Portland, Oregon is renown for being the 2nd best bicycle city in the World, with Amsterdam taking the number one spot. During rush hour droves of people can be seen commuting back and forth from work on bicycles and many larger companies will pay their employees to bike into work. Even our daughter Sydney enjoys riding her bike and several days a week we will ride together to school. Being one of the best bicycle friendly cities means that there are miles of bike boulevards throughout the city, great family friendly bike paths, such as the Springwater Corridor, and the opportunity for biking regattas throughout the year. Portland recently had one such biking regatta, the Providence Bridge Pedal.
The Providence Bridge Pedal, which occurs each August, is the 3rd largest organized bike event in the nation with approximately 19,000 riders and just celebrated it’s 17th annual ride. During the Bridge Pedal, one has the opportunity to bike over six, eight, or ten of Portland’s bridges that cross the Willamette River. What makes the Bridge Pedal so unique is not only the sheer number of bicycles but that 2 of these bridges are interstate highways and only open to bicycles once a year. The ride can range from 13 to 35 miles, depending on what course is chosen. Though 13 miles may seem like a lot, it is relatively flat course and the pace is overall slow due to so many other bicycles. All ages and types of bicycles can be seen during the ride. We have seen people on unicycles and one year we even saw a small child ride the Bridge Pedal on a brakeless strider bike. The Bridge Pedal is an event that I eagerly await each year and since moving to Portland have rarely missed. The views are phenomenal from the bridges and I get to ride on two interstate bridges the Marquim and the Freemont, which is closed the rest of the year to bicycles. At the end of the ride we are always rewarded with yummy chocolate milk and ice cream, which Sydney has proclaimed one of the best parts of the ride.
Another fun family bicycle event in Portland is the Sunday Parkways. The Sunday Parkways occurs monthly during the summer and highlights a different Portland Neighborhood each time. During the Sunday Parkways, the streets are opened up from 11 am to 4 pm for bicycles, walking, roller-skating or any other type of active transportation. Cars are banned. Along the route there is the opportunity to stop at different parks in the featured neighborhood and each park will have informational and food booths along with activities for everyone such as a rock climbing wall, bicycle obstacle course and bouncy houses. The route is usually around 8 to 9 miles long. But this is not a race, one can go at a leisurely pace and enjoy stopping by each of the parks. Sydney always has a blast going from one activity to the next and playing on the play structures at the different parks.
This last winter we discovered the Worst Day of the Year Ride. The Worst Day of the Year Ride occurs each February on the statistically worst weather of the year, hence the name of the event. There is an 18 mile or 45 mile loop that winds through Portland to choose from. The 18-mile course is relatively flat and is excellent for all ages and types of bicycles. What makes the Worst Day or the Year Ride unique is the costumes. Most of the riders wear costumes and many are outlandish. Prizes are handed out for the best costume including a category for the best penguin. Last year Sydney went as a penguin, and if I may so say myself, I thought she was one of the best-dressed penguins. Along the course are several rest stops with food to help one warm up and at the end of the course is hot soup and bread rolls for everyone. We lucked out this year as it did not rain and was on the warmer side for being February. We had a blast looking at all the different costumes and enjoyed the soup at the end.
If you like biking, then Portland is the city for you with miles of bicycle paths and fun events through the year.