Oregon’s gravel riding season starts this weekend

The Dalles will host the inaugural event of the 2019 season with the Gorge Gravel Grinder on Sunday.
(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

2019 is going to be a big year for gravel. And it starts in The Dalles this weekend.

Sponsored by:

These companies make our gravel coverage possible.

With promoters stepping up to meet demands of riders who increasingly want to leave cars and pavement behind, our calendar has filled up quite nicely with events that focus on unpaved roads.

Here’s a quick rundown of some local weekday rides and a few of the larger events happening in Portland and around the state…

Small Weeknight Rides

Wild West Gravel Ride Series – Hosted by our friends at Western Bike Works, this weeknight series happens every Wednesday at 6:00 pm. Meet at the shop on NW 17th and Lovejoy (1015 NW 17th) and roll up into Forest Park to get your local gravel fix.

OMTM’s East Buttes – Our Mother the Mountain (OMTM) just wrapped up their winter Snax Trax series today. After a week off they’ll fire up the spring season with the weekly East Buttes ride. Led by the experienced unpaved legend Ryan Francesconi, these rides tackle a different route around, over, and through the hills of southeast Portland and Gresham. Ride happens Thursdays at 6:00pm and meets at Gates Park (SE 136th and Holgate). For more on OMTM, check out their website.

Big Rides and Races

Gorge Gravel Grinder (4/7) – This much-anticipated ride is technically sold out; but you might be able to score an open registration slot by checking the Oregon Bicycle Racing Association email list.

Yamhill Gravel Fondo (4/20) – I’m looking forward to this one, as it’s a new entry on the calendar and the route goes through some beautiful Oregon Country that’s relatively close to home.

Dark Larch V3 (4/21) – This is an unsanctioned, self-supported OMTM ride that will explore the lush, secret netherworlds around Larch Mountain in east Multnonmah County. And yes, this is Easter Sunday.

Cascade Gravel Grinder (4/26) – Billed as a three-day omnium, this unique format blends recreation and competition in a choose-your-own adventure format. You can race or ride and choose any or all of the routes over three days.

Oregon Coast Gravel Epic (5/4) – The opening salvo of the Oregon Triple Crown, a three ride/race series that also includes the Sasquatch Duro (5/18) and the Oregon Gran Fondo (6/1). I’m doing all three of the events this year because I love visiting the small towns that host them: Waldport, Oakridge, and Cottage Grove respectively. It’s also a goal to ride well at all three since they present such varied and challenging routes. OTC, along with series sponsors Co-Motion Cycles and Rolf Prima Wheels is also a BikePortland sponsor so I’ll be riding Co-Motion’s newly redesign Klatch gravel bike!



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A scene from last year’s Oregon Coast Gravel Epic.

Oregon Emerald Outback (5/4) – Another unsanctioned adventure that is not for the faint of heart. Check the official website for details on the 600-mile route.

Gravel (5/17) – Cycle Oregon’s contribution to the gravel revolution is based in Dufur this year. It’ll be three days and two nights of riding, eating, and camping.

Skull 120/60/30 (6/15) – After I did this last year it became an instant Father’s Day tradition. I’m going back to Burns this year and can only hope it’s as good as it was the first time.

Oregon Trail Gravel Grinder (6/19 – 6/23) – This is a new format: Five days and 400 miles of great riding in a loop west of Bend. You’ll ride and camp at pre-determined spots. Looks awesome!

Ochoco Gravel Roubaix (8/24) – Hosted by the excellent Good Bike Co. in Prineville, you should seriously consider putting this one on your list. In just a few years it has become a classic and attracts riders (and sponsors) from across the country.

Check out the gravel category on the BikePortland calendar for all the listings.

I hope this gets you excited about all the great gravel rides in the region. Next up I’ll share some of the best (relatively) local areas to find your unpaved paradise. Stay tuned.

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

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Guest Opinion: Job description for new PBOT leader isn’t bold enough

Jillian Detweiler is the executive director of The Street Trust.

“The successful candidate should value all modes of transportation.”

So reads the disappointing job description for the next leader of the Portland Bureau of Transportation.

The Street Trust hoped the recruitment would elevate the exciting and pressing challenge that awaits the new PBOT Director: leading and accelerating significant improvements in alternatives to driving alone. That certainly was the consensus of transportation activists invited to meet with a City Human Resources representative who gathered stakeholder input prior to producing the job description.

In that stakeholder meeting I heard “bold” repeatedly. “Bold” did not make the job description. Neither did “bicycle” or “bus.” A “b” word that made it, though, is “balance” as in “balance the competing uses” of our transportation system. Balance? That’s the code word that prevents real changes to high crash corridors that could save the lives of pedestrians and cyclists. Balance is the excuse that leaves thousands of bus riders stuck in traffic. We hope potential applicants, and those who will vet those applicants, recognize that our transportation system is wildly out of balance in favor of cars.

Sure, there are hints that leading PBOT could be an interesting and rewarding job. The position description calls for understanding the racial and socio-economic impacts of access to transportation. It says the candidate should have experience and knowledge addressing population growth and climate change. Yet, there’s nothing that suggests the urgency of these matters and that our City Council has adopted a body of policy that needs action now.



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The Street Trust is concerned this uninspired job description won’t attract the creative, accomplished, bold leader who will help Portland stop spinning her wheels on plans and platitudes and instead make the decisions that will dramatically expand use of alternatives to driving. There are exciting initiatives underway in Portland and this region that could attract the cream of the crop. There’s a plan to improve access in the Central City and we are beginning to expand the greenway network in East Portland. TriMet has significant new money to expand transit service. Metro has declared its intent to bring a transportation package to the voters in 2020.

If this recruitment is not attracting leaders in transportation, we urge Commissioner Eudaly and the City’s Bureau of Human Resources to reframe this opportunity to communicate the challenge and rewards that it offers. And it’s not too late to implement the recommendation from transportation activists to engage experts like Jeff Tumlin, Janette Sadik-Khan or Gabe Klein in the recruitment and vetting process.

The Street Trust will participate in interviews with finalists for the job. We welcome your thoughts on the experience and abilities we should be looking for.

— Jillian Detweiler, The Street Trust

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PBOT testing modular speed bumps to slow down left-turning drivers

PBOT testing modular speed bumps to slow down left-turning drivers

Continue reading PBOT testing modular speed bumps to slow down left-turning drivers at BikePortland.org.

PSU will make block of SW Montgomery a carfree plaza in May

This block of SW Montgomery is one of only three between the river and I-405 that isn’t already carfree.
(Photo: Tim Davis)

Portland State University will create a carfree plaza on the block of Southwest Montgomery Street between Broadway and 6th avenues. The plaza will be installed for the month of May and if all goes well, school officials hope it becomes permanent.

Yellow square is location of plaza.

If this sounds familiar it’s because back in September 2017 — before the street reopened following development of the Karl Miller Center — we reported about how Montgomery is a natural place to create a plaza. Local civic booster and transportation reform advocate Tim Davis launched a mini-campaign to encourage PSU to prohibit driving access and open the block to other uses.

It’s not clear if PSU staff was directly influenced by Davis, but they’ve clearly embraced the idea. According to a statement released by the school yesterday, the Montgomery Pop-Up Plaza project will prohibit driving and parking on Montgomery for the entire month of May and, “transform this space into an outdoor campus public space for everyone to enjoy.” “This is a great opportunity for members of the PSU community to engage with the public realm and make this underutilized street at the heart of our campus into a more welcoming and inclusive place,” reads a PSU website devoted to the project.



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Ellen Shoshkes, PhD, is on the faculty of PSU’s Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning. She’s spearheading the project and is working with students to turn the block into a “living lab” by planning a myriad of activities throughout the month. Architecture students will build “street seats” where people currently park cars. May is Bike Month and Pride Month at PSU. Clint Culpepper with PSU’s Transportation & Parking Services says pride will be a big theme.

“The first thing people mention when they hear we’re blocking off the street is, ‘We should do that permanently.’”
— Clint Culpepper, PSU Transportation & Parking Services

Culpepper said in a phone interview this morning that he and other staffers hope the block will someday become a permanent carfree plaza. For now, the plan will be to block auto access with large planters (bicycle users will still be allowed to pass through) and create a large-scale, pride-themed painting on the street that will cover the entire block. “The street will appear quite different from Broadway and 6th. It will be a clear demarcation that this is not just a street for folks driving through; but that you’re meant to walk on it.”

In addition to the painting, street seats, and even opera performances, there will be a lighting project to activate the space after dark. Five street trees will be illuminated and cycle through different colors.

Feedback from student and staff surveys has been overwhelmingly positive, Culpepper says. “The first thing people mention when they hear we’re blocking off the street in May is, ‘We should do that permanently.’”

This section of Montgomery is surrounded on all sides by PSU campus buildings, but the right-of-way itself is owned by the City of Portland. Culpepper says they’re working closely with the Portland Bureau of Transportation to pull off the month-long project. With thousands of people walking and biking on the campus every day, Culpepper wants to make sure there’s no negative impacts to them or to drivers who need to pass through the campus.

“Hopefully this is a launching pad for an annual event,” Culpepper said. “If we can do that, then we can drum up support and financing to make it a permanent plaza.”

Stay tuned for more details as May approaches.

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

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Commissioner Eudaly pushes tolls instead of new lanes on I-5 through Rose Quarter

Commissioner Eudaly pushes tolls instead of new lanes on I-5 through Rose Quarter

Another brick in the wall to stop this project.

Continue reading Commissioner Eudaly pushes tolls instead of new lanes on I-5 through Rose Quarter at BikePortland.org.

The Monday Roundup: Cycling paradise in Africa, stick shifts for safety, and more

The Monday Roundup: Cycling paradise in Africa, stick shifts for safety, and more

This week’s Monday Roundup is sponsored by Treo Bike Ranch in Eastern Oregon, who reminds you that it’s time to plan your 2019 trip! Let Treo pick you up from Portland and whisk you away to an all-inclusive cycling vacation on quiet backroads.

And with that bit of business out of the way, here are the most notable stories we came across in the past seven days…

Brilliant: A Dutch bike company created a pop-up bike parking area inside of a “car” to make a point about how we use public space.

Continue reading The Monday Roundup: Cycling paradise in Africa, stick shifts for safety, and more at BikePortland.org.

Comments of the Week: ODOT bait-and-switch, a lesson for bike advocates, and jerks in River View

Comments of the Week: ODOT bait-and-switch, a lesson for bike advocates, and jerks in River View

Looking back at yet another eventful week here on BikePortland, I was struck by how many solid comments we had. I couldn’t pick one, so I’ve decided to highlight three.

Riding in River View Cemetery

The first comes from axoplasm in response to our story on River View Cemetery:

“Oh geez do I have Opinions. I lived for a decade at the top of Riverview & it continues to be a major part of both my commute and leisure rides.

Continue reading Comments of the Week: ODOT bait-and-switch, a lesson for bike advocates, and jerks in River View at BikePortland.org.

The Street Trust is ‘alarmed’ by I-5 Rose Quarter project, joins calls for expanded environmental analysis

The Street Trust is ‘alarmed’ by I-5 Rose Quarter project, joins calls for expanded environmental analysis

Oregon’s largest active transportation advocacy group is the latest to request that the Oregon Department of Transportation complete a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for their I-5 Rose Quarter project.

In a letter dated today, The Street Trust’s Executive Director Jillian Detweiler says an EIS is needed, “So that project impacts and mitigation can be better developed and understood by the public.”

“The Street Trust is alarmed by the likely impact on walking, biking and transit during the construction period.”

ODOT’s project, which seeks to significantly expand I-5 through the central city and add new travel lanes in a bid increase capacity, has come under heavy fire in recent weeks.

Continue reading The Street Trust is ‘alarmed’ by I-5 Rose Quarter project, joins calls for expanded environmental analysis at BikePortland.org.

There’s no longer a “BikeBar” on North Williams Avenue


The walls often displayed bike-related images like these portraits of Williams Avenue commuters by Jim Golden. (Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Hopworks’ Christian Ettinger pouring pints from the Hopworksfiets (note the bike hub beer taps).

Is it yet another sign of cycling’s decline in Portland? Or just a business wanting to freshen-up their image?

Hopworks announced today that its iconic BikeBar on North Williams Avenue will be relaunched as the North Williams Pub and Beergarden.

No matter the reason behind the change, it’s sad to see “BikeBar” go. It was fun to have a place whose entire brand was devoted to bikes.

BikeBar opened in June 2011 amid a flurry of cycling-centric development on what I consider to be the best bike street in Portland. It was Hopworks’ second location (their original spot was also very bike-centric when it opened in 2008, but BikeBar was next-level) and it was an immediate hit with bike lovers throughout the city. Outside there were stationary bikes that generated electricity. Inside was all manner of bike-themed decor; including a collection of glass bottles held to the wall by water bottle cages, an impressive array of bike frames over the bar, and beer taps made out of bike hub shells.



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Having a “BikeBar” of our own always felt pretty special. (Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Hopworks Urban Brewery was founded by Christian Ettinger, a bike rider and racer who has been very supportive of our community over the years. His company popularized the idea of a “beer bike” by commissioning the Hopworksfiets — a bike with integrated taps that could carry full kegs and became a scene-maker at events throughout Portland. Hopworks’ original location on Southeast Powell Blvd has played host to the BiketoBeerFest and the Handmade Bike & Beer Festival.

I’ve asked Hopworks to share more about their rationale for the name change. I’m also curious if all the bike-themed decor survived the remodel. I’ll update this story if/when I hear back.

The remodeled space between N Failing and Shaver will open to the public on April 2nd with a party to welcome the new name and the release of three new beers.

For now, let us collectively mourn yet another part of Portland’s illustrious bike culture that has disappeared.

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

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