Remembering Mitch York, Portland’s latest victim of traffic violence

Remembering Mitch York, Portland’s latest victim of traffic violence

Mitch York, self-portrait. May 2016.

Mitch York, self-portrait. May 2016.

55-year-old northeast Portland resident Mitch York died on Saturday while he was riding his bike across the St. Johns Bridge.

He was likely on his way to another ride on some of his favorite roads in the west hills. Mitch was only a few tenths of a mile from the quiet backroads, steep climbs, and gravel roads he often set out to explore.

Our picture of who Mitch was is still coming into focus, but it’s clear from his photography that cycling played a large role in his life.

From what we know so far based on his website at MitchYork.com, Mitch grew up in Boise, Idaho. His first serious athletic pursuit was baseball, which he played in high school. Then in 1976, during his sophomore year, he discovered skateboarding and it completely took over his life. Based on his own account, riding skateboards — and photographing his friends doing it — became his all-consuming passion.

“Over the last 30 years I have also fallen in love with road cycling…loving the pure solitude of a long ride in the mountains, or country road. Loving the different people and kindred spirits I’ve met and bonded with…”
— Mitch York

35 years later and he’s still skating, and he credits road cycling with keeping his body in good enough shape to do it. Like many of us he rode for the beauty of backroads and the riding buddies you share them with.

“Over the last 30 years I have also fallen in love with road cycling and have worked at it the way I worked at skating,” he wrote on his website four years ago, “loving the pure solitude of a long ride in the mountains, or country road. Loving the different people and kindred spirits I’ve met and bonded with over this unbelievably difficult sport that has kept me in good enough shape over the years to be able still go skate a pool when I want to without embarrassing myself.”

Mitch was a professional photographer with an impressive portfolio of commercial shoots, portraits, and architectural images.

His Instagram and Strava accounts are full of beautiful images of roads many of us have ridden:

like Rocky Butte, where he liked to do hill repeats;

#Oregon#cycling#hills#rockybutte#fall

A photo posted by Mitch York (@yitchmork) on

the Columbia River Gorge;

#oregon#cycling#highway30#longhardride #99miles#soloriding

A photo posted by Mitch York (@yitchmork) on

Larch Mountain Road;

#oregoncycling#larchmt#lovelyday#

A photo posted by Mitch York (@yitchmork) on

Mt. Hood backroads,

#Prayers#MtHoodGravel#Before theFall#23mmClinchers#PlasticBikes#gratefulheart

A photo posted by Mitch York (@yitchmork) on

and even the St. Johns Bridge,

#gothic#heavyskies

A photo posted by Mitch York (@yitchmork) on

Mitch’s good friend Chris Butler told me this morning that Mitch, “Loved to ride his bike. And he loved the biking culture in Portland.” When Chris visited Portland in September, he recalled that Mitch took him to half a dozen bike shops. “He really wanted me to understand what cycling was in Portland. He was very proud of it.” After showing Chris around town, Mitch took him on his two favorite rides: a 90-mile loop from northeast Portland, across the St. Johns Bridge and up over the west hills into Forest Grove; and a 63-mile loop east on Marine Drive and Historic Highway 30 to Latourell Falls and back.

“Two incredible rides I won’t forget,” Butler shared.

Mitch is survived by his wife, son and daughter. May he rest in peace.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

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