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Portland’s oldest riding club drops ‘Wheelmen’ from name

Posted by on April 12th, 2019 at 8:03 am

Scene from Clapshaw Hill Road in Washington County during a club ride last October.
(Photo: Portland Bicycling Club)

After 48 years as the Portland Wheelmen Touring Club, a local riding organization has decided to change its name to Portland Bicycling Club.

“We will no longer appear to potential members as an exclusive club comprised of elite aggressive, high-speed riders who manage bike tours.”
— Pat McManus, club president

The decision was made at the club’s April 4th meeting after months of debate among its 600 members. As we reported back in December, leaders of the club felt the old name wasn’t inclusive enough and that it was time to evolve to attract more diverse, younger riders.

Portland Bicycling Club President Pat McManus shared via email with BikePortland yesterday that, “Rebranding our club will not change the club… But the name will at once be simple and at the same time represent complexity, in that we will no longer (incorrectly) appear to potential members as an exclusive club comprised of elite aggressive, high-speed riders who manage bike tours.”

McManus supports the new name because she believes it will help the club “Morph into a more contemporary organization” and become one that, “Pulls in the diverse types of riders we see in the Portland area.” In a recent club newsletter McManus wrote that the club has been, “Feeling pressure to re-examine our place in Portland’s active cycling community.”

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The club’s new ad created for the upcoming Filmed By Bike festival.

The club also recently decided to end the Pioneer Century ride after 44 consecutive editions in part because of dwindling participation.

Like other parts of the cycling scene, the Portland Bicycling Club is dominated by older white men. Out of their eight regular ride leaders, none of them are women.

Pat McManus.

Club surveys showed a strong majority in support of the change. At the April 4th meeting, 71% of the 90 members present voted in support of the new name. McManus said the members who voted against the new name felt it was too ordinary, bland and dull.

Looking ahead, McManus wants everyone to know you don’t have to be a member to ride with the club. She personally loves to lead themed rides (like their annual Halloween Ride and Heritage Tree Ride) and would love to have new members lead more of them. She’s also hoping to see more gravel rides and family-oriented rides on the calendar in the future.

“Our diversity of rides and simple love of bicycling is one of the messages that I hope the new name reflects,” McManus said.

Graphic released by club in official public announcement made today.

To see if Portland Bicycling Club is the place for you, check out their website, Facebook page, and on Instagram.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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20 Comments
  • Avatar
    CaptainKarma April 12, 2019 at 11:17 am

    Sounds good. Sounds less competitive, more welcoming. Just my 2 cents. They can always have a referendum on a new name after things shake out a bit.

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    Ash Mitchell April 12, 2019 at 11:43 am

    Great change. The ‘Wheelmen’ club name carries a long history of not only cycling, but also racism, and sexism. I’m thrilled that they’ve changed the name and are encouraging inclusiveness!

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      Toby Keith April 13, 2019 at 7:48 pm

      Really?

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        9watts April 14, 2019 at 12:57 pm

        Yes. Really.

        Not sure why this should surprise you.
        http://bloomingrock.com/2014/09/05/bicyclings-racist-sexist-and-classist-beginnings-and-how-they-impact-bicycling-today/

        Just one pull quote to give you a taste:
        “– Cycling clubs explicitly excluded African Americans, Asian Americans, the poor, and Native Americans.”

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          Toby Keith April 14, 2019 at 2:16 pm

          Wow 9watts outstanding work. I didn’t know we were talking about the late 19th century here.

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            9watts April 14, 2019 at 2:21 pm

            Last time I checked, 1999 wasn’t the late nineteenth century.
            Don’t be afraid to keep reading.

            “– The League of American Bicyclists didn’t officially revoke the ban on African American membership until former League president Earl F. Jones – an African American attorney and bicycle advocate – passed a resolution to overturn the rule about a hundred years later on June 5, 1999. Furness points out that, “Jones’s resolution illustrated the very real need for bicyclists to grapple with this racist legacy, if for no other reason than to address the seemingly forgotten, or invisible, factors contributing to habitually low African American involvement in cycling organizations, cycle sports, and bicycle transportation more broadly.” [It is worth noting here that the League of American Bicyclists recently launched an Equity Initiative, which is a great first step in moving towards a more diverse and equitable bicycling future for the country.]”

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              nony April 15, 2019 at 8:32 am

              9watts
              Last time I checked, 1999 wasn’t the late nineteenth century. Don’t be afraid to keep reading.“– The League of American Bicyclists didn’t officially revoke the ban on African American membership until former League president Earl F. Jones – an African American attorney and bicycle advocate – passed a resolution to overturn the rule about a hundred years later on June 5, 1999. Furness points out that, “Jones’s resolution illustrated the very real need for bicyclists to grapple with this racist legacy, if for no other reason than to address the seemingly forgotten, or invisible, factors contributing to habitually low African American involvement in cycling organizations, cycle sports, and bicycle transportation more broadly.” [It is worth noting here that the League of American Bicyclists recently launched an Equity Initiative, which is a great first step in moving towards a more diverse and equitable bicycling future for the country.]”Recommended 3

              Actual women of color here: Yes, racism and sexism is still very much part of cycling today. Comments on BP seems to prove it as well, no?

              Thanks 9watts for pointing this out. Good luck PCC to be more inclusive, that was needed.

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                9watts April 15, 2019 at 10:33 am

                “Yes, racism and sexism is still very much part of cycling today. Comments on BP seems to prove it as well, no?”

                This may the most disappointing aspect of the subject. The number of upvotes which ignorant, retrograde posts receive here.

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                Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) April 15, 2019 at 11:32 am

                on the bright side… this is not an echo chamber… which means we can all come together and share our viewpoints… The idea is that everyone can learn from each other and our community will be stronger as a result.

                (of course if you see any comments that are insensitive/inappropriate please let me know so I can edit/delete them as needed)

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    Liz April 12, 2019 at 1:37 pm

    Yessssssss! Finally

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    Manville April 12, 2019 at 2:23 pm

    This world is going to the crapper. The radical left will crush everything eventually.

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      John Lascurettes April 12, 2019 at 2:28 pm

      Yeah we will and I’m liking it already. Sorry to be evolving, “Man”ville.

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        Middle of the Road Guy April 12, 2019 at 4:06 pm

        Evolutionary dead ends are fairly common.

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      Liz April 12, 2019 at 3:15 pm

      ~*~*~*~you’re welcome*~*~*~*~

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    janowa April 12, 2019 at 4:28 pm

    Congrats to PBC. You’re taking steps to reach out to people you might have missed. I appreciate and support that effort. I just joined the club.

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    Racer X April 12, 2019 at 6:02 pm

    Next they will drop the term “wheel”…oh I guess they did.

    But in someways the dropping of “Wheel” for “bicycle” pigeon holes the group even more, as they cannot evolve with the modern times and incorporate other wheeled micro mobility devices, tricycles, e-scooters, etc.

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      Pat@Boring April 13, 2019 at 3:48 pm

      We favored ‘Portland Cycling Club, in order to be inclusive of riders on trikes, but PCC, as an acronym and PCC.com, as an url, are already taken by Portland Community College.

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      Pat@Boring April 13, 2019 at 3:56 pm

      Although the Monday Morning Meander is the regular ride with an all-male rotation of 8 ride leaders, and although most of our ride leaders are men, we do have quite a few women who regularly lead rides. Out of just over 60 ride leaders, there are 15 women. It would be great to see this number increase!

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        jered April 14, 2019 at 3:32 pm

        I really want to make a joke about “all male rotation” but I won’t. Congrats on the new name – nice work.

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    Charley April 12, 2019 at 6:07 pm

    Good call! The new name is more representative, as well as being more welcoming and forward looking.

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