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Cycle Oregon produced the greatest compilation of sensations I’ve ever experienced on or near a bike, and delivered immediately, the deep, rich and vaguely painful early onset nostalgia that comes from a remarkable chain of events and people and places. The distance and discovery, the friendships, the muscle and pedaling memory, the whooshing and grinding and whizzing, the collective rise at the crest of a roller, the palpable sense of discovery and wonder. It was transformative geographically as well as every other possible and impossible way. Moving through climates zones, ecosystems and weather systems, under your own power and spirit, day after day, from town to town like a Lewis and Clark remix on bikes in race and in France, and never once the need to produce a drivers license or enter a personal identification number*.
*You just show up and follow the map and go where everybody else is going. You don’t even need a map. If you have a bike and a helmet everything else that isn’t optional can be bought or traded for. It’s all absolutely predetermined and completely supported. You don’t have anything or anywhere to get back to, and likely no plans beyond riding.
There’s no adequate way to describe the riding on Cycle Oregon. It’s like describing sex or food, full of cliché and dependent upon over using the word and it’s synonyms, delicious. While indescribable and requiring of first hand exposure and experience, it can be said that Cycle Oregon pulsed, twisted, pumped, coursed, burned, leapt, rushed, plummeted and ascended consummately. An average of seventy miles and four thousand feet of climbing, a day for seven days.
Basically you and 7,999 cyclists ride from town to town for a week following a large loop of a course around central Oregon. The riders, predominately older like forties and fifties, range in ability, fitness and experience. The field is largely garden variety roadies, cycle-tourists and light racers, intermixed with the usual contingents and factions.
Cycle Oregon is difficult and demanding, and they’re clear about that, but overall it’s rolling and non rolling atmosphere is friendly and inspired, for many it’s a week long riding vacation. But cyclists are competitive and racing is innate and wheels are wheels, so every day in the likely spots gentlemanly races form in the form of pace lines and passing and dropping and sprinting and bridging and general race type activity. It’s opt-in and all congruent and complaint enough with the greater Cycle Oregon program.
Beyond the riding, Cycle Oregon is the single most well run event, from the very top to the very bottom, any of us had ever experienced, has since experienced or will ever experience, regardless of type, style or theme. They are amazing, and flawless and their mission is so perfectly suited to cycling and touring. Introduce and celebrate a selection of Oregon’s wonderful small town culture and value to cyclists compelled to experience the world as much as ride through it, while boosting local economies in the process.
The Continental photography covers only the first two days of the ride. It’s a notably small window into astonishingly grand and expansive and varied landscape. So it’s accurate but woefully incomplete. Everything else you need to know about the ride is on the Cycle Oregon website. And everything else you need to know, requires doing the ride.