Summer in Portland is inevitably marked by the sound of uncertain chains hitting gears for their first rides of the year. Pedalpalooza is growing along with Portland, with more theme rides, bicycle tours, and on-bike nudity than ever. This is the spirit needed to carry people over the threshold from casual rider to lifestyle cyclist.
This summer, I rode in as many rides as usual, including but not limited to: The (hopefully not actually) last epic Prince Vs Bowie ride, the Ginger ride, the Kickoff ride, the Loud n Lit ride, and the (somewhat bizarrely located) WNBR.
While I was once accustomed to riding everywhere, every day, without ever needing a car, I now have a daily commute to the suburbs that curbed the riding substantially. Once I get home, the car doesn’t move and it’s bike or walk only. I still ride several times per week, including to the grocery store and running other errands. But it feels different somehow: I don’t have to pack everything I might need for the day, I don’t race to my destination as fast as I safely can, and my muscles just don’t have the same stamina they once did since I rarely ride as fast or as far in addition to not as often.
So Pedalpalooza. Weekday group rides, I raced home from work to arrive on time, and it was much less drinking and not being able to stay out until the ride’s end. Granted, I worked before on weekdays and rarely ever did stay until rides’ final endings in the wee hours, but having to get up quite early and drive is a much more daunting (and dangerous) prospect than an invigorating ride on my bicycle– and again, the lack of stamina didn’t help matters. That said, this year’s festival was one of my favorites. I realized how much I love it when I had to make a concerted effort to get to the rides.
The other day, as I was riding to a co-op across town, I realized that cycling was something that is still a part of my life and always will be. And it’s something I really enjoy. But in a way, it’s also sad that I ride only for joy & convenience now (& laziness, let’s face it), because it’s no longer something I specifically depend on. Now it’s a conscious choice.
As Fall is upon us and Pedalpalooza becomes a haze of good memories, I can only hope that even a few of the thousands who enjoyed riding this summer will continue to make this choice as well.