You can bet I was heartbroken when the kind lady at Citybikes informed me that my bike wasn't worth fixing.
"We generally don't fix Target bikes. It's kind of a store policy." Especially not when they're over 20 years old, and valued at around $25.
Needless to say, I'm not a frequent biker. Or at least I wasn't, until rising gas prices and a shortage of paid jobs made me realize that biking was, really, the only sensible option.
A few months back, I got a bike for free from a friend's parent (thanks, Mr. Hardy), and it has gotten me where I needed to go—all 50 pounds of it. But as a new biker in Portland, I certainly wasn't making the most sensible choices. My bike has been called a "death trap," with brakes that stop functioning when they get wet, no lights to speak of, and gears that shift (and detach) at random. Also, I tend to wear darker colors, and I was without a helmet for way too long.
Fortunately, Portland is not without bike resources for newbie bikers. In fact, Portland is flush with them, and they are oh so willing to dispense advice.
The Bicycle Transportation Alliance is a great place to start; as far as Portland bike resources go, they are king. Their website showcases the various cycling events taking place in the city (which are numerous) as well as providing tips for getting around Portland. And bikeportland.org is the best source for keeping you up to date on biking news around the city.
The Portland by Bicycle map is a necessity for general Portland biking, and is available at every respectable bike shop. If you're looking for more in-depth maps, the Portland Office of Transportation provides maps of nearly every nook of Portland for free—either via the website or by phone order.
But really, talking to other cyclists is the best resource. Every respectable biker has their favorite routes through the city, and most are even willing to offer tips on how to fix what's ailing your ride (in my case, they would mostly say, "this bike is fucked"). Biking through a city can be daunting, but there's a reason we are a hugely popular city for biking; somewhere out there is a route to get you where you're going. And as long as you show courtesy to cars, they tend to show it back to you.
But for now, it's time for me to say good-bye to my silver Road King. Thanks to Dubya's surplus check, I am on my way to Citybikes to buy a lightweight refurbished mountain bike. Maybe then the little girls on pink bikes will stop passing me.