‘Vanport CX’ race will pay respects to flooded city

Posted by on September 23rd, 2021 at 11:10 am

(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Bicycle racing on the grounds of what used to be Oregon second largest city is nothing new. But we’re pretty sure this Saturday’s Vanport CX is the first race with that will give more to the place than name recognition. The organizer says he plans to make a financial donation to a nonprofit that works to remind people of Vanport’s tragic history.

As we’ve detailed several times here on BikePortland over the years, the city of Vanport was a vibrant, working-class neighborhood when it was built in the early 1940s. It was also home to thousands of Black people and before it was completely destroyed by a flood in 1948 about one-third of its residents were Black. That’s very important because due racist housing laws and attitudes in Portland and throughout Oregon at the time, it was considered an oasis of progressiveness when it came to race relations.

Scott Scholz is the organizer of Saturday’s Vanport CX race.

“I named it Vanport CX to pay homage to those before us,” he shared with me in a recent email. “And am making a donation to Vanport Mosaic that works hard to preserve a history worth knowing and not forgetting.”

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Vanport residents fleeing the floodwaters in 1948.

What used to be Vanport is now the Blue Heron Golf Course and Portland International Raceway, a venue that’s been home to dozens of bike races and hundreds of other events every year.

Vanport CX is the fourth race in the six-race Harvest Cross series. Here’s how Scott describes the course:

“… you can expect a long, fast, start straight, then we stick mostly on grass, with some dirt and some gravel here and there, plenty of weird off-camber stuff, and a surprising amount of little kickers to punch up and over. Not many natural obstacles to force a dismount so I’ll most likely have a total of 3-4x barriers.”

Show up between 7:30 and 11:30 am for free fresh coffee thanks to Nossa Familia Coffee and Ratio Coffee Machines. And make sure to stop by the Biciclista tent. Not only are they a sponsor and partner in the event, owner Stefano Spedini is a huge supporter of the local racing scene and he creates and sells really nice cycling apparel! There’s also a free Kiddie Cross that starts at noon.

Find all the details on the race flyer.

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