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Cycle Oregon cancels all 2020 events, furloughs staff amid virus concerns

“We’re facing challenges unlike any we’ve ever felt before.”
— Steve Schulz, Cycle Oregon executive director

Photo: Cycle Oregon riders near Farewell Bend State Park in 2015. (J. Maus/BikePortland)

If you were holding out hope that Cycle Oregon would somehow be the savior of your 2020 riding season, I have some bad news.

Today the nonprofit announced that all four of their events have been shelved, “Due to ongoing uncertainty around the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“We did not come to this decision easily or lightly,” said Executive Director Steve Schulz in a statement. “We know the widespread impact and ripple effect these cancellations have: on event participants; on the Oregon communities who receive an economic boost for helping us execute our events; on the vendors who support our rides by providing food, drinks, showers, mechanical support and more; and, of course, on Cycle Oregon itself.”

Their Gravel event was slated for May 15-17th and was postponed to October. Now that and their three other events, the Classic, Joyride and Weekender, won’t happen at all this year.

Adding to health concerns is that many of the small rural towns Cycle Oregon ventures into are relatively virus-free and have very limited medical response capacity.


Riders on the 2019 Gravel ride in wide-open Wasco County.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

In their statement today Cycle Oregon said their decision was also a result of cost savings. Their events require vendor contracts with nonrefundable deposits that must be paid well in advance of any ride, not to mention staffing costs and other expenses. The organization has already had to furlough staff to 60% time and will move out of their north Portland office in July as all employees now work remotely.

Cycle Oregon received a federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan, which will allow them to operate through June and process all the details associated with these cancellations. At that time, the focus of the organization will turn to how they can carry Cycle Oregon into 2021 and beyond.

“We are a nonprofit organization that relies solely on the income from these events to fulfill our mission,” said Schulz. “We’re facing challenges unlike any we’ve ever felt before, and we are doing our best to preserve our organization.”

Cycle Oregon event is much more than just a ride, it’s a close-knit, mobile city of around 3,000 riders, volunteers, staff, and vendors. Many aspects of the event will have to be reconsidered even after things get back to normal — or if normal ever returns.

If you’re one of the 1,600 people who’ve already registered, Cycle Oregon will refund 70% of entry fees (and 100% of any “add-on” purchases like jerseys or other merchandise/services). “This refund will allow us to pay all the expenses incurred to date, while also returning as much money to registered riders as possible,” said Board President Chad Davis.

If you were looking forward to a week exploring the great eastern Oregon towns of Fossil, Dayville, Mitchell on the Classic ride; or exploring unpaved roads of Tygh Valley on Gravel, you’ll be happy to know the same events and routes will be on deck for 2021 that were planned for 2020.

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