BikePortland Podcast: Ride leaders share Pedalpalooza memories

Posted by on September 27th, 2021 at 2:07 pm

This year’s Pedalpalooza was really special. Pent up demand from its absence in 2020, the extended timeframe, and very solid organization combined for exceptionally high spirits and good vibes for the entire three months. According to the folks who put it on, there were 615 rides this year. Way to go Portland!

Sunday night’s Pedalpalooza Ride Leader and Volunteer Appreciation party gave the heart and soul of this beloved festival — the people who step up to make it happen — a well-deserved community hug. There were awards for notable rides, speeches of gratitude, and many stories and memories shared. Organizers also hustled up a huge selection of yummy free drinks and snacks. The evening ended with… a bike ride of course.

(Photos: Jonathan Maus/Bikeportland)

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The woman behind Pedalpalooza, Meghan Sinnott.


The awards! Made (and carried by) Shawne Martinez.

Custom pennants!

For me the event was like being on the red carpet of a Hollywood movie premiere. I would see someone walk by with a name-tag that displayed their ride and I would shriek, “Oh my gosh, that’s the the Track Suit Ride guy!” These are my heroes. They are the creative, community-building forces who make our city special. I tracked down seven of them and asked to hear a bit about their ride and their fondest memories. In this episode you’ll hear about Madi’s bike lube wrestling match, a “Ding Ding” ride that made fingers sore, the big Cat Ride that meowed its way through southeast, and much more. I also chatted a bit with Pedalpalooza’s driving force, Meghan Sinnott.

Thanks to our monthly subscribers and advertisers who make our podcast possible. Find subscription links and browse previous episodes on our podcast page. A full text transcript can be found below:

Jonathan Maus (00:00):
Welcome to the BikePortland Podcast. I’m your host, Jonathan Maus. So last night on Sunday night in Colonel Summers Park, I was lucky enough to attend the Pedalpalooza Ride Leader and Volunteer Appreciation event. This was put on to recognize all the really fantastic people that make Pedalpalooza tick. The people that stand up to create, organize, promote, and lead the rides that are the heart of Pedalpalooza. Now, coming off its first ever cancellation due to COVID, of course, in 2020, this year’s festival was bigger and it felt to me better than it has ever been. It was three entire months of great rides and really high spirits. Last night, I learned that, from across all three months, there were 242 ride leaders who led 615 rides. Just let that sink in. Three month, totally free festival of biking with 242 different ride leaders and over 600 rides.

Jonathan Maus (01:02):
That is absolutely spectacular. So last night’s event was all about saying thanks to everybody that stands up and makes Pedalpalooza happen. There are a bunch of free snacks and drinks, and it was just a huge community love fest. And I tried to track down as many ride leaders as I could and ask them to share a few of their fondest memories. The first person I chatted with was Pedalpalooza organizer herself, Meghan Sinnott. She’s been involved with the event since its very humble beginnings and I think around 2004 and she is taking the festival boldly into an exciting new future in 2022. So stay tuned to the BikePortland front page for more details on what Meghan has cooked up. But for now let’s hear from Meghan and some of these fantastic ride leaders and volunteers, and let’s pay our respect to one of the best Pedalpaloozas ever.

Meghan Sinnott (01:56):
Well, tonight we are doing a ride leader and volunteer appreciation party and then ride for all of those who helped make Pedalpalooza a possibility this year.

Jonathan Maus (02:06):
And so these are folks that put a ride on the calendar, organize it, promote it, get people out, have a lot of fun. So that’s what a ride leader is, right? And you’re kind of elevating these people, which is great and they deserve it. It’s a really cool thing to do.

Meghan Sinnott (02:20):
So many hours go into making Pedalpalooza happen. And although I do a lot of the backend stuff, coordinating, getting the word out about it, making the merch, doing that kind of stuff, doing the PR, et cetera, the kind of the heart and soul, the meat of it all is those who organize the bike rides. And this year we had hundreds of ride leaders organize hundreds of rides. And so this is just a little give back. It’s actually… I think it’s only our third ever appreciation party for the ride leaders after, what are we at? 20 years now?

Jonathan Maus (02:55):
Well, I mean, this year was sort of a marathon. So ride leaders are people who are probably pretty into Pedalpalooza and they’re probably pretty tired. I mean, it’s like, they almost they deserve it this year more than any other year because it was such a darn long Pedalpalooza.

Meghan Sinnott (03:09):
Oh yeah. And yet the rides keep on going. The calendar is still bumping. So it was an epic bike summer and I believe it’s going to be an incredible bike year.

Jonathan Maus (03:22):
Awesome. Have fun. Thanks for doing the event.

Meghan Sinnott (03:25):
Thanks.

Jonathan Maus (03:27):
Next up was Maria Schur, who you might know as Bicycle Kitty.

Maria Schur (03:31):
I led the Hill Killerz series. Those are all Zs. And that’s a Tuesday hill repeat down in the Sutherland’s on 52nd from Harney to Flavel.

Jonathan Maus (03:45):
People do that for fun?

Maria Schur (03:48):
There’s some fun that happens.

Jonathan Maus (03:49):
The same hill over and over again?

Maria Schur (03:50):
Just five times.

Jonathan Maus (03:52):
Well, that’s nice.

Maria Schur (03:53):
And just for a half hour, mid day on Tuesdays. So very, very specific. And I do it all the time anyway. So I just put it on the calendar to see if anybody would show up. And to my disbelief, people showed up week after week. I would have 3, 4, 5, 6 people. And unlike other Pedalpalooza rides, we weren’t in a group. You’re just riding on the hill and you see another biker and then you notice that they’re doing repeats and you’re like, “They’re with us.”

Jonathan Maus (04:21):
So are you a big stats person? Did you keep track of how many feet we’d climbed total or anything like that or how many people-

Maria Schur (04:26):
I did have a piece of grid paper on which I wrote each rider and how many times they came, because if somebody came five times, they could get a patch, a Hill Killerz patch.

Jonathan Maus (04:35):
Patches, paper, sounds very analog. Were there any e-bikes? Was that allowed or how did that-

Maria Schur (04:40):
All bikes are allowed. People could walk it if they wanted. I didn’t see anyone do that. But very inclusive with the Hill Killerz. Rule number two of the Hill Killerz which can be used in regular life, do whatever you want. I highly encourage people to do whatever they want.

Jonathan Maus (04:56):
Can I make a suggestion? That’s such a good name. Could you get a bike club vest? I mean, that’s just dying to have a vest, right?

Maria Schur (05:02):
Do whatever you want?

Jonathan Maus (05:03):
Hill Killerz. Well, that too. But that could be the motto, but the Hill Killerz is the gang, right? You’ve got to look at [inaudible 00:05:09] there civil unrest vest. I think Michael’s got his bike colt, or what is it? Velo colt vest. Anyway.

Maria Schur (05:16):
Well, hopefully people will earn the patches and then sew them on one of these other vests.

Jonathan Maus (05:21):
Any other rides besides Hill Killerz?

Maria Schur (05:23):
There was also a mashup ride with the Swift Summit, which is a big race down in Lebanon. And I’m friends with the organizer of that. And so we called it the Swift Hill Summit Kill. And people were tasked with climbing Gresham Butte five times in a row, which is, I don’t know.

Jonathan Maus (05:43):
Wow. That’s tough.

Maria Schur (05:44):
2,500 feet or some insane amount. And 10 people showed up to do it while I sat at the bottom on a blanket, watching them.

Jonathan Maus (05:52):
I love this because a lot of people are like, if they tune in for Pedalpalooza content, they’re funny rides. Let’s go listen to music in the park and dance. And here’s Maria talking about going up and down hills and definitely type two fun, right?

Maria Schur (06:06):
And I love that Pedalpalooza is fun and easy and inclusive. I also really like to get sweaty and sporty and challenge myself. And so that’s the flavor I wanted to share. And then the other ride that I put on was the Felony Flats Alley Cats. So this is an old style alley cat race where you’re provided with a manifest and on the back of the manifest is a map. And you’re not allowed to use your phone for wayfinding. And then 25 people came out and did that. And it felt like the old days in many ways to see the big bike pile at the end and to have some people really competing and taking it seriously and other people just having fun with it. And we had a big prize pile. And so I will definitely be doing some sort of analog style alley cat every year. It’ll probably have a different name each year. So stay tuned for more alley cats.

Jonathan Maus (07:07):
I love it. So one of the things I love about Pedalpalooza is the cross pollination. You get all these different subsets of bike lovers together and just mash them all together. Do you think you convinced any more, let’s say, less competitive, sweaty type riders to come to your stuff? Did you have anybody crossover or did you get anybody that are hill killer lovers that we’re doing more social rides? Is there any of that mixing that you recall?

Maria Schur (07:29):
There was a good amount of crossover. I like that term. Especially with the, do whatever you want rule I was able to get a lot of people who wouldn’t even consider doing a hill repeat challenge. They’re like, “I can do it however I want. Okay.” Even my mom did it and she earned a patch and she did it on foot. Created her own hill, used rule number two. Submitted all of our stats to me via email and then sent me a check for 10 bucks so she could get a patch.

Jonathan Maus (08:01):
Oh my gosh, love it. So good. Thanks, Maria. I love it.

Maria Schur (08:04):
Thank you, Jonathan, for all you do. And thanks to all the other Pedalpalooza riders. I think it’s a great, amazing scene we’ve created here.

Jonathan Maus (08:12):
And next up was Madi Carlson, who some of you might remember as our former family biking columnist on BikePortland.

Madi Carlson (08:19):
Well, I’ll do my first ride first. So in June I led a Put Your Bike on The Bus Rack Ride and that was super fun. We biked to the PSU practice bus rack and talked a lot about putting bikes on buses. And we learned so much on that one about small wheels and wheel widths and it was amazing.

Jonathan Maus (08:40):
Super wonky. So we just talked to someone who did hill repeat rides. And I think people think of Pedalpalooza being all these party rides. But I love that you’re bringing the utility, how to use your bike vibe into it.

Madi Carlson (08:52):
Yes. It was a very, very educational ride, but also fun. So Julie and I actually, we met on the kickoff ride and then we decided we wanted to lead a tandem ride together. So we led the Random Tandem Fandom Ride and there were nine tandem bikes on it. And there were four other people who couldn’t make it. So there are a lot of tandem bikes in the city.

Jonathan Maus (09:13):
Were you super thrilled that so many people showed up?

Madi Carlson (09:16):
Yes. It was so fun.

Jonathan Maus (09:18):
It’s like, I don’t think they’re super weird or strange, but you just don’t see a lot of them in the wild.

Madi Carlson (09:22):
I know. And everyone rides up next to us and just shuts down, “Tandem.” People get so excited when they see a tandem. But for our ride, we did a lot of double and twin things. So we started at Double Mountain in Woodstock and we rode to the twin, Pines Country Club and played mini golf. And then we ended at Double Dragon. But we ended up going across the street to Apex where there’s a tandem hanging on the wall. So super tandemy.

Jonathan Maus (09:47):
Okay, wait, so I wanted to get… is there any memories that you recall from Pedalpalooza that you want to share?

Madi Carlson (09:54):
The Prom Ride was super fun.

Jonathan Maus (09:56):
Why? What happened?

Madi Carlson (09:57):
I had a lot of fun wrestling at the prom ride. There was lube wrestling. I wrestled all four years of high school. So it was a bit of a ringer. It was super fun though.

Jonathan Maus (10:08):
That is a crazy good memory. I also caught up with the inimitable Shawne Martinez, whose handiwork you can see in the awards that he helped make for this event.

Shawne Martinez (10:18):
The Ding Ding Ride was pretty cool. My daughter had an amazing time on that one. And when I asked her what her favorite ride was, she said the Ding Ding Ride.

Jonathan Maus (10:30):
What was that for people that can’t extrapolate from the name?

Shawne Martinez (10:34):
It was led by Armando here. And I think it was three minutes of just circling around [inaudible 00:10:43] circle, ringing your bell nonstop. And our five-year-old was saying that her thumb hurt because she could not ring her bell anymore and she had to stop ringing. So I said, “That’s fine. We can just keep riding. It’s okay.”

Jonathan Maus (10:57):
I feel like there’s sort of an effort this year to keep Pedalpalooza going. Are you doing anything in that regard? What have your rides been like since the official end of Pedalpalooza?

Shawne Martinez (11:08):
At the official end of Pedalpalooza, I took my flag off or my pendant off of my bike and just thought that was it. And then I just… and looking at social media and seeing that all these rides are still going and I’m like, “Maybe I’ll put my pendant back on.” So now I’ve got three pendants on the bike. And I went from last year and then a ride leader pendant from this year. And maybe I’ll keep flying them and will check out the calendar and see what’s coming up.

Jonathan Maus (11:35):
I love it. The pendant, it’s like the cake. It’s like you put it on and you’re ready to go. It’s so good. Thanks, Shawne. Appreciate it.

Shawne Martinez (11:42):
Right. Thank you.

Jonathan Maus (11:44):
Excuse me, Malik, if you want to share the ride that you led, that you liked the most, or a memory from the ride? Or which ride did you lead?

Sumi Malik (11:54):
So Actually I led two rides. I led the Rainbow Ride, which was Pride edition. It was the, as far as I know, the first Pedalpalooza ride in honor of pride. And at that point, Pride weekend, for the most part, the parade was going to be virtual. And I told my friend Joshua about Pedalpalooza. And so we thought, well, let’s go ahead and do a rainbow ride for Pedalpalooza. So I was really proud to have gotten people who had not been on a bike in years to come out. It was short and flat and very festive, lots of rainbow wear. And really enjoyed raising some awareness about the Equity Act or the Equality Act rather that is waiting for the Senate to act.

Sumi Malik (12:50):
And glad that it was a ride for a cause. And then my second ride that I led was Welcome to Our House/A POC Production. And that was actually this last Friday. And it was entirely produced by people of color, DJs were people of color, myself. And it was an opportunity to elevate the voices and art of people of color and celebrate it with our allies and accomplices. And it was just a really, really fun party Friday night. So really proud to have done a couple of rides with a cause.

Jonathan Maus (13:32):
That’s cool. I feel like you’ve sort of done a great job of mixing the fun and the celebration with important issues and bringing new people in. Those are all such really good themes of Pedalpalooza. Can you say something about how Pedalpalooza is such a good venue for that kind of thing and such a unique way to bring people together?

Sumi Malik (13:54):
I mean, it’s… particularly after the pandemic I think people were definitely craving community and it is just celebrating life on two wheels is amazing and our wonderful infrastructure in the city. And so it has just been such a joy to build community that way and love that, for the most part, they’re spontaneous and you don’t know exactly what’s going to go down, but you know it’s going to be good vibes all around. So just really proud to have contributed.

Jonathan Maus (14:28):
I also met up with Michael Mann, a leader of our local PDX coffee outside movement, which I’ll let him explain. But check them out on Instagram @pdxcoffeeoutside.

Michael Mann (14:41):
I did ride number one, 001 on June, 1st about 5:45 in the morning, up on the east side of Mount Tabor sunrise coffee. That was the first ride. And then later in June, I did a coffee outside about seven o’clock in the morning> took about a half a dozen people up to the top of Powell Butte. And we did a regular brew coffee and all that sort of thing.

Jonathan Maus (15:07):
So why were they so darn early in Pedalpalooza? Did you really just want to be ride number one?

Michael Mann (15:13):
Kind of. But I also, I really like brewing coffee at a park in Portland, outside at sunrise. And so if you’re going to do that at the kickoff of Pedalpalooza, you’re going to end up being ride number one, because nobody else is up at sunrise on June 1st.

Jonathan Maus (15:33):
What do you like about riding to a park so early, making coffee? What is it about that? Does I remind you, you feel like you’re camping or something? Is it a cheap [crosstalk 00:15:42]

Michael Mann (15:42):
Yeah, kind of. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And I think it’s that, I don’t know… speculated on that before. It might be kind of a guy thing and fire.

Jonathan Maus (15:53):
Because I know people show up with cool stoves and there’s all this… instead of showing off your bike you’re showing off your stove.

Michael Mann (15:57):
Well, we’re showing off our bikes and we’re showing off our stoves.

Jonathan Maus (16:00):
And this is Eric Martinez who led the Cat Ride.

Eric Martinez (16:04):
I co-lead a ride with my friend Amy. We did the Cat Ride. We got a whole bunch of folks dressed up a cat. We got a couple of people, brother cats. One was actually on the ride. The riders is the ones that make it fun. So there was people bouncing like a cat and scratching things. So did it around Southeast, hit a couple alleys.

Jonathan Maus (16:36):
I get it. I get it. Did you see any stray cats on your ride?

Eric Martinez (16:38):
We didn’t see. We try to count the cats. We didn’t run into any cats this year but it was fun. People have a lot of fun. They’re goofy. One of the things that we do when we ride by a bar or restaurant, we start meowing and people find it funny.

Jonathan Maus (16:55):
And last, but certainly not least was Armando Luna, or you might follow him on social media @dudeluna. Someone who we named on BikePortland as Pedalpalooza’s number one fun seeker a few years ago. This guy does more rides than anyone.

Jonathan Maus (17:12):
Armando Luna, dudeluna. Come on. This is… I mean, we knew you were Mr. Pedalpalooza before, but this year it was just off the hook. Was it the year off that did it? You said-

Armando Luna (17:21):
Totally, it was the year off that did it. Oh my gosh.

Jonathan Maus (17:23):
You were just like, I want to embrace it.

Armando Luna (17:24):
A year of no contact with people basically. I mean, other than my family, which is fine. But I really missed all of this, all of this.

Jonathan Maus (17:33):
I mean, this is like your second family at this point.

Armando Luna (17:34):
It’s totally my second family.

Jonathan Maus (17:36):
Okay. So I know you went on tons of crazy rides almost probably every day. Is that a a stretch?

Armando Luna (17:41):
No, not this year.

Jonathan Maus (17:42):
Not this year.

Armando Luna (17:43):
Close.

Jonathan Maus (17:46):
Close. But tell me about that thing you did by yourself now. You rode around 45 minutes-

Armando Luna (17:48):
No, that one day it was, I have 111 degrees. So it was at Monday.

Jonathan Maus (17:51):
Didn’t get any takers. I’m so shocked.

Armando Luna (17:53):
Well, so I were. I was working from home. I worked that day. I had to get out of the house. It was so hot in my house. I don’t have air conditioning. It was hot. It was 92, I think in my house. And I’m like, “I got to go do a ride.” And I’m like, “I’m just going to ride.” It’s 110, I think. It was 110 when I stopped working and it was going up still. I’m like, “As long as it’s 111 degrees, I will ride.” And so I posted at 5:45 and then I rode for 15 minutes and then it was done and it started cooling off.

Jonathan Maus (18:26):
Oh my gosh. So you know how the internet is when people want to say things. I did a little story about riding in the heat and people had to brow beat me about riding in the heat. Really? You can’t even ride when it’s that hot.

Armando Luna (18:38):
Well, I actually-

Jonathan Maus (18:38):
Did you get any dirty looks?

Armando Luna (18:40):
Well, I actually did feel bad the next day because people were dying, dude. It was awful.

Jonathan Maus (18:46):
True. That’s true. I mean, you took care of yourself. But, yes, we were worried that maybe you set a bad example.

Armando Luna (18:50):
But it was cooling off that day. I knew the cool front, cool 90s being cool was moving in. So I felt okay about it at the time.

Jonathan Maus (18:58):
Awesome. So last thing, you’re a big key Pedalpalooza going person. What does that going to mean to you this year? What’s going to… You’re going to maybe-

Armando Luna (19:06):
We already started talking about it. I’m really glad that some people are moving into Portland that are sort of taking over the reigns. William Sue, who came in and was volunteering. He had mentioned to me, “Hey, I heard that one year you did Twin Peaks ride.” I’m like, “Yes, we should do another one.” And I started thinking of all these rides. I’m like, how am I going to fit this into Pedalpalooza? I’m not. We’re going to keep on going. We’ll just keep going throughout the fall and the spring. And so we do have a… I’m co-leading a ride with William. We’re going to do another Twin Peaks ride and it’s going to be Halloween weekend.

Jonathan Maus (19:41):
That’s going to be cool. I think it could be just the birth of some pretty big rides. Actually because you don’t have the competition of all the other rides.

Armando Luna (19:48):
Well, it’s funny because I looked on the calendar. I’m like, I’m going to see if something’s going on that we can… Sure enough, Shwane had his Cemetery Ride on Saturday. So we’re doing it Friday. We’re going to do a Friday morning ride for the Twin Peaks coffee and donuts, cheery Twin Peaks. And then the Friday night ride will be the dark ride.

Jonathan Maus (20:06):
Fun. Okay. We’ll be looking for it. Thanks for everything you do, Armando. Thanks for being out there.

Armando Luna (20:11):
Thanks.

Jonathan Maus (20:11):
Awesome. And that will do it for this episode of the BikePortland Podcast. Thank you for listening. Our podcast is made possible by all of our wonderful monthly subscribers and financial supporters. Thank you. Please become one today if you haven’t already, it really means a lot. And please remember to spread the word about our podcast and subscribe so you don’t miss the next episode. Music for this episode was by Kevin Hartnell and [skill cell 00:20:39] from Pixabay. I’m your host, Jonathan Maus. And until next time, keep having fun out there and I’ll see you on the streets.

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

Pedalpalooza was one of the highlights of the year so far for me! Thanks to all the riders and ride leaders who worked to put on great events. Naked ride, Loud N Lit, history rides, Thursday night rides, Sunset/moonrise rides, etc! So many great rides and great people.