Check our Gravel Riding Guide and get excited for the season

Scene from the Hell of the North Plains ride in January 2018.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

This special coverage sponsored by Oregon Triple Crown, Co-Motion Cycles, Rolf Prima Wheels, and Ride With GPS.

Gravel grinding, rambling, mixed-terrain riding, off-roading, adventure riding — no matter what you call it, exploring unpaved backroads is one of the most popular things to do on a bike these days. What’s not to like? Pedaling on logging, fire, and farm roads gives you the accessibility of road riding and the adventure of mountain biking all rolled into one.

Gravel Guide partners!

While the gravel trend is strong nationwide, our regional and statewide abundance of quiet backroads has made it a fast-growing part of our cycling scene.

And this year it’s poised to explode: Promoters are launching exciting new events, the industry is offering new gravel-specific bikes and products and local riding clubs are making it easy to find new roads and new friends.

Thanks to a partnership with the Oregon Triple Crown series, Co-Motion Cycles, Rolf Prima Wheels, and Ride With GPS, BikePortland will bring you more gravel coverage than ever this year. I’ll be traveling far and wide to pedal some of the best dirt roads in the state and will keep you plugged into the gravel scene. I’ll also share guest posts from other gravel riding fans, profiles of gravel bike builders, and more.

If you’re a veteran of this site, you’ll know we’ve been fans of unpaved road riding for a long time. For us (and many others), it started with Otto Miller Road back in 2012. In 2013 I rode the “Bullshit 100” ride and was hooked forever.

In hopes of getting you hooked — and/or helping you plan your season — below is a list of major gravel rides happening in Oregon this year (you can also check the Gravel category on the BikePortland calendar for the latest listings):

April
Gorge Gravel Grinder – 4/7 (Breakaway Promotions)
Yamhill Gravel Fondo – 4/20 (Zone 5 Promotions)
Cascade Gravel Grinder Day 1 – 4/26 (Breakaway Promotions)
Cascade Gravel Grinder Day 2 – 4/27 (Breakaway Promotions)
Cascade Gravel Grinder Day 3 – 4/28 (Breakaway Promotions)

May
Oregon Coast Gravel Epic – 5/4 (Mudslinger Events)
Oregon Emerald Outback – 5/4 (Benjamin Colwill)
Gravel – 5/17 (Cycle Oregon)
Sasquatch Duro – 5/18 (Mudslinger Events)



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This is Bacona Road last Saturday. Can’t wait for all the snow to melt!

June
Oregon Gran Fondo (Sherman Route) – 6/1 (Mudslinger Events)
Skull 120/60/30 – 6/15 (Harney County Chamber of Commerce)
Oregon Trail Gravel Grinder – 6/19 (Breakaway Promotions)

August
Ochoco Gravel Roubaix – 8/24

That’s a seriously exciting lineup!

If you’re like me, you daydream with maps. Check out the routes of selected events in the Ride With GPS map below:

I can’t wait to share more as the season gets underway. Stay tuned for chances to win a free pass to the Oregon Triple Crown series and for lots more coverage. If you have gravel-related questions or story ideas, let us know!

For now, check out our 2019 Gravel Riding Guide for lots of ride recaps and photos, links to local resources and riding clubs, and more.

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

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Our annual don’t be a jerk in River View Cemetery post

Please slow down and ride with respect for others.
(Photo: BikePortland)

One thing I’ve realized about doing daily local news in a fast-growing city is that even if we’ve covered something several times, many people who are new to town are still in the dark about some things.

At least I hope that’s the case with a recent incident in River View Cemetery.

So if you’re new to town, please listen up: That forested path through the cemetery that takes you safely between the Sellwood Bridge and SW Palatine Hill Road/SW Terwilliger Blvd is private property. We are extremely lucky that the Board of Directors of the nonprofit that runs the cemetery have given us (via the City of Portland) the right to pass through. They do this because there is no other direct and safe option. And because they are nice people. Suffice it to say, the River View path is a gem that’s used and adored by many — from commuters to racers and weekend warriors — and it’s a privilege to use it, not a right.

“If this guy would have hit me, I would have been in the hospital with several broken bones.”

Longtime readers of this site will recall that we first raised a red flag about unsafe riding behaviors in 2006. Then a few years later we covered the issue again when the cemetery’s board threatened to install speed bumps to slow people down. The most recent bout of disrespectful riding happened in 2017.

And I’m sorry to say I’ve once again fielded a concerned call from River View’s new Executive Director Rachel Essig. She said a man riding his bicycle was going downhill “extremely fast” and crashed with a woman who was riding slowly uphill. The man was then “verbally abusive” to the rider he ran into.



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I got in touch with the victim a few days ago. She said she’s 62 and claims she was riding uphill around a blind corner before it happened. “He came around the corner so fast. I thought, he’s going to hit me, what am I going to do?!” Thankfully, she was able to avoid most of the impact and wasn’t seriously hurt (except for a big gash in her leg from where it dug into her pedal).

“If this guy would have hit me, I would have been in the hospital with several broken bones,” the woman told me.

To add insult to injury, after the man flew into a ditch to avoid her, he allegedly got up and started yelling, “F*** you b****!”*

(UPDATE, 9:07 pm: The man involved in this collision has shared a different version of the collision in a comment below.)

If this is how it happened, this is seriously rude behavior — both the fast cycling through the cemetery and the verbal abuse.

Signs posted at both entries clearly say the top speed is 15 mph. Yes, that means you need to drag your brakes on the descent. If you have River View as a favorite segment in Strava, you should remove it as such. In fact, you should contact Strava (like we and others have) and demand that they delete all cemetery segments from their system.

Again. Please refrain from riding like a jerk in the cemetery. And tell your friends that we could lose access to this precious route if the board gets tired of tolerating this type of behavior.

In related news, take note that the cemetery will be completely closed to cycling on Memorial Day Weekend — May 25th through 27th — in order to recognize the solemn holiday when many people seek peace with deceased loved ones.

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

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Pressure builds on ODOT as new concerns surface around I-5 Rose Quarter project

Fresh off a public hearing dominated by opposition to their I-5 Rose Quarter project, the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) is now hearing new concerns from the Portland Public Schools Board.

In addition, the leader of the Albina Vision project, Rukaiyah Adams, made public statements about the project at an event hosted by the Portland Parks Foundation last night. And No More Freeways PDX has filed a formal request for an extension to the current comment period for the project’s Environment Assessment on grounds that ODOT withheld crucial data and gave the community only 18 days to analyze it.

Here’s a rundown on each of those fronts…

The big news was reported by The Oregonian late today. According to their story the PPS Board will ask ODOT to do a full Environmental Impact Statement — a much more rigorous undertaking than an Environmental Assessment (both of which are requirements under the federal National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process). 继续阅读“Pressure builds on ODOT as new concerns surface around I-5 Rose Quarter project”

Conditions on the I-205 path are unacceptable

With so few safe and direct alternatives, the I-205 multi-use path in east Portland is a crucial backbone in our transportation network. Unfortunately it’s been rendered nearly unusable due to an abundance of trash, personal belongings, and makeshift homes that have been built upon it.

People deserve places to live and people deserve safe access to these transportation corridors. We shouldn’t have to settle for either/or.

Everyone in Portland is aware that many people sleep and live outside. The spaces next to highways and paths like the I-205 and Springwater Corridor are especially popular camping spots because they often have grass and trees and there are no adjacent residents or business owners. To many people, these spaces are out-of-sight. But not to bicycle riders.

For years now, bicycle riders have had to deal with this situation. It’s one thing when people live near the path. However, it’s another thing entirely when people live on the path. That’s the situation on the I-205 path where it goes under NE Sandy Blvd. After sharing a comment from a women who said she’s stopped riding because she’s afraid of going through that section — and then seeing several other commenters say the same thing — I decided to take a look myself.

(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)



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Today I rolled over to the I-205/Sandy area. It was terrible. Several large deposits of trash and belongings littered the path. On the section that goes under Sandy, several well-established living areas are nearly blocking the entire path. At one point there’s only 2-3 feet for someone to get by. It’s very unsettling on many levels. It’s also very dangerous.

Here are just a few of the comments we’ve heard from readers today:

Tara Goddard:

I rode it once, and was thankful to be on my ebike, and never rode it again.

Beth Rice:

It’s just horrible. I avoid the 205 as much as I can

Bjorn Warloe:

This is even worse than the last time I braved it but between broken glass and threatening campers I switched to mixing it up with cars on Sandy from killings worth to Prescott years ago.

Andrew:

I am a 57 year old large man, and I will never again ride the I-205 path between Holgate and Burnside until something changes. This is not just a “woman’s fear.” I don’t mind the homeless, but I do mind the path being an obstacle course.

Maria:

I just rode there Sunday (mid-day) and it was downright scary. I’m a bold rider but it was pretty dicey. The firepit in the middle of was pretty hot.

Al:

I just rode through there on Friday evening. The path pictured was so blocked that I had to walk my bike through as I didn’t know if the sleeping bags crossing the path had people in them. The folks there were super polite and cleared the rest of the way for me but this is definitely a safety and security concern to the point where it can’t be allowed to continue.

The Oregon Department of Transportation owns and manages the I-205 path. However, as of this year, they transferred management of this specific issue to the City of Portland. Today I noticed an “Illegal Campsite” notice from the City of Portland that looked to have been posted this morning (pure coincidence we did a story today). The notice says, “This campsite will be cleared no less than 48 hours after and within ten days of 3-18-19.”

This is such a sad state of affairs. People deserve places to live and people deserve safe access to these transportation corridors. We shouldn’t have to settle for either/or.

Below is a longer version of the lead video that shows a few sections prior to the undercrossing:

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

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Portland area bike companies in Sacramento for North American Handmade Bicycle Show

Chad Smeltzer of Smeltzer Bikes in Gresham has made a name for himself with off-road capable drop-bar bikes. He shared this photo of one of the bikes he has at NAHBS.
(Photo: Chad Smelzter)

Portland area bike businesses will have a strong presence at the annual North American Handmade Bicycle Show (NAHBS) that opened today at the Sacramento Convention Center.

Event poster.

NAHBS is bike industry institution that started in 2005. We’ve covered it here to varying degrees since Portland builders made a strong showing in 2006. Portland builders have a rich legacy at NAHBS, winning “Best of” awards at several past shows.

This year I noticed two new builders (that we haven’t even featured on the front page yet!) that will make their national debut at NAHBS: Simple Bicycle Company and Smeltzer Bikes.

Simple is owned by builder Oscar Camarena. He keeps a low-profile because he also builds on contract for several well-known brands (that’s also just how Oscar is). Now his bikes are due to make a name for themselves and we couldn’t be more excited for him. Chad Smelzter is behind Smeltzer Bikes. He’s found a niche in the red-hot gravel market by linking up with local adventure riding organizers Our Mother the Mountain (OMTM). He’ll debut two new OMTM collabs at NAHBS, including the sneak peek he shared with us which you can see in the lead photo.

Below are the rest of the Portland-based companies that will exhibit at NAHBS:

Builder Oscar Camarena of Simple Bicycle Co.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Chris King Precision Components
Civilian
Biciclista
DiNucci Cycles
Efficient Velo Tools
North St. Bags
Ti Cycles

And we’d be remiss to mention our friends from Eugene who will also be there: Rolf Prima Wheels/Astral Cycling, English Cycles, and Co-Motion Cycles.

It’s great to know that Oregon remains a hotbed of bicycle builders, and component/accessory makers. Good luck to everyone at the show!

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

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Thank you #ClimateStrike marchers!

Students from schools throughout Portland have massed downtown today for the #ClimateStrike event. Reports are that it’s a big success with crowds much larger than folks anticipated.

We just want to say thank you for standing up and creating more awareness for the climate crisis! As one of the old people in the room, I’ll do what I can to create a different future.

Also want to remind you that the transportation sector is the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in Oregon (39% of the total). We can reform transportation and significantly lower our GHG emissions (not to mention make our neighborhoods much nicer to live in), if we do everything we can to encourage the use of transit and bicycles, and discourage the use of cars and trucks.



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And in case you haven’t heard, the State of Oregon (with Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler’s blessing) wants to widen Interstate 5 through the Rose Quarter. This would encourage people to drive through Portland, spewing even more toxic emissions into our lungs and air. You can help stop this project by checking out No More Freeways PDX, an all-volunteer group of people who are just as concerned about climate change as you are.

Thanks again. See you on the streets!

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

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As bell tolls for victims, Portlanders at ‘die-in’ call on ODOT to end ‘traffic violence’

A woman and her baby made a strong statement in front of ODOT headquarters on Wednesday.
(Photos: Alex Milan Tracy)

In a silent and powerful protest on Wednesday, parents, children, and activists came together to draw attention to unsafe streets. There was fake blood and chalk-outlined bodies. Adding to the symbolism was that it took place in the courtyard outside the front doors of the Oregon Department of Transportation’s Region 1 headquarters in northwest Portland.

“We’re lying here today to make it less likely that you’ll be lying in the road in the future.”
— Ted Buehler, participant

They laid down on the cold, hard pavement while someone struck a bell 467 times — once for each person who died on Oregon roads last year.

ODOT was the clear focus of this event. Organizers chalked “#DeathByODOT” on the sidewalk and used the hashtag in social media posts. In a statement about the event, Bike Loud wrote, “ODOT can no longer ignore the violence that occurs on their streets. We will not allow them to hide any further. We call on ODOT to stop the violence.”

“We’re lying here today to make it less likely that you’ll be lying in the road in the future,” said Bike Loud PDX volunteer Ted Buehler.

Edward LeClaire was one of the volunteers with Bike Loud PDX who participated. He showed up a bit early and found himself in ODOT’s lobby. I wasn’t at the event, so I asked LeClaire to share his thoughts on how it went. Here’s what he shared via email:

“I was astounded at how willfully out-of-touch ODOT staff were with the bike community. Before the event I happened to be in the lobby and I overheard staff saying things like, ‘What do they think is going to happen anyway?’ During the event while I was on the ground, looking up at the ODOT building, I could see several staff peering out and staring at us. Meanwhile, the bell was being rung to mark every death and it was somber as hell. The sun was going down the temperature was dropping and I was starting to shiver from the cold of the ground, but I didn’t want to get up out of respect for the dead while the bell kept ringing and ringing and ringing.



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A couple of ODOT staff took the time to be outside during the event but they chose to stand apart and refused to participate. Bicyclists are obviously the ‘other’ not deserving of their respect. Given that staff were aware of the event and discussing it inside, I had sort of hoped that possibly a few ODOT staff who commute by bike might come out and at least say, ‘Hey we ride bikes too.’ But they did not. We had an open microphone to allow anybody to talk and I honestly expected ODOT’s public information officer (who was there) to take the opportunity to say bland words about how, ‘ODOT cares deeply about the safety of all road users, and we work hard every day to keep people safe, we lament the death of every person killed on our roads, etc. etc.’ But that they could not even say kind bland words when given the direct opportunity in front of the evening news crews — it really struck home just how ODOT staff view bicyclists and pedestrians not as humans but as the freakish weirdos who strangely keep choosing to die on their roads.”

See more coverage of the event from KATU News.

Images by Alex Milan Tracy

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

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