‘Cranksgiving’ will mix bike-racing fun with holiday charity

‘Cranksgiving’ will mix bike-racing fun with holiday charity

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A recent arrival from the Minneapolis bike-fun scene is bringing a new tradition to Portland: Cranksgiving, a combination “bike rally” and food drive that started in New York City in 1999 and has spread around the country.

Laura Recker, who moved to Portland last December, said she wants to tap into the “philanthropic spirit” and “collective love” of the holiday season while introducing more local bikers to the concept of urban bike races.

“I’ve thrown a few races,” Recker said. “I was surprised because in Minneapolis, a lot of people would turn up to them, and there isn’t as much interest in them around here. … I feel like there are a ton of urban cyclists in Portland that put down a ton of city miles and have this basic knowledge of the city and are able to get from point a to point b quickly — knowledge that we don’t get to tap into as a collective unit.”

That’s why Cranksgiving Portland, organized by Recker and a few friends, will invite teams of two to five to bring $10 per player, a bike and a lock to Velo Cult on Saturday, Nov. 23, a few days before Thanskgiving. They’ve teamed up with Outside In, the local nonprofit that helps homeless youth, to compile lists of nonperishable foods for each team to gather as quickly as possible.

The race will also have “some elements of surprise,” Recker said, though she wouldn’t reveal anything else.

Recker said she’s never participated in a Cranksgiving herself, though some of her collaborators have.

“We’re going to have a friendly competition with Seattle to see who can turn out the most riders. There will be perhaps some sort of gaudy golden turkey that will be exchanged eventually.”
— Laura Recker

“I actually came out a lot because of cycling,” she said. “When I was in Minneapolis, I heard a ton about Portland. We could compare ourselves to Portland a lot. The most creative place to live: Portland and Minneapolis. The best place for a 20-something to live: Portland and Minneapolis.”

Recker laughed.

“When I first got here, I was like, ‘Oh, you know how we compare ourselves with each other?'” she recalled. “They were like, ‘What? Who?'”

With that in mind, Recker and her associates have decided to make a different city the official rival of the Portland Cranksgiving.

“We’re going to have a friendly competition with Seattle to see who can turn out the most riders,” she said. “There will be perhaps some sort of gaudy golden turkey that will be exchanged eventually.”

— The event is at Velo Cult, 1969 NE 42nd Ave., on Saturday, Nov. 23. Day-of registration runs 12:30 pm to 1:30 pm and the race begins at 2 pm. Teams are two to five players. Each player should bring a bike, a lock and $10. BikePortland is a cosponsor of the event.

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