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Introducing the Northwest Trail Alliance

Posted by on May 27th, 2009 at 11:10 am

The new logo and name was
unveiled last night.
(Photos © J. Maus)

The Portland United Mountain Pedalers (PUMP) are now known as the Northwest Trail Alliance and a new era in off-road advocacy has begun.

PUMP, a group that celebrated its 20th anniversary last year, has gone through big changes in recent months and with last night’s unveiling of a new name, new logo, and a new mission statement, the transformation is now complete.
The road to this transformation began just over two years ago. At the May 2007 meeting of the City of Portland’s Bicycle Advisory Committee, the lack of off-road trails in Portland was on the agenda. The meeting was packed and Portland’s top bike planners and advocates got an earful from a new guard of trail advocates that were fed up with the status quo. They were itching to move the needle.

In May 2008, there was talk and some serious plans made to start an entirely new group (under the moniker of PDX-MTB), but that idea was shelved in favor of integrating this new guard of advocates into PUMP. In February of this year PUMP elected five new board members, thus clearing the way for a new era.

Story continues below


Kris Schamp, a former marketing specialist for Bike Gallery who has turned most of his attention to promoting local off-road races under his Portland Racing banner, is one of those new board members. He’s also one of three people on the newly formed Executive Team and he’s the group’s Communications Director.

The new logo.

During his presentation last night, Schamp laid out NWTA’s lofty ambitions. Here’s their new vision statement:

“Our vision is for Portland and NW Oregon, and SW Washington to become a recognized and acclaimed haven for mountain bikers and off-road cyclists.

… to create awareness and a positive attitude towards all types of off-road cycling; with other trail users; with land managers and agencies; and with the general public.

… to become a role model for ther MTB and trail advocacy groups around the country.”

And their mission:

“We are an alliance of mountain bikers and off-road cyclists, dedicated to create, enhance and protect riding opportunities in NW Oregon and SW Washington.”

Will Heiberg

Both Schamp — and Will Heiberg, who helped spearhead the creation of a new logo — said the new direction for the group is not meant to wipe away the 20-plus year legacy of PUMP. “We built this upon the shoulders of PUMP,” said Heiberg.

Schamp and Heiberg also stressed that they are “building a big tent” that will be inclusive to everyone who uses off-road trails. “If you like putting rubber on dirt,” said Heiberg, “we want you to feel welcome in this organization.”

Why the new direction and new name? Heiberg explained that “Portland United Mountain Pedalers” sounded too “Portland-centric”, the group focused too much on mountain biking (at the expense of cyclocross, urban pump tracks, and even bike commuting on natural surface trails), and that the groups website name, “evokes the image of a close-knit club” rather than the inclusive “big tent” they want to create.

Members were eager to learn
more about their club’s
new direction.

There has also been a growing sense among some advocates that PUMP lacked a real connection to Portland’s legion’s of bike lovers. Despite their 21 year existence, they have just around 200 paying members and only a fraction of those are active.

After the meeting, Schamp said that, “We want to take MTB/off-road bike advocacy in our region to the next level and that the rebranding is just a first step in this transformation into a more inclusive, more professional, and more effective organization.”

Under the name of Northwest Trail Alliance, the group’s leaders feel they can impact a larger geographic area, embody the “spirit of the Northwest”, and be “just as much about the trails as about riding them”.

Response to the big changes went over well with most members last night. However, one longtime and very active PUMP member, Jerry Deruyter, expressed several concerns.

Derutyer spoke up during a Q&A after Schamp’s presentation. “So you’ll just forget about everything PUMP has done!?” he wondered. He also reminded Schamp that all this talk about new energy and a new direction has happened before. While he expressed support for the changes, Derutyer cautioned that these changes won’t just happen overnight.

Schamp said he understands the concerns from longtime members like Derutyer. “But,” he says, “We see this as a natural growth phase, similar to what Friends of Forest Park went through when they changed their name to Forest Park Conservancy, after being around for 20 years. We hope the new brand and the reorganization will position us for growth and make us more effective advocates.”

A slide from Schamp’s presentation.

So what’s next for the Northwest Trail Alliance?

Today, Executive Team member Joe Barcott travels to Hood River to meet with the regional director of the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA). Northwest is likely to become an official IMBA chapter. If that goes through, IMBA’s 1,000 local members will instantly become members of the Northwest Trail Alliance.

The group will also focus immediately on a “Plan for Action” in Forest Park. There’s been a lot of buzz around increased access for bicycles in Forest Park, but Schamp says it’s been just talk. That’s great, he said, “But we want to see some action.”

Schamp said there’s a plan in the works to revamp a new website is also expected to be unveiled soon at The group will also focus more on outreach to the community by attending local events like Sunday Parkways. The idea, Schamp says, is to “build a community of off-road cyclists.”

Gabriel Tiller was at the meeting last night. He said he’s most excited about momentum around new Portland area projects like Gateway Green and the possibility of more riding opportunities in Forest Park. “The symbolism of the rebranding I think will go a long way,” he said, “A more inclusive approach to trail users – bikers or not – is an amazing step in the right direction.”

— Learn more and browse Schamp’s presentation on the group’s website.

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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

  • Avatar
    redhippie May 27, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    I miss PUMP. I haven’t been able to drop the renewal check in the mail since the turn over. I don’t know why, it just seems like PUMP has been taken over to become another advocacy group rather than a riding club. I do contribute and participate in other advocacy groups, but PUMP was more about the riding, trail building and drinking an occasional beer.

    I guess, I’ll wait, check out a few rides and see how it goes before I commit.

    My 2 cents

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    Spencer Boomhower May 27, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    Having traded in my knobbies for slicks, and having put my old Stumpjumper through the indignity of fenders and grocery racks, it’s easy for me to overlook the importance of mountain biking in town. But Will makes a great case for the value of mountain bike skills for kids who’ll be riding in the streets. It helped that he explained to me what exactly a “pump track” is (hint: it’s not a bmx track, which is what I imagined).

    Random, pet pie-in-the-sky idea: I heard about a guy who’s trying to extend Mt Tabor hiking trails through private forest land, all the way to the coast. Imagine bike trails doing that. Is it even conceivable?

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    casey May 27, 2009 at 4:05 pm

    I’m liking the new name, logo, board, and focus of this group. Good luck to you all and thanks for what you’re doing, hopefully I can help out, too. Also, thanks Jonathan for including all cycling topics on this site.

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    Frank Selker May 27, 2009 at 10:21 pm

    PUMP built credibility and relationships with land managers based on lots of hard (and smart) work over the years. But thousands of off-road cyclists in the region are not part of it. I’m optimistic that this change will build on the impressive but under-appreciated work of PUMP to create an organization that is fun for many riders and makes the Northwest an even more special place to be.

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    Blah Blah Blah May 27, 2009 at 11:20 pm

    Don’t you think the name Northwest Trail Alliance does no justice to Camba, DOD, BRMBA, COTA and the many other clubs in the PNW? I don’t like the name, not that I was stuck with PUMP, but Northwest Trail Alliance just doesn’t do it for me. You guys should have gone with something fun. A perfect example is DOD, Disciples of Dirt, probably the best mt bike club name ever. But this seems to be the way the new hostile tack over of PUMP has gone…Suck all the fun out of it.


    Please stop using the term “Rebranding”.

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    I like it May 28, 2009 at 7:59 am

    I like the new approach and new energy. I don’t see how calling the group an “alliance” is an exclusionary tactic. Seems more like an overt statement of their desire to work collaboratively, both internally and with external partners.

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    Brian May 28, 2009 at 9:48 am

    I want to thank all of the hard work that has been up to this point by the members of PUMP over the years. We all benefit from their tireless work on trail systems all over the region. I also want to thank the work of the new blood to take the advocacy aspects of the group to the next level. NTA is still an advocacy AND rider group for those who wish to make it so. NTA is still a very grassroots organization that is what we make it. If you see a hole, do something and fill it.
    The name is perfect IMO, as it embodies the professionalism of the group that is needed. We have a bit more of an uphill battle here in PDX to gain access to local and surrounding ST and eventual freeride opportunities, so we need to be as inclusive and legitimate as possible. That is the new direction, and I think the new board has done a great job so far in achieving that while retaining the spirit of PUMP. Hope to see you all at the next meeting and a future trailwork day.

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    bagel May 28, 2009 at 9:50 am

    I too like the rebranding. Keep up the efforts to grow the community!

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    Joe R May 28, 2009 at 12:15 pm

    One other BIG group which Northwest Trail Alliance is integrating more and more (and they already have growing number of members who are into)… Downhill and Freeride mountain biking.

    I like the direction things are going.

    People complained when PUMP was focused too much on trail building and lost members. Then people complained when PUMP was focused too much on group rides and turned off potential members. Then people complained PUMP didn’t have enough focus on advocacy (PDX-Mtb group even created as separate group)…

    But now, Northwest Trail Alliance is NOT an advocacy group, is NOT a riding club, and is NOT a trail build volunteer group… It’s an advocacy and trail building non-profit organization with social media site that makes it easy for members to organize their own group rides. Better balance between each endeavor.

    More in-line with IMBA’s mission – “Speak. Build. Ride. Respect”.

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    Joe R May 28, 2009 at 12:50 pm

    To the “Blah blah blah” poster about the term “Alliance”. The idea behind that is to (in the long run) include, in one way or another, the other local groups doing their thing… Remaining independent, but also uniting under this organization… strength in numbers, larger voice, more potential people to get involved with local projects going on.

    I get the impression NWTA vision is to establish a solid framework and grow it over time. ..involving (not excluding) other groups as part of the greater whole. It’s in best interest of increasing mountain biking opportunites in the region.

    (begin rant) As far as sucking “fun” out of it… dude, the name is one thing.. what they do and say and what trails they help put on the ground, is completely another thing. I wouldn’t care WHAT the organization names itself as long as they’re building trail, getting people into the sport of riding, and creating a community which can respond when government makes moves to lessen the number of trail miles available near where I live. (end of rant) Basically, they’re an intelligent bunch, and doing the best they can to strike a balance – between advocacy (politics), volunteer trail building (when’s last time you helped build trail? get involved!), and providing opportunities for people to host group rides (plan a ride, post it on the calendar).

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    Blah Blah Blah May 28, 2009 at 6:01 pm

    I know, ultimately the name doesn’t matter, but I still don’t care for it. I guess that’s just personal preference.

    And as far as leading rides and trail work, I once lead rides for PUMP and still do trail work.

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    Ted May 28, 2009 at 9:11 pm

    PUMP is not just Portland anymore. Our group has changed and the new name reflects what we want to become. Over the past 20 yrs PUMP’s accomplishments have gotten us to where we are now. Now it is time to take another step forward.

    It is impressive to see the motivation of the current “active” members (both old and new members). NWTA is in growth mode and its fun to be around people that are passionate about our sport.

    Come and check it out for yourself. Attend a meeting, a ride, or a work party. We have big goals and we are looking for men and women with a “can do” attitude and a desire to see NWTA succeed.

    There is strength in numbers…

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    Scott Marlow May 29, 2009 at 8:30 am

    When you borrow another organization’s logo, that’s not called rebranding. Let’s call it copybranding. But your imitation is flattering. Your “new” logo was already “unveiled” over ten years ago by Seattle’s Backcountry Bicycle Trails Club. And even then, it was a spin-off of IMBA’s look and feel.

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    Joe R May 29, 2009 at 9:14 am

    What was unveiled is both the new name, revised vision and goals, as well as the new logo.

    The Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance CEO and form CEO came down to present at a PUMP meeting several months ago… And were instrumental in helping shape the new vision/goals. Fact that BBTC went thru same growing pains and had similar issues resonated with the PUMP folks I think – it was definately time to grow and be more forward thinking (beyond a Portland club and more a force to drive things forward in the region!)

    Again, I’m excited and very hopeful for the future of NWTA.

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    Old as DIrt May 29, 2009 at 11:13 pm

    Well done.

    Mountain biking has changed a ton in the last 20 years. We need to change our methods too.

    PUMP has done some GREAT work and we all benefit from it (thank you for maintaining the trails that make me grin wide, every time I ride them). They have done a ton of other things for our community too. To be honest though, its always felt a bit clubby. I’m ok with that aspect (heck, its cool that there is a committed crew that is active doing what they love) its just that that aspect can’t represent everyone in our community, nor can it represent us to all the different folks we need to work with to get more great trails.

    Its great that there are more folks stepping up to make good things happen for all of us. Thank you! We may not all agree on everything, and we don’t have to. But there sure are times when we need to have a lot of us stand together to make some things happen, and this looks like a great way to do it.

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    Seattleite May 29, 2009 at 11:22 pm

    As a former Oregonian now in Seattle, I have to say I was never enamored with the PUMP name. But, I was surprised to see such a blatant rip off of the BBTC logo. That’s pretty low.

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