Pedalpalooza 2015 Guide!

Pedalpalooza is here

Portland’s well-established three week “bike fun” festival is here and I’m here to help you make the most of this fantastic adventure on two wheels. More than 247 rides are already on the schedule (with more to come) so you have no excuse not to join in.  Nearly all of the rides are completely free and organized by people just like you.


For insight into how to survive, the famous rides, and my top picks, read on!

Getting started

If you’ve never experienced Pedalpalooza or any sort of “bike fun” group ride, all I can say is go for it!

Pedalpalooza took my biking to the next level. Three of my 10 bikes are specifically set up for bike fun. I sold my car, and just completed the Oregon Outback. I can thank Pedalpalooza for getting me excited about biking again! This is a great way to meet people you otherwise wouldn’t, see the hidden Portland you’ve never known about and simply have a great time on your bike.

The Pedalpalooza Online Calendar is the best place to look for rides, organized by date and time, and submitted by anyone with a desire to lead a group. There is also a print edition sponsored by the Portland Mercury, but ride leaders occasionally change times or locations due to ride conflicts, so it’s best to check online for the most up-to-date information. Rides are classified as Family Friendly, or Adult Only (21+) so you’ll know what kind of crowd it is. The event descriptions hopefully give a good idea about what the ride is about, but the occasional vague description leaves room for inspiration – which can be even more fun!


You might be used to participating in supported events with set routes and entry fees where the organizers are experienced ride leaders. Pedalpalooza gives people with a passion the opportunity to make something creative and engaging happen on two wheels, but these leaders aren’t necessary adept at leading a group of people on an expedition. Bring your own snacks, expect no support and most of all be easy going about the relaxed atmosphere. Settle in, have fun and get to know the other riders around you. You’re in for a wild ride – one you’ll never forget.

Tips For First Timers

  1. Do as many rides as you possibly can. This is the true Pedalpalooza experience. If you aren’t dead tired for the month of June, you aren’t doing it right. Sleep is for July.
  2. Stock up on food, beverages and other survival essentials. You might not won’t want to go to the grocery store after six hours of dancing to Prince and/or Bowie, so keep a cache of good foods in the fridge and convenient snackables with you on the bike.
  3. You don’t need to dress like Spock to partake in the Star Wars vs. Star Trek ride. You don’t need to be completely naked on the World Naked Bike Ride. However, dressing up (or down) makes Pedalpalooza (and your interactions with others on and off the bike) that much more fun. Step out of your comfort zone, wear a mask if you’d like and be part of the fun.
  4. Say hi to strangers! You might not be able to convince friends to go on the Pastafarian ride, but rest assured, many other riders are in the same boat. There are plenty of people riding solo who feel just as awkward as you – so introduce yourself, you’ll be glad you did. Here’s an easy opener “So, is this your first Pedalpoalooza ride for this year?” GUARANTEED conversation starter!
  5. Bring cash. You might find yourself in line with 19 other people dressed as a Devil at a Plaid Pantry or a bar and cash makes transactions faster. Bonus – you won’t have to worry about accidentally forgetting your card at the bar or having to close your tab before leaving.
  6. Bring bike lights, even if you are planning on “just a morning ride.” Chances are great you’ll your day will smoothly spiral into the night, with plenty of fun in the middle.
  7. Pedalpalooza pros know that one costume/outfit just won’t do for the entire day and all those differently themed rides – so bring a kit full of vareity (and conversation starters) and you pedal from one ride to the next.
  8. Tune your bike up (today!), be ready for flats, bring zipties, always have a basket or pannier, pack bungees and duct tape for lashing things to your bike. Both water and a water bottle full of a light beer or mimosas are a great idea as well – responsibly of course. Stay hydrated, folks, it’s going to be a hot one this year!
  9. Start your own ride! It’s never too late and people with passion jumping in at the last minute is what makes Pedalpalooza such a special event. Rides often resemble the ride leader’s characteristics (or what’s going on upstairs), so the more people who lead, the more diverse the rides! Simply form your concept and add your event to the Pedalpalooza calendar. It’s a good idea to invite your friends along to ensure at least some people show up. If your ride is fun, consider hosting again next year. Repeat rides, even those with a simple formula like the Cully Bar Crawl, tend to garner a remarkable a cult following.

The Most Talked About Rides

    • The World Naked Bike Ride – You’ve all heard of this and it needs no explanation, but the ride has so much more heart than simply being a nudie fest. For an in-depth profile of this beloved ride, watch the documentary.
    • Bike Prom – Pretty much a gigantic rolling party, with Thriller style prom attire, brought to you by the rough-n-tumble (but friendly) Dropout Bicycle Club
    • Loud N Lit – The Dropout Bike Club’s night ride with loud sound systems and more lights per bike then you’ve ever seen.
    • Midnight Mystery Ride – This monthly tradition of riding at night typically has a massive turn out for Pedalpalooza.
    • Zoobomb Century – Yes, 100 miles of Zoobombing (riding little bikes down big hills fast).
    • Get Lost! – Back for its sixth year, Get Lost! is a ride led entirely by chance. Dice are rolled to determine how many blocks to ride, and which direction to turn once participants get there (Odd total = R, Even = L).
    • Little Lebowski Urban Achievers – Reenactments of scenes from this popular movie take place at six to eight parks throughout the city. Last year was far out.
    • Solstice Ride – It’s the shortest night of the year. We ride from sundown til sunup. Remember, sleep is for July.
    • Multnomah County Bike Fair – A Pedalpalooza staple, this one-day festival features bike mayhem and revelry in a stationary location.
    • Breakfast on Bridges: This monthly morning tradition bumps things up a notch for Pedalpalooza – which could mean anything from eggs benedict to donuts to waffles made on site.

Versus Rides

Somehow along the way, someone started a “this vs. that” ride, and others have resulted over time, making for a hilarious cadre of creative costumed battles on two wheels.

Eric’s 2015 Top Picks

I’ve scoured the calendar and have been looking forward to Pedalpalooza for months now. Here are some of my top highlights.

What’s on your list?

Have you been to Pedalpalooza or is this your first time? What events are on your calendar?

Eric Iverson is a founder of Grilled by Bike, a group that promotes grilling on two wheels. He is an enthusiastic participant in Portland’s creative bike culture and can often be found sharing hot dogs and quesedillas at parks throughout Portland.

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