Cycle Oregon 2006
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.”
Cycle Oregon is many things. The organization — in the midst of its 30th year — is dedicated to helping all of Oregon reach its economic and cycling potential while putting on events that bring people closer to new places and faces.
Cycling is at the heart of what Cycle Oregon does; but they’re really in the people business. When you “do” a Cycle Oregon event it’s entirely possible to come away with more memories of the people you rode with than the roads you pedaled on. That’s especially true on their Weekender event. Without the physical challenge of the much more grueling Classic ride (the seven-day event they’re most known for), Weekender is much more accessible in both price ($199 versus $999) and pain (120 miles over two days versus 490 miles over seven days). This means it might be doable for friends who aren’t as nutty about cycling as you are.
This past weekend I invited a few friends to join me on the ride. We chose to ride 78 miles from Portland to the base camp at Linfield College in McMinnville on Friday (thankfully someone drove our bags down for us). We followed that up with 73 miles on Saturday and a 52-miler on Sunday. None of the days had a significant amount of climbing and we kept our average speed chill and conversational (13-15 mph). It’s also worth noting that we chose the longest of three possible routes both days. (This event would be great if you have friends that would rather ride just 15 or 40 miles a day.) In between miles in the saddle we relaxed, got to know each other a bit better (easier to do than at home where our kids and other responsibilities constantly loom), soaked up the small-town charms of McMinnville, and let Cycle Oregon’s legendary hospitality do the rest.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)
Those of you who’ve been around this site a while know that I’ve always been a huge fan of Cycle Oregon, a non-profit known mostly for their fully-supported week-long rides that venture into the most remote corners of our state.
Now I’m very excited to share that this year BikePortland is an official media partner.
[BikePortland contributor Will Vanlue is on the Cycle Oregon ride this week. This is his latest dispatch.]
things safe as Cycle Oregon riders
roll down Highway 97.
(Photos by Will Vanlue)
Cycle Oregon’s mission of helping the economies of Oregon’s rural communities keeps the route, for the most part, on quiet back roads with little motor vehicle traffic. However, there are occasions when there is only one road leading between communities giving people no other choice than to share the road with a large volume of motor vehicles.
There was one such situation this year when the route turned on to Highway 97, a major north-south corridor between Oregon and California, which regularly has traffic traveling in excess of 65 MPH.
Normally it’s a harrowing stretch to ride on a bicycle but for a few hours during the ride the Oregon Department of Transportation and the Oregon State Police were able to turn it into a safe, pleasant, and -by some estimations- fun place for people to travel on bicycles.
to welcome Cycle Oregon riders. The 25th anniversary of the ride starts today.
(Photos by Will Vanlue)
Today’s route: 49 miles, 1,300 ft. elevation gain
Today we packed up for the last time and faced a stiff headwind for a short but sweet ride back into Umatilla.
The route rolled through wheat farm country dotted with old barns and back through the Walla Walla onion crops I remembered from our first day.
At the rest stop in a tiny town called Helix (population 183), I noticed this wheat farmer talking with one of the riders. This interaction between spandex-clad cycling city-slickers and tough, old-fashioned farmers is a great part of the Cycle Oregon spirit.