7th First Annual Ladds 500: Video, photos, and recap

(Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

The 7th First Annual Ladds 500 took place in southeast Portland today and it was absolutely amazing. Well over 500 people (estimated!) pedaled circles around Ladd Circle Park until they hit 100 miles. They began at 10:00 am and some of them are probably still pedaling as I type this.

Fears of the event becoming too big were calmed a bit as organizers realized within minutes of the green flag being waved that the sheer volume of riders created slower traffic overall — which means less likelihood of crashes; but also that it might be dark before some teams finish.

Today’s turnout was by far the most the event had ever seen since the first year in 2016 when about 40 people attended. The perfect weather and an eagerness to emerge from winter and dive head-first into cycling season brought out all of Portland’s vaunted bike clubs and bike lovers. The riders, fans and friends packed nearly every inch of the circular park, every inch of the street around it, and every inch of the sidewalk and median along the edge.

A mobile feast for the eyes on an unending loop was available to everyone lucky enough to be there. Folks wore costumes and makeup and rode every type of bicycle imaginable. There were unicycles, skateboards, scooters, runners, roller-skaters, and even a karaoke bike or two. Local radio station X-Ray FM boomed music from the east while they broadcasted live from the middle of the street. Clubs and teams set up elaborate picnics on the infield. There were too many BBQs to count, and some of the items they cooked were being offered as free hand-ups to any rider who rolled by.

And the teams! They were so creative and fun. There was Lamps 500 (they wore lampshades on their head), Friends of Steve Irwin (in honor of the late Australian zookeeper and conservationist), Team Mario Kart, The Lefty Lucys (all men who dressed up as well-known Lucys), and even Cruising to City Council — a team made up of Portland City Council candidates.

I’ve got interviews with fun folks, lots of riding and other great footage in a video I’m working on. Stay tuned!

I focused mostly on video this year, but also managed some stills. Check out the photo gallery below. See if you can find yourself or your friends!

UPDATE, 11:05 on Sunday April 14th: Video is now up! Features interviews with riders (thanks to Shawne Martinez and BikeLoud PDX for pulling me in his trailer), including: the West Side Cycle Cats, Team Florida, Friends of Steve Irwin, Lefty Lucys, Bored Torus, Beth Hamon, Team Tie Dye, and many more. Also don’t miss the chat with the team made up of six Portland City Council candidates, Team Cruising to City Council, that featured: Timur Ender (D1), David Linn (D1), Elana Pirtle-Guiney (D2), Nat West (D2), Rex Burkholder (D3), and Jesse Cornett (D3). (HD version still uploading so might look lower-quality for a few more minutes.)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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Paul Jester
Paul Jester
1 month ago

I’m from San Diego and was here for the weekend visiting my sons. What a treat to attend the Ladds 500 with my younger son and his wife and friends. We have NOTHING at all like this is SD … but we should!! It’s a spectacle, party and treat for the eyes all wrapped up in a fun blanket. There were a few knuckleheads riding waaay too fast but during my 50 or so laps I saw near misses but no calamities. I was quite surprised at how few cops I saw there … only 2. Quite a peaceful and fun-loving group. Kudos and cheers!!

Beth H
Beth H
1 month ago
Matt
Matt
1 month ago

Crushed I missed this

Sean Richardson
Sean Richardson
1 month ago
Reply to  Matt

I am so totally bummed also!

Shannon Johnson (Family Biking Columnist)
Shannon Johnson (Family Biking Columnist)
1 month ago

I think someone needs to make a children’s book with illustrations from this event. Every type of bicycle and costume, full of colors, silliness, and whimsy. Looks like fun!

Pockets the Coyote
Pockets the Coyote
1 month ago

It sure was a great day out there! So many wild bikes and fun people, cant wait for more rides and bike fun as we get into warmer weather

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
1 month ago

I went to a community event in the poorest part of Greensboro NC on Saturday, attended by over 300 people and various social service agencies – I was among maybe two dozen whites and Hispanics at an overwhelmingly African-American event – with lots of people having fun, free food, games, and ethnic dancing by recent refugees (we have a lot of Afghans, Congolese, and Iraqis).

Greensboro was officially racially segregated from 1923 through the 1960s; prior to 1923 the segregation was by income and not race, but in 1923 rich blacks were forced out of white areas and poor whites ordered to move out of black areas. After the 1960s civil rights movement there was some housing integration and some movement by race, but certain parts of Greensboro are still overwhelmingly white or overwhelmingly African-American, over 60 years later.

So when I see the fun photos from the Ladds 500, it reminds me of the segregated white areas we have out here in the Deep South – in most photos every single person looks white – the few non-whites attending really stand out. And guess what? The Ladds Circle is in fact in the very center of that portion of Portland that is overwhelming white, has been since those nasty days when Portland engaged in Red-Lining like most other US cities both in the north and south, a form of informal non-official racial segregation. Yet Portland is only 68% white, so the event looks a bit out of sync with the rest of the city, does it not?

Chris I
Chris I
1 month ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

You are insufferable

Beth H
Beth H
1 month ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

I would perhaps shrink the survey area.

Portland is 68% white if you take in every neighborhood within the city limits. But in inner southeast Portland — say, Burnside to Holgate and the river to SE 60th, that percentage expands sharply. And since Portland is a city of neighborhoods that each contain their own distance characteristics and micro-cultures, it’s not clear how much of a draw this event could be for someone living out on, say, SE 148th Avenue. Especially if they live in a neighborhood far less safe for bicycling and their choices and the neighborhood’s micro-culture are shaped by that.
Portland and Greensboro have both been shaped by racism. But the outcomes have been very different, and it’s not a stretch to suggest that the cultures are different, too.

Vivian Chu
Vivian Chu
1 month ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

You may have heard about all the anti-Asian crimes in this city. And recently Portland forced popular asian (Vietnamese) restaurant to close because they said the smell was bad.

Angus Peters
Angus Peters
1 month ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

Can you just stop for once? Seriously David people need to have fun…..

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

Ladd Circle is also dead center of an area that was itself redlined. I’m not sure what your point is. The event was fine.

blumdrew
1 month ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

when I see the fun photos from the Ladds 500, it reminds me of the segregated white areas we have out here in the Deep South

I dunno, if I typed this sentence out I would maybe reconsider what point I was trying to make.

prior to 1923 the segregation was by income and not race

This is patently false. To imagine that Greensboro or any other city in North Carolina wasn’t segregated by race before the 1960s is delusion. Outside of a few decades post Civil War before the federal government gave up on reconstruction, racial segregation was both codified in law and by social custom in the south (and much of the north). But the reconstruction era governments were all out of power by the 1890s – with the definitive moment being the Wilmington coup of 1898. If you want to pretend that Greensboro was “just” segregated by income in 1910, do so somewhere else.

a form of informal non-official racial segregation

To call redlining “informal” or “non-official” completely misses the point. Institutionally barring Black people from getting home loans was not “non-official” and could not have been done without federal policy. And for the record, Ladd’s Addition was given a C- grade by the HOLC, and was hardly the center of the portion of Portland that was overwhelmingly white in the 1920s. There is plenty of troubling history in Portland (and SE in particular), but Portland’s only Black physician for years (DeNorval Unthank) bought a home on SE 29th – probably in Sunnyside or Richmond (both given D grades by HOLC) after being chased out of other parts of town.

An inclusive and welcoming Portland ought to recognize the city’s history of racial violence. There evidently is still some level of de facto segregation within social spaces in the city, and the bike scene isn’t immune from that. I think everyone who rides a bike in Portland is at least somewhat aware of that (or they ought to be). How we go about solving all of these issues is an open question, but I don’t think it’s something that people aren’t thinking about. Take a look back at how people responded to what happened on NE 33rd, and how differently the conversation looked before and after specific concerns were raised about long-time Black residents concerning the bike lane striping and later removal.

If you’re so invested in making the Portland bike scene more inclusive, please send tips from Greensboro about what actually works to get people involved rather than throwing out non sequiturs about half-remembered history.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  blumdrew

I think the “de facto segregation” you observe in the bike scene is a clue that choosing to bike is more a social/cultural phenomenon than an economic/transportation one. Driving (and walking and transit) in Portland is not similarly segregated (though certain driving subcultures that are primarily social may be).

Will the last bike commuter turn off their lights
Will the last bike commuter turn off their lights
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

I think the “de facto segregation” you observe in the bike scene is a clue that choosing to bike is more a social/cultural phenomenon [rather] than an economic/transportation one.

One might even argue that the massive amount of attention on Portland’s”bike-fun” scene diminishes attention on boring old transportation cycling.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago

One might even argue

Are you hypothesizing that, absent “bike fun,” more people would ride for transportation purposes? I myself would be skeptical of such a claim.

Will the last bike commuter turn off their lights
Will the last bike commuter turn off their lights
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

I think that “bike fun” is no substitute for transportation cycling advocacy/organizing and that we might have more people doing this work if there wasn’t a pervasive belief that “bike fun” is an effective way to increase transportation cycling.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago

I don’t think advocacy has had any record of success in attracting new transportation bike riders in Portland. 25% mode share was never, ever going to happen, even if you count motorized bicycles and motorcycles.

Might as well have some fun.

Will the last bike commuter turn off their lights
Will the last bike commuter turn off their lights
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

Left-wing political advocacy has an excellent track record of moving cities away from automobile-centric transportation investment. Portland is only “different” due to the toxic political exceptionalism that underlies the defeatist belief that ‘murrica cannot change for the greater good (and that incrementalism is the only possible path forward).

Watts
Watts
1 month ago

moving cities away from automobile-centric transportation investment

This is not the same as getting people to ride. Portland is making lots of investment in bike infrastructure with a negative correlation to ridership levels.

“Bike fun” does not subtract from advocacy towards improving non-automotive transport options.

Robin L
1 month ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

Do you mean the Strange Fruit Music Festival, a music festival specifically celebrating black culture and the BIPOC community?? Because that certainly would not be a very fair comparison to the demographics of a citywide cycling event now, would it?

SolarEclipse
SolarEclipse
1 month ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

Was there people at the gates denying entry to people because of their skin color?

Avarie
Avarie
1 month ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

I’m sure your observations are made with good intentions, I’m just confused about what kind of constructive criticism you want to bring up. If the problem you identified is with racial make up of the event, how do we address that?

Re: event being out of sync with race demographics: viewing a demographic map of Portland based on self-identification US census data, you will see that pretty much everything within reasonable biking distance to Ladds Circle is predominantly white. Portland is a very white city, in a state with a long history of overt racism, that had sun-down laws on its books until embarrassingly late. All of this has distinct impacts on the racial and ethnic makeup of our current city. We can’t change too much the current race-area correlation, and that is a major factor of who ends up making it to something like this. Another potential issue is bicycling currently has some funky racial stigma and stereotypes and that may limit who actually gets on a bike in the first place–anecdotally, I have heard from a few folks in the past that they can tell that people look at them and assume they are riding a stolen bike because they’re Black. I’ve also heard from non-white and white folks alike that for many communities, biking is only what you do if you’re too poor to own a car, so why would you choose to “look poor” on purpose? So you can kind of see why those stereotypes and stigmas are already a deeper cultural explanation about why cycling events tend to be very white overall. If non-white folks are being excluded it probably is unfortunately due to the aforementioned issues, not necessarily by virtue of the event itself. The people that attend things like the Ladds 500 are exactly the kind of people trying to shift that trajectory, plus attempting to make biking more accessible to everyone. Strong bicycle infrastructure is a community equalizer.

I’m interested in any ideas you have to improve the issues you brought up. I just spent a few minutes while I was writing this considering what I would try if I were the organizer, but I’m not an expert, just a well-meaning, clumsy person trying my best. Without first changing those two main factors that are issues with 1. Portland as a whole and 2. the pastime of cycling as a whole, I’m having trouble coming up with something besides outreach to other communities and providing transportation to get there (which somewhat negates the point of a bicycle-only event). Like I said, from what I’ve seen of the cycling community in Portland, there is work being done to involve other communities. Could more be done faster? Probably. Change is often slow and people choose priorities that matter to them, so convincing more folks this matters is another part of a movement.

Lastly, something cool is, this free event was started and organized by one guy who does this for free. That means, if you have ideas for doing a similar event in a way that you feel can include more people, that would be awesome!! Bike events!!

Avarie
Avarie
1 month ago

It was my first First Annual Ladd’s 500, what an event! Looks like my partner and I each managed to be in the background of your article photos, haha. We only got to 120 laps before we had to head home. Excited to see the video!

Vivian Chu
Vivian Chu
1 month ago

Sure would be nice to see more masks.

Cathy Tuttle
Cathy T
1 month ago

Could someone list the candidates who rode from the Cruising to City Council — a team made up of Portland City Council candidates?

Inquiring voters would like to know.

Will the last bike commuter turn off their lights
Will the last bike commuter turn off their lights
1 month ago
Reply to  Cathy T

City council candidates that participate in “bike fun” but refuse to fund transportation alternatives after election is as stereotypically Portland as kale shortages when it snows.

Biking Garry
1 month ago

I am sure each one of you guys must have had great day out with so many bikers to have fun.

Angus Peters
Angus Peters
1 month ago

So fun! Bummed I missed it. Can’t wait for the 8th annual next year!

dw
dw
1 month ago

I was coming home from N Portland and accidentally ended up being a part of it for a few laps. Fun event!

Also a wonderful demonstration of the staggering throughput that can be achieved with bicycles.

Milano
Milano
1 month ago

An idea for next year as it looks like the interest and attendance has reached a peak. Today I rode the circle around the top of Rocky Butte. @3.5 laps = 1 mile.
So perhaps a tandem “Rocky Butte 350” needs to be lifted by another team of committed cyclists to offload over crowding at Ladds…. Happy to be involved/volunteer if others are interested .

John V
John V
1 month ago
Reply to  Milano

That sounds fun!

Also, this time of year there’s still a good chance of rain, so that could also lighten the traffic. I’ve never been, but a not-freezing-cold easy rainy ride might actually be kinda fun though.

John D.
John D.
1 month ago
Reply to  Milano

It’s funny, I was just thinking something similar.

I rode through Hillsboro a few weeks ago, and was eyeing Circle Park as a possibility for a West Side counterpart to Ladd’s.

Circle Park 360 anyone?

Phil
Phil
1 month ago

I took the train up from Corvallis with my bike (which was delightful). What a great event! So many people, so many bikes, perfect weather. I was only able to get about 213 laps in, but had a blast.

zuckerdog
zuckerdog
1 month ago
Reply to  Phil

Counting [laps] is Bullshit

qqq
qqq
1 month ago

@slipoker, who you mentioned in your article about @geographically_inclined–the two people who are running on every street in Portland–did the whole thing running. In fact, he finished 500 laps so soon he decided to add another 300. His Strava diagram looks like the eclipse–dark circle surrounded by orange. Did 118.8 miles in 16h 5m!

Two people (@bicyclecrumgs and @fartstorm on Instagram) tried and got close to doing 24 hours (@fartstorm said he did about 1400 laps).

Amit Zinman
1 month ago

I’m impressed by your dedication, providing within a day a detailed article, lots of photos and an 8 min video! My guess is that you just don’t sleep 🙂