PDX Postcard: Bare Naked Biking and Other Portland Pedal Adventures
By Julie Snyder
Portlanders pride themselves on using alternative transportation for reasons both ecological (we’re one of the country’s greenest cities) and pragmatic (daily traffic congestion prevails). While the Trimet bus, streetcar and MAX light rail network move us around the region reliably and relatively speedily, bicycling is the commuter mode of choice for some 8% of our population and many more for pleasure pedaling.
Portland has earned its reputation as one of America’s most bike-friendly cities with some 400 miles of bikeways and nearly 7,000 publicly-installed bike racks. In mid-2016, the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) partnered with Nike to launch Biketown, a bike-share system with a fleet of 1,000 bright orange bikes in 125 stations throughout the city. Ridership in the first two years of operation topped 700,000. Both locals and visitors love it!
Now about that bare naked biking.
Portland’s World Naked Bike Ride (WNBR) rolled out in 2005, one of some 75 cities in 20 countries to host a biking event in the buff. These days, our city’s WNBR attracts some 10,000 riders who pedal fancifully decorated bikes along an 8-mile route on a summer evening. The interpretation of the “as bare as you dare” dress code ranges from nearly naked to creative body paint to the “full monty.”
If you love your lycra, here are some other popular Portland-area bike events where clothing is not optional.
Tour de Lab, a Labor Day benefit for Dove Lewis Animal Emergency Hospital, features Big Dog (45 miles) or Puppy (18 miles) route options. Riders refuel at Lucky Labrador pubs along the way.
Portland pedalers have one opportunity a year to ride a selection of the city’s dozen bridges without dodging vehicle traffic. The 24th annual Providence Bridge Pedal in August features mileage options from 13 to 36 that include six to 10 bridges.
The Harvest Century in September showcases the bucolic landscapes and wine lands on the southwestern fringes of the Portland Metro Area. To wheel along the Willamette and pastoral landscapes south of the city, register for the Portland Century, a late summer favorite with 30, 55, 85 and 100-mile route options.
In nearby Silverton in June, the Petal Pedal offers 30-, 50-, 70- and 100-mile pastoral routes, capped by a well-deserved meal and live music at the Oregon Garden. Admission to the gardens—an Oregon treasure—is included with registration.
Oh, the irony! The 2019 Worst Day of the Year Ride was postponed for two weeks—because of bad weather! The 18-year-old Portland cycling classic—typically held in early February and benefiting Community Cycling Center—dares hearty pedalers to defy our winter’s chill and persistent precipitation.
Pedalers can choose from 42-mile “Challenge” or 16-mile “Urban” routes and there’s a family-friendly four-miler as well. Well-fueled rest stops and a finish line party at the Lucky Labrador brew pub incent pedalers to tough it out. But perhaps the 2019 event deserves the name “The Second Worst Day of the Year Ride?”
Julie Snyder lives in Portland, Oregon. As a writer, editor and publisher, she’s contributed to a variety of lifestyle, in-flight and travel publications, and produced award-winning catalogs for Backroads travel company. Among her passions are animal welfare, walking, travel, and the Green Bay Packers.