We are mere days away from what is quite possibly/very likely the greatest cycling festival in the world. Of course I speak of Pedalpalooza, that uniquely Portland event that will begin this Thursday June 1st and go through the end of August. It’s three glorious months of free bike events and community-building-on-wheels.
Last year’s 20th anniversary of the event was perhaps one of its most magical ever as people embraced the opportunity to be together following two years of the pandemic. This year is sure to continue that trend.
Pedalpalooza traces its beginnings to 2002, when a traveling “Bike Summer” rolled through town. The event was so popular local folks decided to do it again the next year, calling it “Mini Bike Summer” in 2003 and then it took on the Pedalpalooza name in 2004. The events are centered around one of the founding principles of the local bike scene: “free bike fun.” Yes, cycling is inherently affordable, but since the dawn of bike culture in Portland its main instigators have worked to make sure that there are no financial barriers to taking part in the fun, social side of things. All you need is a bike. And if you don’t have one, hop in a pedicab, on a Biketown, or into the bin of a cargo bike.
Browse Some of Our 2022 Pedalpalooza Coverage
- Photo gallery from first Native and Indigenous Ride
- Carry Shit Olympics draws cargo bike enthusiasts to north Portland
- Podcast: Live from the World Naked Bike Ride!
- Portland World Naked Bike Ride Photo Gallery
- Portland’s beloved bikeway art comes to life on Pedalpalooza ride (Video)
- Tree and bike lovers unite on Pedalpalooza ride
- Yacht Rock Ride photo gallery and recap
- Pedalpalooza Cat Ride brings out feline families and friends
- Everyone’s a Trekkie at Pedalpalooza Star Trek ride
The event itself is actually hundreds of events. Pedalpalooza is a calendar of rides submitted by regular folks like you and me (and you can still add rides!). Each year there are a few touchstone events that garner vast crowds — like the Kickoff Ride (6/1), Loud n Lit (6/23) and World Naked Bike Ride (8/12)— but most it’s the smaller rides that pull people in. The sheer variety of interests represented is a reflection of the diverse crowd of people who love cycling in Portland.
There are rides for people who sew, players of Dungeons & Dragons and Clue, Harry Potter fans, square dancers, people who enjoy Asian snacks, kids (of all ages) who like slides, or urban curiosities like those plastic horses tied up around town and Portland’s fossilized freeways, just to name a few.
Each year there’s at least one new ride that captures our imagination. This year I’m very intrigued by the Reign of Taco Ride (6/6) created by the inimitable Joshua Force. With substantial contributions from Karl Freitag he has dreamed up a one-day plan to have bike riders fan out and order at least one taco from every single taco joint in the region. Another member of the taco crew, Adam Novotny, collected an exhaustive list of every taco joint in the city for the location of each cart and cafe. Then he created an interactive taco map with an ability for participants to log in and track their purchases. What an amazing way to celebrate cycling and tacos!
I also can’t wait for the return of the 14th annual Bike Play, an original play with professional actors who travel to each scene by bike.
It all begins this Thursday at Alberta Park (NE 19th and Ainsworth) with the traditional Kickoff Ride. Show up at 5:30 to mingle and reconnect with all your Pedalpalooza friends. Roll out at 6:30. Hope to see you there!
If you haven’t done Pedalpalooza yet, check out our video from last year to get a taste of what to expect: