What if we could have a trail system like Sandy Ridge within Portland city limits? Hopefully some day we’ll have a quality urban trail experience that doesn’t require two hours of driving (it’s an hour there, another one back) to reach. Until then, why not make the most of what we have?
Last year we gained a bit of single track milage in Portland at Gateway Green. Unfortunately, it’s a short 2.4 miles of trail at best. But until the city reforms policy to become friendly to off-road cycling recreation, why can’t those 2.4 miles of single track trail at Gateway Green be an AMAZING 2.4 miles?
The trail we have in the ground was constructed with a minimal budget and the end result is a solid base to build on. The alignment and flow the of trail is good and if it was longer, it would be a great cross country ride. After a few dozen laps though, excitement wanes; it’s simply too short to be engaging, giving the context.
In order to improve the replay factor, every foot of trail needs to count. Adding additional bicycle specific design features and spacing them closer would enhance the riding experience.
The Cliff Trail was envisioned as a trail that would contain technical trail features (also known as TTFs) and provide additional challenge over the outer loop. However, due to the minimal budget for construction, it ended up featuring a number of logs placed as TTFs, and they don’t actually flow. Not only that, the trail has widened at these locations, as riders ride around them.
If we implemented the undulating grade dips, rollers and berms as seen on Two Turn Tables and Lower Hide and Seek at Sandy Ridge, the experience would be a lot more fun, and you’d see riders doing repeat laps and utilizing the trails far more often. Instead of sneaking out of work and braving rush hour traffic, you could get your afternoon riding fix in town. (plus if you rode to the trail, you’d reduce your carbon footprint!)
Let’s do this
Some of us are working on it. As part of the Northwest Trail Alliance Local Stewardship Team, we’re putting build days on the calendar now for bigger organized events. However, the big events can be a lot of work just to put on, so I’ve been organizing small scale build parties that are far easier to manage, where we’ve begun to add rollers spaced in a manner that provides challenge and enhances the trail for riders of all skill levels.
We’re finally getting our trail building machine online. Unfortunately a mechanical set us back a bit, and we only have a few weeks before it has to go to the Stub Stewart project on the west side.
We could use some help
The Dirt Lab at Gateway Green was initially conceptualized as phase one to a bigger plan; a method to fast track what could potentially would have taken upwards of a decade to get something real in the ground. It would then be utilized to showcase the need for off road cycling recreation, as well as the value that the Portland Riding Community could bring as partners in the process, represented by the Northwest Trail Alliance and the Friends of Gateway Green.
Both organizations are staffed by unpaid volunteers like myself and other riders in the community that have stepped up and given up a significant amount of their riding time to try to make Portland a better place to ride bikes. If you’re reading this and have complained about “lame trails”, consider stepping up and doing something to change it.
We only have a few more weeks with our trail building machine so this is the window we have to work with to get it done. After this month, I’m putting my builder pack away, and it’s unlikely we’ll see any substantial improvements until next year aside from a few larger scale event. If money in the budget comes up for a paid builder and materials, we’re more likely to put them into the dirt jump filled skills area as its a better use for it.
The next large scale work day April 7th and sign ups NOW OPEN. If you’re interested in putting in some hours before then you can also reach out to me directly at jason(at)bermstyle.com. Efforts are currently going into the Toe Line Trail this week. We’ll be on site this Saturday @10:30.
<UPDATE 2/18/18 > Thanks to funds from a Travel Oregon Grant, we may be seeing construction of the new freeride line as soon as this spring! Between this line and additional soil needed for the popular skills/jump zone, we should be seeing improvements in time to enjoy it this summer. Our work on the Cliff Trail and Toe Line will continue as those grant moneys are better spent on new features (IMO)
Have you ridden the trail? We want to hear your feedback. Leave a comment below.