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MTB roundup: Helltrack, River View planning, Sandy Ridge award, and more

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on October 29th, 2013 at 10:37 am

Helltrack is coming!

Just because Portland isn't known as a mountain biking mecca (yet), doesn't mean we don't have our share of mountain bike news. Check out the updates on several fronts below...

Helltrack at The Lumberyard
The Lumberyard has partnered up with PlusSizeBMX on an interesting event next month: They call it "Helltrack." According to The Lumberyard's event coordinator Amy Hardesty, Helltrack is a "multi-lap obstacle race with nine riders going head-to-head that combines indoor and outdoor features, a cereal bowl, pallets, bikes, beer, jumps, UCI Bro Barriers, Carnage, and good times." There are racing categories for all types of riders (even kids!) and everyone is welcome. The course runs inside and outside The Lumberyard and there's an after-party sponsored by Red Bull. Event dates are November 23-24th and registration is $20-25 per race. More info at LumberyardMTB.com or follow updates on the Facebook event page.

River View Natural Area planning process underway
Portland Parks is leading a public process to determine the future of the River View Natural Area. As we've shared previously, the 146 acre parcel just south of the Sellwood Bridge on the west side of the Willamette River holds major bicycling potential. At this point, the Public Advisory Committee for the project has met twice and a rough draft of the Concept Plan will be on the agenda at the next PAC meeting in January. But before then, Portland Parks needs to hear input from the community about how best to balance the goals of recreation and conservation.

There's a community meeting and open house scheduled for November 12th from 5:30 to 7:30 pm at PDX Church (125 SW Miles). The Northwest Trail Alliance, who has a member on the PAC, said they hope to see all types of mountain bikers at the meeting: "Do you want XC trails? Do you want advanced trails? Do you want a beginner loop? Do you want a variety of trails and difficulty levels so that riders can advance their skills? It is our time to be proactively engaged in developing a plan for this centrally located natural area, where many of us can ride to where we ride!"

Learn more about this project at the City's website.

Sandy Ridge trail named one of nation's "model trails"
The International Mountain Bicycling Association has named "Flow Motion" trail at Sandy Ridge as one of the top places for mountain biking in the country. Sandy Ridge is located about 40 miles east of downtown Portland and has become the most popular "local" riding destination. IMBA included Flow Motion as on of their "model trails" and said, "It’s all about flow with an endless succession of berms and rollers through a lush, rainforest-like landscape." Learn more about the Flow Motion trail here.

This recognition is especially sweet for local MTB advocacy group Northwest Trail Alliance and one of their sponsors Portland Design Works. PDW sponsored a big trail work party at Flow Motion back in May. Check their video recap of that event below...

Sandy Ridge Trail Work Day from PDW on Vimeo.

Northwest Trail Alliance General Meeting is tonight!
Does all this mountain biking news get you pumped and inspired to get more involved and join hands with local trail stewards? If so, tonight is a perfect opportunity to get connected with other mountain bike fans and advocates at the monthly meeting of the Northwest Trail Alliance. They're meeting tonight at Hopworks Urban Brewery (2944 SE Powell). Social hour (with free beer) starts at 6:00 and the meeting gets underway at 7:00.

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  • Granpa October 29, 2013 at 3:25 pm

    The management plan desires to use a science based approach in regard to use of the site. They intend to design a trail system that is compatible with protection of the natural resources and they want to use the site for research opportunities.

    Mt. bikers are already staking a claim on the site as described in Jonathan’s wish list of trail options. If the Mt. bikers get their trails and scientific research is undertaken to evaluate the impact of Mt. bikes on flora, fauna and soil and genuine unbiased science determines that there are negative impacts then what happens. This location really is prime for mountain biking and a prime opportunity to study its impacts. I expect that negative impacts will be found. There is pretty heated emotion regarding this issue and genuine scientific research needs to occur so that facts can guide future developments and the management of this one.

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    • Brian October 29, 2013 at 4:07 pm

      The same thing that happens when negative impacts on any trails are identified. You fix them. For example, this Summer I hiked up to Angel's Rest and noticed some major changes to that trail. All of the switchbacks that were cut by hikers (and I assume causing erosion concerns) were blocked, and the trail was re-routed in certain sections. NWTA, in partnership with Portland Parks and Sellwood Cycles, have been doing just that at Riverview for the past year. Over 450 hours of labor have gone into trail re-routes, enhancements of existing trails, garbage removal, etc. Fortunately, there have been many advancements in trailbuilding since the days of the CCC and that large knowledge base can be put to good use if/when new trails are built.

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      • Grandpa October 29, 2013 at 7:51 pm

        Herein lies the breakdown on communication. I mention negative impacts and your solution is "fix the trails" as if that was the end of the issue. The understanding of the site as understood by the scientific community will determine if the behavior of cyclists affects the behavior of birds that the cyclist will never see. (pygmy owl, stellars jay, Warblers, etc.) the science will count plants by both individuals and species and evaluate how plant communities are affected by cyclists who bring seeds on their tires from other areas. Science will measure water bourn sediment before and after the introduction of cyclists and evaluate how it affects newts, frogs and salamanders and fish. Are there flying squirrels in the area? Bobcats? feral cats? and how are they affected by cyclists and by changes to the other studied components that are affected by cyclists. It could be there is no impact on these interrelated systems by cyclists, but I doubt it. Still they need to be allowed into the system to determine what effects they (if any) they produce. Even then politicians will weigh the value of habitat against the (valid) desires for recreation and strike a balance.

        The site is well suited for use by bicycles. And it is a remarkable opportunity to study the effects of mt. bike use on a (somewhat) natural area.

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        • Brian October 29, 2013 at 9:03 pm

          Fair enough. The "impact" that most often gets tossed back at mountain bikers is trail erosion, so I erroneously assumed that was what you were referring to.
          I am not aware of the future studies of cyclist impact that you are referring to. Where is your information coming from?

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        • Grandpa October 30, 2013 at 6:30 am

          I followed the link to the management plan. One of the key points of the plan is to use the site for scientific research. I work with scientists and understanding of such systems is what they do.

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          • Brian October 30, 2013 at 7:44 am

            Thanks for the reply. The reason I asked is that your wording made it sound as though cyclist-specific studies were already planned. I would imagine that it would be difficult to control for cyclist impact on animal behavior or seed transfer, given that it will most likely be a shared-use area. Hopefully we can meet and talk more at the Community meeting.

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    • matt f October 30, 2013 at 9:00 am

      You nailed one thing Granps: "There is pretty heated emotion regarding this issue." Emotion and rationality don't go together. Portlanders who are against mountain biking and mountain bike trails seem to be misplacing all of their environmental guilt and anger on mountain biking. It just doesn't make any sense.

      Take a step back man. A trail in the woods that people can ride there bike on should not be an issue with all the real problems we have.

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      • Granpa October 30, 2013 at 10:38 am

        This Gramps has no anger. But the emotions on the issue only reinforce the need for science to be performed and to establish the foundations for rational discussions. Science trumps emotion. The site has largely been overgrown with weeds for years, so it is hardly pristine. It really is a suitable site for mountain biking and the study thereof on (somewhat) natural systems.

        Still habitat loss, species displacement, human caused degradation of natural resources should be considered "real problems" and not dismissed as insignificant.

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        • davemess October 30, 2013 at 12:21 pm

          I don't really know what it is going to tell us here that already hasn't been studied. I.E. see the reports that show hiking and mountain biking to do equal trail damage (and horses are much worse). We're not exactly adapting our policy in line with those studies.

          "Science" is great (I am a scientist), but interpretation and implementation is where things get fuzzy.

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  • Joseph E October 29, 2013 at 4:40 pm

    Approximately 53 percent of the 61 million acres of land in Oregon are public. This 146 acre parcel in Portland is only 0.00024% of the public land in the state. If mountain bikes totally eliminate the ecological value of this land (they won't), it hardly affects the ecology of the state.

    There are 12,591 acres of public parkland and open space in Portland, with about 10k acres managed by Portland Parks (much in Forest Park); this parcel is only 1% of the total acres of parkland in the City of Portland? Can't we use 1% of our parkland for mountain bikes?

    Currently, about half of the 600 acres in Powell Butte have the only significant "real" mountain bike singletrack trails; about 3% of the parkland in the city, but even half of that park is devoted to hikers and equestrians, and 1/3 is off-limites, for wildlife only. I would estimate that only 2% of parklands and open space in Portland are currently impacted by mountain bikes.

    I don't currently own a mountain bike and don't plan to buy one. But I think Portland could double the number of mountain bike trails in the city by using this land, and still provide natural habitat and trails shared by hikers. This would be fair, and reasonable.

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    • Brian October 29, 2013 at 5:40 pm

      Great points, Joseph. Thank you. I would also add that there is not one single trail in the Portland Metro area that could be considered technically intermediate or advanced. The few trails we do have access to are beginner trails. We are simply not meeting the demand, including providing spaces for our children to better their skills. The little (and big) mountain bikers of today are the bike commuters of tomorrow. I am one of them.

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      • davemess October 30, 2013 at 12:26 pm

        Good Points Brian. In talking to some builders at Powell Butte, they told me the city (Parks dept?) told them to cover all roots to prevent damage from the trees. I think they did a decent job making the trails as swoopy and challenging as they could, but their hands were pretty tied. Rocks in trails are not the end of the world, not all trails need to be ADA compliant.

        Spent the weekend in Bend, and man it's so hard to come back here and know my tech. skills are going to whittle away again. But there really are no options with places to practice (well kind of the Lumberyard).

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  • matt f October 30, 2013 at 11:31 am

    You say "habitat loss, species displacement, human caused degradation of natural resources should be considered "real problems" and not dismissed as insignificant." That's not a rational statement here. We're talking about a small parcel of land: a "site overgrown with weeds for years"...a site that already has trails and quite a bit of evidence of human use including homeless campsites.

    Here's my frustration. Every time an opportunity comes up to expand moutnain bike access within the city, then people like you say we must take a scientific approach; we must do studies; we must then study the studies; then we must get together the varous parties to discuss the 'unbiased' scientific studies. And nothing ever gets done. I think obfuscation is a good word to describe this.

    It's all bs. Is there some negative impact from mountain bike trails? of course. Is there some negetive impact from hiking trails? Yes. That doesn't mean that we shouldn't have trails. And it also doesn't mean we need to study this to death. A new trail has such an unsignificantly minor impact regarding the things you say you're concerned about compared to logging, mining, and development...yet here we are splitting hairs.

    How about spending your time fighting the logging industry, the resource extraction industry, etc etc rather than fighting your neighbors who would enjoy nothing more to ride their bikes in the woods close to where they live.

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    • Granpa October 30, 2013 at 12:42 pm

      In two of my posts I said the site was suitable for mt. biking, and in a third it was inferred. If this sounds like I am fighting against mt biking then you have a real chip on your shoulder. You state that studies are BS and that the impacts are known. They may be known but not quantified. That is what would be delivered by studies and that would be the basis for the natural resource arguments that feed the political decisions that divide resources between divergent stakeholders. Mt bikers can make their own arguments, but science needs to be the advocate for stakeholders who have eminent domain but no voice.

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      • matt f October 30, 2013 at 1:36 pm

        I apologize granps...I let my frustration boil over there. However, my point is that scientific analysis is overkill for a project like this. All it does is cost money, delay and derail. And regardless if the study is performed in a totally unbiased fashion, it's findings don't sway anyone. People that were against new trails will be still against them and people that were for them will still be for them. Some common sense and perspective is what is needed. Buiding a trail has such a miniscule effect on the environment compared to everything else that it's just damn sad that people are adamantly against them. I still think it's misplaced anger/guilt or NIMBY-ism.

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        • Granpa October 30, 2013 at 2:07 pm

          No apology necessary. We are all passionate about our passions. I am against trails in many areas, but not here, so be careful with your stereotyping. Putting trails here will take stress off of areas that really have high natural resource value.

          There is no reason that science should be completed prior to trail use by cyclists. To study behavior of critters in the company of cyclists they should occur concurrently. And they need not cost money. PSU and other institutions of higher learning have teams of young out-doorsie scientists who are paying their colleges for the opportunity to sit in the woods counting newts while cyclists ride by. Anyway this is all conjecture. Because the management plan says science should be undertaken here does define what it will study. It is my hypothesis that there is significant unknown about the depth and level of impact by cyclists on natural areas, and that this area could be used to provide knowledge simultaneously with providing recreation.
          Peace man.

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        • davemess October 30, 2013 at 4:46 pm

          Matt, in my experience the biggest road block has been misperceptions of mountain bikers. In Portland most people think mountain bikers are all down-charging, Red-bull drinking adrenaline junkies who will run over their dog. Many other mountain states have a little more tame perspective of mountain biking, viewing it more as the family of four next door who does some cross country rides on the weekends. If you can start to imagine your neighbors having mountain bikes (I mean George Bush is a mountain biker), it makes it a little less intimidating and scary, and you might start to cede that increased access WOULD in fact be good for the community. Personally I think a focus on XC trails in Portland going forward would help to do this.

          Sitting in the parking lot of Phil's in Bend last weekend, I saw such a diverse group of people, kids as young as 6 and adults that looked to be over 60. That's the image of mountain biking we need in Portland to help win over public support.

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  • Fred October 30, 2013 at 3:53 pm

    There is some science already out there on the effects of recreation on wildlife. Here is a link to a literature review that was prepared for the Mount Spokane State Park. http://tinyurl.com/m7gms23

    The existing literature seems to reveal that hiking can be more disturbing to wildlife than other forms of recreation. Pages 9, 10 and 11 summarize the findings of the existing studies and make some concluding statements.

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    • Brian October 31, 2013 at 6:26 am

      Thanks for posting, Fred. Good read.
      This thread has me thinking about off-road research. Studies that are completed, despite having a null hypothesis, seem to have two outcome potentials-no impact or negative impact. What about a study that has potential for a positive impact from mountain biking? Take, ivy, for example. The City just used a lot of chemicals to kill off the massively invasive web of ivy throughout Riverview. Is it possible that mountain biking has a positive impact on the prevention of ivy reintroduction? Trails (including wider, advanced trails) could prevent the spread of ivy. Creating more of a bike park, with different types of trails, that attracts different types of riders will increase the "pool" of labor. This labor could be used to keep the ivy at bay, versus having to use chemical treatments again in the future. What are the positive effects on animals of not having to use chemical treatments?

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      • davemess October 31, 2013 at 9:40 am

        I think the fact that Mountain bikers have proven to be dedicated trail workers alone would be a positive impact on preventing/limiting ivy growth. If you give these people a place to play they WILL most certainly take care of it!

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  • Paul November 1, 2013 at 10:05 am

    Helltrack! Will Bart Taylor and Cru Jones be there?

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