October 2019 Top Talk

Let me introduce to you the 2020 vision! The board has listened, thought about and decided upon the direction of a 2020 Portland Bicycling Club-sponsored bicycling event. A survey of past Pioneer Century volunteers indicated a desire for an event that promotes the club as a vibrant member of Portland’s cycling community while simultaneously being fiscally responsible. There is also strong sentiment within our ranks that we need to encourage diversity in our membership. Our club rides are already highly diverse, running the gamut from slow, short, and easy to fast, long and difficult; but we haven’t completely lost the intimidating reputation of a club that drops riders. If we want to introduce an event that integrates us into the Portland cycling community and reflects its diversity of rider types, we need to know what and who the Portland cycling community is. If you look at current cycling in Portland, what type of riders do you see? I see almost every type of person in every walk of life. I see mothers and fathers with children on their bikes. I see all ages of men and women going to and from work in all kinds of attire. I see all kinds of bicycles. These are what make up the Portland cycling community, and if we are honest, they are the future for any cycling-committed club. Portland riders care about the infrastructure that will make our community safer for riding and walking. What can we do and what event can we promote that will appeal to these riders and at that same time show off the kind of riding we do?

An event committee, chaired by Alan Coppola, considered two event types and examined these from multiple angles, e.g., costs, time of year, location, food offerings, and marketing. Because the Pioneer Century’s downturn in registrations suggests that fewer riders are seeking a full century, particularly early in the season, one option the committee considered was a scaled down version of the Pioneer Century. The committee wasn’t enthusiastic about this option because they felt it would be just that – a scaled down Pioneer Century. It may not be perceived as something vibrant and wouldn’t show off the kind of rides that have become a staple for the PBC.

Many of our rides navigate city streets, are leisurely and social, and include a rest stop at a favorite hangout or coffee stop. The committee felt it would be great to have an event that more closely replicated this type of ride but on a larger scale, perhaps up to 400 riders. This led them to the idea of an Urban Bicycle Festival. This event would be perhaps similar in appeal and concept to the Worst Day of the Year bike ride and the Tour de Lab, which are rides that tend to attract a diverse group of riders and finish with a flourish, music, and a celebratory atmosphere. The committee suggested timing the festival for late September one week after the Harvest Century because there are the fewest competing event rides at that time of the year. The festival would be presented to potential riders as a fabulous and relaxing way to top off a season of tough rides. The committee envisions a ride that would start and finish at a Portland brew pub, probably 25-35 miles, include club members as marshals, and offer a souvenir at the end, e.g., a beer glass. The finish would also include food carts, music, other drink options, and vendor booths. Our neighbors to the north (Cascade Bicycle Club) have found this to be a highly successful approach to a small cycling event that can also be a great fundraiser for a cycling-related cause (see Cascade Bicycle Club Bike-n-Brew).

Our event committee has roughed out what needs to be done, but they recommended creation of an implementation committee to put the plan into action. The Board has approved this step. Alan Coppola has agreed to begin the process for a 2020 vision committee and is looking for volunteer leads in specific areas (e.g., ride features, venues, route planning, marketing and advertising, volunteer coordinating, day-of-event tasks, etc.).  If interested, please contact Alan ajjcoppola@gmail.com. We have a year to put this together! Let’s get to it.

Pat McManus, President