Written by Ruandy Albisurez, Community Director ([email protected])
The Northwest Trail Alliance’s first all Black and Indigenous Peoples and People of Color (BIPOC) beginner mountain bike clinic was held July 12, 2022, at Gateway Green Bike Park in Portland Oregon. The original 8 slots filled up in about an hour so a few more spots were added to accommodate the high level of interest. Those spots filled just as quickly. It was great to see such a high level of interest and engagement from the BIPOC community. Plainly, there is an unmet demand for BIPOC clinics and events. Unfortunately, we had a few members in the mountain bike community expressing their lack of enthusiasm for our BIPOC-only event on our social media. Sadly this wasn’t a surprise to anyone, and we expected it. I handled it by pointing people towards some books that would help them make some sense of their feelings and hopefully understand and appreciate the spaces we create for us. We weren’t going to let that stop us from a fun, educational, and safe event. Safety is always going to be our number one priority.
Instruction came from Myles Ridge, assistant instructor Mylan Smith and myself. Myles has spent most of his biking career riding and racing BMX and instructing people on how to ride BMX and jump lines better. Mylan has been riding and racing mountain bikes for the better part of the last 15 years. And I have been riding mountain bikes for 15 years as well, with a little over a year of mtb instruction under my belt. All in all, we made a great and well-rounded team of BIPOC instructors.
Students that signed up were from various biking backgrounds. A few had previous mountain biking experience and were looking for more skill-building instruction. Many either commuted by bike or were road riders that were dipping their toes into the mountain biking experience. Luckily, we had some great bikes from Trek that we were able to lend out to some of the students that didn’t own mountain bikes. We are hoping to expand our loaner library in the future with more adult sizes, but everyone was thrilled with the loaner bikes that were available.
The energy was through the roof, and everyone was having a blast. We were able to instruct the group with mountain biking basics for them to practice and build upon. We covered beginner skills such as how to perform a safety check on your bike, body position on the bikes, as well as shifting and braking basics. All skills that are essential for safely learning to mountain bike and that will make the journey into the sport much safer in the long run. At the end of the class everyone was wanting more, so coach Myles showed everyone how to pump the rollers on the Tow Line and everyone practiced their pumping skills.
We ended the evening with a heartfelt thanks to the students for signing up. All of the instructors were stoked that the students had a blast and learned some great new skills. The students ended things by asking when we were putting more clinics and BIPOC group rides for beginners in the future. It’s awesome to see the BIPOC community interested and growing our presence in this amazing sport that has brought so much joy to myself and the other instructors.
As of right now our next BIPOC event will be on Aug 4 and will be a beginner jump clinic! Click the button below to sign up.