Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Bicycle Holy Days, Summer 2009

Portland is blessed with a series of Holy Days each summer, with sacred activities or unusually large congregations of bicyclists. These rides are the "Christmas and Easter" of the bicycle faith -- their bikes might be in the garage 50 weeks of the year, but they get them out and ride in the Holy Days.

Pedalpalooza is a 2-week festival of bicycles, with over 200 events and culminating in the Multnomah County Bike Fair on June 27th. There's something for everyone...

The first Holy Day is the World Naked Bike Ride. Portland boasts the largest naked ride in North America. Choose either the sun-drenched daytime ride at 2:00pm from the Glisan/39th Roundabout (200 people last year) or the midnight ride with 2000 bicyclists from 2181 NW Nicolai St. It's an hour or more of chilly riding, with thousands of Portlanders spilling from the clubs and lining the downtown streets to see the event. (If you don't want to be recognized in photos, wear sunglasses and borrow a friends' bike ;^) This is the only way for Portlanders to be naked in public with lots of other people, so naturally, they pump up their tires and go for a ride. A lot of these intermittent believers might be characterized as "Halloween and St. Patrick's Day" churchgoers (rather than Christmas and Easter). This year also has a first-ever naked mountain bike ride.

Next, the first annual Joy of Sects ride, sponsored by the Bike Temple itself. We'll tote around a few mobile shrines and go from church to church, giving each parish 10 minutes to introduce themselves and try to convert us. Then we'll gather and discuss how they all fared in comparison to the church of the bicycle.

This year Portland has three Sunday Parkways events. Last year's first-ever event drew 8,000 people, again many were dusting off their bikes strictly for this event, and probably had such a good time that many kept riding all summer long. Dates this year are June 19, July 21 and August 16. Portland's Holy Days are modeled after the Bogata, Columbia event. Streetfilms also made a great video of Portland's single event in 2008.

Finally, the Providence Bridge Pedal is Portland's longest-established Holy Day. In 2008 over 18,000 riders participated, riding 12 to 40 miles and crossing the Willamette River 6-14 times. This year's ride is Sunday August 9th. The two most striking things about this event are
1) the sheer number of children who do the 12 mile ride, probably over 1000 children under the age of 10 on the 12 miles ride, and even more teenagers on the longer rides. This girl has about 4 miles into her 12 mile ride.
2) the spectacle of lingering on both of Portland's downtown freeway bridges. No other cities in the country close their downtown freeway bridges on an annual basis and transform the space from profane to sacred.

Make sure you get out and enjoy the pleasures of riding a bike with 1000s of others this summer in Portland, the Bicycle Holy Land.

Yours in The Faith,
Pasture Ted

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