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Back in the (racing) saddle at Short Track

Posted by on June 28th, 2011 at 1:33 pm

Flames to make me look faster and
circa 1995 bib shorts to muster
up my glory days.
(Photo: Tomas/Team Slow)

Last night I ventured out to Portland International Raceway (PIR) to take part in the weekly Short Track MTB race series. It’s been over five years since I last raced, so I was long overdue.

Portland is lucky to have such a great facility like PIR so close to the city, and to have such a healthy racing scene.

PIR was full of bikes, racers, families, and fans. Not only was the dirt track and infield buzzing with mountain bikes but there was also a criterium race going on at the main track.

Some friends noticed the
irony of my number plate.

I raced in the “Sport” category and had a heck of a time weaving through the course — which was part slaloms and small climbs through a wooded area and part whoops and bumps on the motorcross track. I didn’t have my best outing, but it was enough to catch the bug again and I’m already planning to race more this year.

Big thanks to Bill at CyclePath bike shop (2436 NE MLK Blvd) for setting me up with a super-sweet bike. I’m so out of touch with the latest gear these days that I had no idea how amazing it was until everyone started gawking at it during warm-ups. Apparently it’s a big deal (Carbon Scott Scale 29er with lockout fork)…

(Photo by Oregon Velo)

How’d it ride? Very nice. Never missed a beat and it snapped around corners and floated over bumps like an obedient race machine should (just wish my legs were as finely tuned).

If you’ve never been, PIR is just a few tenths of a mile north of Kenton in North Portland (head north at the Paul Bunyan statue and you’re there). It’s a breeze via the bike lanes on Interstate and Denver (which have thankfully been widened recently). There’s even a Yellow Line MAX stop right at the main entrance.

One last thing; if you’ve got kids who love bikes and might be curious about racing, Short Track is tailor-made. They do a free kids race each week at 5:40 and all ages are welcome. I brought my 5 1/2 year old out and — while she’s not quite into racing just yet — she tried out the course after the last races were over. It was a blast and a big breakthrough for my girl in getting comfortable on her bike. Check out this photo below by Oregon Velo of a recent kids race:

After a break for the 4th of July, Short Track continues through August 1st. Plenty of time left to give it a try! Learn more at PortlandRacing.com.

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Comments
  • fredlf June 28, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    Dude! Bib shorts from 1995? That is not very friendly to whoever’s on your wheel. Do we need to take up a collection for some non-transparent shorts?

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) June 28, 2011 at 3:03 pm

      what do you mean? Ever heard of a washing machine? ;-).

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      • fredlf June 29, 2011 at 11:36 am

        My wife has forbidden me from wearing shorts more than 3-4 years old because the worn lycra is so see-through they are better suited for a stripper pole. Clearly, not everyone shares her high standards.

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  • Mat B June 28, 2011 at 3:02 pm

    Great post! Short Track is my favorite part about Portland’s summer. It’s like cross without the dismounts, mud, and freezing temperatures. You can even ride your bike to the course each week.

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  • Alan 1.0 June 28, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    404, ha! What a race number for a web guy. :-)

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    • craig June 28, 2011 at 3:48 pm

      Just present and explain that number to Cyclepath when they ask for their bike back :-)

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  • beth h June 28, 2011 at 3:09 pm

    Jonathan — I saw some guy out on the course during the Cat 2 race wearing those UCSB shorts and wondered who it was (my partner went to a UC school but they didn’t have much in the way of intercollegiate sports in those days). I didn’t realize it was you until post-race when Tomas pointed out your hilarious number plate.

    Great to see you having fun out there — happy 4th and see you at the races.

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  • DP June 28, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    Good to see you out there racing man!

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  • Boneshaker June 28, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    I saw you line up Johnathan but didn’t see it was you because I couldn’t stop staring at the bike. :) short track is good stuff!

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  • Peder Horner June 28, 2011 at 5:52 pm

    JM – strong work. Glad to see you getting back into racing. I absolutely love it for the way it’s another unique biking experience than commuting.

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  • Scott Mizée June 28, 2011 at 6:41 pm

    nice jazz, Dr. Horner
    and nice racin, Mr. Maus!

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  • Ted Buehler June 28, 2011 at 6:46 pm

    Glad to see you’re enjoying the diverse range of bike fun, Jonathan.

    I’ve always been a little fuzzy on the PIR, Cyclocross, Mountain Bike racing scene.

    Can Jonathan or someone else fill us in with a little who/what/where on the topic?

    From the sounds of it, every Monday during the summer there’s bicycle racing at Portland International Raceway (PIR), on N Denver Ave between Kenton and the Expo Center. I knew there was road racing where you see a pack of roadies zipping around at 40 mph in tight formation, but I’ve never been sure what else there is.

    A couple general questions —
    * MTB — Mountain Bike racing?
    * Short Course — is there also a long course?
    * Kiddie course — same route as the mountain bike course you were on?
    * Any other courses?
    * What are the hours of operation?

    And, for us non-racy folk, how is the spectating?
    * Does it cost to get in to spectate?
    * Can you wander around between the road and off road racing?
    * Should we bring picnics, lawn chairs, blankets? how are the bleachers?
    * Any food vendors on site? Beer?
    * How many off road racers on a typical night? How many road racers? (like 20, 200, 2000?)

    Thanks in advance,
    Ted Buehler

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    • Rob June 28, 2011 at 7:32 pm

      Ted, PortlandRacing.com has the answer to most of your questions, check out their info page and the videos from past races to get a feel for what the action is like. The racing itself takes place on the PIR infield (just across the track from the main grandstand area).

      There are bleachers near the motocross track that are ideal for spectating. No cost for admission. The on-site concession stand is usually open, but you also can bring your own food on-site. No alcohol unless you buy it from the PIR vendor.

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    • john June 29, 2011 at 1:05 pm

      Ted, please keep in mind spectating at PIR whether mtb or road, it is somewhat like watching paint dry. It is definitely a participant sport.

      If you want to watch some truely exciting bike racing, where one can see all the racing, all the time, try alpenrose velodrome. They are racing up there 2 to 3 times a week on weeknights, check obra schedule for weekend races !

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  • Peder Horner June 28, 2011 at 8:36 pm

    Hello Greenway Mizee! Congrats on the FANTASTIC NoPo Sunday Parkways ride!!!

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  • Jocey June 29, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    Welcome back to the race scene Jonathan! Lovely seeing you and your little one out there.

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  • Jade K July 5, 2011 at 8:19 am

    Go Gauchos!!

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