Rumors of sunshine glimpsed momentarily in Portland's skies have begun circulating. Farmers markets have started blooming in all five quadrants. Recent college graduates have flooded the local job pool, snatching up gelato-scooping gigs and part-time barista openings like gung-ho flies on fresh cow dung (or lawn-fed goat droppings, if you live on the east side). Warm nights of two-wheeled jousts and ever-fleshy naked bike rides must be just around the bend. Summer has finally arrived in Portland, and with it a revitalized commitment to that 10-speed sitting in your garage. Where should you take your first ride of the season? We asked the experts.
Over at the Portland Office of Transportation Options, Timo Forsberg is seeking sweet rewards for his cycling, on top of the usual health and environmental benefits. "You know, my favorite ride is usually one that takes me by a doughnut shop...or with any luck, more than one," admits the Portland by Cycle staffer. A couple of years ago, Forsberg led a late-night ride that ran from Tonalli's Donuts on Northeast Alberta Street through Fernhill Park, Northeast Cornfoot Drive and Alderwood Road, Northeast 82nd Avenue and finally "all the way out to the airport, [where we] got doughnuts at the 24-hour Beaverton Bakery. That was quite entertaining, having 20-some bicyclists walking through the airport at midnight."
Professional cyclocross racer and Portland Bicycle Studio founder Molly Cameron has a simpler, healthier goal in mind when it comes to finding new bike routes. "I'm looking for roads with low traffic," she explains. "I like climbing up [Northwest] Saltzman Road to Skyline [Boulevard]," and from there onto Northwest Johnson Road, followed by Pedersen Road. "There's this old man's farm…the peacocks and roosters will scatter off the road and his old dogs will bark and pretend to chase you, but it is easily one of the more beautiful three-hour loops in town."
There's a lot of love going around for that quiet road. Two-time Olympic cyclist and Portland bicycle-law attorney Bob Mionske considers the route "unique, in that one can climb up to Skyline without having to deal with cars. It is gravel, but quite smooth and easy to ride for any level." Mionske recommends that bike riders try "LSD, but not the good kind," referring to the practice of biking long, slow distances. The easiest way to do that? Stop hopping into those gas-guzzlers on the way out to short, scenic rides. "A lot of people just get in their car with their bikes on top and drive [to Sauvie Island]. I'd encourage them to try biking out…via Highway 30. The shoulder on most of it is very wide." I'm sold—let's get riding.
June 10-27: Pedalpalooza
Now in its ninth year of cyclicious glory, this annual celebration of all things two-wheeled and self-propelled has more activities packed into its 2 1/2 weeks than ever before. Our last count came in at a whopping 251 events, meaning a little bit of something for everyone. For an early sampling of the festival, check out the Pedalpalooza Preview Ride at 6:30 pm on June 10 at Laurelhurst Park (3700 SE Ankeny St.). See shift2bikes.org/pedalpalooza for events calendar.
June 12: Cirque du CyclingA family ride, kids' fun zone, art bike parade, beer garden, circus and bike race are all included in this daylong bicycle street fair. North Mississippi Avenue at Failing Street. Noon-8 pm Saturday. All events except race are free; race $25 in advance, $30 day of. Register and get information at cyclingcircus.com.
June 19: World Naked Bike RideJoin thousands of your fellow Portlanders in the annual unabashed display of all things that sag on all things that cycle. Near the Eastbank Esplanade and Hawthorne Boulevard. 10 pm Saturday. Free. worldnakedbikeride.org.
June 27, July 18, Aug. 15, Sept. 26: Sunday Parkways
One quadrant of Portland per month gets miles of regular roads turned into car-free boulevards for a day, with thousands taking to the streets on their non-automobile of choice. Visit tinyurl.com/pdxparkways for information.
July 10: The Night Ride
Disco parties, face painting, video karaoke, fire jugglers, musicians, a midnight doughnut feast, costume contest and thousands of cyclists in this annual late-night ride around Portland. Union Station, 800 NW 6th Ave., thenightride.com. 9 pm Saturday. $25-$40. The ride is limited to 2,000 participants.
Aug. 8: Providence Bridge Pedal
One of the nation's biggest bicycling events, now in its 15th year, closes down at least part of every last one of the city's road bridges to make room for 20,000 riders. Participants can choose from a 35-mile or so route or shorter loops that cross fewer bridges. Route, starting line and registration fee TBA. See bridgepedal.com to register.
Aug. 14: Tour de Fat
New Belgium Brewing's celebration of beer and bikes begins with a costumed bike parade and continues through the afternoon with musicians and other performers. Tom McCall Waterfront Park. See newbelgium.com/tour-de-fat for information.
Aug. 22: Portland Century
A grueling ride justly renowned for the excellent food served en route (by Hot Lips and Laughing Planet, among others) and at the finish line (a salmon dinner). Starting line at Portland State University, 1825 SW Broadway. 100-mile route starts at 6-8:30 am Sunday, 50-mile at 8-9:30 am. $60 until Aug. 13, $70-$80 after. Kids 10 and under $10. See portlandcentury.com for details and to register.