Photo credits: Lloyd Cha

From the moment you take that first turn of your pedals, you become part of a social movement – your bike, unlike a car, is not a metal box that cuts you off from the world around you. As you ride your bike, you can greet fellow bikers and strike up a conversation. Emails are exchanged, brunch rides are arranged, and the world just became a little nicer.

I’ve had the good luck of making some great friends in the bike community this way, and recently a few of us banded together to spend a week in Portland, Oregon, to celebrate Pedalpalooza. It’s like San Jose Bike Party, except that it goes on almost 24/7 for the entire month of June and boasts over 100 grassroots-organized social rides that anyone can join for free.

I went with two of my buddies, Lloyd Cha and Katie Heaney, who went last year – it was great to have the benefit of others’ experience to make my first Pedalpalooza extra cool! We took part in three or four rides each day. Fortunately, we began the trip with a grocery haul so we’d have enough chocolate to refuel us each night.

Many rides had costume themes, like the Monster Ride and the “Gaga vs. Bey” ride. My favorites were all food-themed rides, like the Por Que No? Ride, which featured stops at three taquerias.  The enticingly-named Tofu, Buns and Dumplings Ride was tasty, and the clever organizers of that ride snuck in several stops where they pointed out areas that are challenging for bicyclists. The “Goatapalooza” ride was packed with cuteness. Our group visited three homes with goats who were quite friendly, save for the one who tried to bounce Lloyd off the seesaw.

The best part about riding in Portland was the same thing that makes riding in general so enjoyable – meeting other people who understand how the bicycle makes our world a better place. One fellow asked me how I plan to take the spirit of Pedalpalooza back to my community. My answer? To be someone who shows others that you don’t have to make a choice between having fun and being an adult – that you can do both simply by riding a bike.

Want to learn more about Pedalpalooza? BikePortland.org has a great article, complete with photos. I hope to see you there in June 2019!