If my post about it earlier this month didn’t make it clear: Saturday’s Portland Criterium is a huge deal. It marks the first major bike race downtown in eight years and it shows that Portland’s elected officials have finally come back around to the idea that cycling can be a powerful tool not only for urban mobility, but as a means to bring people together and rediscover our city’s swagger.
But who cares about that stuff! The event is going to be a ton of fun — whether you race or not.
Since our last story, organizers have built this into a block party celebration that will rock the Park Blocks from 1:00 pm to around sunset.
Here’s why this is a must-do event…
The racing itself will be worthy of your time: Imagine standing on a street corner as dozens of racers swoop by you, shoulder-to-shoulder and almost touching each other, at speeds of 30+ mph. Then run over to the finish line to see an all-out, finishing sprint. There’s nothing like it. (Watch our video on a recent crit to see what I mean.)
In addition to the restaurants along the route, organizers will have three excellent food carts too choose from: No Q’ No Taqueria, Baon Kainan, and Matta. And of course there’s the New Belgium Brewing beer garden to wash it all down.
But wait, there’s more: Meet at Salmon Springs Fountain at 4:30 for a sporting-themed Pedalpalooza ride to the race venue. Riders should wear their best sportif-attire, as in uniforms or jerseys from any sport, to amp up the good times. Judges will be at the finish to award prizes to the best outfit! (I think I’ll show up as a Damian Lillard wannabe.)
If organized racing isn’t your thing, but want to show off your speed, there will also be a Biketown-sponsored street sprints competition (wonder where they got that idea) with cash and product prizes for the fastest and funnest sprinters. Open to all bikes and all comers. Starts at 2:30.
And guess what else you can do? Check out the queer-friendly Rainbow Market happening the same day at the Cart Blocks on Burnside and Ankeny. (The Cart Blocks has not just more food and drink options, they also have more bike parking if you need it.)
Racing starts at 1:00 and goes all the way to twilight.
Don’t miss this opportunity to show the haters that Portland is alive and well — and that cycling and the people who love it will play a big role in our city’s renaissance.