Cycle Oregon Day 7 – Union to Umatilla

Posted on September 18th, 2006 at 10:18 am.

Cycle Oregon Day 7 (last day!)

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.
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Cycle Oregon Day 6 – Union to Athena

Posted on September 18th, 2006 at 9:53 am.

Cycle ORegon Day 6 to Athena, OR

[Leaving Union]

What bike tour would be complete without at least one epic day? Today was that day.

After a smattering of rain last night, we embarked on our penultimate day’s ride under our first morning of questionable weather so far. Ominous clouds lingered overhead and riders suited up for the worst. At last night’s announcements, we were told our original route had been changed due to severe weather and cold in the mountains.

The cold and damp weather, combined with about 25 miles of highway and freeway riding at the start of the day was admittedly a bit miserable. Even though our new route was 1200 feet lower than the original one, it was still frigid and reports said it was only 38 degrees at our lunch stop at Emigrant Springs State Park.
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Cycle Oregon Day 5 – Rest day in Union

Posted on September 18th, 2006 at 9:06 am.

cycle oregon Day 5 (Union, OR) - Union Camp

[Camped on the Union
High School football field.]

Today is our rest day here in the great little town of Union, Oregon and if you want to know what Cycle Oregon is all about, this day pretty much sums it up.

The 3,000 or so riders, volunteer and crew that make up Cycle Oregon have descended on this sleepy little farming town (population 2,000) and the community has responded by working hard to keep us fed, entertained and happy.
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Cycle Oregon Day 4 – Sumpter to Union

Posted on September 14th, 2006 at 4:00 pm.

Cycle Oregon Day 4-Sumpter to Union

Well, I made it.

Yesterday we left Sumpter and climbed up and over Anthony Lakes pass at 7,400 feet. Now I’m here in Union (population 2,000), yet another charming old town I feel lucky to visit.

We arrived yesterday and today is our layover day. There’s an optional 91 mile ride that I’m sure would have been fun, but I opted to catch up on some things and soak in the local hospitality.

The ride yesterday was tough, but cooler temperatures made it much more comfortable than the previous two days.
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Cycle Oregon Day 3 – Starkey to Sumpter

Posted on September 14th, 2006 at 2:49 pm.

cycle oregon Day 3 ride Starkey to Sumpter

[Leaving Starkey]

Ride Details: 53 miles, 4,400 feet elevation gain

This morning we left Starkey and rode along the Grande Ronde River valley. It was a frigid but unbelievably gorgeous start to the day. I couldn’t resist joining the many other riders that stopped on a bridge for a cheesy photo of me and the river.

Today’s ride was a roller-coaster with more tough climbing and unrelenting heat. We pedaled over three separate peaks on our way into Sumpter.

After a morning in the mountains, our route opened up into a vast meadow. Cows and serpentine creeks left their mark on my memory and on the wide-open landscape.
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Cycle Oregon – Camp at Starkey

Posted on September 14th, 2006 at 2:49 pm.

Cycle Oregon day 2 - Starkey camp scenes

[Dave, owner of
the Starkey Store]

The folks in Starkey, like Heppner and Umatilla, welcomed us with open arms; all 42 of them. Starkey is the first real small town we’ve stayed in. Total population is 21 and according to Dave (owner of the Starkey Store) they were the last town in Oregon to get phone service.

Setting up the Cycle Oregon circus of 3000 people in a place like this is—in the words of ride director Jerry Norquist—“a challenge” and that’s putting it mildly.

There was no running water for us to tap in to so the ride crew trucked in 30,000 gallons for the showers. Then, some forest fire crews called up and took some of the trucks, leaving some folks without their daily bathing ritual.
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Cycle Oregon Day 2 – Heppner to Starkey

Posted on September 14th, 2006 at 1:15 pm.

cycle oregon day 2 - heppner to Starkey

[Leaving Heppner]

Ride details: 82 miles, 6000 feet elevation gain

Leaving Heppner was bittersweet. While I looked forward to getting back in the saddle and the ride into Starkey, I felt like I didn’t have enough time to enjoy the sweet little town nestled between golden, rolling hills.

The community in Heppner gladly let Cycle Oregon take over their entire downtown and the night’s entertainment—an awesome Irish music ensemble—fit with Heppner’s strong Irish roots.

While hanging out around the stage, I noticed a familiar T-shirt on Cycle Oregon founder and emcee Jonathan Nicholas. The design was created by Portlander Justa Louise-Phillips and he bought the shirt from her at last year’s BikeCraft Fair.
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Cycle Oregon: Day 1 to Heppner

Posted on September 11th, 2006 at 7:05 am.

Cycle Oregon Day 1

Well I made it to Heppner; 70 miles down, 520 to go.

The ride was fantastic. Ideal weather, wide-open countryside, and wispy clouds set against a perfectly blue sky and empty roads. I rolled out of Umatilla and kept to myself for the first 20 miles or so. I just wanted to let the feeling of the pedals and the open vistas sink in. It’s been way too long since I’ve been on the open road and it felt great.

Here’s a few stories about the people I met on my way to Heppner.
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Cycle Oregon base camp: Umatilla

Posted on September 10th, 2006 at 5:21 pm.

[Editor’s note: I wrote this last night but couldn’t get on the web until now.]

Cycle Oregon Day 0 Umatilla

[Where’s my bag?]

So here I am in McNary Dam State Park, Umatilla Oregon. I’ve never been this far out into the Gorge. I feel like I’m out on the frontier.

It’s Day 0 of the 19th annual Cycle Oregon and the sounds, sights and scope of this whole operation are overwhelming.

Thousands of people are settling into this temporary compound; 2000 riders, hundreds of volunteers, vendors, staff, it’s like a tiny nation-state in the middle of nowhere. Generators and refrigerated trucks hum incessantly and riders are like bees in a honeycomb, busily setting up their tents and fidgeting with their huge bags of gear.
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