Life is busy. We’re all busy … too busy. It seems that the customary response to the question, “How are you?” is to reply, “I’m busy.” Unfortunately busyness does not always equate to time out on the trail. And in a place like Portland where to get to the “good trails” is nearly an hour drive you either default to (a) road rides, (b) gravel rides at Forest Park, or (c) hitting the Gateway Green Bike Park.
Gateway Green is a fun little bike park smack dab in the middle of the freeway on several acres of unused green space. For years it was vacant land before some visionaries had the dream of turning it into an accessible bike park for not only those who live in East Portland, but for the whole region. There are so many layers to the story worth noting.
Since I teach an undergrad class called “Bicycles, Equity, and Race” I took my entire class there during this fall semester. We had been doing bike counts all over the city and I wanted to introduce them to Gateway Green. We walked the trails, talked about accessibility of the trails for those who live nearby, counted everyone we saw on bikes, and then debriefed the experience at the nearby Starbucks. While the class is more focused on urban cycling, but since we get into the economic benefits of bicycling facilities inevitably the conversation also turns toward mountain biking and economic development. But that conversation is for another article, back to Gateway Green …
Within the past month I picked up a Banshee Spitfire. Since there’s the normal adjustment time needed before a new bike is dialed in it has been easy to pedal over to Gateway Green, ride laps, and adjust suspension. I don’t always have time to pack up and drive out to one of my favorite trails an hour away, but I am grateful for the opportunity to squeeze in some dirt time. While it does not have the panoramic views of a Syncline, the thrill of Thrillium, the selection of Post Canyon, nor the remoteness of Sandy Ridge I am glad it is here. Very glad.
At the end of the day dirt time is dirt time. I never regret it. While we all dream of epic adventures each and every weekend most of us juggle so much … work, family, etc … which means at times the best way to squeeze in dirt time is to hit up what’s close.