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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The spokers have spoken

Our post of yesterday about the municipal red tape holding up a "party bike" operation in North Portland, whereas a similar operation is thriving in Bend, got one reader musing about a comparison of the two cities in the area of bike racing. He says Bend comes out on top in that department as well:

A bike race promoter I know says permitting for one day of professional racing in Portland cost more than an entire week of permitting for the Tour of Utah, which requires street closures in major cities for all but one of the six stages.

Bend has hosted the Cascade Cycling Classic, one of the longest running pro races in this country, for the past 30 years. Lance Armstrong won the race as part of his comeback from cancer before any of his Tour de France wins. Bend is home to a number of pro riders, including Chris Horner of Tour de France fame. Bend has hosted national championship bike racing for the past six years running and will host the Masters national championship later this summer and again next year. The U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross, a national race series that has held its finale weekend in Portland since its inception, is moving to Bend this year.

Could it be that even in the areas in which it claims supremacy, Team Portland is not getting the job done?

Comments (16)

Maybe the BTA should pick up its red phone into the Mayor's office and get this settled post-haste.

Yeah, but that's because Bend's event is a real bicycle race, not a Critical Mass wankfest. If a Portland event comparable to the Cascade Cycling Classic was a clothing-optional race, you bet your bippy that it would be approved.

The City That Works could very well be the Phoniest City In America.

It's a lot more phony than weird.

Perhaps a new bumper sticker slogan is in order.

Keep Portland Phony

Good Point "Ben." Starting to look criminal too!

Higher density in Portland, great number of participants could lead to higher premiums. Then of course there is the quality of participants to take into account when evaluating the exposures to loss...

The crowd at last weekend's Portland Twilight Criterium in the North Park Blocks was huge -- four and five people deep along the finishing straightaway. One of the biggest crwods in years. By the final laps of the 60-minute pro/elite race there was enough electricity in the air to make you think you were standing under some high voltage lines.

I think Subaru, the title sponsor, got its money's worth. From an economic standpoint, Visit Bend says the bike racing is worth millions to the local economy.

The world of bicycle racing is completely different than the world of the person who commutes, rides aimlessly around Portland on Bridge Pedal day, etc. Bicycle racing is predominantly a team sport (with exception of time trialing and some velodrome events) and is licensed and - in many cases - sponsored. Portland has a velodrome - one of the steepest and most challenging in the country - which puts it in an enviable position for hosting track events. Bend doesn't have a velodrome although they have been the home of the Cascade Classic for years. Portland also hosts events at Mt. Tabor and cyclocross events - the earliest of which were held at Gabriel Park in SW.

Part of the reason Bend still hosts the Cascade Classic - I think - is that it brings a lot of money and press to Bend and it is sort of grandfathered in as a city center event. When it began, Bend was still sleepy and small.

Alternately, at the same time the Cascade Classic was getting its start in Bend (1980), Portland's City Hall cared very little about promoting bicycling. When Bike to Work Day was held each year, it was staged by private volunteers, bike shops and bike club members with no help from the City of Portland at all. The city established a Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee which met regularly in the Portland Building and was composed of volunteers (myself being one) but it was an uphill battle getting anything done at all. Eventually (after I left) I noticed that the Pedestrian element got dropped.

So now Portland is supposedly the champion of bicycle culture . . . something that we see more of here because of (1) the economy and (2) our moderate climate and relatively flat terrain.

I don't see downtown Portland as necessarily being an optimal or appropriate place for bicycle racing but that doesn't mean it isn't happening in other parts of Portland and that is doesn't continue to happen in places further south or east.

Remember the old Wheat Thin Mayor's Cup on Market and surrounding streets back in the 80s? 7-Eleven's Ron Keifel won that in '86 or '87 I think. That was a big race.

Portland has a velodrome - one of the steepest and most challenging in the country

If you're talking about the only velodrome I know of - at Alpenrose Dairy - I never saw it as much of a challenge, and I used to live just a few blocks from it. Actually, riding the trail that crosses Vermont Creek is more challenging.

Try riding the trail that crosses Vermont Creek on a fixie LOL. Mountain biking is a whole different world and challenging in a different way. When I was a licensed racer, I never found myself upside down on a firelane in an attempt to avoid damage to the bike after having flipped traversing some big rocks. Those were the days -- hardly any brain damage either --

Max, you've obviously never ridden in the velodrome when it's full of other racers. A friend of mine used to and literally has the scars to prove it (and used to be nationally ranked as well).

Portlander commented: "When I was a licensed racer," Bike racers need Licenses?

What's next, we will need a State License to receive a hair cut?

"Keep Portland Phony" wins.

Now, I can't wait for some local race horse owner(s) naming their horse "Portland Phony"

Portlander commented: "When I was a licensed racer," Bike racers need Licenses?

What's next, we will need a State License to receive a hair cut?

The licenses he's referring to are with the organizations that run the sport, not the state.

Weird; as a runner, I know there are TONS of running races in Portland. And more than a few triathlons, as well. Unclear to me why bike races would be given such a hard time. Plus, have to wonder what all the new-found cycling enthusiasts here would be saying if they found streets and bridges shut down for a race during the middle of the day.

True, Lucs - I only used it when no events were occurring.

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