What do you think of when you hear the name Portland Wheelmen Touring Club?
Established in 1971, this is the oldest riding club in the area with a proud legacy of leading (daily!) group rides, raising funds for non-profits, and putting on great events like the Pioneer Century.
As they approach their 50th anniversary, PWTC is doing some soul-searching and club leaders say a name-change is a very real possibility.
In a note to members in their November newsletter, the club’s Board President Chip Kyle wrote, “The board believes that — with great trepidation – we need to reexamine our club name and how it represents who we are, what we do and how we want to grow.” The reason? The current crop of members is getting older and the club isn’t attracting new, younger riders. “We have seen that participation in our club rides comprises predominantly retired males,” he wrote.
Kyle also says, despite having many active women members, they’re frequently asked if women are allowed to participate.
After a recent club survey showed a majority of people think a new name is needed, the group plans to discuss the possibility at their monthly meeting Thursday night.
“Women flat out tell us they won’t join with ‘Wheelmen’ in the club name.”
— Ann Morrow
Former club President (and member since 1992) Ann Morrow said the “Wheelmen” name made sense back when the club was founded (the national advocacy group League of American Bicyclists was the League of American Wheelmen until 1994). But these days Morrow acknowledges that word is a problem. “Women flat out tell us they won’t join with ‘Wheelmen’ in the club name,” she shared with me via email yesterday. “We are an inclusive club and women are very involved as ride leaders, board members and in various positions of power and responsibility. I personally do not know any Wheelperson who cares about gender identification as related to being a member of our club,” Morrow continued. “They are supportive and welcoming. But the name might suggest otherwise.”
Then there’s the “touring” part. That can be intimidating to some riders, she says, and it doesn’t even reflect the type of rides the club leads.
Morrow shared that the name change topic has come up for the club in the past, including in 2001 when it failed by a couple votes and the debate left many with hurt feelings. “We may have a more sympathetic membership now to get to a change,” Morrow says. “We do care about the misconceptions.”
But what should it be? At this point, all suggestions are welcome.
Learn more about the club at PWTC.com.
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