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Bureaucrats go off-road in Forest Park

Posted by on June 20th, 2007 at 2:45 pm

PUMP's Forest Park mountain bike tour

Chris Distefano and Tom Miller chat
while riding in Forest Park last night.
(File photo)
Gallery – slideshow below

Last night the Portland United Mountain Pedalers (PUMP) led a group of city staffers on a mountain bike ride through Forest Park. The ride was organized to give key decision makers and city planners an up-close and personal experience of urban mountain biking.

During the ride, PUMP members explained sustainable trail building methods, shared their thoughts on the importance of mountain biking to Portland’s Platinum effort, and continued to make their case for adding more singletrack trails in Forest Park.

In addition to several PUMP board members, ride participants included:

  • Tom Miller, Chief of Staff for City Commissioner Sam Adams
  • PUMP's Forest Park mountain bike tour

    Portland Parks trail
    planner Gregg Everheart.
    (File photo)
  • Roger Louton, President of Portland United Mountain Pedalers
  • Chris Distefano, Marketing Director at Chris King Precision Components
  • Mia Birk, principal of Alta Planning, former city bike coordinator, and now main consultant on the Bicycle Master Plan update
  • Roger Geller, City of Portland bike coordinator (and in charge of the Bicycle Master Plan update)
  • Gregg Everheart, trail planner with the Portland Parks Department
  • Matthew Grumm, Constituent Relations and Policy Manager for City Commissioner Dan Saltzman

Aboard full-suspension mountain bikes on loan from Fat Tire Farm, the group enjoyed a perfect night for a ride in the woods. For many, it was their first mountain biking experience. Luckily there were no major falls (the only one I saw was a gentle tumble by Gregg Everheart, but she gets props for attempting a tricky switchback!).

The same couldn’t be said for this SUV we came across a mile or so down the trail from Skyline Blvd. (what they were doing on the trail in the first place is anybody’s guess):

PUMP's Forest Park mountain bike tour

(File photo)

The ride was my first experience on the new Firelane 5 singletrack, which is the only singletrack legal for bikes in the entire park. PUMP’s Roger Louton pointed out that the trail was built with expertise from the International Mountain Bicycling Association.

Louton showed us a trail-building technique with an idea that is similar to traffic calming. In order to slow riders down and to prevent shortcuts, they’ve placed large tree branches and/or boulders in the corners of tight turns.

PUMP's Forest Park Mountain Bike Tour

Carla Zenner and Mia Birk.
(File photo)

Unfortunately the sinewy singletrack section is painfully short and was over in just a few minutes. Even so, it was definitely the highlight of the ride.

After several stops for discussion along the way, we pedaled south on Leif Erikson Road back to Fat Tire Farm and eventually to a local pub for dinner.

The ride was a success for PUMP and was a necessary step in the long road toward more mountain trails in the city of Portland. Advocates have their work cut out for them, but giving key decision makers a tangible experience of a great sport is one solid pedal stroke in the right direction.

For more photos of the ride, (including action shots of Roger Geller and Tom Miller!) check out the gallery, or sit back and watch the slideshow below.

Created with Paul’s flickrSLiDR.

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13 thoughts on “Bureaucrats go off-road in Forest Park”

  1. Avatar granny gear says:

    shuttle to skykine! arn\’t those bikes made for mountains?

  2. Avatar Jason says:

    It\’s great to see a little singletrack opening and some of the city officials out riding.

    I wonder if some existing singletrack could be updated and added to the bike-legal list. It seems the wildwood north of firelane 2 and some of the other trails in that area (the Maple for example) could actually benefit from some increased traffic, as I had to literally crawl to get through the brush crowding the trail on a run a couple of weeks ago.

    Of course, the idea would be blasphemous, but possibly worth working on.

  3. Dear Granny Gear,

    We had to take into consideration we had only a limited amount of time to get to the top of Saltzman and back, and return the bikes the Fat Tire Farm were so gracious to let us use for free (Thanks, Park!), so we shuttled it up. Doing so also showed them what a mountain biker has to go thru if they want to DRIVE to a place that has sweet singletrack: Wait for people to show up, figure out which vehicles can haul how many bikes/people, get \’em all in and hit the road in a timely fashion. If there was an extensive network of singletrack in town, we would not be dealing with the hassle of loading up bikes, wasting precious time, fossil fuels AND $ on gas…..$ that could be spent at a local bike shop (on parts) or a local pub (on food and beer) post ride. Get the point?

    Jason gets it, and is reading our minds, except that we would NEVER EVER get permission to ride Wildwood. The chance of that happening is the same as MTBers being allowed to ride in Wilderness. Ain\’t gonna happen…..despite the fact we love trees, salmon, birds, elk, the watershed, riparian areas……we just want to ride amongst them…..

    p.s. Happy Summer Solstice everyone…. Now logoff and ride!

  4. Jason (and Roger),

    Besides the huge political barriers to allowing mountain bikes on some sections of Wildwood trail, the real issue is that the trail was not built specifically to accommodate mountain bikes.

    I\’d rather see new trails built by expert MTB trail builders than try and convert hiking trails for bike use.

  5. Lets all send letters to those who rode on that ride. If anyone has an address list, please publish it so many of us can write these folks to push for more trails. I agree with Jonathan, leave the hiking trails to the hikers, even build them a few more, and then lets have our own \”hiker free\” MTB trails. Plenty of room in that park, especially West of German Town Road.

    Lets get this done, then get on project two, a free ride park !!!

    Tankagnolo Bob

  6. Avatar Tom Miller says:

    Props to PUMP for orchestrating a well-conceived educational event. In my professional capacity, I am lobbied on a daily basis to support or oppose almost anything you can think of. One of the most tempting but least effective strategies I see employed is (I\’m paraphrasing), \”Hey, city hall! This is my world view. All others are wrong. You should adopt my view as city policy right now!\”

    Even if you\’re right, it doesn\’t work like that. As stewards of your city government, we have 546,000 (and counting) world views to take into consideration. And trust me; we don\’t all agree on anything. If we passed a resolution calling for more sun in the wintertime, somebody would vigorously oppose it and condemn us in the process.

    Personally, I believe local mountain bikers are right to be frustrated by the lack of single track within city limits. Yet I was encouraged during my time with PUMP board members that there seems to be an understanding that it will take time and effort to build the case and the collaborative relationships necessary to rectify the single track omission. The burden is PUMP\’s to prove they belong; this ride suggested PUMP is on track.

    By addressing concerns about environmental impacts and user conflicts in a methodical, respectful and patient manner, and building relationships with the environmental, trail user, bureaucratic, and political communities PUMP will ensure meaningful miles of single track eventually can be enjoyed in Portland.

  7. Avatar Shane says:


    Thanks for coming along and taking pictures.

    I would like to see new trails built by expert MTB trail builders also. Making changes to a existing underutilized trail has interesting possibilities also.

    I think everyone understands that any changes in Forest Park is going to be a long term goal. We need figure out where the MTB community can build trails in the short to medium term.

  8. Avatar Paul S says:

    The lack of ridable singletrack in Portland makes me sad. I moved to Oregon a decade ago from the midwest, where I did far more mountain biking, usually within a half hour ride from my front door.

    After gathering dust for a couple of years I sold my mountain bike in 2002…without a car to haul it to the trailhead, I just couldn\’t ride.

    It\’s ironic that there\’s better *urban* mountain biking in Nebraska or Kansas than a state with actual, y\’know, mountains.

  9. Avatar AllOver says:

    It would even be nice to see something like what they have done in Seattle (among other cities) here in Portland. The BBTC created a mountain bike park under I-5. A mountain bike park like what they have done doesn\’t require much land. While it certainly doesn\’t replace riding singletrack in the woods it would be something great to ride when I don\’t have time to drive an hour to the trail.

    I rarely ever road bike, and when I do it\’s usually far from the city, so Portland being the \”best biking city in the US\” is pretty much lost on me.

  10. Avatar Aaron O says:

    I hear ya on that one Paul, having just met some people from Minneapolis while I was down at UBI in Ashland – but keeping things on the \”sunny side\”, let\’s learn what we can from our friends in their singletrackey cities and use that knowledge to our advantage here in P-town – it\’s a long road to haul but we\’re really just getting started.

    I was sooo pysched to read this article and see what the guys & gals from PUMP, Chris King, \”City Hall\”, Mr. Maus, etc had done to build/enhance these critical relationships. Nicely done!

  11. \”It would even be nice to see something like what they have done in Seattle (among other cities) here in Portland.\”

    You\’ll be happy to know that their is an effort in Portland to do a Bike Park similar to Seattle. I\’m very close to doing a story regarding some recent and exciting developments! Stay tuned!.

  12. Avatar AllOver says:

    Great to hear Jonathan, I can\’t wait to read about it!

  13. Allover:

    Your enthusiasm is greatly appreciated, how about stepping up to the plate and helping out? Taking pride in volunteering makes the ride on that same trail/park/stunt THAT much more enjoyable. Contact a PUMP Board member @, we look forward to your help (hopefully!) and we\’ll put you to work.

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