Splendid Cycles Big Sale

‘Cirque du Cycling’ returns to Mississippi Ave

Posted by on July 31st, 2013 at 3:25 pm

Cirque du Cycling Race-6

The Cirque du Cycling is much more than
just a bike race (but that part is pretty awesome).
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

After a one-year hiatus, one of our favorite events, the Cirque du Cycling, is set for a triumphant return. The Cirque du Cycling is an awesome mix of family-friendly street festival and top-notch bicycle race. This year, organizers have planned kids activities, a cargo bike race, and the main event: a criterium that blasts through the streets of North Mississippi Avenue just a few feet from roaring spectators.

We’re excited to see this event return after it ran into funding and management troubles in 2012.

The fun will start at 4:00 on Friday, August 9th at the “Family Fun Zone” at the Q Center (Mason & Mississippi). There will be games, music, and crafts for the kids, along with a bike decorating station. At 5:00, there will be a three-mile family bike ride up to Peninsula Park.

Then the racing starts.

We are excited to hear that organizers have brought back the Cargo Bike Race. Like the 2011 edition, the race will be a mass start where competitors will have to load and haul all sorts of household items (toilets, electrical boxes, air ducts, and so on) for three laps around the race course. There will be a competitive and friendly category, depending on your cargo bike handling prowess.

Here are a few pics from the Cargo Bike Race and the Family Ride from past years…

Family ride at Cirque du Cycling-9

Family ride at Cirque du Cycling-21

Family ride at Cirque du Cycling-12

Cirque du Cycling 2011-109

Cirque du Cycling 2011-112

Cirque du Cycling 2011-99

Cirque du Cycling 2011-97

The criterium race is what brings out the big crowds. There’s a $1,000 cash prize for the winner of the Pro/1/2 category race ($5,000 total cash purse) so you know the best local and regional talent will be out there giving it their best shot. If you’ve never watched it before, criterium racing is quite a spectacle. Riders fly around the course, bending into turns just inches from other riders at speeds over 40 mph. Certain laps come with special prizes; but the entire race is geared toward a big sprint finish.

Here’s some of the best action from previous years…

Cirque du Cycling 2011-143

Cirque du Cycling 2011-141

Cirque du Cycling 2011-135

Cirque du Cycling Race-21

Cirque du Cycling 2011-130

Cirque du Cycling Race-30

Major thanks is due to lead sponsor Laughing Planet Cafe for being a believer in this event and stepping up to make it happen year after year. This event is free and it’s a great excuse to come out and enjoy the shops and atmosphere on Mississippi Avenue while celebrating cycling.

Mark your calendar for Friday August 9th and check out CyclingCircus.com for full details.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

Leave a Reply

5 Comment threads
5 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
8 Comment authors
MikeDabbyTed BuehlerjoelPC Recent comment authors
newest oldest most voted
Notify of

1. a race course with a u-turn ON mississippi ave should be considered unworkable and unsafe for racing.

2. even if theres actually real cargo this time around (2 years ago, the one toilet was the only actually challenging item involved), a 15-minute sprint up and down mississippi is a joke, and does nothing to showcase cargo bikes. count me out.

Joseph E

Most of my cargo-carrying rides are 15 minutes sprints from the grocery store, preschool, hardware store or garden center to home. The Disaster Relief Trials were great, but this seems like a good way to show cargo bikes to a bunch of spectators, and it’s free.


1. Why is it unsafe or unworkable? This course has been reviewed by several people very experienced with promoting and/or officiating races. Additionally, it is only open to upper level cats and there are field limits.

Unless you are speaking of the cargo bikes – Yeah, it may be unworkable and dangerous for them. (Hint, hint, nudge, nudge – prove me wrong by signing up!)

The new course will certainly be a huge challenge to anyone not at the front of the pack and will be an absolute leg and lung torture fest.


seriously? u-turning a pack in the width of mississippi, at crit speeds? we all know crits are nascar anyhow, but still… smells of either a) inability to get the street closure this race has had before (allowing it to kick riders into a loop using albina to turn around the block) or b) someone wants the race to go by their business. im sure plenty of people know better than me, but this doesnt sound like a good idea from where i sit, nor from the viewpoint of what few racers ive talked to about it so far. heck, at least youll know where to put the emts…

i dont need to prove my ability to u-turn a cargo bike on mississippi to anyone. cirque needs to prove to me that itll put on a cargo race thats worth my time.


I agree with Joel.
Have seen legs snapped at u-turns during races….


Meh. I have seen legs snapped at 10 degree turns. That’s racing.

If you know the course, you shouldn’t be going full speed at the u-turn. If you don’t know the course, then maybe that hospital bill will teach you to look at the map or even pre-ride before you are racing.

Oh well, guess you two won’t be at the start line then.

Chris Sanderson

Wait… Is that a cash prize for winning the cargo bike race??? If so, I should compete!


1. a race course with a u-turn ON mississippi ave should be considered unworkable and unsafe for racing.
2. even if theres actually real cargo this time around (2 years ago, the one toilet was the only actually challenging item involved), a 15-minute sprint up and down mississippi is a joke, and does nothing to showcase cargo bikes. count me out.
Recommended 0

I carried an additional 200+ lbs compared to everyone else in that “race”, and so did Burbee. 🙂


I’m really glad this is back this year. The 2011 race was a ton of fun to watch. I wish there were more of these proper, in-the-city criteriums, because they’re great spectator sports that are well-suited to Portland.

Ted Buehler

Welcome back Cirque du Cycling!

It’s an illustration of just how fragile some of the bicycle world’s favorite events are. Its not safe to take them for granted.

For a couple years, CdC was one of the biggest events of Pedalpalooza — huge crowds of families out watching the races and parades. A major “see and be seen” event, and an inspiration to anyone thinking about doing more on their bike.

Then, last year, got cancelled because the sponsors didn’t get things lined up in time, or whatever.

To continue the growth of the bicycle riding public, these major events need to continue to grow. & have institutional support from someone, somewhere, and a commitment to keep them rolling.

Many great bicycle annual events just disappear when the heavy lifters “just cant’ do it” in one particular year, and there’s no backup team to push it through.

Congrats for bringing this one back, looking forward to it,

Ted Buehler
Board Member, Boise Neighborhood Association