Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Raceway’s ‘Winter Wonderland’ will include one night just for bikes

Posted by on November 5th, 2009 at 8:27 am

Imagine riding through this
with a few friends!

Since 1993, the Portland International Raceway (PIR) has hosted the holiday tradition known as Winter Wonderland. Each year, over 100,000 people drive their cars along the racetrack which is adorned with massive, holiday-themed light sculptures and animated displays accompanied by festive Christmas tunes and holiday cheer.

But this year, for the first time ever, organizers will make one special night completely carfree. That’s right, December 7th is Bike Night at PIR!

Here’s how the event is described on the Winter Wonderland website:

“Bring the family to a fun night dedicated to bicycle riding (no cars allowed) and the bicycle community.”

Imagine rolling with some friends down the racetrack and viewing over 250 displays and 40 “fully animated scenes”. Also, according to the Winter Wonderland website;

“Visitors this year will be amazed to travel through the Tunnel of Lights, a 200 plus foot tunnel of lights that transports visitors to distant and magical lands.”

Brian Anthony (from Portland but currently living in Southern California) says he tried to convince Winter Wonderland organizers to do a bike night a few years ago but they weren’t interested. “Then, out of the blue, they contact me and wanted to see if I felt there was enough interest. I said heck yeah!”

In addition to being able to ride on the track without worrying about cars, Brian says he’s also trying to set up local, bike-based food and drink vendors to make it more of a party. (Email brian[at]anthemcycling[dot]com if you’d like to get involved.)

Tickets for the event will be $5 per person and children under 13 are free. Save the date on your calendars and stay tuned for updates and reminders. PIR is just a few short miles north of downtown Portland (N. Interstate Ave will take you all the way there).

Let’s show PIR — who have been so good to the community in hosting tons of bike racing over the years — that we appreciate them setting aside a special night just for people to ride bikes!

More info at WinterWonderlandPortland.com

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  • John Lascurettes November 5, 2009 at 9:06 am

    Here’s one of the many values of this site demonstrated right here. I had no idea about Winter Wonderland at PIR, cars or no. And I live in NE. Thanks for the tip.

    Sounds fun. Will be getting the kid on the bike and head there. Sounds a lot more rewarding than getting to and viewing Peacock Lane on a bike.

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  • Metrofiets November 5, 2009 at 9:12 am

    Ride with Metrofiets, December 7th for Bike Night at PIR.

    Cargo bike or no, all are welcome! email boxbike@gmail.com for more info and to RSVP.

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  • ScottG November 5, 2009 at 9:54 am

    Unless there is extreme weather, I’m definitely planning to do this ride. Very cool.

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  • Shetha November 5, 2009 at 10:13 am

    Yay!!! This sounds like so much fun!!! I wonder if the 6 y/o could manage a bike ride there… how dark is it?

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  • t-b0ne November 5, 2009 at 11:12 am

    :O!!!! omg omg.

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  • chelsea November 5, 2009 at 11:23 am

    Wow, that sounds fun. I hope its a hit so they do this every year.

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  • redhippie November 5, 2009 at 12:17 pm

    Hopefully they open up the gate from the bike path along the top of the Leve into PIR. This saves a mile of circular riding and prevents familly laden bikes from having to negotiate the busy roads around the I5 interchange.


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  • Becky November 5, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    Last year we went on the dog-walking night. No cars, just people and dogs. The 4- and 7-year-old were in the wagon. The downside is you can hear the generators that have to run to power all the lights.

    They had pet-related vendors there as well set up under quickshade-type shelters. So it’d be a good place to hang your bike-related business shingle for a night.

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  • Zaphod November 5, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    I wonder how many riders will be interested in evening coffee for the ride? hmmm

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  • justa November 5, 2009 at 1:04 pm

    maybe we should bring a bike sound system…


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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor-in-Chief) November 5, 2009 at 1:23 pm


    the PIR folks are aware of that issue with the southern gate being open for bike events… and they actually did it for a few races recently.

    i’m sure they’ll do it again for bike night. i’ll make sure to pass the word on to organizers. i agree with you… that makes it MUCH more accessible.

    and bike sound systems… hell yes!

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  • Esther November 5, 2009 at 1:37 pm

    this is SO AWESOME!

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  • April November 5, 2009 at 3:01 pm

    I love cheesy Christmas stuff, so this is right up my proverbial alley!

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  • Anonymous November 5, 2009 at 4:11 pm

    O.k. so what’s the best way to get there from North Portland? Interstate Ave?

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  • PDXbiker November 5, 2009 at 4:23 pm

    Looks like a good time and a new Christmas tradition. We’ll be there with decorated bikes.

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  • AaronF November 5, 2009 at 8:32 pm


    I take Denver to get up that way from St Johns, or you can take a bike path that runs along the slough, which I’m sure you could figure out on bycycle.org.

    Depends on what part of N Portland you’re coming from, I guess, but I tend to avoid Interstate if I can.

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  • Eric November 5, 2009 at 9:11 pm

    It’s just north of where Interstate and Denver merge at the Paul Bunyan statue.

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  • Brian Anthony November 5, 2009 at 11:08 pm

    Hey folks,
    First, Phew!!! So glad to hear people are excited to do this. Huge thanks to Jonathan and the BTA for helping me get the word out and especially the Winter Wonderland folks for warming up to the idea.
    A few years back I showed up in the car line with some warm beverages and clothes and I think the person working the booth was just sort of confused by it, so they let me in on my bike (no longer allowed). It was such a blast that I wanted to share it with everyone! This is going to become a huge holiday tradition if we can rally a really good turn out. Sorry it’s a Monday, but what can I do? I’ll work with Jonathan on getting some specifics for a follow-up, but feel free to email me with specific questions.
    I hope I can join you all on the 7th! Please tell you friends and family.
    Ride safe,

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  • Ted Buehler November 6, 2009 at 2:16 am

    The ride on Interstate north of Paul Bunyan is the best way. But be careful.
    * The road surface is hammered,
    * There’s silty puddles that cover the entire bike lane and then some all winter long.
    * Bike lanes are never swept, there’s some very old roadkill in the bike lanes.
    * The bridge decks are slippery because the concrete driving surface is completely worn away. In the bike lane.
    * It’s really dark at night. Really dark.
    * The left turn onto the Columbia Slough path is treacherous (if they open the gates that way) otherwise you have the pleasure of navigating the complex Victory Blvd/I-5 interchange.
    * The speed limit for cars is 45 mph,
    * There’s double-length trucks, (and single length, too)
    * There’s weird 1930s “exit ramps” at Schmeer Road where you need to dodge exiting and entering trucks.
    * Bike lanes are 5′ wide on most of the stretch but get down to 3′ in places (with sewer drains in the riding surface)
    * Vehicle lanes are 15′ wide throughout, making a “speedway” (12′ is standard lane width).
    * Vehicle traffic treats this road like a freeway entrance ramp, because it transitions directly onto I-5 northbound at PIR.




    So, go, but be careful. I wouldn’t bring anyone under 18 to PIR after 4pm in December, that’s for sure.

    Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but facts are facts.

    Ted Buehler

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  • Ted Buehler November 6, 2009 at 2:52 am

    BTW, this section of road has no improvements planned for it in the proposed 2030 Bike Master Plan. Even if they were to resurface it, add lights, and restripe for wider bike lanes, it’s still a heavy, through truck route.

    If you want to see major improvements to this route before the 2030s/2040s, email Ellen Vanderslice and tell her you’d like to see a family-friendly bike route but in the plans, for both the Interstate corridor and Vancouver Ave/MLK corridors.

    This is the graphic I submitted:

    Ted Buehler

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  • Ted Buehler November 6, 2009 at 3:05 am

    There are a couple family-friendly routes to PIR.

    1) Get on MAX, ride up to the Delta Park stop. You can even ride to Paul Bunyan and get on MAX for the last stop.

    2) Start at N Columbia Blvd at Fisk Ave in St. Johns, squiggle north on the bike paths until you’ve crossed Columbia Slough, then east to PIR (this only works if they open the gates from the bike path to the raceway. Otherwise you’re still on N Interstate for a bit. Not so bad coming home, but a pain going north).

    3) Go up N Vancouver Ave from Farragut Park, left on Schmeer Road (big trucks, but they’re slow and there’s a nice gravel/turf shoulder to dump onto if necessary), then up Whittaker Road and over on Victory Blvd. Maybe no better than N Interstate, but it’s definitely a lot more chill and has *much* better lighting and pavement quality.

    N Portland Walk Bike map at

    Ted Buehler

    (BTW, I think it’s fabulous that PIR is doing a “bike night,” I’m just a little worried about inner-Portland bicyclists accustomed to Platinum-quality bike facilities being thrown to the dogs on N Interstate. There’s lots of problems that are crazy dangerous for unfamiliar users.)

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  • john November 6, 2009 at 8:19 am

    That’s funny, i ride north interstate between Kenton and Delta Park, PIR quite often and never found it dangerous. It has quite nice and wide bike lanes… For the most part the trucks stay on columbia blvd and are rarely on this stretch. Visibility is good, never had an issue with traffic..

    Now, true i don’t know why they changed the speed limit from 35 to 45… if i drive that stretch i drive like it feels, which is ~30-35 (why race to a stoplight anyway..)

    The turn on to the bike path isn’t treacherous, it’s just sharp, you have to slow down !

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  • Kt November 6, 2009 at 9:41 am

    This is so awesome. My brother and his family and my partner and I are going to be there!!

    Zaphod #9: we would definitely appreciate some hot coffee drinks; the kids love hot chocolate or soy steamers. We’d definitely purchase from you!

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  • […] Night” at PIR is Dcember 7th. More details HERE. . 06 Nov 09 | Uncategorized « All Quiet On The Western Front…..For […]

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  • Dave November 6, 2009 at 1:36 pm

    I’m used to hurtling (or just hurting) around this great course in the summer months racing, and I’m looking forward to this event! This is great!

    I’ll try to bring as much of my team as possible to this night. Really, how and why would you miss it?

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  • Andy Wilson November 6, 2009 at 2:38 pm

    First I heard of this.

    Too bad that the “lights-by-bike” couldn’t have been tied in with the US Gran Prix of Cyclocross Stanley Portland Cup finale that is going on the 5th and 6th at PIR too. Imagine that for a “bike fun” event – watching the crowning of the national king and queens of cyclocross AND Christmas lights!

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  • Ted Buehler November 9, 2009 at 1:11 am

    john (22) wrote
    > That’s funny, i ride north interstate between Kenton and Delta
    > Park, PIR quite often and never found it dangerous.

    All the more power to you. I still hate it, for my reasons listed above.

    Hypothetical question — would you bring your 6 yr old grandson on N Interstate at 6:30 pm, Dec 7th? How about your 14 yr old niece.

    Just curious.
    Ted Buehler

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  • Word November 19, 2009 at 4:46 pm

    Winter Wonderland has some updated information on the General Info page of their web site, regarding the Bike Gallery Bike Night. It says the South gate off Denver Ave. will be open. The web site is winterwonderlandportland.com

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  • Brian Anthony November 21, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    Thanks “word”. Yeah I spoke with guys with Global Events over the last couple days based on the recommendations above and they said it would be no problem at all to have the gate opened up. Thanks to all for bringing it to our attention.
    The official flyer is done and I’ll be emailing it out to some of you today. If you can, please help circulate it around. Post it at work, bring it to your local shop, pin it up at New Seasons. Whatever we can do to make this first go around a huge success, then next year we can really put some planning in to making it a scene!

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  • WORD December 3, 2009 at 9:34 am

    New update to the Winter Wonderland Bike Gallery Bike Night – Pedal Bike Tours is sponsoring a family-friendly ride which will start and end at their shop at 2249 N Williams beginning at 6PM. See winterwonderlandportland.com for more details.

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