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2017 Cycle Oregon ‘Classic’ ride cancelled due to wildfires – UPDATED

Posted by on August 31st, 2017 at 2:32 pm

(Graphic: Cycle Oregon)

Cycle Oregon 2017 has been cancelled. Below is the statement from Executive Director Steve Schulz:

Wildfires in Central Oregon Force Cancellation of 2017 Cycle Oregon Classic Ride

Forty-four percent of acres burning nationally are in Oregon. Fifty percent of individuals fighting fires nationally are in Oregon and Washington. Eight of the highest trained firefighting teams in the nation are working on the fires in Oregon. These fires are spread throughout the entire state, with the heaviest fires being in central and southern Oregon – encompassing our 2017 Classic route. Currently, fires are impacting five of our seven days with smoke and air quality levels ranging from unhealthy to hazardous. Previously designed alternate routes are now affected with fire and smoke from both new and existing fires. Statewide weather forecasts for the foreseeable future are for more hot, dry and windy weather with an associated increase in fire activity and smoke production.

After discussions with numerous authorities including the Oregon Department of Forestry, the US Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Oregon Department of Transportation and others and conducting on site personal meetings with Incident Commanders at the fires, we have come to the most difficult decision to cancel the 2017 Classic event.

This is an enormous disappointment for all of us. We as a community rise to challenges, but sometimes the risks far outweigh the potential benefits. We have exhausted the options and possibilities of doing anything but cancelling. The one priority that we won’t jeopardize is safety; we feel we cannot go forward without doing just that.

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Current conditions in central Oregon.
(Photo: Dean Rogers)

We are sensitive to the current struggles throughout our communities and our state. Right now, Oregon needs our support; Cycle Oregon will not add to these already challenging times.

This situation is unprecedented in Cycle Oregon history; we are in uncharted territory. As we work on next steps, we ask for time as we determine the best path forward. We realize you have many questions and we are committed to answering them. We will focus our current efforts on taking care of our communities as they deal with their struggles, being as generous as possible to our riders and partners, and supporting our state and those standing up and fighting these perils on our behalf. Cycle Oregon is something that we all embrace, and want to experience, but there are much bigger things at play here.

Over the next number of days, we’ll be working on how we stop this freight train and assess. We will reach back out to you by next Wednesday with our next steps.

Cycle Oregon is more than just a brand or a bike ride. It’s a way of being. We will move forward. We will embrace the environment that surrounds us – good or bad – find meaning in it, and remember that we are here to make a difference. And we will ride on.

In 2015 a wildfire near Wallowa Lake forced the first-ever reroute of Cycle Oregon.

We’ll be updating this post so check back in the next hour or so.

UPDATE, 9/6 at 2:45 pm: Cycle Oregon has announced refunds of $500 with an option to donate to rural Oregon communities. They are also planning a get together on September 16th in Portland. Here’s the full statement from ED Steve Schulz:

We believe in Oregon. We believe you do too.

More now than ever Oregon needs our help.

Forest fires continue to develop and rage throughout the state. Lives are threatened, communities are imperiled. As I write this, ash is raining all across Oregon, including right here in Portland.

Cycle Oregon was founded as a non-profit to both transform individuals and communities through bicycling and to help preserve and protect the special places of Oregon. These special places, and the people who live there, now stand in crisis. And so, we’re asking for your help. We are able to return $500 of your registration fee. In lieu of a refund, you can elect to make a gift of $500 to the Cycle Oregon Fund – held at the Oregon Community Foundation – through Cycle Oregon. These funds will go directly back to the rural communities that are dealing with forest fires throughout Oregon. If you elect not to contribute, you will receive a registration refund of $500. For those of you that purchased tent and porter, bus tickets, parking, CPAP and rider guest registrations, we will refund 100% of your purchases. In addition, everyone registered for 2017’s The Classic, will receive the opportunity of an early registration for the 2018 event.

While we’re not obligated to refund any funds to our riders, that’s not who we are. You trust us to do the right thing. And the right thing is to take care of you and the Oregon communities that have continued to take care of us over the last 30 years. Over that time, this community has been able to contribute back millions of dollars to hundreds of rural communities throughout the state. And we won’t stop now.

These are challenging times. But we do not bow down to the challenge, and we will not alter our path. We will ride on. We hope you ride with us.

Steve

p.s. For those of you in the Portland area, save the date of September 16th. Though we weren’t able to gather for a week, we want to gather for a day, and celebrate the Cycle Oregon community. You will be able to pick up your products, see our partners, sponsors and volunteers and more importantly, connect with each other.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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26 Comments
  • Tony Jordan (Contributor) August 31, 2017 at 2:47 pm

    I’ve been dreading this for the last few weeks… it really is insane how every route is affected. I was hoping they’d pull some amazing trick and have us do the 2015 route (which is currently fire free).

    I hope that all the firefighters stay safe and I’m happy to say I just reached my goal of raising $2,500 for Candlelighters for Children With Cancer’s “Ride for a Child” CO fundraiser.

    Recommended Thumb up 10

  • Mike Sanders August 31, 2017 at 2:47 pm

    Canceling the entire tour…that, I believe, is a first.

    Recommended Thumb up 3

  • Allan L. August 31, 2017 at 3:19 pm

    Welcome to Hell.

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  • bikeninja August 31, 2017 at 3:37 pm

    Darn auto exhaust induced climate change.

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    • mran1984 August 31, 2017 at 4:20 pm

      All of the massive support for Cycle Oregon is dependent on the automobile.

      Recommended Thumb up 9

      • Tony Jordan (Contributor) August 31, 2017 at 4:36 pm

        True. I think the organization can continue to do more to encourage mass transit to the event, carpooling for those who can’t take the bus, and they should move the meals all to vegetarian.

        But really, is your point here to make people feel bad for taking part in CO or to justify all the excess trips people take by car every other day of the year?

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        • Alex August 31, 2017 at 7:45 pm

          I think his point is that all of their riding is reliant on automobiles so they can feel comfortable. Somehow, people think just the act of riding a bike is thought of as environmentally sound, regardless of how much vehicles are involved.

          Recommended Thumb up 8

          • Tony Jordan (Contributor) August 31, 2017 at 9:45 pm

            I might give the benefit of the doubt, but a search and review of previous comments makes me think the person is just pretty mean spirited.

            Recommended Thumb up 6

            • Alex September 1, 2017 at 7:25 am

              I don’t think he is trying to be mean spirited. He has a completely valid point. I have done Cycle Oregon in the past and it does require a ton of automobiles to make it happen. The irony that someone would be talking about car exhaust causing these fires is not lost on me, nor him. You can’t really complain about cars ruining the environment/event when the cars make it all possible.

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              • Ted Timmons (Contributor) September 1, 2017 at 9:39 am

                This is the same fallacy of “well, how would you deliver bicycles without any trucks?” type of comment. Sure, 1000 humans in any one rural place requires support best provided from trucks and autos. Sure, that’s more CO2 emissions than if everyone stayed home. But that’s an incorrect comparison. It’s less than, say, 1000 people driving to a festival in Eastern Oregon that moves every day.

                Occasionally using a car doesn’t make a cyclist a hypocrite. They can coexist.

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              • Alex September 4, 2017 at 9:43 pm

                It’s not a fallacy, it’s the truth. What you did was a fallacy – you set up a straw man argument.

                > Occasionally using a car doesn’t make a cyclist a hypocrite. They can coexist.

                Did I say that? I did not. What I said is that there is irony (at least some!) to it. My point is that it isn’t like this event is doing the environment any favors, let’s not pretend it is. I also don’t believe Cycle Oregon is all about saving the environment – it’s about having fun and riding in beautiful places, which I think is awesome and we should continue to do! Let’s just not pretend we are doing much more than that, though. If they made a part of it be more educational and gave lectures/taught people about the environment and what was going on around them, I would cut it a bit more slack. But they aren’t.

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        • Doug September 1, 2017 at 5:36 am

          You sound like a real fun guy.

          Recommended Thumb up 3

    • Chris I August 31, 2017 at 8:20 pm

      Wildland fires are part of life in the West. The last 60 years of excessive fire suppression have altered the natural cycle. Climate change does have an influence, but it is a relatively small one compared to our historic management practices.

      Recommended Thumb up 11

  • Mike Quigley August 31, 2017 at 4:27 pm

    I appears that the route was over mostly busy highways, anyway.

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    • Tony Jordan (Contributor) August 31, 2017 at 4:31 pm

      Not really at all. Bad take on your part. Several days were supposed to be on Oregon’s world-class scenic bikeways including Aufderheide, Row River, and the rim of Crater Lake. The last day was up and over McKenzie Pass.

      Recommended Thumb up 18

  • BH August 31, 2017 at 4:50 pm

    I’m disappointed but this was clearly the right decision. I’m sure they agonized over this, but I’ve been watching the air quality with increasing concern. I hope they don’t get too much flack.

    Recommended Thumb up 4

  • B. Carfree August 31, 2017 at 5:25 pm

    Classy statement from a classy organization stuck in an unfortunate position. There just doesn’t appear to be any way out of the mess this year.

    I’m hopeful that as we enter this new era of extended fire seasons in Oregon that we can adjust appropriately. The old approach of letting fires burn and only protecting structures simply cannot be allowed to stand. We don’t have a three-week fire season, it’s a twenty week affair and growing.

    The USFS declined to approve a 19000 gallon tanker that atomizes what it drops (water or retardant) to make it more effective and safer for those on the ground (as well as not breaking tree limbs with bucket dumps). Instead, we’ve got 3000 gallon bucket dumps, which just don’t do it. Many other “no hurry, no worry” type of decisions are behind the fact that we now regularly face fires from July through the October rains.

    I yearn to breathe free again.

    Recommended Thumb up 7

    • Bikeninja August 31, 2017 at 6:05 pm

      we have been setting the stage for these catastrophic wildfires for over a century. We have replaced fire resistant climax forest ecosystems with even age mono cultures, or even worse clear cut without replanting, allowing large stands of pioneer species such as lodge pole pine to dominate. Then we started a regime of fire suppression that caused massive fuel loading. Add in the hot dry weather aided by climate change and this is what we get.This is not a random event, it is 100 years of karma coming home to roost.

      Recommended Thumb up 18

    • Chris I August 31, 2017 at 8:22 pm

      We never had a 3 week fire season. Ever. Letting fires burn on wilderness land is not “the old way”, unless you are a teenager.

      Recommended Thumb up 5

  • ray thomas September 1, 2017 at 9:28 am

    This is a loss not only for participants and organizers, but also for the local communities and businesses the ride and its riders and supporters would have benefitted with their business and donations. I am sorry to see this development and hope the organizers will be able to recover and continue this fine Oregon tradition without too much damage to their ability to continue Cycle Oregon for many many years to come.

    Recommended Thumb up 12

  • Peter W September 1, 2017 at 11:01 am

    Damn. A good reminder that climate change isn’t just about polar bears, but has real impacts on the local economy too*. Now if only the state legislature would do something about it.

    * (plus add in the “100 years of karma coming home to roost” as bikeninja points out above which lays the groundwork – literally – for the increased hot, dry weather to light up.)

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Annag September 1, 2017 at 1:15 pm

    any reason why they can’t hold future events earlier in the summer, to prevent this happening again ?

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) September 1, 2017 at 1:47 pm

      Hi Annag,

      They do the ride this time of year because it’s statistically the best weather of the year. Not sure if the fire dangers and climate change will change their calculation but after this huge debacle I wouldn’t be surprised if they consider it.

      Recommended Thumb up 2

  • Racer X September 1, 2017 at 5:28 pm

    Perhaps instead of refunds or ride rescheduling…the ride participants should be given the option of a donation to the affected communities (fire management and bike parking)? I assume that C-O has insurance that covers this type of cancelation.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) September 6, 2017 at 2:52 pm

    UPDATE, 9/6 at 2:45 pm: Cycle Oregon has announced refunds of $500 with an option to donate to rural Oregon communities. They are also planning a get together on September 16th in Portland. Here’s the full statement from ED Steve Schulz:

    We believe in Oregon. We believe you do too.

    More now than ever Oregon needs our help.

    Forest fires continue to develop and rage throughout the state. Lives are threatened, communities are imperiled. As I write this, ash is raining all across Oregon, including right here in Portland.

    Cycle Oregon was founded as a non-profit to both transform individuals and communities through bicycling and to help preserve and protect the special places of Oregon. These special places, and the people who live there, now stand in crisis. And so, we’re asking for your help. We are able to return $500 of your registration fee. In lieu of a refund, you can elect to make a gift of $500 to the Cycle Oregon Fund – held at the Oregon Community Foundation – through Cycle Oregon. These funds will go directly back to the rural communities that are dealing with forest fires throughout Oregon. If you elect not to contribute, you will receive a registration refund of $500. For those of you that purchased tent and porter, bus tickets, parking, CPAP and rider guest registrations, we will refund 100% of your purchases. In addition, everyone registered for 2017’s The Classic, will receive the opportunity of an early registration for the 2018 event.

    While we’re not obligated to refund any funds to our riders, that’s not who we are. You trust us to do the right thing. And the right thing is to take care of you and the Oregon communities that have continued to take care of us over the last 30 years. Over that time, this community has been able to contribute back millions of dollars to hundreds of rural communities throughout the state. And we won’t stop now.

    These are challenging times. But we do not bow down to the challenge, and we will not alter our path. We will ride on. We hope you ride with us.

    Steve

    p.s. For those of you in the Portland area, save the date of September 16th. Though we weren’t able to gather for a week, we want to gather for a day, and celebrate the Cycle Oregon community. You will be able to pick up your products, see our partners, sponsors and volunteers and more importantly, connect with each other.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

    • Ted Timmons (Contributor) September 6, 2017 at 2:57 pm

      There were some important bits below the signature. First, there’s an event scheduled for September 16, possibly at their headquarters:

      For those of you in the Portland area, save the date of September 16th. Though we weren’t able to gather for a week, we want to gather for a day, and celebrate the Cycle Oregon community. You will be able to pick up your products, see our partners, sponsors and volunteers and more importantly, connect with each other.

      Second, a link to the FAQ: http://www.cycleoregon.com/refund-faqs/

      The FAQ includes the info for receiving or donating the refund, and answers many other questions.

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