‘In the Dirt’ doc brings Navajo mountain biking to Portland

Next Saturday (February 3rd) Portland will welcome two members of the Navajo Nation who will be in town to promote a screening of the new documentary film, In the Dirt. The film tells the story of a group of Native American cyclists who bring mountain biking to a reservation in New Mexico, and then watch how a community flourishes around it.

A local screening is being organized by Ruandy Albisurez. Roo is founder of Warpaint, a nonprofit that fosters community for Black, indigenous and people of color who love the outdoors. Roo is also community manager for Northwest Trail Alliance, an off-road cycling advocacy group based in Portland.

In a recent interview (watch below or on our YouTube channel), I asked Roo to update us on what he’s been up so since we last checked-in with him about a year ago, how he got connected to the Native American MTB scene, to share more about the documentary and the people behind it, and what he’s got planned for the big screening event next Saturday.

Check out our interview below and scroll down for links about the film and to grab tickets to the local screening.

Tell us about Rezduro:

Rezduro is the first enduro mountain bike race organized by indigenous people. All the organizers are Diné and they’re from the Navajo Nation in Hard Rocks, Arizona. It’s the first of its kind. When I first heard about it, I wanted to immediately connect and see how I could help and make it out there. We become pretty close friends with the organizers.

It’s just an awesome event. Just the amount of growth that’s been going on with the youth development. There’s so many more kids out there on bikes now, which is great. And it’s definitely something that influences what we want to accomplish out here as well locally.”

Do you think there’s something specific about riding in the dirt that appeals to indigenous people?

“I think from what I’ve talked with my friends that are Native — at least ones on the Navajo Nation — is that for their ancestors, horses were a big thing. And, you know, while not everybody’s out there running around on a horse right now, they view the bicycle as a similar experience. And then connecting with the land and going out and trail building helps you connect even more.”

Tell me about the film coming to Portland next weekend.

“It’s called “In the Dirt”. I met the producer T.C. [Johnstone] at the first Rezduro that we went to in 2022. Scott Nydam who runs Silver Stallion Bicycle & Coffee, he realized that there was a need for a bike shop out there and started helping the community get kids out on bikes and teach people how to work on bikes and stuff like that. And then it’s just kind of blown up.

We’re going to be premiering the film over at Clinton Street Theater, and two of the cast members are going to be coming out to join us. We’re in the works of trying to plan some kind of ride or event with them either that morning or the day before on Friday. So that other people can get to meet them.”

Are you hoping this film can inspire people here? Where does Portland fit in to this whole conversation?

“Well, the reservations aren’t very far from here, and we’ve definitely been working on trying to gain ground at establishing relationships with the local tribes. It’s understandably a slow process. And I hope, that maybe, seeing this film will inspire some people to help support getting programs like that going here.

With Warpaint, one of our goals is to do youth programming, do youth mountain bike clinics, trail building clinics, and just to build those relationships and help have a healthy outlet for kids. Who doesn’t like riding their bike out in the woods, going fast and, hitting jumps and stuff! We definitely would love to be able to do something like that.”

Anything else you want to share?

“We’ll probably be releasing some more details soon… but this is exciting for us: We’re in the early stages of getting what I assume would be the Northwest’s first, all BIPOC-built mountain bike trail.

I just love the community building side of this. And I’m really stoked to do the film premiere and excited about getting to build a trail and use that trail to hold some clinics teach people how to come out and get their hands in the dirt — and hopefully make more connections with the local indigenous community and get more people out there on bikes.”

Thanks Roo! Good luck with the event and can’t wait to ride that new trail.


Links:

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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Paul H
Paul H
4 months ago

Hell yeah, Roo! This is rad.

nic.cota
nic.cota
4 months ago

I love to see it. Really appreciate Roo’s work and Warpaint’s advocacy looking at how biking can be empowering for people, especially within indigenous communities.