Newswire: Cycle Oregon issues follow-up to health issues on ’09 ride

To all our 2009 Cycle Oregon participants:

We want to confirm with sadness that one of our riders, John Aeby, died while on the ride this year. John, who had ridden multiple Cycle Oregons, died peacefully in his sleep of heart disease while we were in Grants Pass. His widow, Clarice, wishes to thank those of you who have sent your thoughts her way. John worked at Holt International Children’s Services, and he was a passionate advocate for adoption. A memorial fund has been established in his name; donations can be sent to Holt at P.O. Box 2880, Eugene, OR 97402.

Also, as you may already know, some riders experienced gastroenteritis on our ride in September. Since we were made aware of the problem during the ride, we’ve been gathering and processing all the information we can, in order both to address this problem and to put in place preventive measures for the future.

We recently received a report from the Oregon Public Health Division (OPHD) based on their examination of the event (click here to review a copy of the report). OPHD conducted phone and online surveys with many of our riders, as well as interviewing our food and sanitation vendors and others.

We wanted to relay the main points of the report to everyone involved. To sum up:

* The “bug” was determined to be Norwalk virus, more commonly known as norovirus. Based on the pattern of spreading illness, indications are that transmission was person-to-person rather than food-borne or some other source. (All our food handlers are trained in hygienic food handling, and our mobile kitchen facilities were inspected in Grants Pass and given a favorable report; none of our food handlers or EMTs were sick during or after the ride.)

* OPHD explored a number of possible transmission sources within Cycle Oregon’s facilities and infrastructure, but couldn’t single out one individual factor as being responsible.

* While we doubled the number of hand-washing stations in camp and talked about the illness outbreak during our nightly announcements, a significant number of survey respondents weren’t fully aware of the problem during the ride or didn’t recognize the number of hand-washing stations available.

Looking forward, we’re already working hard to prevent this from happening again. The risk is always there when you gather 2,000 people to camp out for a week, whether someone brings an illness to the event with them or a rider contracts it along the way. One of the main things we gleaned from the OPHD report is that hand-washing is the only universally useful form of protection in a situation like that, and so we will add even more stations for 2010 and position them more obviously and strategically.

We’ve worked hard to earn Cycle Oregon’s reputation for being completely thorough in our planning and logistics, and we’re not about to jeopardize that. We’re doing everything feasible to take care of our riders, including re-assessing sanitation considerations throughout camp. We hope this information is helpful to you, and we hope we see you back on the road with us in 2010.

Thank you for being part of the Cycle Oregon “family.” We will continue to do everything we can to put on the best bike ride in America.

Best wishes to all,

Jonathan Nicholas – Chairman, Cycle Oregon Board of Directors

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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Joe Metal Cowboy Kurmaskie

I wanted to share a few remembrances of John – an absolute gem of a man – he would stick around after my shows in Eugene and we’d talk adventures. You know how you can feel some people’s humanity more easily than others?
Here’s an email I got from him after one event I did:

Thanks, Joe, for the great presentation last night in Eugene. Really enjoyed hearing about your adventures with your boys. Must be a lot fun to be in your family. Great photos too.

Loved “Momentum…” My kids are grown now, but I’ll give your book to my son and son in law as they start raising boys. It’s a great primer on the art of parenting smaller guys.

Here’s a thought about promoting your book signings, at least in Eugene. The U of O promoted your presentation through their networks, but it probably didn’t get to the Eugene bicycle community soon enough. I just heard about it the day of because I happened to check your website.

Anyway, there are some good bicyclist contacts in Eugene who could try to get the word out, especially if we have a couple of weeks. Keep me on a list of people to e-mail next time you’re going to be in Eugene.


PS. My wife still often brings up your Crayola factory joke when I put on a cycling jersey.

Joe Again – That was John in a nutshell – always thinking about others – my career, his sons and son n law, his wife.

He is missed. He passed doing somethinghe loved. A life well lived.