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Alpenrose Velodrome and event site is permanently closed

Posted by on February 23rd, 2021 at 8:51 am

A cyclocross race at Alpenrose in 2019 and the cover of the Dairyville Gazette from August 1962.

The beloved racing event site at Alpenrose Dairy is now permanently closed.

That’s the terrible news just released by the Oregon Bicycle Racing Association (OBRA) in a statement released this morning from Alpenrose Velodrome Director Jen Featheringill and OBRA Executive Director Chuck Kenlan:

Dear OBRA and Alpenrose Velodrome Friends,

Although we expected this someday, we are sad to inform you that the Alpenrose Dairy property has been permanently closed to events and all other uses. For us, this includes the velodrome and the surrounding property that is used for cyclocross races. Although we knew that this day would probably come, it is disappointing to not get one final year of racing at this historic property.

We are incredibly grateful to the entire Cadonau Family for the decades of generosity to the Oregon community by allowing all of the groups the use of the land and facilities free of charge. It is truly the end of an era.

Many of us have fond memories of the AVC, the Six-Day, and all the weekly track racing series that introduced so many people in our community to riding one of the most challenging velodromes in the country. There are memories of the first Cross Crusade race in 1994 which was also a Super Cup race and the epic Crusade season openers in the following years. In 2009, Tony and Joe started the Blind Date Series which brought new racers to the sport of cyclocross every Wednesday night in September for 11 years.

We invite you to share your memories of racing at Alpenrose on the OBRA Facebook page here: facebook.com/ORBicycleRacing and the Alpenrose Velodrome Facebook page here: facebook.com/groups/AlpenroseVelodrome.

Alpenrose opened to bicycle racing in 1962 and has become a premier destination for track and cyclocross races ever since.

Alpenrose hosted the U.S. National Road Racing Championships in 1967. In a cover story for the October 1967 issue of American Cycling magazine journalist and photographer Peter Hoffman described it as “Portland’s finest hour.”

In March 2019, the sale of Alpenrose Dairy, the corporation headquartered on the southwest Portland property, sent a scare into the community that its new owners might decide against hosting large public events at the site. Those fears were put on hold when it appeared the new owners would allow racing to continue.

In the end, the potential of a multi-million payout to develop the very valuable real estate we used to ride bikes on proved to be harder to pass up than that person in front of you on the wonderfully dreadful, off-camber muddy section on that hill in the back corner of the property.

While today’s news isn’t a huge surprise for those close to the recent sale and ownership battle, it doesn’t make it any easier to accept.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
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draw2build architecture
Member

This is the saddest cycling-related email I’ve received in a long time. I really hoped this would not happen.

Fred
Guest
Fred

I hope you’ll update this story with the “why” – as in “Why has the site closed?” What has happened? Did they lose their insurance? Has the legal battle between family members created this situation? Will Alpenrose Dairy be sold off so hundreds of houses can be built on the site? (everyone’s greatest fear in this part of town).

Steve Hash
Guest
Steve Hash

Time to re-purpose the Memorial Coliseum, Velodrome and Indoor Track and Field facility.

Eric Leifsdad
Guest
Eric Leifsdad

Sad news but I hope if they redevelop it that they’re required to provide a public path through the north edge. Maybe they’ll sell the velodrome and ballfield to parks dept? This property seems to be a gap in the red electric trail right-of-way between Shattuck and Oleson. I never understood why the property seemed to be so car-oriented / bike hostile aside from that being the default attitude in these hills.

Burk Webb
Subscriber
Burk Webb

Awwww crap.

Mike Owens
Guest
Mike Owens

Little league ballpark gone too I expect? So sad.

PDX is losing.

bob
Guest
bob

That’s too bad

Champs
Guest
Champs

I’m deeply ambivalent about the slow demise of track around the country. It’s great that the disciplines rising in its stead are more physically accessible, but unfortunately their competitive sides are significantly more expensive.

Recreation is good for the masses but without the athletes for inspiration…

AndyK
Subscriber

This sucks. Thanks for all the memories!

axoplasm
Subscriber

This feels like the heart of Oregon bike racing has been cut away. It was so accessible, so fun, and so great for families. Most important it was a PLACE, kind of like the Oregon racing HQ. I’m remembering going to the first race of the Crusade in 2019 with my kiddos, two of whom raced Juniors. I was looking forward to seeing my youngest race there eventually (she was only seven at that time). I never once had the thought: “this is my last time here.” I didn’t even race! Just supported my little crew. I regret every race I declined there.

I’m not a pollyanna so this is a weird feeling, but we need to build something to replace it. I worry we missed an opportunity (if there ever was one) to broker some deal with Parks to acquire the recreational parts of property in 2019. Where else can we park a world-class velodrome and CCX venue within the city limits? Could we repurpose one of the money-losing golf courses?

Austin
Guest
Austin

while I wish I would have checked out more velodrome races while I had the chance, I’m going to miss the Christmas village for sure!

Bikeninja
Guest
Bikeninja

This bums me out. I grew up in that part of town and started going to Dairyland when I was a toddler ( many, many years ago.) I hate to exhibit ill will, but I hope the housing market crashes and burns for a decade or more and the entire site sits vacant until it can be revived some time in the future for its historical use. And if it does get turned in to housing, I hope that those who build on it, or live there are plagued with bad luck, bad karma, and misery. Sorry for the angry comment but trashing 60 or more years of Portland History, and community involvement on the alter of capitalism is a bitter pill to take.

GlennF
Guest
GlennF

Maybe re-purpose an open reservoir on Mt. Tabor…
And close the dog park areas to cycle cross ones in a while.

vespajg
Guest
vespajg

Similar to indoor soccer and futsal arenas, a year round indoor velodrome with infield restaurant/snack bar/bar and other amenities seems like it could be a successful enterprise in the PDX Metro area. Teams, track racing leagues, youth programs, etc. Alpenrose was a great, unique, and irreplaceable cyclocross venue, but we have many of those – both current (the inaugural Oaks Park race for example) and to be discovered. While I will miss the cross races, the real loss is the velodrome IMO.

Alain L.
Guest
Alain L.

“Cash out” is the general practice of private property ownership. Difficult to fault the family, or new owners for this. Such a ‘community oriented’ site would be better placed in the hands of a Trust, as in a CLT. Seems like a good time to revisit an indoor option, which would be better in our PacNW climate. BC has a nice indoor track in Burnaby, east of Vancouver, near the SFU main campus. An indoor track located in the CEID would be nice, central to both west side and east side, which Aplpenrose was not. Or further east (of 82nd) given the lower cost of commercial real estate. Always seemed like an indoor track with weekly racing and 6-Day events should be in the center of the ‘bicycle capital of the US’. All of that said, it’s sad news, and sorry to hear of it. Thanks BP for the news.

Bikeninja
Guest
Bikeninja

What is ironic about all this is that the modus operandi of the real estate industry is to capitalize on the public infrastructure and cultural attractions of a city to sell and rent real estate. Just look at any website for a new apartment and half the photos are of “cool” music venues, or parks nearby. “Come buy an overpriced box mansion and experience the cycling mecca of Portland.” But like any parasite this industry is now chewing away the last of these “attractions” and leaving the host a hollowed out shell of its former self. Soon the ads will have to read. ” Buy our exciting new townhouses and be near all the other exciting townhouses,” since there is nothing else left. A sad progression.

SD
Guest
SD

Now there is no excuse to not have a centrally located velodrome.

Emily
Guest
Emily

End of an era, but lets remember, the Velodrome represented an elitist white male sport of cycling that is not representative of who rides bicycles anymore. So I’m personally not sad to see it go.

Lets instead look forward to cycling infrastructure projects like Gateway Greene bike park that encourages all riders to use it: White and non-white, skilled and un-skilled riders, men and women, adults and children.

Projects like GG represents the future of cycling that is more inclusive.

Ben G
Guest
Ben G

Thanks for the great times Alpenrose. You were my first official bike race venue at the velodrome and first cyclocross venue too. I learned a lot, suffered even more and met a lot of great people on those grounds. Wish it could have gone differently, like wish it had been offered to the community, but I can’t be mad. It’s business. And we got so much out of it without paying more than a race entry fee. Guess the good times gotta end some time.

Geoff Grummon-Beale
Guest
Geoff Grummon-Beale

I’m really glad to have many opportunities to have raced cyclocross at Alpenrose. It was a truly unique venue located within the city limits.

BradWagon
Subscriber

This is so disheartening I have had to try and ignore/digest it’s reality for a few days now before even saying anything publicly. Alpenrose, like many, is the reason I got into bike racing with the Blind Date CX series a few years ago. Fast forward to 2019 when I managed to take the overall win for that years weeknight series. To be honest it is not likely I race cyclocross as competitively ever again given that this venue accounted for about half of the races I did in an entire season and was within short riding distance from my house.

For as much as I look back and hate to not have those experiences for myself again I am mostly sad for all of the memories I was looking forward to having there watching my kids race that now will not happen. This is so representative of how our society holds private gain over public good that I am genuinely angry thinking of the future in store for my kids where “public spaces” are built entirely around driving cars or a having a manicured outdoor experience.

Alpenrose was so different in that it existed in an undefined grey area of public space. It just was without the restrictions of private gain dictating it’s use nor the bureaucracy of a publicly ownership overthinking it’s existence. It was a place that from the users perspective was void of the pretense, people could just be there, welcomed into the “secret spot”. With a society that so rigidly controls what can and cannot be done when and where and a public body that unfortunately needs to increasingly be controlled in this way these types of places where people, and specifically kids, can just exist will be missed.

bArbaroo
Guest
bArbaroo

There were a lot of people who put a lot of time into making the velodrome and track racing scene happen (Thank you Mike and Candy to start but there were countless others). They created an amazing community of people and it gave aspiring racers an opportunity to try a sport that is not available in many communities. It was always free to go there and train and that’s not the case at many velodromes in the USA. I spent many hours there training alone and many hours hanging out and racing with friends. Bikes and clinics were accessible for those who needed the financial or skill assistance. It was a remarkable community of people. AND it was FUN! For me, racing on that track was some of the most fun I’ve had cycling. Waiting at the rail to start, accelerating onto the bank, sticking to the blue line focused on smoothness and speed, and taking the awkward curves(especially corner #4 back in the day 😉 and dropping onto the apron all out of breath, are memories I’ll never forget. There’s nothing quite like feeling your own power propel you around a 45 degree bank. It’s sad knowing that other young riders won’t have the opportunity to experience track racing at Alpenrose. Thanks to everyone who had a part in making that place special.