Pedalpalooza, Portland’s annual summertime bike fun festival, is back. Since 2021 Pedalpalooza is all June, July, and August. (You can see the rides I’m leading here.) Pedalpalooza has traditionally started off with a big kickoff ride. I have regularly gone to as many of them as possible. But the last one I went to is in 2019, and I had to go, as Emee and I led it! 2020 saw no ride due to pandemic. The ride returned in 2021, but I was getting my second shot of Moderna that day so I didn’t go.
This year I didn’t think I could make it, as I was supposed to be back out on the East Coast during it. But plans change and I was home solo, so I decided to go. I haven’t been on a big ride like it since, well, 2019, so I was a bit nervous getting ready for it. But I pushed myself out the door and went to the ride start location, Laurelhurst Park, conveniently just a couple miles from my house.
When I got there at 5 PM (the meet-up time) there was already at least 100 or so people there. I stationed myself to the side of the main meet-up point, watching the masses swell. 6 PM came and we headed out of the park, westward towards downtown.
The ride was a lot of fun. There’s a special feeling when you ride with so many people. I love solo rides and small rides, but a giant social ride, one that doesn’t require registration fees and having to wear a big number or the like, is something different. Being in a throng of bikes, not able to see the lead or the rear of the ride? I’m sure some folks would find that frightening, but I think it’s great.
Anyways, we crossed into downtown and stopped at The Fields Park, a huge, well, field, that can swallow up the estimated 1,500 riders easily. I was impressed with the amount of people that I didn’t know. I can remember when Portland’s bike culture was small and you felt that you knew everyone involved. While I do miss that intimacy a bit, it’s also nice to know that “bike fun” keeps on growing and expanding, in size and in age. There were definitely people on the ride who weren’t even kindergarten age for the first Bike Summer back in 2002. It also exposes the lie of the idea that young people aren’t moving to Portland anymore. But even with all the new folks, I saw plenty of people I knew, some of which I haven’t seen in a good long time. It was good to catch up with these folks.
We hung out at The Fields for a bit, then the ride headed back east to end up at Colonel Summers Park. I stayed there for a little bit, then rode the couple miles home. I’m glad I went on the Kickoff Ride, and look forward to more bike excitement this summer.