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'Circle Century' documents 660 lap, 100-mile ride around Ladd Circle

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on April 25th, 2013 at 1:06 pm

Still from Circle Century.

Southeast Portland resident and hobbyist movie maker Merritt Raitt debuted a new film at Filmed by Bike over the weekend. Circle Century documents his attempt to ride 100 miles, non-stop around Ladd Circle.

Raitt, who lives just a few houses down from the circle, accomplished his feat back in August 2011 but his movie has just now been released to the public. I followed up with Merritt to ask him a bit more about what it was like to ride a 0.15 mile loop of a neighborhood street 660 times without any breaks.

"Everyone asks if I got dizzy," says Raitt, " But it was a large enough radius that it really did not seem like constant turning." Raitt is a very fit rider and he underestimated how hard the ride would be. He even did a 30-mile ride that same morning (up NW Germantown to Skyline Blvd). The Circle Century turned out to be tougher than expected: "I think since there was no terrain I tended to stay in the same position on the bike and used less variety of muscles than usual so it turned out to be a much harder ride than I thought."

Throughout the day, many people from the neighborhood came out to watch. One group of kids set up a lemonade stand and offered Raitt free hand-ups as he went by (he also took coffee hand-ups from his family car). People also rode along with him, including his son and a friend on a tall bike. He figures he averaged about 20 mph, so he tended to be going much faster than average bike traffic.

As for traffic through the circle, Raitt said he had several cars roll through the stop signs and cut him off. "I'm not sure how well it is comes of in the movie but that red pickup came pretty close."

Check it out for yourself.

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  • Jim Lee April 25, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    For reference, I have measured the circumference of the inner curb of Ladd Circle at 234 meters. Merritt was riding about 3 meters out, which computes 660 laps at 100 miles almost exactly.

    No argument! Dude did it!

    For reference, Ladd Circle is less than 250 m--the standard Olympic velodrome length--by the same increment that Alpenrose exceeds it. Banking near the curb at Ladd is about right for the radius, so---

    How about midnight quasi-kilos--Fourth of July?

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  • Champs April 25, 2013 at 1:56 pm

    What is it about red trucks? (See: BikePortland forum "watch list")

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  • Swift Rider April 25, 2013 at 1:59 pm

    "I think since there was no terrain I tended to stay in the same position on the bike and used less variety of muscles than usual so it turned out to be a much harder ride than I thought."

    I'll bet that's true. If I do a century, I don't think it will be in a loop :-)

    Did he at least change directions every now and then?

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    • John Lascurettes April 25, 2013 at 3:03 pm

      A traffic circle is one way. Counter clockwise. With rare exception.

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  • Craig Harlow April 25, 2013 at 2:00 pm

    Someone please please please organize the annual "Ladds Circle Century"!

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  • dan April 25, 2013 at 2:13 pm

    I've thought for several years that it would be great to do Fat Cyclist's "100 Miles of Nowhere" fundraiser in Ladd Circle, but have never been organized / fit enough to make it happen. I've also thought about running a century of laps from Ladd Circle to the top of Mt. Tabor, but so far I've been insufficiently masochistic.

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    • Kristen April 26, 2013 at 3:04 pm

      That is exactly what I thought of when I saw this story-- "Someone did Fatty's 100 Miles of Nowhere and filmed it".

      Pretty neat accomplishment.

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  • Opus the Poet April 25, 2013 at 4:31 pm

    OK this was truly inspiring in a non-ironic way.

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  • dwainedibbly April 25, 2013 at 5:25 pm

    Who will be the first to do the entire Lad's Circle Century on a tallbike?

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  • Ted Buehler April 25, 2013 at 6:20 pm

    I saw the documentary at FBB, great show, congrats on the achievement.

    How about a 24 hour race at Ladd Circle?

    Ted Buehler

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  • Laura April 25, 2013 at 8:38 pm

    I've long dreamed of a Portland Palio, with riders representing all the different neighborhoods, battling it out for 3-5 laps,once a year, for bragging rights.

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  • JonathanR April 26, 2013 at 10:52 am

    Given that Sue organized Abernethy Elementary's first "Tour de Ladd," where every kid brings a bike and rides laps around the neighborhood, this seems like a perfect event.

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