How do know if your local biking ecosystem is healthy? Take the time to learn about what people are doing.
Are they riding? Are they starting new clubs, programs and organizations? Are they re-thinking the status quo to make biking even better?
This week I met with four people who are doing good things in our community.
The Bike Brothers
David and Martin (“Marty”) Stabler are retired Portlanders who are three months away from the biggest ride of their lives: a 3,650 mile pedal across the country. Their plan is to dip their wheels in the Pacific Ocean in Astoria and do the same thing in Portsmouth, New Hampshire 50 days later.
I first met David when he was a reporter for The Oregonian. He was the papers’ classical music critic and arts writer for nearly 30 years before he retired in 2015. His older (by three years) brother Marty had a career in health care and most recently worked at Legacy Emanuel Hospital.
In June they’ll shove off on their journey along with 25-30 other riders in a supported trip across America. They’ll have to average just over 70 miles a day to meet their goal. The Stabler brothers are an inspiring duo. They’re both in great shape and are enthused and confident about the challenge that lies ahead of them. As you might expect from a former reporter (David) and photographer (Martin), they’ve got a great blog going that will document the entire trip. Check it out at The BikeBrothers.com.
Sandra Johnson wants to make biking in Portland a bit more pleasant by cleaning up our local paths. As part of a leadership class she wants to start an adopt-a-path program aimed at popular bike routes like the Eastbank Esplanade and Springwater Corridor. I met with her this week to help move her ideas along. Sandra is genuinely excited — and a bit nervous — about launching the project.
So far she’s connected with SOLV, a nonprofit group that specializes in building volunteer networks for clean-up projects. Her next step is to choose a date for her first event and then continue to plan and promote it. Eventually she’d like to see the program sprout wings and become a sustainable part of our community. The ultimate goal is to run this program just like the existing “Adopt-a-Road” program run by Multnomah County. To do that she’ll need to find willing organizations, businesses and/or individuals who want to sign-up and adopt specific sections of local paths and trails.
I have a feeeling we’ll be hearing much more from Sandra in the coming weeks and months. Stay tuned!
Re-invigorating local road racing
Matt Barney believes in bike racing. Beyond the fun and competitive instincts racing helps us tap into, he knows the events are an avenue to a stronger community.
So when the Monday Night PIR race series became available last fall (after its owner for 20 years moved on), Barney jumped on the opportunity. With road racing participation numbers on the downswing, it’s a bit of risk. But after meeting him today and hearing all about what he’s got planned for this coming season, Barney seems poised to re-invigorate the event and possibly the local racing seen along with it.
For weeknight races like this to thrive in today’s market, Barney says they’ve got to offer more than just racing. “It’s got to be more than doing a few laps, high-fiving your friends, and then going home,” he said. “It’s got to be an experience, and that’s my vision for this event.”
Barney has added a track bike category (fixed-gear, one-speed), will have a very impressive list of prizes for everyone who comes out each week (in addition to equal payouts for winners of men’s and women’s categories), and he’s even set up a new post-race hangout spot — the sort-of still secret Royale Brewing near North Columbia Blvd and Vancouver. Royale’s brewpub is right on the route home from PIR for many local racers and it could become a great biking hotspot in a part of town that sorely needs one.
I’ll share more about the projects Sandra and Matt are working on in future posts. Wish them good luck and stay tuned!
Are you or someone you know doing something good for biking in Portland? Contact me and let’s talk about it! I’ll try to help and spread the word as much as possible.