Portland, Oregon has one of the largest concentrations of bicycle friendly concrete skateparks. It is heaven for a lot of 20″ riders, and more than a few top rank BMXers live in the area and call it home. However, when it comes to dirt, and facilities for beginners and intermediates, there isn’t anything for rider to go and practice their skills. (Which is pretty messed up) Concrete parks tend to be popular and crowded, and a 30+ year old freerider isn’t a very common sight at the local skate park. Add to the fact that the nature of BMX is considerably more technical than trail riding, and a lot of single track fans are left in the cold.
However, if you are ready to take your riding to the next level and learn skills in a safe environment, short of heading to Whistler, the next best thing may be checking out the Northwest School of Freeride.
Based at the famous Windells Snow and Skate camp, has in recent years added BMX to the curriculum, and even more recently Freeriding.
We were up there recently checking out some of the action that went down at the Gatorade Freeflow Tour.
The main features of Windells are skateboarding oriented, and every where you look there is something to ride, grind, or skate. It’s much like walking around the set of a Tony Hawk skateboard video game. Once you get to the dirt though, you’ll see a line for every level of ability.
The freeriding appears to have been toned down for this year with the removal of the Boyko line that was featured in Follow Me. It has bee replaced with a humongous ski/snowboard kicker and a giant inflatable cushion. According to Barrett, he and Shane have been hard at work on re-doing much of the dirt area, and they expect to have it done before the fall dirt camps.
It’s not all good
The biggest bummer about Windells is that it is a camp first. As a business, it exists to teach the campers. They also have insurance issues that limit opening up the campus for public use on a regular basis. While there are open bike jams, ($20 for all day access, 9am-5pm) they are limited to dates when the campus isn’t overrun with campers. Great for the camper experience, as they are able to learn their skills in a safe environment free of pressure, but unfortunately Portland riders are still out of luck until the Sunday Open Bike Jams open in September.
Which of course leads to the bigger question, why does the biggest city in Oregon lack public or private facilities like this, and what would it take to make it happen? Salem has public jumps, as does Hood River.