Pedalpalooza, Portland’s big summertime bike-fun festival has returned for 2021. After a “different” (read: self-rides) event for 2020, it’s back with a vengeance: three months worth of group rides. We’re almost to the end of the first month, and before Thursday June 24th I hadn’t gone on a single ride.
Well, the first few days I was out due to my second vaccine shot. But I just hadn’t been that inspired by the rides on the calendar, or if I did find a ride I would do, it was too hot, something came up, I just felt like staying home, etc. It doesn’t help that I feel more and more like an old man when it comes to Pedalpalooza. I’ve been at it from the start in 2004, so I’ve seen the evolution from smaller, more intimate rides to big “party vibe” events. Not that there wasn’t party vibe rides in the beginning, but it was more of a mix. The small weird rides are getting smaller, the “Name of Day Party Ride” that attracts several hundred or more riders has become the norm. Don’t get me wrong, I do like party vibe rides from time to time, I just don’t want to go to every one.
Of course the ultimate irony is that the first Pedalpalooza ride I’d attend would be the one I lead. And why yes, this ride happens to be a “party vibe” ride!
I’ve done the Sunset/Moonrise Ride since 2014. The earlier years was a more smaller affair, but the last few ones during Pedalpalooza (when it was just June) saw attendance pushing 100 or more. It’s become my default “party vibe” ride. And for this year’s Pedalpalooza it was the only “open” ride, meaning no registration. Just show up. My other rides are best done with small groups, but this one the more the merrier.
Of course, the anxiety ratcheted up in the days leading up to the ride. First off, how many people would show up? I haven’t been in a big group of people since pre-pandemic, and the pictures from other Pedalpalooza rides showed that there was definitely pent-up demand for big social rides. Was I ready for it? And nagging doubt set in. I hadn’t lead a group ride in almost a year and a half, do I have the “chops” to pull it off? Deep down I know I do, but I always have this unsure feeling after a long drought. I almost got cold feet and called it off, but went ahead.
On my ride to the ride, my anxieties melted. It felt good to be on the bike. It felt good riding. While the bike ride had a mission, it wasn’t the errand runs that seemed to be the bulk of my pandemic-era riding. I was cruising through familiar neighborhoods, places I’ve been to many a time over the twenty years of living in Portland. I got dinner of tacos and a margarita (yum) and by the time I arrived to the greenspace underneath the water towers known as Sabin Hydro Park at 7:30 there was already a group of folks congregated, familiar faces and fresh ones. People slowly rolled in and by 8 we had a nice crowd of about 50.
We rolled along neighborhood greenways for 3 1/2 miles. The night was pleasant, the last decent night before a week of record-breaking heat. We got to Thomas Cully Park, my new favorite Sunset/Moonrise destination, by 8:30. Plenty of time to hang out and vibe, watch the sun set and get ready for the moon rise. The moon finally showed its face around 9:40, rising to the south of Mt. Hood and just a little north of Rocky Butte. The east sky was a bit hazy, most likely due to a fire on the other side of Hood (we are absolutely not looking forward to “fire season” this year) so the moon made a brief appearance before hiding behind clouds for another half-hour or so.
I brought my Minolta SR-T 101 loaded with some Lomography 800. In addition to the prime Rokkor-PG 50mm f/1.4 lens, I brought a Zoom Rokkor f/4.5 of 80-200mm to better capture the moon. Oh yeah, I did bring the tripod. And I also brought the compact Minolta Freedom Zoom 160 for quick party shots and some flash action. You can see the results below.
It was a great night. I had more fun than I thought, and everyone seemed happy. Now that I’m more at ease, I think I’ll do more Sunset/Moonrise rides through the summer. Hope you can join me!
For photos of my Raleigh Superbe over the years, see the dynamic flickr album below. Or click here.