Pedalpalooza Is Back! The Beloved Bike Festival Runs June, July, and August

August rides on the calendar include Kate Bush, a cargo bike competition, and Vanport history.

By Margaret Seiler

This is not Kate Bush, but it is the leader of 2019's Kate Bush Pedalpalooza ride.

In Portland, summer means Pedalpalooza. Started in the aftermath of the international festival Bikesummer’s stop in Portland in 2002 (an event that was so much fun something like it simply had to happen every year), Pedalpalooza was normally just one month of themed rides and two-wheel celebrations. Organizers announced last year that the 2021 version would be spread over three months to make up for the canceled 2020 fest and in the hopes that more rides on the calendar might mean pandemic-friendlier, smaller groups per ride. Since more bike rides = more better, this year's Pedalpalooza will continue in the three-month format, with rides taking place from June through August.

Back on the books this year is the World Naked Bike Ride, scheduled for July 30. Last year the marquee event, meant to raise awareness of oil dependence and known to draw up to 10,000 riders plus lookie-loos, was replaced by smaller in-the-buff full-moon rides.

The WNBR is a classic Portland bucket-list item, but organizing your own ride should be on that to-do list, too. Anyone can post a ride to the Pedalpalooza calendar based on what they’re into (tacos, for example), what they want to celebrate (such as one’s own birthday), or their favorite tunes (planned ride soundtracks include the Hindi EDMAminé, and David Bowie/Queen). Organizers should make clear if a ride is 21-plus or family-friendly, and what rider expectations should be for COVID precautions. 

Here are a few August rides we’re looking forward to.

Aug 2, 6:30 p.m., Bureau of Silly Bikes

A local take on Monty Python's Ministry of Silly Walks, this loop ride from Ladd's Addition Circle promises "all sorts of Bikey Goofing, Antics, and Silliness." 

Aug 12, 6 p.m.: Riding Up That Hill: Kate Bush 'Wuthering Heights' Ride

What might be the best song inspired by the worst book (sorry, Em, but we're going through a Team Jane and Anne phase when it comes to the Brontës), Kate Bush's "Wuthering Heights" didn't need to be resurrected by Stranger Things because it simply never left. It's been here, all over the world, in red-dress meet-ups and flash mobs and, of course, Pedalpalooza rides. Expect stops at a few parks to learn the choreography before the big group performance—the ride leader does her own combination of the dances in Bush's two videos for the song, so check out her TikTok videos to get prepped.

Aug 16, 2 p.m.: Carry Sh*t Olympics

Do you do the big grocery run on your bike, or haul around a couple of kids and a dog? That's great, but is it Olympic-caliber great? Billed as "the first cargo bike race of its kind in North America, designed to test load-hauling and cargo bike handling skills in a real-world/live-traffic/no-closed-course environment.... The course will run roughly 15 miles through North Portland, incorporating various cargo-biking challenges to test your load-carrying prowess. Be ready to carry anything! Heavy stuff, long stuff, breakable stuff, maybe even some alive stuff!" Registration required, with only 25 spots available.

Aug 26, 10 a.m.: Bike the Levees

Meet a the Delta Park MAX station and join the Multnomah County Drainage District on a ride to learn about the Vanport Flood and the infrastructure in place to reduce the risk of similar events.

Aug 31, 7 p.m.: Pedalpalooza Closing Ride

Time marches on, all good things must come to an end, nothing gold can stay, etc. Say goodbye to Pedalpalooza with this "big Hell Yeah our Summer was amazing ride" with lots of pedaling, dancing, and a reminder that this isn't actually the end—find community rides throughout the year on the Shift2Bikes calendar