Finding a family-friendly Pedalpalooza

We had a great group for the Kidical Mass ride to Cargo Bike Roll Call on Sunday.
(Photos: Madi Carlson)

I’m incredibly excited to be experiencing my first June as a Portlander, which means my first Pedalpalooza!

Our Family Biking column is sponsored by Clever Cycles.

➤ Read past entries here.

Organized by the all-volunteer Shift, Pedalpalooza is a month-long festival filled with hundreds of bike events, organized by anyone who wants to lead a ride. There’s hopefully something for everyone. Most events are bike rides and most have a fun theme, but anything goes (like Bladepacking, “like bike packing but on BLADES SKATES AND BOARDS. This is an overnight”).

There are so many rides, it can feel overwhelming. Here’s how to navigate it all and find rides that are fun for families.

Of particular interest to people like me are the events with a green “Family Friendly” notation to the left in the online calendar. These aren’t the only family-friendly events, mind you. Tomorrow’s Cruise the neighborhood to free bike-in movie put on by A Better Cycle bike shop is at a leisurely pace and ends with a family-friendly movie at dusk (of course dusk will be at 9:38pm on Wednesday). So read the full event descriptions and you might find some hidden family-friendly gems. Not sure if a ride is for you? Most rides have a contact email and/or phone number to get in touch with the ride organizer.

Some family-friendly events on the SHIFT calendar.

Using the calendar

I put a link to the Pedalpalooza calendar on my home page so I have it at the touch of a button.

Pedalpalooza is so important that the Portland Mercury prints the whole calendar the last Wednesday of May. This is great for affixing to your fridge with a magnet after you’ve circled the rides you want to attend so you can refer to it multiple times a day. You can also print your own pocket-sized version.

But the print calendar alone isn’t enough. Shift’s online calendar is more up-to-date and includes new additions and cancellations.

If you want to see all the Pedalpalooza rides, starting back at June 1st, click the “Pedalpalooza” link at the top of the Shift website; if you want to start with the current day, click the “Calendar” link. Click on the title of a ride to expand it and see the details. I’m using the “Sharable links” at the bottom for each event to link to here.

I’ve deemed Pedalpalooza important enough to move an app off the front screen of my iPhone to make space to add the calendar webpage to my iPhone Home Screen (thanks to PJ for suggesting this at the Cargo Bike Roll Call).

Many Pedalpalooza rides have Facebook events, too. I don’t always like Facebook, but I love Facebook events for tracking RSVPs and interest, and for providing a useful spot for event discussion and photo sharing. Facebook events are created by the individuals or groups leading each ride so there’s no one place to find them all, but most organizers who’ve made a Facebook event will provide the link to it in their Shift calendar listing.

Rides I’ve attended

Kidical Mass to Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day, June 2nd.

One year I hope to be a super participant à la Armando Luna, Pedalpalooza’s #1 fun seeker, but this first year I’m just getting to whatever I can easily…except for the Kickoff Ride, that is.

The Kickoff Ride was not easy to attend with my boys’ school carnival at the same time, but I really wanted to go get a Pedalpalooza souvenir pennant and to hand out flyers to promote Kidical Mass. I also wanted to see more bikes than I’ve ever seen in one spot before. And it was amazing! I rode near the front, trapped between competing, thumping sound systems. The ride looped through Ladd’s Addition and we at the front got caught at an intersection waiting for the back half of the ride to clear through — this was probably intentional because it was quite the view! (Read the BikePortland coverage of the ride here.) I peeled off early, but to before I made some new friends. As did Pixie (our dog): she met Rando Awesome (below), a pug who rides in a BMX bike side-car, and Kepler the bike-basket cat.

Love at first sniff at the Pedalpalooza Kickoff Ride, June 1st.

My two Kidical Mass PDX rides were Kidical Mass to Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day at Gateway Green on June 2nd and Kidical Mass to Cargo Bike Roll Call on June 10th.

I also enjoyed the Lunchtime School Bus Ride a fun concept where participants hopped on the bike train at different stops for a big loop, scheduled to take an hour.

Jessica’s Engelman’s “school bus” for the Lunchtime School Bus Ride.


Rides on my radar
Coming up, I’m excited to check out the Multnomah County Bike Fair on Saturday, June 16 and North Portland Sunday Parkways on Sunday, June 24th — specifically the “Everyone Rides” Adaptive Cycle Event at Sunday Parkways 11-4 in a small blocked-off area next to Harper’s Playground at Arbor Lodge Park (I don’t have a link for this event, but here’s a flyer organizer AJ Zelada sent me).

Here’s everything currently on the calendar marked “Family Friendly:”

Wednesday, June 13
4:30 PM NW PDX Kids Ride

Thursday, June 14
6:00 PM Discover Vancouver’s Heritage Trees by Bike

Saturday, June 16
11:00 AM Wizard of Oz Sing-a-long Bike Ride
12:00 PM Multnomah County Bike Fair
1:30 PM Magical Unicorn Ride

Sunday, June 17
1:00 PM Splish, Splash It’s a Wet Wet, Portland Ride
2:00 PM The Slowest Ride of the Year

Wednesday, June 20
10:30 AM Balloons, Bubbles, and other things that go POP!

Friday, June 22
11:00 AM Botanical Bike Ride
8:00 PM Monster Ride

Saturday, June 23
8:30 AM Laurelhurst Garage Sale Ride!
9:15 AM Solstice Fairy Ride
10:00 AM Bike 2 Groceries Sellwood

Sunday, June 24
11:00 AM Sunday Parkways North
11:00 AM Bike Decoration Station @ Sunday Parkways North

Saturday, June 30
9:00 AM HiFi Show & Tell
12:00 PM Mid-day Mystery Ride
3:00 PM N Portland Green Infrastructure Tour

Hey, add an event!
The beauty of the online calendar is that you can still add events! Want to lead a kid-friendly park-to-park-to-park ride in your neighborhood? You can! Want to copy a neat-sounding event you missed earlier in the month? You can do that, too! Worried about thousands of people showing up and feeling overwhelmed? You can set a limit. You’ll need to pair your event with an RSVP engine of some sort, like Eventbrite. Or if this year feels too soon, start thinking about putting something on the calendar for next year. Consider attending next year’s the Bike Fun Library presents: Ride Leader Empowerment ride.

Get out there!
If you see a ride that’s close enough to home to bike to you should check it out! Or if you take your kids and bikes on the MAX to a ride please let me know how it went in the comments of last week’s column.

Leading Kidical Mass to the Cargo Bike Roll Call, June 10th.

What do you think of Pedalpalooza as a family-friend event? Have you attended any rides as a family? Do you see a gap you’d like filled?

Thanks for reading. Feel free ask questions in the comments below or email me your story ideas and insights at madidotcom [at] gmail [dot] com.

— Madi Carlson, @familyride on Instagram and Twitter

Browse past Family Biking posts here.

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Madi Carlson

Madi Carlson

Madi Carlson (@familyride on Twitter) wrote our Family Biking column from February 2018 to November 2019. She's the author of Urban Cycling: How to Get to Work, Save Money, and Use Your Bike for City Living (Mountaineers Books). In her former home of Seattle, Madi was the Board President of Familybike Seattle, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting bicycling as a means for moving towards sustainable lifestyles and communities. She founded Critical Lass Seattle, an easy social group ride for new and experienced bicyclists who identify as women and was the Director of Seattle's Kidical Mass organization, a monthly ride for families. While she primarily bikes for transportation, Madi also likes racing cyclocross, all-women alleycats, and the Disaster Relief Trials. She has been profiled in the Associated Press, Outdoors NW magazine, CoolMom, and ParentMap, and she contributed to Everyday Bicycling by Elly Blue.

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5 years ago

last year i was driving across town with my family, we caught the end of some ride that was at 28th & Sandy. The big group of bikes all went by, the 2 bikers plugging traffic moved out of the way and joined the group, and I had a green light so I went through the intersection. A few blocks ahead, a small group of stragglers on bikes turned the corner coming towards me and one guy decides to cross the double yellow and play chicken with me, eventually coming to a stop directly in front of me. He refused to move and was screaming at us so I basically had to drive up onto the curb to get by him and he started punching my car. That was my family’s experience with pedalpalooza, I think we well be avoiding it from now on.

5 years ago
Reply to  Chris

maybe it was the year before, i don’t remember for sure. time flies when you’re a new parent.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Reply to  Chris

Dang Chris. That sounds really bad. So sorry that happened to you and your family. I’ve seen emotions get the better of people on rides like this. All I can say is that there are a lot of really fantastic people on Pedalpalooza rides and I’d encourage to give it another chance.

5 years ago

I’m assuming it was some bad decision making based on liquid courage and the adrenaline from being in a big ride, but it was pretty scary for us. Even in a car, it is pretty intimidating to be confronted by a group that outnumbers you when the guy yelling at you is twice your size.