BikePortland

Get pumped for a pandemic-proof Pedalpalooza

You didn't think it would be cancelled, did you? (Artwork by Beth Krynick)


You didn’t think it would be cancelled, did you?
(Artwork by Beth Krynick)

“I’m looking forward to pedaling through town on Super Hero Day, passing fellow cyclists in capes, and rolling past someone clad in all teal on Rainbow Day.”
— Meghan Sinnott, Pedalpalooza organizer

The indomitable spirit that runs through Portland’s legendary “bike fun” culture has run into its toughest barrier ever. With the pandemic-induced stay home order likely to last at least another month, organizers of the annual Pedalpalooza festival are grappling with how to continue the tradition for a city of cycling lovers that’s eager to hit the streets.

For the uninitiated, Pedalpalooza has happened in Portland every year since 2003. It started as a two-week festival of free bike fun, rides, and events and it now lasts more than a month. The idea is simple: Anyone can create and lead a ride. Organizers (all of whom are unpaid volunteers) provide a website and calendar and help promote the events. Typically there are 250-300 events in all — from big and loud dance party rides to architecture tours, taqueria crawls, and just about anything else you can imagine. One of the lead organizers, Meghan Sinnott, is operating under the assumption that come June it will still not be appropriate to gather for group rides. But as you’d expect, she’s not going to simply turn off the lights and shut the door on what has become one of the most anticipated bike events of the year.

“We want to do something where people can still participate but just do it by themselves, individually,” she shared in a recent interview. Sinnott and other volunteer organizers have opened a submission form for daily themes, whether inspired by past Pedalpalooza rides or completely new ideas. Additionally, they’re hoping to highlight a few routes to ride at your leisure, like a tour of heritage trees, or an exploration of local murals.

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This year’s calendar won’t have 10 separate events per day. Instead, there will be one theme with lots of people riding separately.

Have an idea you’re excited about? Submit to their calendar now, or workshop it in our special Pedalpalooza section of the BikePortland Forums. They aim to have theme days set by April 26th.

“I’m looking forward to pedaling through town on Super Hero Day, passing fellow cyclists in capes, and rolling past someone clad in all teal on Rainbow Day. No matter how we celebrate separately, we’ll be able to share our Pedalpalooza online.” Riders are encouraged to tag their photos on Instagram and Twitter with #pedalpaloozapdx, and to post their ride experiences in our Forums. Even The Street Trust is getting behind the fun, helping us track Pedalpalooza-specific miles ridden during the Bike More Challenge, which has been moved to June this year.

“It certainly won’t be the Pedalpalooza we know and love,” Sinnott added, “But I, for one, look forward to finding any safe excuse to get out of the house, exercise a bit, and have fun. We’re all going to need a little joy come June.”

Asked if she was worried that promotion of any type of riding would risk flouting the “stay home” order, Sinnott acknowledged the seriousness of the public health situation. She stresses the importance of monitoring recommendations from public health officials, and doing our best to be good stewards of health as a community, whether that’s wearing masks, sticking to rides in our neighborhoods, or simply riding less crowded streets.

As for the World Naked Bike Ride, this year you can look forward to Ride Naked Day on June 27th. It might take even more courage than usual, but if any city has the creativity to make it fun, it’s Portland.

Are you looking forward to Pedalpalooza? What are your ideas for re-imagining bike fun amid the quarantine?

Learn more and get inspired at Pedalpalooza.org.

But wait, there’s more!

Pre-sale orders for 2020 Pedalpalooza shirts and pennants will begin May 1st. Below is a teaser image of the design, stay tuned for order details!

Shirts will be printed by Portland-based Rendered.co.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
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