Q&A with Alexis Vazquez and Nanette Beyale, organizers of Portland’s first Native and Indigenous bike ride

Alexis Vazquez and Nanette Beyale. (Photo: Carter Silago)
User-uploaded image for Native & Indigenous Ride
Event poster.

Portland’s first Native & Indigenous bike ride is coming up on August 27th. Organizers have been working hard to make this an event to remember, and they have an action-packed agenda. The day will start with a 9-mile, party-pace ride (for Native and Indigenous folks only) from the downtown waterfront area to Laurelhurst Park and end with an event open to everyone at the Native American Student and Community Center at Portland State University. The post-ride gathering will start at 5:00 pm, and there will be fry bread, vendors and music to enjoy, as well as free paletas (popsicles) from Ice Queen for the first 50 people.

Alexis Vazquez is organizing the ride and event with their partner Nanette Beyale. Vazquez identifies as both Puerto Rican and Taíno, and moved to Portland from Brooklyn, New York about five years ago. Beyale has been in Portland for about a year, moving from Navajo Nation in New Mexico. They created this event for Native Americans and people like Vazquez who identify as Indigenous to places outside the U.S.

For people who want to join the ride but don’t own a bike, or who want to ride an electric bike, can access a $50 Biketown credit by filling out a waiver here. Portland bike group Chingonas Outside will provide helmets to those in need and Vazquez recommends reaching out to them via Instagram for more information.

Vazquez shared more details about the event with me via email.

“It’s great when you have a bunch of people that come together not only because you share the same interest in biking, but because you share the same interest in building a community and space for one another.”

– Alexis Vazquez

What inspired you to organize this ride?

[Beyale and I] have been inseparable since last October, and we’ve come to love cycling together. We grew to find a sense of community through the amazing work Will Cortez, Chingonas Outside, and the whole family at BikePOCPNW have brought to Portland. We found a space that we felt at home at due to the fact that [these groups] were created for Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC), and it made us want to be part of that and bring that feeling to our specific communities as well.

It’s great when you have a bunch of people that come together not only because you share the same interest in biking, but because you share the same interest in building a community and space for one another.

What has the organizing process been like?

It was grueling but paid off big time. We chose our venue, vendors and entertainment very carefully. We are ending the ride and hosting the end event at PSU’s Native American Student and Community Center, our food vendor is Native-owned Sisters Fry Bread, and our DJ is Indigenous as well. Even our photographer is Navajo! 

We wanted donations and sponsorships to come from outside our Native and Indigenous communities, which is why we partnered up with people like Biketown/Lyft, Pedalpalooza, Trek Bikes, Fat Tire Farm, and CyclePath. We wanted to have all of the allies of our community help us put this on for our people that will be riding with us.

The funding will provide payment for the venue first as a priority. Any additional donations will be given to the Native and Indigenous vendors/affiliates.

What would a successful ride look like? Will it be an annual tradition?

A successful ride to us is even if only five people showed up, that they felt they had a space, made some friends and enjoyed the sense of community we are attempting to create. Depending on how it goes, we might announce at the ending event if this will be annual or not!

This ride is part of a burgeoning community of local groups and clubs that cater to people with specific racial and ethnic backgrounds. Learn more about the ride on the BikePortland Calendar.

Taylor Griggs

Taylor Griggs

Taylor was BikePortland's staff writer from 2021 to 2023. She currently writes for the Portland Mercury. Contact her at taylorgriggswriter@gmail.com

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1 year ago

I was fortunate to meet the organizers through mutual friends earlier this summer. They are great folks with great energy, and it’s fantastic to see folks newer to the Portland bike scene jumping in to organize an event that’s meaningful to them and the broader community.