Portland cyclists mark last day of winter with ‘worst day of the year’

With temperatures in the 50s and cloud cover above, the weather was not what you would call bad Sunday morning in southeast Portland. But the relatively mild circumstances couldn’t stop the Worst Day of the Year Ride, an annual event that draws hundreds of cyclists.

As music blared from speakers, throngs of cyclists, many wearing colorful outfits, gathered in and around the parking lot of the Lucky Labrador Brew Pub at Southeast Madison Street and Ninth Avenue on the last official day of winter.

Not only does the Worst Day of the Year Ride offer cyclists the chance to choose from 15-mile to almost 48-mile routes, but it’s also known for showing up riders in crazy outfits. A costume contest divides ensembles into four categories: elaborate, weather-oriented, group, or “funniest.”

Jennifer Lyons (left) and Andy Ginsburg (right) wore what Lyons dubbed “flamingo unicorn” outfits for the Sunday ride on the worst day of the year.

“It’s our regular attire,” joked Andy Ginsburg, 65, who rode with Jennifer Lyons, 55. The pair accessorized their cycling gear with pink sunglasses, pink feather boas, unicorn horns on their helmets and mini tutus.

Lyons, who says she regularly attends the worst day of the year rides, described her costumes as “flamingo unicorns.”

Raven Pirisky, 56, drove in from McMinnville for the ride and joined a group of friends wearing pink rabbit costumes with pink bunny tails.

“We’re the Beast Bunnies,” Pirisky said, noting that the name was inspired by a friend named “Beast.”

“And it’s the year of the rabbit,” said fellow Baster Bunny co-star Jennifer Glowacki, 63.

Jennifer Glowacki (front left) and Raven Pirisky (front right) and other members of their “Beaster Bunnies” group as they drive to the worst day of 2023 on Sunday.

The two said they enjoy the annual ride in part because it benefits the Community Cycling Center, a nonprofit organization that runs a bike shop, offers discounts to low-income people, teaches about bike maintenance and repair, and more .

Noting that Sunday morning was hardly the worst day of the year, Pirisky said, “It rarely is, honestly.”

Across the street, the Last Regiment of Syncopated Drummers began to thunder away, delivering a percussive soundtrack as the first group of horsemen tried to take off.

At the Brew Pub, Porter Childs, ride director at OR Bike, the organization that runs the Worst Day of the Year Ride and other cycling events, said 850 participants have signed up for the 2023 ride.

The worst day of the year ride began in 2000, Childs said, and for several years took place in early February when the weather was expected to be cold and wet. The date eventually pushed back and after being canceled in 2021 due to the pandemic, it returned in 2022.

“And now here we are,” said Childs, 56. “On the last day of winter.”

—Kristi Turnquist

503-221-8227; [email protected]; @Kristiturnquist

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