Posted by Will Vanlue (Contributor) on January 3rd, 2012 at 2:02 pm
As per Portland tradition, a hearty group of folks welcomed 2012 on bikes at the 55th annual New Year's Day ride.
Led by the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA), this year's ride had a different theme — to take a closer look at the issue of off-road trails and to highlight new pump track facilities.
Pleasant weather and quiet, low-traffic streets were our reward for getting out of the house. BTA staffer and seasoned ride organizer Carl Larson led the way as we left the meet up spot under the Morrison Bridge, headed through downtown, and crossed the river on Burnside.
The first pump track on the route was all the way out at Ventura Park on SE 117th so we made a stop along the way to refuel.
Once we arrived at Ventura Park, Larson talked about the work done to install and maintain the pump track there. The track was built as a joint effort between Portland Parks & Recreation and the Northwest Trail Alliance and opened in 2011.
It gives neighbors a place to ride off-road in a safe, accessible location and reduces the demand for unofficial (and often illegal) pump tracks in other locations.
Most people on the ride gave the pump track a try, including some on bikes that you don't normally see riding off-road.
Out of respect for private property owners, the ride stayed on public roads and didn't go onto the trails.
Although the trails are unpermitted and are not officially maintained, they've remained in relatively good shape over the years.
Larson pointed out how maintenance of the trails is a good indication of the demand for pump tracks and off-road trails in Portland. People looking to ride off-road have enough trouble finding legals places to ride that for years they've put their personal time and money towards building and maintaining trails.
Unfortunately some activity on the unofficial trails has led to property damage and other issues that cause conflicts with neighbors and property owners.
Another stop on the route was the future home of The Lumberyard, a privately funded indoor bike park opening soon on NE 82nd Avenue.
The original plan was to take a look inside, but due to a last minute schedule change the person with the keys wasn't able to let us in.
(You can still take a peak inside The Lumberyard in this video.)
Instead of going inside, we shared oranges in the parking lot and Larson talked about how a business like The Lumberyard is one more sign of the desire people in Portland have for a safe, legal place to ride off-road.
The ride ended at Eat.Art.Theater, a restaurant and event space on NE 81st. Warm drinks were welcome after cold headwinds most of the afternoon and everyone on the ride had a chance to chat about the places we'd visited.
Did you ride on New Year's Day?