A seasonal Oregon State Parks employee is leading a free introduction to bike touring in the Colombia River Gorge this month.
The 30-mile trip on Saturday, Aug. 22, will start at 9 a.m. outside Hood River, and loops to Mayer State Park and back by 5 p.m. Here’s the description from Oregon State Parks:
You will learn what equipment is necessary, how do you plan a route and pack panniers or a trailer to be successful. We will discuss the light impact of bike touring is on the environment and other traffic, and the positive effects on small town economies. By the end of the program you’ll have resources to take away and learn more about this exciting way to see the world around you!
You don’t even need a working bike to take part. Mountain View Cycles in Hood River will be loaning them at no cost to participants.
The event for people 16 and up, new this year, is the brainchild of Stephen Dodson, a program assistant in the east gorge.
“I did a bike tour last fall and it was an amazing experience, and I want to kind of give that opportunity to other people to go out and essentially take that risk,” Dodson said. “I was talking with my manager and trying to come up with new events and try and talk about bicycle travel and touring, and this just kind of came out of the conversation, so I just ran with it and I’m hoping it works.”
Dodson’s own trip last fall was 2,100 miles, “from Portland to Crater Lake to Reno to Yosemite to Death Valley to the Grand Canyon to Tucson to San Diego.” But he’s not expecting to inspire many to take trips that long. Dodson says a short bike tour can be just as life-affirming.
As for his ride this month, on the Historic Colombia River Highway, Dodson said “it’s a fun ride but it’s a moderately difficult ride as far as terrain is concerned.”
Dodson said he hopes that spreading knowledge about bike touring will help more people enjoy Oregon’s state parks this way.
“”Bike tourism is revitalizing small towns and bike tourism is a major economic factor,” Dodson said. “It’s a million-dollar industry.”
This tour has 30 slots. To reserve one or get more details, see the event website, which includes Dodson’s email address.
Correction 8/14: An earlier version of this post listed the wrong starting location for this tour.
Michael Andersen was news editor of BikePortland.org from 2013 to 2016 and still pops up occasionally.