Roger Louton, board member of the Portland United Mountain Pedalers and Western Oregon state representative for the International Mountain Bicycling Association, will attend the 2006 IMBA Summit/World Mountain Bike Conference this June in Whistler, BC.
According to their website, the Conference, “will be a global gathering of mountain bike advocates, trailbuilders, land managers, tourism professionals, ski resort managers and members of the bike industry.”
Roger has been active in negotiations with Portland Parks and Recreation officials about local mountain bike issues, especially bicycle access to Forest Park singletrack trails. I asked Roger a few questions about the Portland mountain biking scene and what he hopes to accomplish at the Conference:
What sort of good news will you hope for at the Conference?
I am hoping to network with those around the country who run into the same trail access issues that Portland mountain bicyclists have: a severe lack of local legal singletrack trails and bicycle skill parks. Good news will be learning about grant writing and how to convince local land managers (Portland Parks and RECREATION) that hikers and bicyclists CAN co-exist on the same trail systems.
Are there any greater Portland area issues you’ll bring to the Conference?
“As mentioned above, the biggest issue for Portland area mountain bicyclists is a lack of places to ride our bicycles on singletrack trails. The kind of trails that exist all over the state that are multi-use, but when you ride this same kind of trail IN a Portland Park, you are poaching. Local land managers have no problem constructing a 2 foot wide hiking path, using the same construction techniques used world wide for multi-use trails, but if we ask to build that SAME type of trail for bicyclists, we get a firm NO.”
Please refer to the recently constructed Ridge Trail in Forest Park: Grant money and funds were raised for a hiker only trail. No such trail can be constructed for bicycles. Here’s what we tell local riders about Forest Park: If the trail looks like a fun, narrow singletrack trail-It’s closed to bikes!
Anything else you’d like to share about this Conference and about mountain biking issues in Portland?
“At $3.00 a gallon, why should mountain bicyclists be required to waste precious fossil fuels just to enjoy riding their bicycles? We have to drive about an hour to enjoy the good stuff, and it usually takes up more than half a day to drive out there, ride a few hours, pack up and drive back. Portland is considered a ‘Bicycle Friendly’ city…unless you ride a mountain bike!
We are ready willing and able to contribute to the local bicycling culture, obtain grant money to construct and maintain these passive recreational facilities for mountain bicyclists, we just need the local land managers and their bosses to realize this lack of places for us to ride our bikes in the woods. It’s that simple!
Attending this conference will help me influence the local elected officials too.”
How can local mountain bikers help?
“Show up at the Portland Bike Summit on Saturday, June 17th. As of Sunday, 96 people have enrolled, and 23% of them have said “Mountain Cycling and Cyclocross-Opportunities to Expand Portland’s Muddy Pedaling” is important to them. Lets double that percentage. You may have to sacrifice some good saddle time, but this is the kind of event all cyclists should attend to voice their opinions. Besides, there is an urban ride scheduled for after, grab your commuter bike, go for a ride with your pavement loving brethren!”
Roger also needs help raising some cash for the trip:
“If there are any local shops or bike businesses who could help us with the costs of the conference enrollment fee, hotel charges and fuel costs, it would be greatly appreciated. Contact me offlist, let me know. Your support would be greatly appreciated and duly noted in my report to be published in PUMP’s ‘Mountain Pedaler’ newsletter.”
Thanks for your time Roger. We all appreciate your work on behalf of Portland mountain bikers. Good luck in Whistler!