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Ride like a pioneer

Pioneer

Ford a river? Kill a bear? Go hungry? Pack a pistol? Lose a loved one to dysentery?

Yes, the intrepid pioneers that came to the Mt. Hood Territory were a hardy bunch. And smart: when they found Eden they stopped.

Sign up for the Pioneer Century on June 6 and be a pioneer for a day and explore this beautiful area yourself on the comfort of your own bicycle – much better than rickety wagons, we say. With plenty of delicious food at well placed rest stops and the fairgrounds for lunch, you need not endure a moment of hunger or thirst!. Unlike the original Pioneers, if you need help it will be there: support vehicles and mechanical assistance can attend to you in a jiffy so you can feel like an adventurer… without all the risk.

All New Routes

New this year, the Pioneer Century has crafted some new routes. If you plan to participate in an intensive summer ride like Seattle to Portland, the organizers suggest you ride the Heritage Hundred route to gauge your training.

Want to go for the gold? The Heritage Plus offers 500 additional feet of elevation gain in four miles.

There are also plenty of other courses on this great ride, now 41 years in the making.

Ride Basics

Saturday, June 6
Clackamas County Fairgrounds – Canby
Hosted by the Portland Wheelmen Touring Club
View the routes >>
More info >>
Register >>

Group Riding Guidelines for Organized Rides

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A big group of cyclists passing through small towns is a huge deal. When you sign up for a supported ride, you’re signing on for an ambassadorial role – a chance to make a good impression on a number of people. Some people think bicyclists are jerks because they’ve seen bicyclists be jerks. We’ve all seen drivers and pedestrians be jerks, too.

The truth is, all road users make foolish mistakes and intentionally do rude things on the road. But when we’re in a big group ride, we are making an even stronger impression, so this is a great time to flaunt our good behavior!

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Group Riding Guidelines

Here are the ORbike Rules of the Road for Group Rides, plain and simple without a lot of fluff.

  1. Follow the rules of the road.
  2. Share the road.
  3. Ride respectfully – there are many people out watching during a group ride (farmers, people who live where the ride passes through, drivers). Showcase how great cycling is!
  4. Ride single file whenever vehicles are present – no exceptions.
  5. Ride predictably and communicate your movements with all other road users.
  6. Smile and wave: be friendly toward the communities you are passing through. Group rides often have a big impact on small communities, and you can help set the tone for what that impact is.

Download the Guidelines

Share this handy guide with your next ride. Click here for the PDF file of our Group Riding Guidelines for Organized Rides.

What do you think?

What are your tips for a respectful ride? Share your ideas below in the comments section.

Have fun out there!

Beginner’s MTB Tips

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One of the most satisfying and fulfilling outdoor adventures is mountain biking. Whether you choose to go on a solo adventure, or with a group, all levels and ages can hit the trail and have some fun. It definitely beats those mundane forms of exercise and is an exceptional way to enjoy nature while getting your fix of vitamin D (provided you’re not on a shady trail).

Probably one of my favorite aspects of mountain biking is that you don’t have to be an expert to enjoy the all the benefits you get from riding trails, all you need is a safe place to ride. Enjoy the beauty that nature affords as you build strong bonds and create treasured memories with friends and families. Pick a place that you are familiar with or a beginner trail. Scout out new trails before riding them, especially when taking young children along. Simply asking around at your local mountain bike shop will do. The important thing is to know what you’re getting into and what the guidelines are for those trails as some don’t allow bikes.

Maintain a safe distance

For new riders, it’s important to maintain distance and to give yourself a wide buffer with the rider ahead of you. As you get to know your fellow riders and increase your skills, you can throw as much of this out the window as you feel comfortable. Follow a safe distance from any other rider in your group, at least three feet to give you room to maneuver in case of emergency. Very few riders can maneuver safely at a closer distance to the other riders and are considered elite riders, so always pay close attention to riders around you. It’s also a good idea to ride slightly off from the rear wheel of the rider in front of you.

What about clothing?

Wear whatever is comfortable for you, much like you would in road riding, but consider that your apparel could become snagged on trees, branches, bushes, scraped on rocks or otherwise entangled. Avoid anything flowy that can get caught on things. Gloves are important, tall socks will save your legs from scrapes, and leg and arm guards are a good idea for those of you who are speed demons and daredevils.

Transporting your bike

If you’re like a lot of people and you can’t bike to your ride, you’ll need to ensure your car can transport your bike. Depending on the bike, this might not be as straightforward as you think. If you already have a rack and are renting or borrowing a rack, talk with the provider first to ensure the bike will fit your rack. In a pinch, one of those strap-on trunk racks will fit all mountain bikes and used properly they work just fine.



Guest contributor Steve Laurel helps people choose the correct bike rack with his website Bike Rack for SUV. Even if you don’t drive an SUV you’ll find his website helpful.

Bound by Dirt

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Welcome to my world. People tend to say that with a pinch of sarcasm and a hint of “quit your complainin’.” It comes off like a challenge or perhaps an invitation to notice just how wonderfully full of martyrdom a person is. While there’s plenty of sarcasm to come, I say it like the crazy uncle at Thanksgiving says “I love you.” He does, and you believe him, but still… he’s crazy. So when I say “Welcome to my world,” trust me that I mean it.

Riding mountain bikes and eating cookies

My world? It’s crazy, but you’re welcome to join. In fact, I’d love you to join. We’re going to ride mountain bikes, explore the woods, build trails, find friends, piss each other off, shake it off, get dirty and hopefully eat some chocolate chip cookies along the way. Who am I? I am a dad, a husband, a son, a homie, a confidant, an asshole, a trail builder, an advocate, a steward and a little bit crazy. I’m a mountain biker. I am Brock.

This new mountain biking thing

When I started mountain biking it wasn’t to see new parts of western Colorado where I lived, or see how far I could ride in an hour. I was invited by some buddies to try this “new” thing. We went to the trails I knew well; I had hiked them all. I saw things I had already seen, but something was different – better. I noticed rocks in the trail I’d never seen, but they’d been there for eons.

We relied on each other

On these trails we did things unheard of in my previous pedestrian world: we “sessioned” sections of trails that gave us trouble. We fell over… a lot. We relied on and pushed each other to try and succeed at new things. We cheered each other on, picked each other up and became more than simply friends from school, work or the neighborhood. Standing in a parking lot outsiders just saw us as a couple students, some Hispanic guy, a thug and a vet. But we became something larger than the sum of our parts. We had features pedestrians and goat herders thought peculiar; the tan lines on our arms and neck were as normal as Ropers having a Skoal can bleached out ring on their back pockets. But tan lines on hands, those brown rectangles from mesh-backed half-finger gloves…. These marks certainly gave cause for pause and questioning at the deli or bar, but they were brands of pride for us. We had our own language too. Things were rad or gnarly. Lips, trannies and hopped bunnies carried drastically new meaning. We became our own community, forged in heat of the sun, hardened by the rocks and desert, bound by dirt.

Spreading the stoke, fueling the fire

Fast forward 20-whatever years and pan west a thousand or so miles and there’s definitely still dirt under my fingernails and a quiver in the garage. The bikes have changed, the speeds and jumps increased, and while my identity has broadened to husband, father and more, I am still a mountain biker. I am at home in the woods, on dirt, rocks, roots – seeing what the ride has for me today. Done well, to me being a mountain biker means we not only think about, talk about and ride mountain bikes (a lot) but also build, fix, protect and expand our resources, our ability to ride them, through trail work and advocacy. We spread the gospel, infecting others with the bug that only trails and shared thrills can cure. We spread the stoke, fuel the fire and build the community. I say “done well” because anyone can grab their bike, go ride, get smelly and have a private experience out on trail. Those moments can be valuable, but we don’t exist in a vacuum and (I at least) don’t live in a fairyland where unicorns poop Skittles, trails build themselves and land managers treat everyone the same.

A joy shared is a joy tripled

Stoke. Perhaps it’s overused like most catchy phrases, but it fits what I’m looking to do. I desire to build a fire to ride mountain bikes, dig trails and strengthen the MTB community of those around me, hell those anywhere near my sphere of influence (which is, thankfully, larger than my cookie augmented gut). I want everyone to know the joy of a well-earned stink and to revel in that crusty smile, mud spattered legs and tired thighs – that connection to something much more than just an elevation profile or heart rate. Those are individual experiences and can be fun, but a joy shared is a joy doubled or tripled. I have a great passion for being in the woods on a bike. It has given me great joy and created some of my strongest bonds with my homies. I am stoked on mountain biking. Yes, stoke is the right word, for just as a fire can gain in intensity, size and beauty so it can weaken, shrink and fizzle. All that’s needed is a spark and some air flow – spark and air, flowing.

The good word of narrow ribbons of dirt

Like the young men in white short sleeves and skinny black ties who knock on your door, I want to spread the good word of narrow ribbons of dirt, wind in your hair, pounding hearts and a spark. As much as I love scaring my non-skilled ass on some feature jump or pinballing off a tree, these thrills cannot compare to listening to new riders giggle as they roll through a trail, squeal as they make it over a root, curse and get blue when they fall. It’s somewhere between watching your kids take their first steps and realizing you just buttered that super hairy jump line that has eluded you for so long. We all wobbled, swerved and hit the ground when we first took the training wheels off. Someone picked you up, wiped your face and dusted you off. I love cheering on a newb when they’re unsure. Telling a joke when they’re positive the granola is coming back up. High-fiving when they roll that creek crossing. Picking them up after they’ve wobbled, swerved and stacked.

Build, fix, maintain – not just the trails

In the same way we build, fix and maintain our trails in order to have killer, sustainable places to ride, I believe it is our duty to build new mountain bikers, “fix” old buddies when they’re in a slump and maintain that fire, stoke it, feed it. Trails don’t heal themselves, fires don’t rage in a vacuum and passionate mountain bikers rarely happen out of nowhere. We can all think back on that guy who egged us on, remember those words, can see the smiles that helped us turn the cranks one… more… time. Like the billows of a blacksmith they stoked the fire. Brought an intensity to a moment and connection to each other. A bond was made – no – forged.

Snow covered peaks through salt crusted eyes

Many have said they owe their lives to mountain biking. A handful have meant it. Some want to make their livelihood through mountain biking. Few realize it. I don’t owe my life to mountain biking; it didn’t save me. But those dudes who dragged me out on that first ride on a borrowed bike – the guys who waited on me, picked me up and cheered me on – they stoked a fire that burns brightly and most definitely has made my quality of life (and sanity) much better. Without them I’d likely spend my free time chasing a little white ball around manicured landscapes rather than following ribbons of dirt through old growth. I wouldn’t know the joy of seeing snow covered peaks through salt crusted eyes after thousands of rotations of cranks. I would have never felt the terror of rolling into a line of drops, stepups and gaps measured more accurately in apartment buildings than feet. Nor would I have known the pride and sheer unadulterated love in a hug from my daughter after her first successful lap under her own two pedals.

Speak to me about passion

The bike didn’t save me and neither did the trails. They could have just been be more things, stuff I didn’t understand, if a community of mountain bikers had not set a spark inside me then fueled it, fanned it and eventually set it alight. So what that you’re KOM how many times on Strava. How many podiums have you bagged? That carbon sled weighs what? So what, I don’t give a crap. Talk to me about how many fires you’ve sparked. Tell me how you geek out on waiting for newbs and how you shepherd lesser riders through their ride first. Don’t talk to me about your vo2 max or cadence. Hip me to how we keep our community growing, healthy and vibrant. Speak to me about passion. Stand with your bros (of all genders) and be a community.


Brock says he does few things well, but there’s no doubt he’s a damn fine builder of mountain bike trails, makes wicked good chocolate chip cookies and according to a mug his daughters gave him he’s the “9638th best dad in the county.” Brock likes his trails steep, gnarly and littered with “Is my deductible met?” He lives in the hills outside Cottage Grove and volunteers hundreds of hours each year to the local mt. bike scene through the Disciples Of Dirt mt. bike club.

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Why Ride an eBike

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Ebikes are bicycles with an electric motor that are either controlled by a throttle (US systems) or pedal movement (European systems). They are not scooters or mopeds whose motors are designed to run constantly.

Mention ebikes and watch as the masses part: For many, ebikes are little better than cars, not “real” bikes, something highly suspicious. For others, there they are a heaven-sent, the answer to physical difficulties, a chance to return to the saddle. After many years using and selling ebikes, I’ve heard just about everything there is so stay on the issue.

Ultimately an e-assist can be the answer to people staying more active, and over time they often find they rely on their motors less as they build up strength.

E-assist for Kid Cargo

I first encountered an electric assist (e-assist) motor when my former husband set up a longtail bike – a bike with an extended wheel base so our kids could ride on a platform over the rear wheel. We assumed that the additional weight from the kids meant some electric assist would be necessary.

I wasn’t a very strong cyclist in those early years and our e-assist longtail allowed me to bike my son to and from pre-school, a total of eight miles every day in addition to shopping and supply runs. Later we got a bakfiets, and yes, I was one of few lucky ones in the US with an electric assist bakfiets. This extra power for regular trips with cargo and kids makes a cycling lifestyle much more feasible, especially for non-athletes. At one point you might find that you build up so much stamina that you don’t need your motor anymore, but if the physical endurance is holding you back from a bike-focused transportation lifestyle, e-assist may be the answer.

E-assist for that last hill, the long commute, to maintain an average speed

You might be surprised how many e-cyclist are prolific riders who are out on their road bikes on the weekends. For their daily commute though, there is the one hill, the last five miles of their 20 mile one-way commute or that one stretch of highway where they prefer a little more power.

I’ve met people commuting from Vancouver to downtown Portland, north Portland to Beaverton, Milwaukie to Swan Island. For them, the ebike makes their bike commute much more realistic.

The European ebike industry accommodates these riders nicely through lighter bikes with smaller batteries and bikes that are fun to ride, even if the rider doesn’t use the motor.

E-assist to make biking possible

For many couples, rides can be stressful when one rider is stronger and constantly takes the lead. Ebikes cna level this playing field. For mature riders it means that they can either keep up with a riding group or have a reliable way to get home after riding without assist as long as possible.

For other people an ebike is the gateway to biking. If health restrictions keep you away from riding, an ebike can ease you into regular riding either by keeping the physical exhaustions at a constant controllable level or as psychological crutch once your limitations set in. For people who are severely overweight, have lost limbs or have artificial joints an ebike may just be the answer to a comfortable, feasible ride.

Tips to keep in mind

  1. It can take some time to get used to your ebike. On top of participating in traffic, regular shifting and braking, you will have the e-assist to deal with. It can be confusing and even a little scary at the beginning.
  2. Don’t overwrite the speed limit of 20 miles per hours permitted by Oregon law. Around that speed you will be find your motor either slowly phasing out or stopping – something you also have to get used to. Resist the urge to go much faster than that by tampering with the controller settings. While the motor might have the capacity to go faster, your brakes might not be able to accommodate the high speed.
  3. Ebikes are not allowed on sidewalks and some multi-use or forestry paths. Unfortunately ebikes get often lumped in with all-terrain and other off-road vehicles that produce noise and pollution. While there seems to be a lack (and some confusion) about enforcement of this ban, it’s worth checking before you set out on an adventure and be sure to be mindful of the other users around you.
  4. Be careful when transporting an ebike: wires and connectors are more susceptible to getting disconnected when you disassemble your ebike or transport it in the back of your car. They also tend to be heavier than regular bikes. Check your bike rack weight limit and/or transport the battery separately to distribute the weight better.

Martina Schrenke Fahrner has worked in the bike industry for many years with a focus on accessible bikes and family riding. She is a former bike shop owner and an enthusiastic cyclist living in Portland.

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