BikePortland is an official 2015 Cycle Oregon Media Partner
Since 1988, Cycle Oregon has brought together people who love riding bicycles and people who live in our state’s beautiful rural communities. More than just a ride, Cycle Oregon is a non-profit organization that has doled out millions in grant funds to many worthy projects and causes.
Over the course of this year we’ll bring you original stories, reports on bicycling’s impact around the state, coverage of the Cycle Oregon Weekend and Week rides, and more.
Our Cycle Oregon coverage dates back to 2006. Check out our past stories below.
The author and his friend Justin Sawyer represented the Candlelighters on the Crater Lake rim during Cycle Oregon 2019.
Written by Tony Jordan. BikePortland is always open to sharing your guest articles. Please get in touch if you’d like to contribute!
On January 29th, Cycle Oregon will announce its 2020 routes at the annual Kickoff Party. According to their website we can expect some surprises such as, “short and long options, gravel options, multiple layover days, bonus activities, and more opportunities to really become part of the communities.” The new options and extra rest and recovery time should make the ride accessible to more people, but plenty of riders will spend some time following the announcements wringing their hands over the costs, training time, and logistics of committing to a wonderful-but-challenging week of epic rides.
I’m here to tell you that there’s a way to ride Cycle Oregon with a built-in group of new friends, a schedule of training rides, extensive additional in-camp support, and maybe even some financial assistance; all while supporting another worthy charitable organization. It’s kind of like a Cycle Oregon cheat code and it’s called Ride for a Child.[Read more…]
Once home to the Molalla Tribe before white immigrants forced them out, this area east of Dufur is now dotted by large farms and ranches — and perfectly groomed gravel roads. This view is from Roberts Market Road looking northwest toward the Columbia Hills that rise above the Columbia River in Washington. (Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)
Dufur City Park was our host.
With its second year in the books, it feels like the Gravel event has found a home with Cycle Oregon. After three decades of their signature, 7-day “Classic” event, the nonprofit has found a sweet spot around one of cycling biggest trends: riding unpaved backroads, a.k.a. gravel grinding.
The tiny eastern Oregon town of Dufur (est. 1893, pop. 604) was home base for two full days of riding. The routes traversed land where the Molalla Tribe lived for generations before being banished to a reservation by the U.S. government in 1851. Today the land around Dufur is wide open country dotted by farms that raise livestock, wheat, and other crops. [Read more…]
The mythical Crater Lake is back in the Cycle Oregon line-up for 2019. (Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)
The annual reveal party for the 31st annual Cycle Oregon routes was held at the Portland Art Museum tonight. Hundreds of fans of the rides gathered to hear which rural communities they’ll be sleeping in and riding through if they’re lucky enough to participate in the weeklong “Classic”, the two-day “Gravel”, or the one-day “Joyride”.
Cycle Oregon will run three events this year after. (The Weekender has been put on hold.)
Beyond great rides, Cycle Oregon’s nonprofit mission is to “transform individuals and communities through bicycling.” Since their founding in 1988 the Cycle Oregon Fund (where ride proceeds are deposited) has awarded more than 300 grants worth $2.2 million to small towns throughout our state. And the support of rural towns doesn’t end there. Each year Cycle Oregon provides about $175,000 to host towns in exchange for fields to sleep in, volunteers to help set up tents, and so on. The organization also hires local event organizers and service providers, and buys food from local farmers. And the riders themselves spend, on average, $250 in local communities during the weeklong Classic ride.
And there’s something about doing this ride that you can’t put a price on: getting to know what rural life — and the people who live it — are like. A lot is said about the urban/rural divide in Oregon and this bike ride is a relatively small, yet powerful way to help build bridges.
I wasn’t at the kickoff event this year, but I’ve got all the details for the three big events.
Here’s what’s in store…
Classic (September 7-14)
For 2019, Cycle Oregon’s flagship, seven-day ride lives up to its ‘Classic’ name with its return to Central Oregon, where cyclists will be immersed in some of the state’s most iconic and stunning natural landscapes. The loop, which is 430 miles, plus an additional 60-mile option, includes the majestic Cascade Mountains, three of the country’s most scenic rivers and Crater Lake — the sapphire jewel of Oregon’s only national park.
Total distance: 490 miles (without Crater Lake option: 430.3 miles) Total elevation gain: 30,656 feet (without Crater Lake option: 24,186 feet
Now in its second year, Cycle Oregon’s GRAVEL ride lets cyclists experience the challenges and scenic beauty of gravel road riding while being fully supported, Cycle Oregonstyle. This year’s ride, which is limited to just 500 riders, is based out of the historic farming town of Dufur, Oregon, in the sunny eastern Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. The route features a combination of gravel and paved roads to explore the stunning expanses of high prairie and the forested foothills of Mount Hood. Riders will get views of wildflowers, wheat fields, and Mount Hood and Mount Adams around nearly every corner.
Total distance day 1:Long: 65.3 miles (47% gravel, 53% pavement), 5,061 feet of elevation gain – Short: 31.8 miles (67% gravel, 33% pavement), 2,140 feet of elevation gain
Total distance day 2:Long: 63 miles (53% gravel, 47% pavement), 5,216 feet of elevation gain – Short: 33.2 miles (61% gravel, 39% pavement), 3,118 feet of elevation gain
Cycle Oregon’s one-day celebration of women and bikes is heading to Independence, Oregon, in the heart of the scenic Willamette Valley. Women cyclists of all ages and all ranges of experience can choose among three different fully supported rides (18, 40 and 64 miles) amongst rolling hills, orchards, vineyards and wide-open farmlands—and return to delicious, locally sourced food and libations, plus live bands. New for 2019 is the option to add a gravel road section to the medium and long rides.
Ride stats: Short: 17.8 miles (188 feet of elevation gain) Medium: 39.9 miles (1,080 feet of elevation gain) Medium with gravel option: 36.3 miles (1,013 feet of elevation gain), 6 miles of gravel road Long: 63.6 miles (2,113 feet of elevation gain) Long with gravel option: 63.0 miles (2,213 feet of elevation gain), 6.9 miles of gravel road
*Photos of 2017 Weekender event in McMinnville by Jonathan Maus/BikePortland
2019 C.O. Dates
Mark your calendars, and start training!
Kickoff Party – 1/30
Gravel – 5/17 ~ 5/19
Joyride – 6/22
Classic – 9/7 ~ 9/14
In its 32nd year of existence, the venerable Cycle Oregon is evolving once again. In recent years, the nonprofit known for its week-long “Classic” ride, has added women-only and gravel events to broaden its appeal and accessibility.
Now Cycle Oregon has decided to put their popular Weekender event on hold. Here’s what CO Executive Director Steve Schulz shared with us about it in an email this morning:[Read more…]
A taste of the gravel roads in the Tillamook State Forest. (Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)
This October, one of America’s best supported bike rides will do something they’ve never done in their 30-year history: Take the show off-road.
A few weekends ago I rode about 50 miles east of Portland to get a closer look at one of the routes that will be featured as part of Cycle Oregon’s ‘Gravel’ event coming October 5-7th. The two days of riding (or three if you choose to ride out there) will be based at Reeher’s Camp, a site built on a historic Civilian Conservation Corps camp a few miles west of Timber (population 130) at the eastern edge of the Tillamook State Forest. [Read more…]
The Hells Canyon Overlook will be one of many highlights in Cycle Oregon’s 2018 Classic ride. (Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)
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.
Big crowd at tonight’s kickoff party at the Portland Art Museum seemed eager to get riding after a year off. (Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)
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.” [Read more…]
Cycle Oregon Executive Director Steve Schulz is eager to move past 2017. (Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)
Tomorrow night Cycle Oregon will celebrate the 30th running of their week-long “Classic” ride. At least they hope it will run this year.
It’s Cycle Oregon’s 31st year in existence, but last year’s ride was cancelled at the last minute due to wildfires that ravaged several sections of the planned route. This year the nonprofit is back with lessons learned and hopes that their fans are willing to give them another shot.
They’ll get a chance to make their pitch for the 2018 ride at the annual Kickoff Party at the Portland Art Museum Wednesday night. [Read more…]
Lars Larson with that, there’s-only-10-miles-to-the-finish-line, smile. (Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)
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. [Read more…]