Portland, Oregon is a special place, but especially so in June, which is Pedalpalooza time. While we are sleeping, or working, or even out on a bike ride, people all over Portland, regular people, dream up bike rides around themes they care about. Anything goes. The ride dreams become real when the ideas are submitted to the Shift2Bikes Pedalpalooza calendar, which you can find here: calendar. The Shift calendar runs all year long, but June is when it gets the most publicity, including free publication in the Mercury newspaper.
People get so excited about Pedalpalooza, you start hearing whisperings about it as early as New Year's. I recall waking up in a cabin on New Year's day this year, and feeling especially jubilant when someone asked "what Pedalpalooza ride are you leading this year?". I was already high on the bike ride to the cabin and on life and on my Malort hangover when I heard this and nearly fell away with fairy dust. Daydreaming about summer in the snow.
And I'm not the only one who can't wait. There are pre-party rides and planning parties and mash up rides even before Pedalpalooza proper begins. Some may laugh when they hear of the preparations for these three weeks in June, but it's for real. It's recommended that you stock up on sleep, get your laundry done, fill your fridge with food and beer, make sure all of your bikes are in good repair, and settle in for the bikey-est fun on either side of the Mississippi neighborhood.
This year I have the pleasure of participating in leading two, yes two, Pedalpalooza rides. My second annual Swim Across Portland happens this Sunday. Meet me at 1:30pm at Water Avenue Coffee wearing your swimsuit and carrying a towel, lock and $12 cash and be ready to ride to three outdoor public pools for splashy fun. I about died when I learned the Mercury chose my ride as one of their "top ride picks". We're sure to beat last year's attendance.
The Bikey Trivia ride was a ton of fun again this year. I
met rando Jeff before the ride to discuss in detail the dynamics of the
drive mechanism on these two wheeled contraptions. In other words, he
taught me chain repair. It's been the chink in my on-road repair armor
and I'm glad to have it filled in. Having done a 200K the day before, I
opted to ride my fat-tired mountain bike for the twelve mile trivia
tour. Sometimes it's extra fun riding the wrong bike for the terrain.
My team, "What Tires?" came in second. These Portland Pedalpalooza people sure know their bikey
The other ride I helped with was a race. An alley cat race, my favorite type. The FLYcat was mostly put on by a new chick, Laura, who just moved here from Minneapolis and is dead set on starting up alley cat racing again here in Portland. And it's working. This was her second one and many of the same faces showed up. This is how community starts. The theme was flying things and she had us do stunts and play games at each stop. Folks threw frisbees at the Chapman School, home of the flying swifts. Even though I was an organizer, I was allowed to race. Other racers who found me flying a kite earned an atomic fireball and the privilege of skipping any of the six stops.
Before the alley cat began though, the Awesome Yards Ride stopped by my house. Sixty people showed up in my backyard expecting awesomeness and I hope the six hours of sunny day I spent doing yard work was not wasted. It was instant satisfaction to have so many people witness my yard in its most awesome form, not to mention the big dinosaur head welded out of bicycle tubes I bought after an art show last year.
The Power POP music appreciation ride was an interesting mid-week go-round. The leader rode a fixed gear with a trailer hauling a giant speaker, from which he blasted sappy pop ballads. We rode back and forth over MLK & Grand, corking traffic each time, which made me feel a little weird. We rode over the Morrison bridge on the sidewalk going the wrong way. We wandered around downtown until sunset when what was left of the group started toward OHSU.
Still to come on my calendar is tonight's Rocky Butte dance party ride, tomorrow's Bowie vs Prince vs Morrisey ride, my Swim Across Portland and....well, it's hard to keep track. I don't think I'll get a date for bike prom this year and it stings too much to go stag so I'll probably skip it. And, oh yes, the bike play ride! This was one of my favorites from last year. The acting troupe performs a scene from a play they've written at each stop along the ride. Just like a real play, they are performing/riding several nights in a row. So get out there and get your bike fun on with one of these or the other many ride offerings.