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Don't Look Down!!!

Once you learn how to ride a bike, it’s easy to hop back on. But sometimes, simply riding a bike is a bit more complicated. 

I pedaled the streets and across the bridges of Portland, Oregon, afraid to look down. Instead, I made eye contact with fellow riders and we shared timorous smiles. As we rode, our parade grew and so did our audience. Men in partial business suits showed off their own goods, families sat down for picnics, apartment dwellers waved from balconies, and teens pulled out their phones to record the stream of bodies adorned with feathers, glitter, and paint. Tunes blasted from a bike trailer and I began to relax, singing and grooving along.

Until I looked down.

Unable to process the sheer madness of it all, I had momentarily forgotten that I—like most of my fellow riders—was completely and utterly nude. My breathing accelerated, although I hadn’t sped up, and my cheeks warmed to match the shade of the family jewels dangling six feet in front of my face. (Pro tip: Never ride a tall bike naked.) I wondered what my mother would think.

When the ride ended, my body shook with the relief of having survived. As the parade transformed into a dance party, the adrenaline rush gave way to a flood of dopamine and my nerves dissolved into excitement. None of my fellow riders cared what I was or wasn’t wearing. We had all shared six miles of vulnerability, and now it was time to celebrate.

I can’t in good conscience recommend that you bike through your city sans clothing, but I will advocate for an occasional excursion outside your comfort zone. You will certainly experience discomfort, panic, or embarrassment, but these feelings may lead to growth, joy, and community—or, at very least, sweet relief.

Just one rule: Don’t ever look down.

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Meet the author

Jandee Todd


Before joining MakeSPACE, Jandee had an internship with Dr. Nancy Golden at the Oregon Education Investment Board, performed qualitative research used in The Media, the Court, and the Misrepresentation: The New Myth of the Court by Drs. Rorie Spill Solberg and Eric N. Waltenburg, and spent some time living in France. She earned her BAs in History and Political Science through the University Honors College at Oregon State, focusing on Russian and Soviet history and the U.S. Supreme Court.


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We want young people and their teachers to be fulfilled, to feel agency, and to shape their own lives and the world around them. We want them to thrive within the possible - as the world offers them moment after moment of uncertainty.