Sponsoring Events In A Fast-Changing Portland

Sponsoring Events In A Fast-Changing Portland

The week of May 28th will see the series finale of PIR Monday Nights, the continuation of PIR Tuesday Nights, and the series opener of Mt Tabor Race Series. River City Bicycles is a long-time title sponsor of these events plus several others in the region and across the state. For 2017, we’ve adjusted our sponsorship commitments, significantly reducing the number of sponsored teams we support and cutting back on what we provide to the teams. We are redirecting that money, product, and staff time from teams and sponsored athletes and giving it to event promoters. The thinking is this- what good is it to have a team promoting our business when there are fewer events for them to participate in?

Promoted bicycle racing events in the Portland metro region are in slight decline, and while there are a number of market forces driving this downward trend, one of the most significant is a sharp rise in city and site fees. Promoters have long toiled extended hours at their own expense to host races and events, all while making slim profits. City related cost increases in recent years, (you’ll read about this in the next paragraph) are responsible for the termination of a number of notable races.  Even Portland’s most prominent and mainstream bike event, Bridge Pedal, has lost the approval to ride across 3 of the 11 bridges, one of which is the iconic St John’s bridge.  But bike racing is important; it’s necessary. Sure, bike riding in Portland is mostly a transportation thing, but racing is an integral part of the cycling ecosystem. Racing drives innovation, offers excellent health and camaraderie benefits, and can serve to entertain the city.  Race days also attract a steady stream of customers to local businesses near the course. Bike racing is a sport that fits right in with Portland’s off-center nature and cafe culture. Portland is growing at a rapid rate but it cannot grow so big and fast that it squeezes out the racing molecules of its bike DNA.

The Mt. Tabor Series, for example, pays fees to the City of Portland for use of the upper road loop for six weeks each year, end-of-May through first week of July. In 2007, that fee was $170. Five years later, in 2012, it rose to $555. For 2017, that fee is $2600. There’s been no increase in city services provided over those ten years. Sure, the park is car-free on Wednesdays and that provides opportunity for a fantastic casual riding experience for everyone and for this late-day racing showcase. We appreciate the road closure though we do wish the city would offer this road closure more often and in more locations.

2017 is the 65th year of racing on Mt Tabor and we will pay the city fees for the Mt Tabor Series so there will be a 66th and so on. We will spend a significant amount of cash this year to support other road, mountain, and cyclocross series because free water bottles don’t pay promoter’s bills. When events go away the scene will go away and bikes will play a diminished role in the personality of this city.  The scene is strong, for now, and we want it to remain so. Yes, there are other, more significant issues to address with Portland’s growth and we are active in many of those areas in addition to racing. But for today, we want to voice our support for the work race promoters do in making our hometown such a fun city to ride and race bicycles. River City Bicycles is the title sponsor of the Mt Tabor Series because we believe bicycle racing is important to bicycling and to Portland.

To the bike racers we know, please thank the promoter at events, pitch in with cleanup or offer to marshall, and encourage a friend to give racing a try. You don’t have to race to enjoy the Mt Tabor Series. The venue is a beautiful park overlooking the city with picture-perfect picnic spots to cheer on Portland’s fastest women and men. It’s free to watch and an easy ride from just about everywhere in town. Races begin at 5:45 and continue until dusk.

No matter what type of bike you ride, there’s a weeknight race for you in June:

Monday Nights: Portland Short Track (MTB)

Tuesday Nights: PIR Tuesday Night Road Racing

Wednesday Nights: Mt Tabor Series or Alpenrose Track Development Class

Thursday Nights: Alpenrose Track Racing

Friday Nights: Fast Twitch Fridays at Alpenrose (Track)