written by Megan Oliver | featured photo by Talia Galvin
My wife and I moved our family here in 1989. I spent years cyclo-commuting between my home on the edge of Oregon City and Lake Oswego before we moved our investment management firm to Oregon City in 2008. Cycling has endured as my passion. In my spare time, I’ve led bike tours and generally enjoyed the rudimentary, yet plentiful recreational biking opportunities available to my kids.
A few years ago, I attended a cycle tourism studio in Clackamas County. Someone mentioned that there was no high-end bike shop nearby. I looked into it, and there was no shop in south Clackamas County, a geographical radius of 70,000 residents.
The cogs started turning, and I ended up showing a five-page business plan for an Oregon City cycle shop to local developer Dan Fowler. When cycling’s Specialized offered me a dealership, I knew there was real merit to the plan. Big companies like Specialized almost never back startups. Along with family savings, I took an SBA bank loan and started shopping for retail locations. After a short hunt, a local proprietor got me to see his vision for a downtown manufacturing facility. The renovation to convert it to a retail space was a chore, but we landed in the right spot.
I see First City Cycles as one of the pivotal businesses that this town needed. All gross proceeds go to my employees, local charities and sponsorship for biking events. In 2012, I launched the Oregon City Trail Alliance, which meets each month at the shop. The OCTA is currently working with Metro to design a system of single-track mountain bike trails in Newell Creek Canyon, a 400- acre watershed area in Oregon City about a mile from Clackamas Community College.
Another exciting development I helped facilitate is the approved proposal to turn the old Amtrak train depot into a cyclotourism hub, complete with bistro, comprehensive regional trail maps, locker rooms and meeting spaces for cycle groups.
With the closure of the Blue Heron paper mill and the Rossman Landfill, Oregon City has a lot of available land for recreation and commercial development. There has already been a complete downtown renovation and an addition of a bike-only section to the downtown bridge over the Willamette River.
The people of Oregon City have a lot of pride in the state’s first city. It was established in 1829 by the Hudson’s Bay Company. Willamette Falls, just south of downtown, is the largest waterfall by volume in North America.
I’ve called Oregon City home for twenty-four years. I love this town, and I want to see it thrive. As with most great towns, the heart of it is situated along a major river. We have iconic architecture, such as the arch bridge and the former municipal elevator that is now a tourist attraction. The cycling opportunities in urban recreation areas and the commerce development make me optimistic that Oregon City will soon be on the list of top places to live in Oregon.
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