Fatbiking Ross Island without a boat (video)

*Please see the note below this article: Since posting this video I’ve been informed that, while public access is technically allowed below the high-water mark, there are serious concerns by some people who feel that any encouragement of biking and/or unregulated public access is not advisable on Ross Island due to its status as a natural area.

I figured this video of Dan Kaufman and Nathan Jones floating their fatbikes across the Willamette to Ross Island was the perfect way to head into the weekend.

As you’ve noticed, our News Editor Michael Andersen has been gone for two weeks on his honeymoon, so I’ve been trying to keep things afloat on my own. I did this for many years; but it’s harder now (for various reasons I won’t get into right now) and by the end of the week my brain is really fried.

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When Dan sent me this video a few hours ago, I felt more relaxed immediately. And I had no idea that fat bikes floated! It’s so fun to watch, I bet it’d be even more fun to do. Speaking of which, Dan shared a few tips if you want to try it.

  • No helmet needed but wear a life vest
  • Go at low tide
  • Bring your river shoes
  • Bring a safety flag if you plan to cross the large channels
  • Know if there are any harmful algal blooms and avoid them (the current one has gone way beyond the Ross Island Sand and Gravel lagoon)
  • Camping is allowed up to the annual high water mark. Why not spend the night?
  • Follow the posted instructions for the wildlife area and gravel operation

And if you need a fatbike, Nathan rents them at his shop.

Have a great weekend, wherever your bike takes you.

NOTE: We have been contacted by Mike Houck, director of the Urban Greenspaces Institute. Houck is concerned by our portrayal of biking on Ross Island. This is his statement:

“While you are technically correct that people can access the island below ordinary high water I’m sure you can appreciate people do not, in fact, respect where they are above or below. Ross Island has no public access, either on the privately owned portions or Portland Parks’ 45 acres. As for biking on Ross and East Island, it goes without saying, I would hope, that it is not consistent with the fact that it’s a wildlife refuge”

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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ethan
ethan
8 years ago

This looks fun 😀

I had no idea that they floated either. I will have to do some experimenting of my own, I think.

Safe and Healthy Cigarette Smoking

Uhh, isn’t the entire island a refuge? Why are you ripping up the soil there?

Nathan Jones
Nathan Jones
8 years ago

People are allowed up to the high water line, it’s clearly marked on the island actually.

Zimmerman
Zimmerman
8 years ago

How else are we going to kill all the salmon with our mountain bikes if we can’t rip up all the soils with them?

Just today I estimated at least 200 salmon deaths with each wheelie and Bunnyhop I performed.

longgone
longgone
8 years ago
Reply to  Zimmerman

The Old Gods bless you my son!

Granpa
Granpa
8 years ago
Reply to  Zimmerman

Hilarious. Humor based on the elimination of threatened and endangered species never gets old.

Zimmerman
Zimmerman
8 years ago
Reply to  Granpa

Oh, you have proof that mountain biking kills salmon? Which variety of salmon are on the endangered species list?

It’s just fine to ridicule outrageous statements by people over concerned about things that do zero harm.

Granpa
Granpa
8 years ago
Reply to  Zimmerman

I didn’t say that the fat bike episode caused harm. The joke was lame. It was not funny and it makes light of a real issue. I did not say that that Mt. bikes kill salmon, but that several species are in fact endangered and threatened and sedimentation of their spawning beds is a threat to their existence. Logging roads, development, mining and off road vehicles expose soil and can, if not properly managed, add sediment to streams. Mt. bikes are off road vehicles and I freely concede that their contribution to the problem is minuscule, but not nonexistent.

http://www.dfw.state.or.us/wildlife/diversity/species/threatened_endangered_candidate_list.asp

If Mt. bikers summarily dismiss this fact, and share the rhetoric of anit-environmental groups then they further alienate themselves from the levers of power who could open up real estate to the pastime.

Zimmerman
Zimmerman
8 years ago
Reply to  Granpa

Granpa,

Every mountain bike enthusiast in this city knows that when the levers of power are activated it’s only to flush.

Not making jokes about the absurdity of the anti- MTB arguments in this city isnt going to make a lick of difference.

Granpa
Granpa
8 years ago
Reply to  Zimmerman

Now your flush joke was a clever reply.

I agree that in many regards, including access to single track, our civic leaders do not well represent us. I disagree that making fun of killing endangered species is neutral to the cause. I

longgone
longgone
8 years ago

Yet another link masquerading as comment. Be gone with you!

Al Dimond
8 years ago
Reply to  longgone

lungcancerisaliberalhoax.com/but-the-forest-fire-i-just-started-is-all-too-real.aspx?q=please+send+help

Nathan Jones
Nathan Jones
8 years ago

Thanks for posting, this was an idea I dreamt up last summer, we are claiming first bike ride to and around ross island. We actually saw a lower end mountain bike near a tent so, certainly not the first to ride around the island but yeah Most of the beach at low tide is very accessible right now especially with the lack of rain.

Michael
Michael
8 years ago

The asshole with the solo cup flipping you off just MAKES THIS. Awesome.

Pat Franz
8 years ago

I like it! So, uh, when you rent a fatbike, this kind of use is OK?…

Alan 1.0
Alan 1.0
8 years ago
Reply to  Pat Franz

depends who you ask.
shop owner: no.
hourly mechanic: sure.

Andrew Holtz
8 years ago

Ha! I saw these guys pedaling around the south tip of the island… and wondered how they got there. Great to learn the full story.

longgone
longgone
8 years ago

Thanks for sharing this. 13 years here and I have never ventured out to it. Nice to get your perspective.

Mike Quiglery
Mike Quiglery
8 years ago

Fatbikes. The bikie version of ATVs. Attitude and alcohol next phase.

Steve
Steve
8 years ago
Reply to  Mike Quiglery

What exactly are you implying?

Zimmerman
Zimmerman
8 years ago
Reply to  Mike Quiglery

You’re mistaking fatbiking with pedalpalooza.

Emily Guise (Contributor)
Emily G
8 years ago

This is so awesome!

Drew
Drew
8 years ago

I can see the chain and bearings getting squeaky and the inside of the frame tubes taking on water..
But totally worth it!

Glenn
Glenn
8 years ago

Fatties float!? Cool, I can see some applications in both DRT and Kinetic Skulpture racing. DRT _needs_ an Amphib class now!

FauxPorteur
FauxPorteur
8 years ago

The Rokon Trailbreaker (the 2WD motorcycle equivalent of fat bikes) also can float for fording rivers.

Lester Burnham
Lester Burnham
8 years ago

Let’s thank our rescue personnel who make it their job to save the lives of people who pull these kinds of pranks.

Rob Chapman
Rob Chapman
8 years ago
Reply to  Lester Burnham

Lester, I didn’t see anybody in need of rescue in the video.

Zimmerman
Zimmerman
8 years ago

I prefer to thank the people who stay home because they’re too scared to explore the world around them. It leaves lots of open space for the rest of us.

Buzz
Buzz
8 years ago

I dunno; Federal Wildlife Refuges are open to all kinds of other activities, wouldn’t that be the same case here, unless and until Nick Fish and Amanda Fritz get their sticky little paws involved?

Rob Chapman
Rob Chapman
8 years ago
Reply to  Buzz

Yeah Buzz, you can go hunting on many NWR’s. Imagine the fainting spells if people were duck hunting on Ross Island…..

jeff
jeff
8 years ago

then he better go talk to the people camping on NW corner of Ross Island for the past couple weeks, back in the trees and accessing their tent via kayak.

Rob Chapman
Rob Chapman
8 years ago

If there is no public access to Ross Island then there is no reason for the public to own 45 acres of it through Portland Parks and Rec.

jeff
jeff
8 years ago
Reply to  Rob Chapman

yeah, what we need are more humans destroying more protected wildlife habitat everywhere they can.

Rob Chapman
Rob Chapman
8 years ago
Reply to  jeff

Where did I suggest destroying wildlife habitat?

longgone
longgone
8 years ago
Reply to  Rob Chapman

Thank you Rob.
sincerely.
This is a valid point.

Danny
danny
8 years ago

I suspect that beavers, otters, eagles, herons, salmon, and many other creatures — not to mention the hundreds of thousands of Portland residents who love to have wildlife populations in our city — would disagree with the notion that land is worthless unless it is accessible to humans. There are plenty of other places to ride fatbikes other than one of the city’s wildlife refuges.

longgone
longgone
8 years ago
Reply to  danny

Where do you sugggest, then?

Rob Chapman
Rob Chapman
8 years ago

I didn’t say it was worthless. I’m just curious why Parks and Recreation owns it. Mission creep anyone?

Danny
danny
8 years ago

What city entity would you suggest should own a city wildlife refuge?

Rob Chapman
Rob Chapman
8 years ago

I’d suggest turning it over to Metro, that seems like a better fit for a wildlife refuge. Parks and Recreation should be people focused in my opinion.

Granpa
Granpa
8 years ago
Reply to  Rob Chapman

Metro owns the Springwater trail alignment, but because they don’t have rangers, maintenance staff, park personnel or the infrastructure to staff and maintain that facility, Portland Parks runs it. It is reasonable that Portland Parks, by virtue of their ability, runs Ross Island.

Rob Chapman
Rob Chapman
8 years ago
Reply to  Granpa

Metro specializes in restoring greenspaces, in fact we just voted for a whole bunch of money for them to do more of it. Parks has “owned” the Ross Island parcel since 2008 and still hasn’t come up with a habitat management plan which would lead to access options. That would lead most rational people to believe that Parks doesn’t want the public out there.

Dan and Nathan were clearly below the high water mark in the video yet people are clutching their pearls over it. Somehow the “campers” and the gravel barges out there don’t cause sensitive souls the same distress?

Actually I have a better idea, The Audubon Society, Willamette Riverkeeper and the Urban Greenspaces Institute can start a crowdfunding effort to buy that parcel from the city (since their the only ones allowed on that piece of public land). Parks can use the proceeds to build a playground east of 205 and everybody wins, yay! Until such time those organizations have no authority over public land whatsoever, kind of like Forest Park.

Rob Chapman
Rob Chapman
8 years ago
Reply to  Rob Chapman

*they’re* for the pedants.

trappistgump
trappistgump
8 years ago

This does look like loads of fun, but I wouldn’t do it. Biking off-trail gives MTB a bad name and will only make it harder for the current efforts to get legitimate trails allowed in Pdx Metro. Not to mention it is clearly destructive to the waterlogged turf on which you ride. Seriously, you are only a few feet from the water line, the potential for soil erosion is unmistakable. When Fish/Fritz complain about salmon impact this is exactly what they are talking about: release of soil into the water causing increased turbidity. That does not happen on a real MTB trail made with adequate drainage at a suitable distance from the waterway, but it does happen when riding raw ground at the waterline.

I am sure you have put in more than your share of volunteer hours grooming MTB trails so please just stop a moment and think about what you are doing.

Rob Chapman
Rob Chapman
8 years ago
Reply to  trappistgump

The soil those guys were riding on is tidally affected and we are in the middle of summer. It’s well under water during a normal winter. It would be impossible to measure any increase in turbitity in the Willamette caused by their ride. Why don’t we cry about Blues Fest, Fleet Week or Flugtag? How much salmon spawning habitat is in downtown Portland?