Tour de Lab - Portland's best bike ride and a benefit for DoveLewis Emergency Animal Hospital

Lighten Up, Costumes are Fun

Lycra helps you go fast, so do streamlined cleats, an excellent diet and tons of training. But is that fun? People sometimes call it that, but I don’t think it is. It’s something positive, but more akin to “rewarding” than “fun” It can even be “enjoyable” or “exhilarating,” but fun just isn’t the right word.

So if you’re looking for good old fashioned bike fun, look no further than the costume. Pedalpalooza has taken over Portland and Vancouver with 251+ creative bike rides and activities.

Read through our selection of top pics with commentary and you’ll know we’re big fans of thoroughly indulging in the ride’s theme. And yes, that means donning a costume. Don’t be shy. We guarantee you won’t be the only one out there in wacky attire.

Tips for biking in costume

  • Make sure you can see out the head piece. This is especially important for nighttime rides.
  • Capes flutter in the wind and look rad-tastically dramatic. Highly recommended.
  • Wear your wig OVER your helmet – it’s hilarious that way and much more noticeable.
  • If your get-up is complex, test ride around the block. You do want to enjoy the ride and your costume shouldn’t take away from that experience, it should add to it.
  • Plan ahead, give yourself extra time to complete your costume, mount your steed and casually pedal to the meeting point. Costumery nearly always causes delays so start early.
  • Bring your camera and take pictures. When you’re having a grouchy day, browse the collection and sink back into your goofy ride.

Bee photo by Tubulocity from the Worst Day of the Year Ride 2012.
Robot photo by Revolbike from the Rocky Butte Sunset ride of Pedalpalooza 2012.


Maintenance Arsenal

Stock your bench and know when to grab the big guns.

There are a few basics that every shop bench should have for basic bike maintenance, but it can be tricky to decide what to stock in your arsenal. Here’s how to decide what to grab and when.

Basics: Every shop should have all of these close at hand.

Rags for all purpose cleaning: Old t-shirts, underwear and retired towels work great. You can also buy fancy ones from the hardware store. Bike grime won’t wash out of these, so if you use a rag up, throw it away and grab a new one. There is too much grease left in the rags from cleaning and they’ll destroy any washer you try and clean them in.

Toothbrush: You need a new one anyways, right? It’s the perfect tool for getting into tight spaces for some scrub-a-dub-dub.

Stiff bristled brush: Park Tools, Pedro’s and many other brands make great ones that also are useful for getting into nooks and crannies.

Pokey tool: Basically, a sharp scribe to help pick, poke and finagle out the dirt from small crevices. Dental tools work well.

Degreasers: This list goes from least toxic and powerful to most.

Dish Soap in water: Works fabulously in a bucket for quick general frame and wheel cleaning. Use with a gentle hose rinse or if you really like to get close to your bike, in the shower.

Citrus or Eco: Citrisolve, Simple Green, Finish Line Citrus Degreaser, Pedro’s Bio-Degreaser are all examples of non-toxic (when used as directed) biodegradable cleaners that kick butt on grease and grime. Generally, you’ll want to spray these on and wipe clean. The main caution to have with these is that despite bring “eco friendly” they are strong enough to eat through clear coat and the anodized coating on parts if used with too much elbow grease or not immediately wiped off. If you have some really tough grime, you might want to move up to the next level.

Petroleum/Chlorine Based (warning: use gloves or skin protection): WD-40, White Lightening Clean Streak. These are the big guns. They are in no way eco friendly, bio-degradable or good for your lungs or skin. However, if you’ve got serious built-up, tarred-on grime, this is the quickest way to get chains, cassettes and chain rings clean.

Lubricants: The bike runs better when you lube regularly, most importantly after cleaning.

Chain Lube: Many believe a household oil will suffice, but a good quality chain lube is formulated to penetrate and not leave too much behind. If you live on the wet side of the state, stick to a lube that’s oil based and a medium or wet level. If you live on the sunny side, a dry lube may work better. Use it on your chain and pivot points of the derailleur. Chain lube is sold at bike shops and a small amount goes a long way.

Bicycle Grease: Most threads on your bike require lubricant before they’re screwed in. This is also great if you’re servicing your bearings. (Note: if you notice threads on a bolt have a red or blue plastic substance on them, do not lubricate! It’s likely a thread locking component, so grease is not necessary.)


Pedalpalooza: 251 (mostly) Free Bike Events

PEDALPALOOZA | June 7-30 – Portland/Vancouver

Every city should be so lucky to have an festival like Pedalpalooza, when bikers come out in droves to revel in summertime cycling silliness. Over the course of 24 days, 251 mostly free events will jam-pack the calendar.

Food focused events abound, like the Austro-Hungarian Ride (9th), Food Cart Tour (17th) and reservations-required Epic Pizza Ride (27th)

Some rides are delightfully absurd like the Candlelight Can delight Vigil (12th) which honors now-closed drinking holes and offers an opportunity to share bar tales of woe. The Cute Warm and Fuzzy ride (11th) promises ice cream, cupcakes, slow riding, no hills and prizes. The Fake Mustache Ride (14th) simply yet hilariously celebrates the wearing of synthetic facial hair.

Hot tip: Pick up a printed version of the calendar, which will appear in the Portland Mercury on June 6. Pin it to your wall and circle all the events you want to attend. If you’re an over-worker, put the calendar above
your desk at work of a constant reminder of the fun to be had and why it’s important to clock out on time (or early…).

( ORbike favorites, with hot tips and side commentary )

( Visitor info )

( Full calendar )


Hey Kids! It’s Pedalpalooza Time!

Riding with kids isn’t always easy, but Kidical Mass makes it easy to learn from others as you help your little one navigate street riding.

Portland Kidical Mass, a riding group for families, is hosting a special circus-themed Pedalpalooza ride.

Put on your bearded lady getup or dust off your bear suit, brush up your juggling or tame a bakfiets of tiny lions. The organizers promise plenty of surprises for kids along the way. Kids must wear helmets.

The group rides very slowly for little tykes. Is this ride right for your young one? Kidical Mass requests that riders be able to ride in a (reasonably) straight line and start and stop as required. If your rider is at that level, then get your costumes ready and be prepared to join the large group of families riding bikes together.


Favorite Pedalpalooza Ride Description

The events of Pedalpalooza are diverse, but one aspect is pretty common across the calendar: simple, short descriptions. Some of the entries read like an exciting teaser, leaving the reader in hot anticipation of the event, but in most case they just don’t paint a complete picture of the event, or the event’s potential.

Perservere through the 251 event listings, however, and eventually you’ll stumble upon some gems. These wittily written, excitement-building listings describe wildly innovative and creative concepts which you may or may not care to attend.

It is with great reverence that we award the following listing with not only Best Written Description, but also Most Awesome Ride Concept.


Tuesday, June 12
New Old Lompoc, Northwest, 1616 Northwest 23rd Avenue
(It’s closed, but that’s the point.)

Come take a tour of Portland’s recently-closed bars, and join us in remembrance. We will provide opportunities for everyone to share their favorite memories at each stop. Is this where you met your boyfriend? Discovered your favorite microbrew? Found your stolen fixie? The ride will end at the hole-in-the-ground formerly known as the Candlelight Room, where we will hold a candlelight vigil. Candles provided. We’ll then honor the fallen bars somewhere that still serves beer.

If you don’t mind some late-night riding on a Tuesday, join host Adam Moore and his band of solemn cyclists on this reverent ride around Portland.


Bar None

Bar tape

You know you’ve got a new bike at your fingertips by feel. The smooth, unsullied touch of clean, unblemished bar tape is incomparable. Yet it’s one of the most easily over looked parts of your bike when it comes to replacement. I’ve seen otherwise pristine bikes with shreds of sweaty, stinky, bar tape crying out to be replaced.

It’s not as difficult as it looks, so here are a few tips to getting it done right.

1) Choose your look and feel

Thick, Squishy, Gel Tape: This is what usually comes stock on new bikes. It’s comfortable, helps absorb shock and is fairly easily installed due to the fact that it’s got some stretch to it. Light colors quickly turn grey with use and are not easily cleaned.

Old School Cork Tape: Similar to gel tape but without as much elasticity. If you pull too hard when installing it easily tears—leaving you to buy another set. Not quite as shock absorbent as the gel, but less water absorbent – something to consider in the Pacific NW.

Ultra Thin Tape: This tape is often perforated down the middle. It looks extremely slick on the bike and is easily cleaned, even after heavy use. There is little cushion, but that is usually fine if you wear gloves. This is a good choice for cyclocross bikes that will be covered in mud every weekend.

Grippy Tape: Similar to the ultra thin tape, but slightly more shock absorbent with a tacky element to the feel of the tape for better grip. This is also easily installed because of how elastic it is.

Cloth Tape: Another throw back to track bike era that has made a comeback with the resurgence of fixed gears. Easy to install, very affordable and comes in a variety of colors. Has zero shock absorbency and is the closest to riding on a naked bar. Least expensive, but wears out the quickest and looks inexpensive.

To adhere or not to adhere?
Some bar wraps come with a sticky tape on the back to ease in installation. The downside is that when you go to replace it, some brands leave the center strip of the bar wrap behind with it, leaving you to spend 20-30 minutes scraping chunks of old tape off before you install the new stuff.

Others come with silicone grip or no grip to help the tape hold tight on the bar. This makes it harder to install because overlap and tightness of the wrap are integral to keeping your wrap in place over time.

2)Get Ready: Scissors, electrical tape, bar ends and you.

Once you have a clean bar, get ready by having your first piece of bar wrap out of the box. If it comes with adhesive, partially remove the protective backing. Usually the box will also contain a short piece of wrap to put around the bottom of the brake lever. Peel off any adhesive and stick it to the bike where you can reach it, and do the same with your roll of electrical tape for finishing the wrap. Put the scissors in your pocket or within easy arms reach. (If all these tools are out of reach, you’ll loose all your work when you have to let go of your wrap to grab them.)

3) Wrap it up

Start at the bottom of the handlebar, so test the fit of the bar end cap you’re using. If it’s tight in the bar, you’ll start with the bar tape overlapping the edge by a few millimeters. If it’s loose, you’ll start with 1″ of the bar wrap end tucked inside the bar.

Starting from underneath the bar, wrap towards the outside and over the top of the bar. For loose fit caps, overlap 1/3 of the tape one wrap around the edge, for tight fit caps overlap 1-2mm tightly so the edge of the tape grips the end of the bar. As you continue wrapping, the wrap should angle like one side of an arrow pointing forward.

Continue wrapping over-lapping the edges by 1/3 – 1/4 of the next wrap. This will keep your wrap from appearing lumpy. Make sure to keep a constant, firm pressure pulling on the tape from all directions to prevent gaps or a wrap that comes loose.

When you get to one wrap short of the brake lever, slap your bonus piece (already on the bike where you can reach it) under the metal part of the brake lever. Leaving that one wrap under the brake lever bare, wrap under the lever towards the inside of the bike, over the top of the back of the lever towards the outside of the bike, under back towards the inside of the bike (crossing over your first under wrap), then around underneath the front of the brake lever. Finish this figure 8 by heading around the back of the lever one more time, then up over the bar and continue your wrap. Criss. Cross. Criss.

When you reach the largest diameter part of the bar, grab your scissors. Finish your wrap by holding the tape out from the bike on the angle you wrapped it on, then cutting a 4″ diagonal across the tape to cut it to length. This cut should be perpendicular to the bar.

Wrap the end on the same angle you’ve been wrapping and your perpendicular cut should make a nice, straight finish on the bar. Grab your handy electrical tape and finish the end with 3 wraps that do not touch the handlebar but completely cover the end of the wrap.

Pop in your bar caps and admire your handy work!

Tori Bortman is a bike mechanic and the instructor/owner of Gracies Wrench.


The Lumberyard is Open

Lumberyard Logo

After much anticipation for the last year, the Lumberyard, Portland’s indoor bike park, is now open for business.


Middle Age, Major Change

Ron Ten Berge on Reach the Beach

Ron Ten Berge hasn’t always been fit, but on May 19 he’ll pedal 106 miles from Portland to Pacific City on Reach the Beach, a fundraising bicycle ride that supports the American Lung Association in Oregon. Ron, the Senior Vice President of Yakima Racks, a Beaverton-based company, has multiple family members with asthma and is committed to supporting the cause through his fundraising efforts.

Ron says when he reached middle age four years ago he knew he needed to do something to get his body in shape. He is now very active and commutes 13 miles from his home in Lake Oswego to Yakima’s headquarters in Beaverton. Though Ron’s job keeps him traveling extensively, he carves out the time to workout 3-5 days a week through backpacking, spinning or cycling. He also participates in lunchtime workouts with his coworkers at Yakima, a company that manufactures carrying racks for cars.

This year marks Ron’s second time participating in Reach the Beach, a ride he describes as extremely friendly, very well supported and a great first 100 mile ride to do. Participating in Reach the Beach has been an important part of Ron’s fitness goals.

“Planning for a big ride like this keeps me healthy and I like participating in events that I know will make a difference in the community,” he explains.

Ron’s efforts have certainly paid off; he is in the lead to be the top fundraiser for Reach the Beach this year. Ron says he starts fundraising in December and has good support because he reciprocates when friends ask him to support causes for which they are collecting donations.

In his spare time, Ron also enjoys other opportunities to stay active. As a Scout Leader, he trained for and led a group of Boy Scouts on a 100 mile backpacking expedition.


Reach the Beach is a supported bicycle ride and a fundraiser for the American Lung Association in Oregon. The ride is limited to 3,000 participants. Advance registration is recommended.

Rest stops are every 15 miles. Participation includes breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks along the way. Support vehicles and volunteers are stationed throughout the course and are available to offer assistance.

The course winds across a patchwork quilt of Oregon countryside, through farmland, wine country and with relatively flat pass through the Coast Range.


Event Title: 22nd Annual Reach the Beach
Date: May 19
Time: Varies by location
Price: Entry fee (varies by registration date) plus a minimum $125 fundraising goal
Start Locations: Portland, Newberg, Amity or Grand Ronde
Finish Line: Pelican Pub in Pacific City


Supported Rides: What’s the Fuss?

Yes, you can ride on your own. You can tool all around the state, stop for lunch and carry your gear with you. If you can read a map (or aren’t afraid of surprise hills and getting lost), you can do this.

So what’s with all the supported rides and why do so many people do them?

Organized rides are a relaxing way to ride. When they’re well organized, you don’t have to worry about a thing. Many, like the Portland Century, offer so much food along the way it seems as if you could actually gain weight on the ride. This gives you a chance to focus on your riding, perhaps push yourself harder and certainly socialize with friends while taking in the sights, sounds and scents of the landscape.

A top notch ride has well marked routes so you don’t even need the course map. Rest stops are approximately every 15 miles. There is a number you can call for support. There is ample nutritional food at the rest stops and bathrooms abound. These are all things you don’t want to have to think about while riding.

The finish line features a lunch or dinner, and hopefully a beer garden. Anyone who organizes a ride without one is crazy! Everyone loves to socialize after a long day of riding and sipping on a beer is the perfect way to relax and unwind while you let your muscles melt.

Most supported rides are pretty much about the riding, landscape and the food. But some are also about the goofy fun, such as urban rides like the Worst Day of the Year Ride. How quirky the ride becomes is really up to the riders, who often come in costume. The ride maxes out at around 40 miles, with a shorter 18 mile option and four rest stops, so “proper” riding attire really isn’t all that necessary and fun reigns supreme.

Fundraising rides abound. Sometimes there is a fundraising minimum (an amount you have to raise on top of the registration fee) and sometimes there isn’t. Some of them are multi-day rides like the two-day Bike MS. All of them offer an excellent opportunity to ride your bike and make a difference. The American Lung Association in Oregon relies on their annual ride Reach the Beach to fulfill most of their budget for the year. Other rides like Tour de Cure are part of a national affiliation so you can choose your cause (in this case, diabetes) and choose where you want to ride. The Oregon ride, formerly known as Summit to Surf, has been around for many years and is very well run.

Cruise through our calendar to peruse all the options for organized rides. Explore the website, the route maps and event details. Find rides that suit where you want to ride, when you are available and the types of features you’re looking for (supporting a cause? extreme climbing? touring an area you’ve never explored? incredible food?) and sign up today!

Yes, you will pay more than if you were to ride on your own, but it’s worth it; you’re paying for the service, the food, the support (you never know), the well-chosen courses and all the relaxation that goes with not having to plan a ride on your own. On top of that, you get the camaraderie of tons of other riders and you’ll probably make some new friends.

There is no shortage of rides to choose from. It’s going to be a great summer for riding bikes in Oregon!


Training Rides

You’ve signed up for a supported distance ride, now what?

While the area’s best supported rides truly to support you all day long, it’s up to you to ensure your body is up to the challenge. The ride organizers can feed you and mark the course well, no small feat either of them, but they can’t make your legs move.

This is a recommended training schedule geared toward participants who have not been on their bike much in the few months prior to the ride. If you ride 50+ miles a week, you probably do not need to train for a ride that is 100 miles or fewer. This is only a recommendation. Pay attention to your body’s needs and do not push yourself in a way that is uncomfortable.

Week one: 1/2 the total miles of your chosen course (and reward yourself afterward!).

Week two: Add 5 miles (and reward yourself afterward!).

Week three: Add 10 miles (and reward yourself afterward!).

Week three: Add 10 miles (and reward yourself afterward!).

Week four: If you are not yet at your total mileage, ride 90% of the mileage of your course or more if you’re feeling really good (and reward yourself afterward!).

Week before the ride: Unless you’re a regular, experienced distance rider, avoid going on a ride longer than 25 miles in this crucial week. Instead, pedal for around 15 miles on the weekend and ride your bike 4-8 miles every day leading up to the ride. Keep your legs moving, stretch and relax. Stay on the bike, but keep it very light.

Look through the event’s website to see if the ride provides training rides. It has been a long-standing tradition of Reach the Beach to have the Portland Wheelmen Touring Club lead training rides. This is a fantastic feature of the ride that makes it easy for participants to loosen their legs for this early season ride. The training rides are free and led by expert cyclists.

Above all else, prepare well for your ride so you’ll have a great day in the saddle, relaxed enough to enjoy the ride’s amenities and just sore enough afterwards to feel the reward without feeling completely ruined.


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