Like a phoenix from the ashes of forest fires that caused the cancellation of last year’s ride, Cycle Oregon announced their 2018 season to much fanfare in front of hundreds of fans at the Portland Art Museum tonight.
Before the meat of the presentation began, Executive Director Steve Schulz addressed the controversy around last year’s abrupt cancellation. Schulz humbly and fully apologized. “We learned we can always make improvements on how we do things and how we say things,” he said.
Then, as he appeared to choke up with emotion, he thanked the Cycle Oregon community for their support. Last year alone, in large part through riders who opted to donate $500 (half) of their entry fee, over $128,000 was donated to the Cycle Oregon Fund. “The money went back to those communities who suffered — not just from Cycle Oregon not being there, but from an entire season of wildfires.” “It reinforced to us,” he continued, “That you care about your fellow riders, you care about this state, you care about the communities, you care that we can continue to explore this state every year from the seat of a bicycle. This is your brand; and this brand is strong.”
With that taken care of, it was time to find out where we’ll be riding this year.
The two biggest reveals were the route of the “Classic” week-long ride and the details of a new ride coming in October.
From September 8th through the 15th, about 2,500 people will form a moving city and traverse a loop starting in Baker City in eastern Oregon. Then from October 5th through 7th they’ll host a base camp for unpaved riding on logging roads through the Tillamook State Forest at their first-ever “Gravel” ride.
We’ve got all the details…
Classic route offers best of eastern Oregon’s nature and culture
The 2018 “Classic” route ($999 per rider) will go through Halfway, Wallowa Lake, Elgin, Pendleton, and La Grande before returning to ever-so-charming Baker City. The route will cover similar ground to the 2015 event that had to forego its climactic ascent to Wallowa Lake and reverse course due to a wildfire.
“The route takes riders past stoic peaks, through historic frontier towns, and past wide-open farmland,” says the brochure; but that doesn’t come close to relaying the majesty of this route. Check out our “5 Days in Eastern Oregon” photos and stories for a sampling from the roads, places, and faces of towns like Halfway, Joseph, La Grande, and Baker City.
As a bonus, riders will get a day off in Pendleton when the famous Pendleton Round-Up will be in full swing.
The seven-day event covers 383 miles and 23,600 feet of elevation gain — or 451 miles and 28,800 feet of elevation gain if you take all the options. Among the optional routes are sections of unpaved, gravel roads that will give riders a different perspective on the jaw-dropping vistas and an even greater sense of adventure.
Here’s the day-by-day breakdown…
Day 1: Baker City to Halfway
Miles: 54.5 (57.3 w/ gravel option) | Elevation: 2,881’ (4,742’ w/ gravel option)
Day 2: Halfway to Wallowa Lake
Miles: 78 (83.8 w/ option) | Elevation: 6,682’ (7,412’ w/ option)
Day 3: Wallowa Lake to Elgin
Miles: 60.6 (65 w/ gravel option) | Elevation: 1,859’ (2,603’ w/ gravel option)
Day 4: Elgin to Pendleton
Miles: 75.3 | Elevation: 5,220’
Day 5: Pendleton – Layover Day
Miles: 54.7 | Elevation: 2,300’
Day 6: Pendleton to La Grande
Miles: 56.5 | Elevation: 4,720’
Day 7: La Grande to Baker City
Miles: 58.4 | Elevation: 1,800’
Finally. Cycle Oregon goes ‘Gravel’
Cycle Oregon isn’t only adding unpaved options to their Classic ride, they’ve unveiled a brand new three-day “Gravel” event as well. Yes, America’s best road ride is going off-road.
After years of debate and discussion, Cycle Oregon has finally responded to the growing interest in unpaved riding. The much-anticipated new “Gravel” ride ($265 per person) will be based in the Tillamook State Forest near the small town of Timber, about 20 miles west of downtown Portland. Similar to their Weekender event, Cycle Oregon will set up a base camp and offer selection of supported routes that participants can do each day. After riding, camp will be full of food, live music, beverages, and camaraderie.
“Feel the calm of the forest as you crank through the firs and ferns, spruce and salal,” reads the Gravel brochure. “See the abandoned rails and trestles that will someday be the Salmonberry Trail, connecting the Valley to the Coast. Come out, test your grit and enjoy the challenges and rewards of this first-of-its-kind backwoods biking experience.”
If you want more miles, there will be a group ride from Portland to the Gravel base camp. Cycle Oregon will offer a gear drop so riders can pedal the 30 miles without their bags. “We’ll meet you in the beer garden on Friday night,” Schulz said.
But wait, there’s more!
In addition the the Classic and the new Gravel, Cycle Oregon will bring back their one-day women’s ride, Joyride (June 9th, $100 per person) and the Weekender (July 13-15). This year’s Weekender ($225 per adult and $99 per child (age 7-17; kids 6 and under are free)) will be based on the campus of the University of Oregon in Eugene.
Online registration for all rides starts tomorrow (2/1) at 12:00 pm at CycleOregon.com.
[*Disclaimer: Cycle Oregon is a promotional partner of BikePortland.]
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