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 over 100 rides throughout town.
This year, you can celebrate the Northwest Trail Alliance’s 30th anniversary at Portland’s new Gateway Green cycling park, or test your adrenaline limits at the ZooBomb-a-thon, a white-knuckle ride down the hills of Forest Park. If slow and steady is more your speed, meander around Portland’s waterfront on the Slowest Ride of the Year, a bike convoy lead by unicycle. 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 Bey vs. Gaga ride — encourage costumes, reflecting the festival’s celebratory, non-competitive nature. And while fun with bikes is Pedalpalooza’s priority, in previous years 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? 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 ends with a post-ride dance, like the Kick-Off Ride Afterparty at Vitalidad Movement Arts Center. 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.”