Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Mountain bike club celebrates 20 years of riding, advocacy

Posted by on March 13th, 2008 at 8:43 am

The Portland United Mountain Pedalers (PUMP) have been maintaining and riding mountain bike trails in and around Portland for 20 years.

PUMP's Forest Park mountain bike tour

PUMP members in their natural habitat.
(Photos © J. Maus)

Twenty years ago, at the cusp of the mountain biking boom, Portlander Theo Patterson spoke up to make sure knobby tires weren’t banned from Forest Park — an expansive natural area adjacent to downtown Portland and one of the largest urban parks in the country.

To help make his voice heard, Patterson founded the Portland United Mountain Pedalers (known locally as PUMP). As a result, 29 miles of fire access roads and (a mere) .27 miles of singletrack trail are open to mountain bikes — and those numbers are on the upswing.

To celebrate their 20th anniversary PUMP has planned a ride and party at the end of March. They’ll lead a relaxing ride through Forest Park and then party it up at the Lucky Lab Beer Hall (1945 NW Quimby). PUMP member and mountain bike history buff Bob Crispin will bring his “Tankagnolo”, which has been recognized by the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame as the Northwest’s first mountain bike.

PUMP volunteers account for hundreds of hours of trail maintenance each year.
PUMP's Forest Park mountain bike tour

PUMP was instrumental in opening the first trail for mountain bikes in Forest Park.

PUMP organizers say everyone is welcome at the ride and party. Vintage bikes and clothing are encouraged, “to celebrate the start of mountain biking in Portland and the founding of PUMP”.

    PUMP’s 20th Anniversary Ride and Party
    Sunday, March 30th at 1:00pm
    Meet at Lucky Lab (1945 NW Quimby)
    Party will start around 5:00p

Learn more about PUMP at PUMPClub.org.

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  • Spanky March 13, 2008 at 5:24 pm

    Let\’s not get too self congratulatory here guys. I see foot trails torn to hell by Mt. bikers all the time. At the same time I personally know at least two guys who singlehandedly put in hundreds (one close to a thousand) hours each year maintaining foot trails. Too many groups cover themselves in glory for the volunteer work they do, with picts ont heir websites and ads about \”work\” parties that really add up to not much at all where the rubber (be it boot or bike tire) meets the trail.

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  • Wildwood Girl March 13, 2008 at 6:10 pm

    I\’m a daily runner in Forest Park. It\’s continually frustrating to see mountain bikers on the trails where they are not supposed to be. When I politely ask them to get off the trail and please ride on the firelanes, their responses are uniformly rude and unpleasant.

    The mountain bike clubs\’ volunteer work is wonderful. I would also like to see mountain bike clubs educating riders about where they can and can not ride.

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  • Spencer March 14, 2008 at 7:37 am

    Spanky and Wildwood Girl,

    I hike and bike in forest park at least a 100 days a year so I guess that qualifies me to make a few comments.

    Spanky, If you walk the Wildwood or most other trails you see a hell of a lot of boot prints in the mud. I also see a lot of places where hikers cut the trail and widen out mud holes. I don\’t think the Mtbs are single handlely responsible for terring the trails to hell. There is enough blame to go around. The last pump club trail buidling event has like 50 people all day on a Saturday. I also see a lot of bikers who carry tools and regularly prune, clear down wood and clean drainage.

    Wildwood girl, I can appreciate the frustration of bikes and runners on the same trail, but I get the same response as yours when I\’m ridding the fireroads and not as politly. My feeling is that most people don\’t care as long as both parties are respectful, but there are always a-holes on both sides.

    Forest park cannot remain the private club of a few. Rather it needs to be managed with multiple uses in mind (horses, handicaped, families, dogs, etc.). It is great to see the parks department start to open up and work with the different communities. It is sad to see the purist out there scrambling to hold on to their private (but publicly funded) private reserves.

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  • Rick Glos March 14, 2008 at 7:38 am

    The lack of singletrack in Forest Park is disappointing.

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  • Wildwood Girl March 14, 2008 at 8:00 am

    Spencer, Forest Park is managed with multiple uses in mind. There are places for horses. There are places for bikers. Dogs are allowed everywhere on leash. Families can go wherever they can drag their kids.

    Bikers are not allowed on WW or any of the connecting trails other than Lief, Fire Lanes and whichever single track trail is mentioned above. That is what I am referring to. I have no issue at all with bikers on the FL\’s. Most people DO care; mountain bikers are fully aware they aren\’t allowed on the trails. It\’s scary to be running and come around a corner and be face to face with a fast moving biker. And yet they ride anyway and are abusive when politely called on it.

    Forest Park is not a private club for a few. It is a public park that acommodates multiple use by many. I can\’t speak to the handicapped issue, sorry.

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  • Tankagnolo Bob March 14, 2008 at 8:04 am

    There is enough blame to go around. Every group known to man has its arrogant segment.

    When I commute by bike, I find arrogant drivers. When I drive, I get cut off from arrogant cyclists. Same would be true in Forest Park. I find arrogant runners and mountain bikers when I am walking. Arrogant walkers when I ride the Leif Errickson trail Even bicyclists getting pissed when I am walking on the SIDEWALK in town. Non of these folks represent the whole subset they are apart of.

    So lets get more mountain bike only trails, as it is hard for hikers, runners and cyclists to all be on the same \”two way\” single track. At Mammoth Mountain in Caly, they actually have \”one way\” single tracks, one going up, one down the mountain. Then there are seperate trails for hikers. The downhill run was grand, as we riders knew it was clear. – Mr Bob

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  • Brad Ross March 14, 2008 at 8:23 am

    I\’m glad to see that PUMP is alive and well. When I first moved to PDX and didn\’t know anyone, I started going on PUMP rides and made some great friends. Thanks Theo and the rest of the PUMP crew.

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  • Wildwood Girl March 14, 2008 at 9:18 am

    Bob, true enough. Being a member of all the tribes (runner, road cyclist, city cyclist, driver) affords one the chance to see it all. Good behavior is out there, too. Humor and a pleasant tone can defuse troll like behavior!

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  • Roger W. Louton March 14, 2008 at 9:45 am

    Wildwood Girl,

    the MTBers would not be riding Wildwood if there was enough of a \’supply\’ of singletrack trails for them to ride. Yes, it\’s the law of \’Supply and Demand\’: There\’s large demand for that kind of trail riding experience, but sadly, there are only about 6 miles of legal singletrack in the Portland city limits: Powell Butte has about 6 miles, Forest Park has .27 of a mile, hence the lack of a supply for MTBers.

    Where does everyone suggest a MTBer go to enjoy riding their bike on a trail: Load up their cars and DRIVE and hour or so to RIDE their bike? How un-green and environmentally unfriendly is that?!
    Our goal: \’Ride To Where You Ride\’ and
    \’Think Globally, Ride Locally\’……

    And YES, poaching Wildwood is not what a responsible PUMP member would do. It is PUMP that helped the Friends of Forest Pakr and Portland Parks to create the \’Mountain Biking in Forest Park\’ map that can be found on the Parks website. WE made thousands of copies and distributed them for free to all the bike shops in town, we hand them out at events, all in an effort to educate responsible MTBers as to what Firelanes and pathways are open to bicyclists. But there is nothing we can do to change the mind of the FEW MTBers who don\’t want to play by the rules.

    Come on out to our 20th Anniversary party, and meet the nice, responsible, friendly club members. I bet we could all be friends!

    Spanky, why aren\’t YOU putting in \’hundreds\’ of ours to maintain the trails you enjoy? We work on Multi-use trails all the time, not just MTB trails.

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  • btodd March 14, 2008 at 9:50 am

    So much hatred on a BIKE site. why does portland hate mt. bikers? look around you. portland has forest as its asset, yet no mt. bike trails. mt. bikers are treated as third class citizens. hikers have such a grotesque entitlement to trails, but if they were banned from most trails maybe they would understand. A city like Philadelphia has prime singletrack in the city. why is portland so intolerant.

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  • Spanky March 14, 2008 at 10:13 am

    I have been to Forest Park once or twice. I didn\’t enjoy it. Too crowded and too urban for me. Obviously, every user damages trails. My comment was aimed at the maintenance issue, and the comments regarding the amount of work done at FP pleased me.

    There\’s a lot any user can do to maintain any kind of trail. All it takes is the time to dismount or stop walking, and move that stick or rock off the trail, or clear that wayter bar that is plugged. Glad to hear it is happening. Heavily used trails need close attention to maintenance, especially drainage.

    One reason I think Mt. bike trails in Portland go wanting is the historical use of the trails as footpaths rather than bike trails and the perceived safety issues.

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  • Spencer March 14, 2008 at 12:21 pm

    The idea of expanding one-way trails, especially in the North reaches, is a great idea. Most people think of forest park as Washignton Park and the area around NW Thurman. In reallity the park goes north for another 15-20 miles. Develop trails that are compatible for their uses.

    I ride in the approved areas, but see hikers violating other rules all the time. For example, how many off leash dogs to you see? How many cut trials are near the parking areas or along the little creeks. \”Those with out sin, cast the first stone\”.

    Oh and Spanky, how can you say: \”I see foot trails torn to hell by Mt. bikers all the time\” and then say \”I have been to Forest Park once or twice\”. Sounds like you are just sounding off without understanding the context of the conversation.

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  • Matt March 14, 2008 at 2:51 pm

    Agreed on the dogs. Also, while it\’s great that those w/ dogs are bagging their doo, it\’d be even greater if they actually packed that crap out w/ them. Plastic bags of dog shit are probably the single most common piece of litter in the park. I mean, I love dogs, but you might as well just let them crap off-trail where it\’ll disappear in a week.

    That said, it\’s incontestable that mtbs are more dangerous than most other trail users. The trail damage issue is debatable–we\’re probably more likely than hikers to use trails when they\’re in a sensitive (i.e. muddy) state, but then there\’s also fewer of us in the first place, and we\’re (I think, anyway) much less likely to cut switchbacks and such.

    I suspect most of the conflicts could be minimized w/ proper planning. Set the mtb trails deep in the park where the casual hikers are unlikely to venture, create some good signage and maybe suggested directions of travel for each type of user, etc.

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  • Jill March 16, 2008 at 10:44 am

    Congrats PUMP and thanks for all your hard work!

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  • Joe R April 8, 2008 at 2:35 pm

    Congrats to PUMP\’s 20 years of service to the trails community.

    I gotta echo though on the opinion – it\’s no fun riding my mountain bike at Forest Park. Too crowded, not enough single-track for biking.

    Me? I drive an hour (plus more) not to ride, but to enjoy the outdoors – away from the crowds. And happen to bring my bike with to enjoy a greater amount of nature (can see a lot more by bike than by foot).

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  • Jim Labbe April 15, 2008 at 9:18 pm

    Just to clarify. Forest Park has over 28 miles of trails and fire lanes open to mountain bikes and has so for years (I grew up mountain biking in Forest Park.) So it is not closed off to mountain bikes by any means. It has few single-track trails which is different from saying there are few trails open to mountain biking because not all mountain bikers are single track riders.

    The Park management and rules are based on the Forest Park Master Plan developed with broad public input before single-track became widely popular. Lack of resources to update the plan and to implement is part of what limited trail expansion for single track.

    The challenge with Forest Park it that it is being loved to death by bikers, hikers, horses and dogs. How do we manage and balance recreational uses and impacts while sustaining broad public values such as air and water quality, wildlife habitat, and natural beauty? Given already heavy recreational demands how and where do we accommodate the new and specific interest in single-track.

    Forest Park Conservancy has a committee developing a white paper on these issues that represents a start.


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