One of the fun parts of my job is to keep track of who’s-who and who’s doing what in our community. In that past year or so I started coming across a guy named Roo. My curiosity piqued when I heard he was helping out with trail maintenance out at Gateway Green Bike Park and when I learned he was working on a digital magazine about the outdoors.
Turns out Roo’s full name is Ruandy Albisurez. I made a note to connect with him; but it wasn’t until I opened up the BikePortland Shed (our backyard headquarters I’m trying to make into a community clubhouse of sorts), that we were able to meet face-to-face.
Below is a Q & A we did over email (since our time in the Shed was just an informal chat):
What has your relationship with cycling been like throughout your life?
I’ve been riding bikes since I was young. Like so many people who grew up in L.A., I had a black BMX bike purchased from the local Inglewood indoor swap meet. I used my bike to ride on my street with the other kids. As I got older I rode bikes on and off but nothing too serious. In my mid 20’s I purchased a Trek 820 and outfitted it with commuter tires for riding to work. I was a few weeks into my commuting journey when my old Air Force friend Eddie was over at my house visiting. He saw the bike on my back porch and asked when I got into mountain biking. I said I didn’t know that there were any trails around but I had just been commuting. Eddie asked if I had the knobby tires that came with the bike originally. I said yes and he said I’m taking you mountain biking this weekend. After that first ride I was hooked. I have since owned a bunch of bikes. Mostly mountain bikes, but I’ve also had a couple of dirt jumpers, a couple of commuters and at one time I even owned a couple of road bikes.
My relationship with cycling is very deep and personal. As soon as I fell in love with mountain biking both of my boys did as well. My youngest has been putting tires to dirt since the age of 5 and my oldest from the age of 10. I’ve spent the last 20 years as a single parent and about 12 of those have been spent having a blast with my two boys in the woods all around the country. From southern California to Whistler B.C. to Atlanta, GA. We’ve ridden and the boys have raced all over the country. Mountain biking will hopefully always be a large part of my life. I am now a grandpa and my 2-year-old granddaughter has two bikes and one push-bike in her stable so far. Hopefully this summer we can get her riding down hills on her balance bike, but for the time being she loves riding on her seat on the bike with her dad.
Tell us about Warpaint:
Warpaint is (for the time being) a digital magazine that highlights Black, Indigenous and People Of Color that are athletes in outdoor sports as well as community organizers that are doing their part to introduce BIPOC people to outdoor sports. I encourage people in their bios to share positive and negative experiences they have experienced by stepping into the outdoors. I don’t think that everyone fully understands how daunting that can be at times for people of color. There is a long history of negativity when we’ve stepped into outdoor spaces. Warpaint exists to help point that out and help bring awareness to it by not hiding it.
We will be fundraising to get a first print issue of the Warpaint magazine done and printed by some time this summer. We are really excited to get that going and have a printed issue with great images and story’s of BIPOC athletes and their journey into the world of outdoor sports. Personally I cannot wait to get a print issue out. We hope to be able to make it like a coffee book that people can purchase and have in their homes.
And you organize community events too right?
Yes. Warpaint is also an all-BIPOC media company and a Community Organization. On the community side of things we have been doing a ton of work. Group rides, get togethers, skills clinics, maintenance clinics and trail work party’s have all been parts of what we have been doing with the community. We had a couple of small fundraisers last year and have a few pretty big ones that we will be launching this year as well. Those along with more skills clinics and community events can be expected this year. A few big announcements to come!
I really enjoy helping get people onto bikes. That is a large part of why I put on beginner clinics through Warpaint and NW Trail Alliance, and is a huge part of the group rides I organize as well that are open to all skill levels. I never want anyone to feel left out and it just feels great to see people falling in love with this in the same way that I did.