For the uninitiated, the event is a novel homage to one of Portland’s most beloved bike routes, neighborhoods and public spaces. Ladd Circle is a public park inside of a roundabout smack-dab in the middle of the historic Ladd’s Addition neighboorhood of inner southeast Portland. The idea behind the event — like many other events that make our local bike culture so interesting — is to simply have fun doing something silly on bikes with a bunch of other nice people.
With the 2017 edition coming this Saturday (4/15), we asked one of the event’s protagonists Eric Ivy to share more about it.
When explaining The Ladd’s 500 to friends or strangers who haven’t heard of it, I often start out by stating it’s the most fun I had last year, with exception to sky-diving in the Alvord Desert. And that’s because it’s true. What I love most about The Ladd’s—and I mean really love—is that it brings together like-minded people who want to do something truly stupid and have a very silly time on bikes. It takes a certain type of person who thinks that the Ladd’s is a fantastic idea, and these are my people. That being said, one simply cannot categorize “these people.” But let’s ignore that last statement for a minute, and I’ll attempt to put people in boxes by sharing that the first inaugural running brought out messengers, polo players, TNR’ers, unicyclists, fat-bikes, tall bikes, zoo-bomb minis, Schwinn Stingrays, clunkers, a keg bike, grill bikes, a father with an occasionally sleeping child on a longtail, fixies, a swing bike, and even some lycra!
Because of this way-too-Portland spectacle, the neighbors in the Ladd’s addition had little-to-no choice but to come outside, embrace the event, and enjoy the beautiful weather. Some grabbed lawn chairs and watched the festivities go down. Some youngsters saw the commercial opportunity and were selling snacks, and dolls, if I recall correctly. The Belligerantes generously grilled food for the hungry, before competing themselves, concurrently running laps together. (See new ‘Belligerantes Rule.’ Cheating is allowed if it’s funny)
For those who are still wondering what the Ladd’s 500 is, it is simply 500 laps around Ladd’s circle/roundabout. Based on some fuzzy math, (and debate about the diameter) it works out to about 100 miles, or a century, give or take. But remember, it’s not a race, it’s a relay. Teams must switch riders at least 10 times, or following the Nathan Jones rule, switch bikes 10 times.
Though it’s not a race, the fact that there are humans and wheels are involved means that times were kept and there is an unofficial record list:
Ladd’s 500 World Records:
- 2+ Person Team: “Fuck Y’all”, 3 hours 15 minutes
- 2 Person Team: “I’ll Name It Later”, 3 hours 30 Minutes
- Solo: Nathan Jones, 5 hours 4 minutes
- Minibikes: 4 hours 48 minutes
- Freakbikes: 4 hours 49 minutes
- Unicycles: 200 laps (Unicycles circle until the last 2-wheel team finishes, rumors abound of a team planning to hit 500 this year)
Because this event happens in a residential area, Eric and event creator David Barstow Robinson want to make sure everyone reads the rules before showing up.