. Knowing what you want, research, your questions list are excellent tools to arm you with confidence. Don’t let shop staff make you feel nervous or uncomfortable. Remember: you’re the buyer, so you’re in charge. You should set the tone for how this transaction will go down. And when you’re relaxed, comfortable and excited, the result will be your dream bike and a bike shop filled with new friends. Or, hopefully something very close to that.

Happy bike shopping, and show us pictures of your new ride!

Bike Costume Tips

There never isn’t a good time to have fun.

That is why we try to have as much fun as possible even when we ride. One of the most enjoyable adventures is a costume ride. However, riding in costume can also be very dangerous, if you choose the wrong outfit. Don’t worry, we’re here to help.

You can look all around for cycling advice, but chances are good no one else will tell you this fun info.

Safety over Fun

Do not overdress, remember that you’ll be pedaling so you don’t want to overheat. This means that furry creatures are a-okay, so long as you don’t mind getting warm. Always be safe, so even if your costume is big and bold. Below are some of the do’s and don’ts of costume cycling.

Tip #1

It is always best to choose a character that already has a bike as part of their gear. Such character’s costumes are usually designed to be bike-safe. Your options are quite large as many of today’s characters ride instead of driving.

Tip #2

Avoid the spokes at all costs. There are many costumes that come with trailing bits. These include long-tail animals like kangaroos or rodents. The list is not confined to furry creatures; most of our favourite superheroes are “caped crusaders” and the cape enjoys interacting with the spokes. However, we are very sure that you will not enjoy the results of the interaction.

If you have to go as an animal or a superhero with a cape consider altering the costume to make the cape or tail shorter. When cycling in costume shorter is better. This means that dressing sexy is a good idea especially when you have safety in mind.

Tip #3

Headgear is an essential part of most costumes. Then again it is also an integral part of riding safety. Riders need to make sure that their costume design has space for the helmet. The helmet always goes under the costume headgear and never on top of it even if it is a wig.

Another important aspect to watch out for when selecting a costume is the peripheral vision that the costume allows. Sometimes it is a good idea to substitute the mask with face paint.

Support Our Regional Trail Stewards

Trails exist all over, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re accessible to all forms of recreation and travel. It takes a lot of love and a lot of work to obtain trail access for mt. bikers, to create new trails and most of all to maintain trails over time. Since 1998, Northwest Trail Alliance has been striving for Portland-area trail access. They were instrumental in the foundation of two new trails systems: Gateway Green and Sandy Ridge.

Over the years the organization has lived varied lives, with different leaders at the helm, various goals and a plethora of projects. But their mission has remained true: help get more people on the trails, on bikes.

The Northwest Trail Alliance Fall Membership Drive is underway and this is a great time to join or renew your membership. Their goal is to reach 2,000 members this year through individual and family memberships.

In the greater Portland area, Northwest Trail Alliance volunteers have helped make many trails happen. They have tamped down berms from Sandy Ridge to Scappoose and built new singletrack from Gateway Green to the Gifford Pinchot. The passion their volunteers and members exude is evident in these impressive efforts.

Membership is what powers this grassroots organization’s efforts like trail building, social rides, Take A Kid Mountain Biking Day and trail advocacy efforts. NWTA is a strong organization founded on a strong base of partnerships with local land managers, elected officials, the bike industry and boots-on-the-dirt volunteers.

Your membership support will allow them to realize the many respectable trail goals they have for the upcoming year, and will help keep mt. biking strong in the region.


Harvest Century is Almost Here!

Harvest Century Best Bike Ride in Oregon

Harvest Century
Sunday, September 23, 2018
Hillsboro Farmland

Prices go up at midnight on Saturday, so don’t miss your last chance to register for this year’s Harvest Century at a discounted rate. You may also register at the start line.

It looks like Mother Nature will be delivering perfect fall riding for this beloved ride: 68 and partially sunny!

Each of the routes offers splendid scenery and a mostly flat profile. Not enough challenge for you? We can almost guarantee a headwind in at least one direction (or as we like to call it “the invisible hill”).

The ride always provides have well-stocked rest stops, mechanical support, breakfast, a catered lunch, and live entertainment. They set up the event, but you make the memories.

Team ORbike will be out there! Come ride with us.

A Celebration of All Good Things

Harvest Century-Montinore Estates winery

The first of falling autumn leaves dance down the street. Summer’s green gently shifts as burnt umber and crimson washes over the landscape. Long shadows reach across the roads in the way that only the late-summer-early-fall light can do. Cooling temperatures mean breaking out the knee and arm warmers for early morning rides. And we do it gladly because for many of us, this is THE season for cycling.

The Harvest Century—long renowned as The Last Organized Ride of the Season—is a celebration of this wonderful season, offering 24, 45, 75 and 100-mile routes west of Portland in the heart of the fertile Willamette Valley. The routes explore rolling farmlands and vineyards from the North Plains to as far south as Canby, and everything in between.

The harvest theme is present in this ride in the amenities and treats found along the way, with stops at small family farms for hot cider and farm-fresh snacks. But perhaps the crown jewel of the Harvest Century is a stop at Montinore Estates winery for a special flight of their award-winning wines.

The Willamette Valley has no shortage of vintners but what makes Montinore stand out is their commitment to sustainability. In fact, Montinore is the largest producer of biodynamic wines in the country. This means their commitment to sustainability goes even beyond accepted organics standards. You know when you enjoy a bottle of Montinore’s wine, you’re not just supporting a local grower, you’re supporting sustainable farming practices.

The 45, 75 and 100-mile routes all feature a stop at Montinore, where the winery is offering a special flight tasting for Harvest Century participants.

Harvest Century riders

Find something you like? Buy it on the spot! No need to stuff a bottle into your jersey pocket—the Harvest Century support crew will transport your purchase back to the finish for you.

Portland’s cycling culture is inextricably linked to beer; it seems the two go hand in hand. But if you fancy yourself something of a wine lover, this is the ride for you.

P.S. Don’t worry—the event features plenty of beer at the finish line party if that’s really your preferred post-ride libations.


Drop us a line at any time to find out how we can help promote your event!


If you have questions about an event, please contact the event directly. We do not host any events and cannot answer those questions.

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