The Ladds 500 is an annual bicycle relay race around a traffic circle in Southeast Portland's Ladd's Addition. But it's really so much more than that: As the first big bike social of the year, the ride is a chance to come out of winter hibernation, see pals from last summer's Pedalpalooza, and show off zany outfits and bikes. 

The event's organizer, David Barstow Robinson, started Ladd's 500 in 2016. Its name refers to a stated goal of the relay—to bike 500 laps around Ladd Circle Park. That distance ostensibly adds up to 100 miles, though the exact measurement is in dispute and being nitpicky about mileage really isn't the point. Besides, it can be hard to keep track of all the laps, especially with all the baton-passing going on. (The "batons" at the Ladds 500 are typically Rainier cans, or sometimes hot dogs.) 

While it's always the "first annual" Ladds 500 (that title is a little joke that embodies the event's unserious energy), this year marked the seventh anniversary, and biggest turnout yet. At the ride's peak, thousands of people were either hanging out in Ladd Circle or making their way around it. The race wasn't limited to bikes—participants rode roller skates, skateboards, unicycles, and other modes of travel. 

As word of the fun relay race has spread, Ladds 500 has grown in popularity—ballooning back after a two-year pandemic hiatus—and as a result its logistics have become more complicated and expensive. Donations collected through bike event nonprofit Umbrella PDX helped make this year's race possible.

But on Saturday in Ladds Addition, everything was beautiful and nothing hurt. Even Portland City Council candidates came together to form their own team "Cruising to City Council," among whose membership we saw Timur Ender, Jesse Cornett, and Bicycle Transit Alliance founder Rex Burkholder.

With its motto of "let's do something stupid" and rules that prioritize fun over winning ("cheating will be tolerated as long as it's funny"), the Ladds 500 embodies the best of Portland and its quirky bike community.

A rider outstretches their hand to accept handouts from the sidelines. taylor griggs 
People chillin' in the park. taylor griggs
Some of the team names. taylor griggs
Organizer David Barstow Robinson wore a vest adorned with Ladds 500 patches. taylor griggs
Bubble machines were in full effect at this year's Ladds 500. taylor griggs
Shawne Martinez strapped two chairs to his cargo bike trailer and let people join the ride. taylor griggs
One of the many tall bikes attending the relay - taylor griggs
Notable participants included OPB's Dave Miller, chauffeuring two kids in his cargo bike. taylor griggs
This purple jumpsuit was just one of the many chic fashion choices on display. taylor griggs
A live DJ in circle park provided pace-keeping tempo. taylor griggs
Crossing the sea of bike riders to get to the other side of the street required planning (and bravery). taylor griggs