Lonely Planet Writer

Join a naked bike ride or even a David Bowie vs Prince cycle at Portland’s bonkers Pedalpalooza 2017

America’s bike capital of Portland will erupt into a month-long cycling-mad celebration throughout June, with 200+ quirky two-wheeled events. Around 20,000 people participate in the activities which, along with the rides mentioned up top, include everything from Drag Races, Pedal and Kazoo sessions to a French-themed drinking boxed-wine ride, a Big Lebowski ride, a Radiohead Rodeo (listening to Radiohead while wearing rodeo gear) and a three-hour doughnut ride of Portland’s best fried batter shops.

A group of scantily-clad cyclists in Portland, Oregon.
Thousands of bicyclists in varying degrees of undress rolled out of Normandale Park in Portland, Oregon for the World Naked Bike Ride. Image by Al Seib/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

“Pedalpalooza has no leader,” said Chris McCraw, one of the DIY organisers of the event. Parent organisation Shift runs a website that helps people plan their rides, but all events are self-run, leaving more room for the weird, wonderful and maximum creativity.

The Magical Unicorn Ride will see people rolling around in sparkles and rainbow body paint and glitter, stopping for the occasional sidewalk chalk session, dance jams, or candy indulgence. Meanwhile, the Mad Max Post Car Apocalypse event will see leather and armour-clad cyclists riding around the streets of Portland for survival. Expect freaky bikes, tall bikes, cargo bikes and unicycles at the event. Colourful local characters are sure to show up to Pedalpalooza events – look out for the ‘Unipiper’ for example, he wears a kilt, rides a unicycle and plays bagpipes that shoot flames, all while wearing a Darth Vader mask.

“All of it builds the community,” explained McCraw. “From the Immigrants Ride to the park cleanup ride and a bike train to ice cream after school ride, and dance parties – you’ll meet people and, hopefully, the people you pass by will get a whiff of that joy – that delightful sense of being yourself and having fun in public.”

In true community spirited Portland-style, Pedalpalooza has organically evolved since the first festival in 2004, its concept was conjured up after an event called Bike Summer came to the city in 2002, residents were hooked on the idea of an annual bike celebration and vowed to continue the tradition.. “It’s free, fun, and I bet you learn something,” said McCraw, “be that finding the best dive bar in town or how to help 1000 people stay on the correct side of the street while dressed as a clown.”