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Ilvs StraussTo work within her packed schedule, Ilvs (pronounced Elvis) Strauss gets around with a multi-modal combination of bike, bus and car.
By Erik Neumann
Ilvs Strauss (pronounced Elvis) lives in Seattle’s Capital Hill neighbourhood. She’s 30 years old, works a few different jobs and takes classes in writing and music. Strauss can be spotted, rain or shine, on her sky blue Surly Pacer. “I ride my bike pretty much every day; probably 95 percent of the time,” she said. “I borrow a car, at the most, once a week. Seattle feels a lot smaller when you’re on your bike.”
For one of her jobs, Strauss works as a freelance theatre tech, setting up for productions or doing lighting design. Her steady gaze and quiet, calm demeanour make you wonder if her personality was the perfect fit for her job or the result of hours spent hiding in the shadows of a performance, making the different pieces move as if by magic.
Working in theatre takes Strauss around the city, from Key Arena, to On The Boards, to the numerous, small black-box stages supported by Seattle’s arts-loving residences. Add to this working at a yoga studio, her classes and travel home, and you have a pretty packed schedule. To work within this atypical routine, Strauss gets around with a multi-modal combination of bike, bus and car.
“Sometimes it’s kind of a haul to make it to class and then come all the way back home to go to work, but it makes it nice because I know exactly how long it takes to get places. And, I don’t have to worry about parking, ever – which is one of the greatest perks about biking. It’s pretty convenient and pretty quick.”
Like many, Strauss became a regular cyclist while attending college. She was living in Portland, and when getting ready to move to Seattle, decided that building her own bike was a good way to learn about bicycle maintenance. Over time, she’s become increasingly invested in the biking world, but still holds on to a minimalist perspective. She rides in jeans and clogs, and didn’t have fenders or rain pants for a long time – though she now admits they help.
“Before I moved up here I was visiting my friend and she was riding her bike around and I was like ‘are you crazy?’ I couldn’t fathom how people could bike in this town because of how steep the streets were. I think part of it was because I was in downtown a lot, where [the hills are] ridiculous, and I’d see the bike messengers and be in awe of them. But once I moved up here, I learned really quick how to get around.”
Sitting near her bike, Strauss recited the “If it’s not fun to ride, you’re not gonna ride it” line of many a wise shop mechanic. Her bike had a plastic bag over the seat, pooled in rainwater, but she seemed not to care. “Getting out and having some form of exercise is important – just having 20 minutes to think about something or not think about anything. I’m going my own speed, and all I’m limited by… are hills.”