Portland’s bike scene, captured by photographer Geoffrey Hiller

2022 Pedalpalooza Kickoff ride. (Photos: Geoffrey Hiller)

Geoffrey Hiller is a documentary photographer (HillerPhoto.com) with 50 years experience capturing images of people and places around the globe. His work has been featured in Newsweek, Mother Jones, New York Times Magazine, the BBC, and many other outlets. We previously featured his Bus 75 project. Geoff has returned to Portland to document our bike scene. You might have also met him at Bike Happy Hour. This is his first contribution to BikePortland.

Since 2021 I’ve been riding with and photographing Portland’s biking community. In all my travels I have yet to come across anything close to the eclectic community of cyclists we have in Portland. In the last year I’ve joined over 100 rides that were listed on the Shift calendar. 

For the past fifty years as a documentary photographer I’ve covered what makes a community in various parts of the world, whether it’s the Hassidic Jews of Brooklyn or the American Quakers in the Cloud Forest of Costa Rica. Never did I imagine I’d become part of the Portland biking community right in my own backyard. 

Depending on your mood you can choose from a variety of curated rides — everything from a Private Investigator Ride led by a two private eyes to “Bleeps and Bloops” (tonight at 6:00!) where riders rig up musical instruments and interact with the sounds of the city. And then of course there is the “Talking Heads Ride To Nowhere” later this month.

After being dormant during the winter months, the 2024 Pedapalooza season is about to begin and if the recent Thursday Night Ride and Friday Night Ride turnouts are any indication, this summer is going to reach new heights. There were more than 200 riders on a recent Friday Night Ride due to the warm weather. Riding through parts of Old Town I wondered what the crowd of unhoused people waiting in line for a meal under the Burnside Bridge made of us. A few waved and I couldn’t help but think they wanted to join in. 

For an easy mellow social ride I often meet up on Saturday Morning on Southeast Clinton Street for the PSU Farmers Market Ride led by Hami Ramani. The pace is slow and easy, allowing for conversation with fellow riders. I asked Hami to share his thoughts about the ride and he captures many aspects of what makes Portland’s bike scene so special:

“Knowing that I was coming to a place with such a rich bicycling culture, I was inclined to try my luck again at leading a ride to a farmers market; this was November 2020, some of the darkest times of the COVID pandemic. As soon as I had my bike I put out a call to folks I had just met briefly in person (outdoors) and those I had met online to see if there was interest in riding along. So began the PSU Farmers Market Ride which initially consisted of a core group of newly minted friends and acquaintances. The following summer I posted the ride on the Shift calendar for Pedalpalooza which then started the current iteration of the ride which has been taking place every Saturday (some holidays and ice storms excepted due to market closures).

The Farmers Market ride is something different for everyone. For me it is a form of meditation, activation, socialization and advocation. I bask in the glow of the smiles and conversation as I lead the ride. I am in awe of the self-initiated leadership many of the regular attendees of the ride show through their corking, sweeping (the person in the back that makes sure no one is left behind), informing (me of how folks are doing behind) and sometimes leading the ride when I cannot. The ride started mainly as a way to support our local farmers, makers and bakers — but it has transformed into something more ephemeral. The folks who attend come with full hearts in the spirit of community and with a love that is uniquely made available by riding a bicycle in a group. For this I am eternally grateful as every week I have the honor of witnessing the thing I know exists within each of us — love — on display for all the world to feel. The ride is all about the people who choose to spend a few hours of their Saturday morning supporting, fostering and building community.”

I hope you enjoy these images as much as I’ve enjoyed being part of the moments that led to them.

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Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor

Thank you Geoff, your photos are wonderful. And you did it after all!

Jay Cee
Jay Cee
1 month ago

Love this! Thanks for reminding me how special and wonderful this community is.

JP
JP
1 month ago

I love Portland.

Rob Galanakis
Rob Galanakis
1 month ago

Wonderful images, thank you Geoff! Inspiring me to try some new rides.