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Forget Daytona, Portland has the ‘Ladd’s 500’

Posted by on February 23rd, 2016 at 1:06 pm


Aerial view of Ladd Circle in southeast Portland.

A new event dreamed up by one of Portland’s many creative bike fun enthusiasts could actually wind up making competitors dizzy.

On April 9th a large turnout of riders is expected at Ladd Circle in inner southeast Portland for the first running of the Ladd’s 500. “It’s spring, let’s do something stupid,” described the event’s organizer on Facebook.

Here’s the gist:

“500 laps of Ladd Circle is a century. Form teams of at least 2, switch racers at least 10 times during the race, and turn left for a while. If you want to run it solo, bring two bikes so you can make your switches. Racers are responsible for accurately counting their own laps. Any bike is acceptable, but weirder is funnier. If you’re not racing, let’s party in the middle.”

Actually, forget the Daytona 500, this sounds more like the Little 500 made famous by the classic bicycle movie “Breaking Away” in 1979. Learn more and get the latest updates via the event’s Facebook page.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

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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. Thank you — Jonathan

  • AC February 23, 2016 at 1:55 pm

    I’m sure the neighbors are gonna love this.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) February 23, 2016 at 2:01 pm

      What if some of the riders are also neighbors?

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      • AC February 23, 2016 at 2:41 pm

        I’m not sure that matters one bit. I can’t be the only one that thinks an unsanctioned “race” that will last anywhere from 4-8 hours, located in the center of a residential neighborhood is not a good idea.

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        • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) February 23, 2016 at 2:43 pm

          I was just challenging the common perception that people who ride bicycles are always “from somewhere else” and are automatically different or should have less power/respect that people “live in the area”.

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        • Ted Timmons (Contributor) February 23, 2016 at 2:51 pm

          It seems that being in a residential neighborhood is perfect. It’s hard to imagine this making the traffic circle unavailable for car drivers, and there are alternatives anyhow. So what’s the huge problem?

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          • paikiala February 24, 2016 at 10:43 am

            And the bus route?

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            • Adam H.
              Adam H. February 24, 2016 at 10:52 am

              The only bus that uses Ladd Circle is Line 10, and it doesn’t run on the weekends.

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        • Ian February 23, 2016 at 2:52 pm

          I agree. I suppose it could be argued that it’s harmless enough to let cyclists party on a residential street for one afternoon, but it still seems rather disrespectful to disregard everybody who lives in that area. Also, I can’t imagine TriMet will be too happy about having to reroute a bus line for an unsanctioned race.

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          • Adam H.
            Adam H. February 23, 2016 at 3:32 pm

            Ladd Circle is technically a city-owned park, so it’s open to everyone.

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          • Adam H.
            Adam H. February 23, 2016 at 3:33 pm

            Also, the 10 bus doesn’t run on the weekends, so that won’t be an issue.

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            • Ian February 23, 2016 at 3:45 pm

              I’m not making any statements about the legality of the event; I’m just saying that although it’s technically permitted and admittedly low-impact, it strikes me as being unnecessarily disrespectful and disruptive to the people who live there (who, if I recall correctly, have previously expressed their frustration with disrespectful cyclists). I’m not calling for this to get shut down, or even trying to change anybody’s mind about it. I’m just agreeing with the sentiment that the event seems a little rude.

              Good point about the 10 line, though, I hadn’t realized that doesn’t run on weekends.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty February 23, 2016 at 7:15 pm

                It barely even runs on weekdays.

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              • Social Engineer February 24, 2016 at 9:45 am

                The 10 is not a very useful line right now. It’s poised to get a hell of a lot more useful if the TriMet SEP comes to fruition. 7-day service and expansion up the transit mall to NW…

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              • ricochet February 24, 2016 at 11:34 am

                I agree, fun sucks.

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  • Doug February 23, 2016 at 1:59 pm

    17 laps around the missile deck was a mile on a Trident Submarine. 17×26 1/3 is a marathon. 447 laps, that’s dizzying.

    What else is there to do when you’re punching holes in the ocean? We did it the same day as the Boston Marathon. I like idiotic athletic challenges.

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    • 37Dennis February 23, 2016 at 9:51 pm

      @Doug.. Perhaps “unorthodox” as opposed to “idiotic”. Let’s spin it positive.

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  • Mark M February 23, 2016 at 2:07 pm

    Is there a motor doping category? I’ll do it on my Surly big dummy/bionX with the kids on the back… I think the battery will last long enough.

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  • JeffS February 23, 2016 at 2:22 pm

    Raitt Seemed to think a century was 650 laps. Someone is way off.


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    • Ian February 23, 2016 at 2:37 pm

      Luckily, Google Maps makes it really easy to measure distances, so we should be able to sort this out. It looks like the inner circle has a diameter of about 244 feet, and the roadway is about 36 feet wide. Obviously, the distance traveled in a lap will depend on how close to the inner circle you ride, so for the sake of argument, let’s compare riding three feet from the inner edge (r = 125 feet), riding in the middle of the roadway (r = 140 feet), and riding three feet from the outer edge (r = 155 feet). These give respective lap distances of 785 feet, 879 feet, and 973 feet, so the corresponding century lap counts would be 673, 601, and 543 laps.

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      • paikiala February 24, 2016 at 10:46 am

        3 ft from the outer edge won’t work unless they close the street – it has parking on the outside edge.

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    • Dan February 23, 2016 at 2:43 pm

      Depends on how far out from the center of the circle you’re measuring. Back of the envelope says a ~51 m radius delivers 100 miles in 500 laps.

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      • Dan February 23, 2016 at 2:44 pm

        And the real challenge is the Tabor Ten Thousand, anyways:


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        • Ted Timmons (Contributor) February 23, 2016 at 2:49 pm

          Only 10k feet?

          (also, that website is painful)

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          • Dan February 24, 2016 at 11:51 am

            Ha, you should see the guy’s personal website. FWIW, Tabor 10k is a nastier climbing challenge than the West side Ronde.

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            • Ted Timmons (Contributor) February 24, 2016 at 11:52 am

              De Ronde is shorter than the 10k, yeah.

              I was being playful- my best is 16,600ft in a day. I ran out of daylight but I was pretty shattered too.

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          • John Liu
            John Liu February 25, 2016 at 3:25 am

            The Tabor Ten Thousand website is infested with malware. Don’t go near it.

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      • Ian February 23, 2016 at 3:12 pm

        Unfortunately, it’s impossible to ride a 51-meter radius around Ladd’s Circle: http://i.imgur.com/otcddCr.jpg.

        Ladd’s Octagon, on the other hand, is almost exactly a mile: http://i.imgur.com/ffE9Q1T.jpg

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        • Ted Timmons (Contributor) February 23, 2016 at 3:14 pm

          presumably there are stop signs or at least implicit yields in the Octagon.

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          • Ian February 23, 2016 at 3:23 pm

            Yeah, that would make a terrible race route; I just though it was an interesting factoid.

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        • Dan February 24, 2016 at 11:49 am

          Ah I was hoping someone would do a feasibility study with my data. If I had the inner and outer curb radii we could calculate the minimum and maximum number of laps for a true circle century.

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          • Ted Timmons (Contributor) February 24, 2016 at 11:51 am

            I was thinking a good wheel sensor will come in handy, since GPS is likely to cut the corner randomly.

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  • Todd Boulanger February 23, 2016 at 3:03 pm

    A perfect Stava recorded ride!

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  • Mark S February 23, 2016 at 3:15 pm

    Sounds like a good choice for the Fat Cyclist’s 100 Miles of Nowhere event.


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  • Tom Hardy February 23, 2016 at 3:56 pm

    At least riding around the circle there would be no stop signs to have to stop for. Only for the autos that wanted to enter. Then only if they could find or make an opening. Remember 163.163!

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  • RushHourAlleycat February 23, 2016 at 4:58 pm

    There are also suitable routes to navigate all of ladds without using the rotary for those hours. This is going to be fun. We are making flyers to support our friends who thought up and organized this race.!

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    • John Lascurettes February 23, 2016 at 5:06 pm

      But transit already gets magnitudes more money than Bicycle and Walking projects get. Like mountains more.

      Jump to this part of the video for a reiteration of this fact: https://youtu.be/sZOBmwm46CY?t=1h1m Or just look at the chart in this story about the budgets available to projects.

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      • Ian February 23, 2016 at 5:09 pm

        Did you mean to reply to a different comment?

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        • John Lascurettes February 25, 2016 at 5:35 pm

          Yes. Yes I did. Entirely different story. I have no idea how that happened, but i noted my reply did not post when I thought it had. Oops. This was for that Amanda Fritz piece posted the same day.

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  • K'Tesh February 24, 2016 at 1:35 am

    I was getting dizzy just looking at the aerial photo.

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