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In Portland, there’s a local bike race every night of the week

Posted by on June 3rd, 2014 at 3:28 pm

Short Track Racing at PIR-3
The racing season has arrived in Portland.
(Photos J. Maus/BikePortland)

Portland’s national reputation for cycling has more to do with commuting than any other type of riding (with naked riding a close second).

But what many people don’t fully appreciate is the local racing scene. With the Oregon Bicycle Racing Association (OBRA) providing a dedicated and competent backbone, Portland is full of race promoters and volunteers who put on a variety of excellent events. Add in a local business community eager to sponsor and support them and you’ve got the makings of a healthy racing scene.

In fact, starting this week, it’s possible to join an organized race event within a few miles of downtown Portland Monday through Friday. And on some nights there’s more than one option!

Scroll down to learn more about all the weeknight racing action available in this city…

Monday

Mountain Bike Short Track Racing & The Monday Night PIR Bike Race Series

Short Track Racing at PIR-18

Last night at Portland International Raceway (just north of Kenton) about 600 (!) mountain bikers and road racers rubbed shared different race courses. While the MTB racer used the motocross course and wooded grassy area on the raceway’s infield, the road circuit race was held on the same track used by all sorts of racing cars.

Last night was the kickoff of the popular MTB Short Track series put on by Portland Racing. The series runs for eight Mondays through the end of July. The event saw a record turnout (for the opening race) of 470 racers that included 50 juniors, 80 first-timers, and lots of families. Short track is a mix of cyclocross and motocross that’s as challenging as it is fun. The laps are relatively short and races last only 30-45 minutes so it’s easy to jump in and give it a try regardless of your fitness level.

While dust was flying on the MTB course, the about 100 or so roadies were spinning around the PIR track. The Monday Night Race Series happens every Monday from April through August 25th. It’s a battle of aerodynamics, aerobic thresholds, and all-out speed as the finish at PIR regularly comes down to a massive bunch sprint. This is also a great way to train and/or experience group road racing. It’s not as technical as a criterium, but you’ll learn cornering and group tactics — not to mention get a great workout.


Tuesday

Tuesday Night PIR – road circuit race

Criterium racing at PIR-1

If Mondays don’t work out for you, than there’s also a Tuesday Night PIR series. This series runs from April through August and is very similar to the Monday night races. Isn’t it great to have options?

Wednesday

River City Bicycles Mt. Tabor Series

Mt. Hood Classic at Mt. Tabor -44.jpg

This road circuit race is steeped in history: 2014 marks the 62nd season racers have tackled the steep hills in Mt. Tabor Park (which happens to be dormant volcano). The 1.3 mile loop is brutal for racers but heavenly for spectators. Crowds line the climbs with picnics while the little ones climb on a nearby playground. More info here.

Thursday

Thursday Night Track Series at Alpenrose

A Friday at the Velodrome-49.jpg

To keep things interesting, you can even hang up your mountain and road bikes and give track racing a go here in Portland. Every Thursday night from May to August, Omnium Events hosts races out at Alpenrose Velodrome (just a short bike ride or drive from Portland in the southwest hills). If you’re new to the track, show up and take a beginners clinic.

Friday

Fast Twitch Fridays
Fast Twitch Fridays are another chance to try track racing at Alpenrose. They run each Friday through the end of August and are hosted by Bike Central. All skill levels are welcome.

Someday I’d like to tackle one of these races each night for the whole week then report back here how it goes. That is, if I live to tell about it.

For more about racing in Portland (and throughout Oregon) check out the full schedule at OBRA.org.


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Comments
  • Alex June 3, 2014 at 4:18 pm

    And this just goes to show you why we should be promoting more recreational cycling in the city. It brings people together in a healthy way and promotes all different types of cycling (i.e. racing supports commuting, riding singletrack promotes commuting/environmentalism/etc).

    I am not a racer, but it is great to see this. I wish other people could see the connection between having fun on a bike and the boring (for me at least) act of commuting.

    Free Forest Park.

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    • Brian June 4, 2014 at 7:49 am

      Agreed, and this is why I am officially announcing the formation of BRA- the Bicycle Recreation Association. All I need to really take it to the first level is a start-up budget, a website, an Executive Director (volunteer, of course), and a Board of Directors. I have plenty of ideas, so those aren’t needed at this point. Who’s in?

      Recommended Thumb up 3

  • jocko June 3, 2014 at 4:24 pm

    +1 Alex

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  • Jim Lee June 3, 2014 at 6:17 pm

    Candi Murray and I have this grudge thing going in the fixie race that opens Wednesday night’s fun at Mount Tabor.

    Last year I psyched her into an extra lap by hiding in the bushes on the climb from the reservoirs to the finish line.

    For the record, Candi is a member of the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame. I can’t swim like Don Schollander and I can’t run like Steve Prefontaine, but I can ride a fixie like Candi Murray!

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  • F.W. de Klerk June 4, 2014 at 7:03 am

    The naked bike ride probably discourages new ridership. Many people thinking of riding bikes don’t want to be associated with such a freak show. Any message this ride supposedly has behind it is completely overshadowed by what is nothing but pure exhibitionism.

    Recommended Thumb up 2

    • Brian June 4, 2014 at 8:42 am

      It is your belief that some people will not ride a bike because other people ride a bike naked (or scantily clad) for fun for two hours once a year? Really?

      Recommended Thumb up 6

  • Robert Burchett June 4, 2014 at 8:24 am

    Don’t like bodies? Don’t have one!

    Recommended Thumb up 5

  • takeaspin22 June 4, 2014 at 12:48 pm

    The sheer number of races in Portland in the summer is one reason why our racing scene is among the best in the country. Another is the sense of camaraderie and fun which permeates the OBRA community. Lastly, we are truly fortunate to have venues like PIR and Alpenrose so close by and accessible to amateur racers.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • davemess June 4, 2014 at 5:13 pm

    Does anyone have any tips for free weeknight training rides/races? They have a lot of these kind of group rides in other states, but I haven’t found them to be as prevalent in the NW (Seattle too). Seems like everyone wants to pay to do the weekday races instead?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

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