The 2014 Pedalpalooza got rolling in grand fashion last night as hundreds of people rode in the Kickoff Parade. As usual, spirits were soaring at this ride that marks the beginning of the three-week event.
We met at Colonel Summers Park in southeast Portland. Silkscreened Pedalpalooza pennants (created by volunteers, thank you!) were passed around while people milled about. There were lots of hugs and smiles, music blared from on-bike sound systems, people danced, picnicked, and simply soaked up the scene.
It was great to see so many familiar faces. I don’t get out as much as I used to, so it had been a long time since I’d seen a lot of these wonderful folks. I caught up with my old friend Dingo the Clown and he said it best, “It’s like looking at your old yearbook!”
As the crowd grew, there was hardly an open space of grass. Everywhere you looked there were interesting bikes decorated for fun and interesting people costumed in all manner of themes. One of the things I love most about Pedalpalooza is how it draws out such a broad cross-section of our city’s bike riders. There were teenagers on fixed gears, guys still dressed in work clothes on their hybrids and recumbents, members of bike gangs on amazing freak bikes, and there were lots of families. What a sight!
Once we massed and got rolling up SE Belmont, the size of the group was quite impressive. It stretched a full side of the road for several block faces. Now this is what Pedalpalooza is all about!
I loved the route. Instead of backstreets, we took many major streets. Going up NE/SE 28th — given all the controversy in recent months about bicycles access — was a nice touch. We also coasted down NE Broadway into perfectly warm and breezy air.
People who happened to be driving amid the massive parade were in good spirits too. Despite being held up for several minutes (at least), they smiled, took photos, and honked in support. Dozens of people ran onto their porches and out of restaurants eager to witness this cycling spectacle. Turns out, a massive and colorful parade of people pedaling bicycles is a thrilling sight even when everyone is fully clothed.
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