BikePortland

Hundreds of riders light the night at carfree Winter Wonderland event


A rare window of dry skies was an unexpected treat.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

It was a perfect night to bundle up and enjoy the holiday lights at the annual “Bike the Lights” night at Winter Wonderland. With dry and relatively clear skies, hundreds of people (organizers expected over 1,200 based on last year’s numbers) showed up for a chance to pedal stress-free around the racetrack at Portland International Raceway.

This is an event where big crowds just add to the fun and festive feel.

As they’ve done each year since 2009, organizers transform the track into a holiday-themed light display. The event runs for a month between November 25th and Christmas night; but last night was the only time it’s for cycling only. The bike-only night has grown steadily each year and now features an expo area complete with prize giveaways from vendors, free service from Bike Gallery, cheap treats for sale from Voodoo Doughnuts and more.

The event is a fundraiser for the Sunshine Division, a nonprofit that provides food and clothing for people in need.

I rode over with my five year-old and we pedaled along with a bunch of other families. One thing I love about this event is — similar to Sunday Parkways — it attracts people we never see in the bike lanes in our daily riding around town. The parking lot was full of families and friends who loaded up bikes onto racks and carpooled to the event. There were people of all ages and they covered the full spectrum of cycling experience and culture — from people who probably only ride a few times a year to experienced racers and enthusiasts. I even saw a pack of riders from the Belligerantes, a northeast Portland-based Schwinn gang.

There was a steady stream of bike traffic coming from north Portland’s Kenton neighborhood and many of the riders came from Washington.

Jim Thomas was one of a crew of about 30 people who rode over from Vancouver with their bikes fully decorated. Thomas said his group — which included people from Camas Bike Shop, Vancouver Bike Club, and Bike Clark County — got lots of honks from people as they rode en masse over the Interstate Bridge.

Costumes and lights on bikes were encouraged by the organizers.

Here are a few more photos of the fun…

This light tunnel was a big highlight.

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My boy got to meet the Grinch!
Jim Thomas from Vancouver.
A lot of people took advantage of the free bikes offered by Biketown.

If you missed out, make sure this event is on your calendar next year!

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

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