Whether you’re a cycling fanatic, an occasional cruiser or just a lover of fun events, Pedalpalooza has something for you. Held in Portland each June, this bike- and fun-focused festival celebrates summer’s arrival with more than 200 rides throughout town. You can take the Midnight Mystery Ride (starting location revealed the day of the ride) or try out bike polo. Or join the thousands of riders who cycle through the city in the buff during the World Naked Bike Ride.
What is Pedalpalooza?
Inspired by the success of Bikesummer, a traveling event Portland hosted in 2002, Pedalpalooza has entertained bike enthusiasts since 2003. While local bike-fun organization SHIFT runs the festival’s site and helps with planning, anyone can create and lead a ride.
“I think the thing that surprises most newcomers (and continues to entertain old hands) is the ingenuity behind some of the rides,” says Chris McCraw, one of SHIFT’s community builders and an occasional ride organizer. “It’s DIY, as is Portland’s culture, with room for every weird kind of ride, from life drawing to scavenger hunts to pub crawls to races to campouts.”
With a mix of family-friendly and adult-only rides, Pedalpalooza embraces bike fun as a way to bring community together. Many rides — such as Galactic Disco or the Bowie vs. Prince ride — encourage costumes, reflecting the festival’s celebratory, non-competitive nature. And while fun with bikes is Pedalpalooza’s priority, events like the Climate Ride, Oil Train Protest Ride, Feminist Ride and Jazz Funeral Ride (memorializing Portland and Oregon traffic deaths) also let people to speak out on important issues.
Pedalpalooza for visitors
Visiting from out of town? The SHIFT visitor info page includes tips on transporting your bike, bike shops and rentals, and bike maps. If you don’t have a bike with you, it’s easy to test out Portland’s Biketown bike share program or one of the city’s other bike rental programs. Want to get a taste of Pedalpalooza without pedaling? Head to an event that kicks off with a pre-ride gathering, like Loud and Lit. There are also slower rides that you can join by foot or pedicab.
“Pedalpalooza is a ‘Welcome to summer, get on your bike!’ event that builds community,” says McCraw. “Hopefully, people you pass by will get a whiff of that joy — that delightful sense of being yourself and having fun in public — and join us on the next ride.”
While Pedalpalooza traditionally runs for two to three weeks, Pedalpalooza 2017 offers bike fun for the entire month of June. This year’s festival is loosely categorized into four “focus weeks”: Community (in which nonprofits have been encouraged to schedule rides that showcase their organizations), Wildcard, East Side (to bring fun to the further reaches of Portland) and Daytime & Kids.
Pedalpalooza posts a ride calendar online, and the Portland Mercury includes printed versions in the “Bike Edition,” published May 24.
“People are excited to reconnect with friends from last year, discover new locations … and in general have free fun on their bikes,” says McCraw. “It’s always a fun social outing and it’s always good people having fun outdoors in public, welcoming all to participate.”