Group photo

Group photo

What do you do when two of your co-workers are involved in an approximate 450-mile cycling trek, camping at some of Oregon’s “hidden treasure” towns and soaking up all of the sun’s rays possible, while burning major calories over a seven-day span? Well, you take a road-trip to visit them of course; and experience the 20th anniversary of Cycle Oregon from the sidelines.

A pair of us hit the road for Dorena Lake – a few miles outside of Cottage Grove and stop #4 on the Cycle Oregon adventure. Our goal: Find our fearless leader and Travel Oregon Chief Strategy Officer, Scott West and his partner in crime, Policy and Research Manager – with the emphasis on Policy – Jeff Hampton. The duo had been training for the event for the past several months and both were taking their first shot at riding Cycle Oregon.

Tent nation

Tent nation

We arrived in Cottage Grove around 6:45 p.m. and witnessed a few riders just finishing the 88 or 100-mile leg (your choice). The majority of the 2,000 cyclists, however, had already set-up their tents for the night (or for a nominal fee you can use the Tent and Porter service, where when finishing each leg a Cycle Oregon tent will be ready for you to collapse inside). Next stop for the calorie-starved riders was the food tent and a healthy hearty meal of chicken, potatoes, corn, rolls, and of course a nice dessert of strawberry shortcake.

The entire event is somewhat like a traveling circus – huge tents housing the “dining area”, sections of vendors ranging from bike comfort services (believe me, there was quite a line for this) to community information from local patrons and an event Main Stage with speakers highlighting the day’s ride and lending information about what’s to come. Each of the towns that Cycle Oregon visits round up hundreds of volunteers to help cook and serve food, welcome the riders to their community, and fill the role of gracious host.

A Cycle Oregon water bottle

A Cycle Oregon water bottle

It’s Cycle Oregon’s mission to transform individuals and communities through bicycling. All of the proceeds from the ride go to the Cycle Oregon Fund which supports community development projects in the regions that are visited during the ride.

We spotted the guys in line for dinner and scoped out a nice seat close to the Main Stage to sit down, relax, and listen to stories from their riding adventure. Highlights from the first four days of the trip included the wonderful food and snack-stops along the route, the generosity of the volunteers from the communities, and the spectacular view of the stars witnessed from their campsites.

Photo (below): Representative Greg MacPherson

Representative Greg MacPherson

Representative Greg MacPherson

We had a front-row seat as Representative Greg MacPherson and U.S. Congressman Peter DeFazio took the stage and spoke of the value of cycling for the state of Oregon. Minnesota Congressman Jim Oberstar – who was riding the event – fired up the masses with his passion of making a difference for cyclists across America.

After the energized crowd settled, it was movie time and fittingly the film of the night was “Animal House”. This movie was filmed not only in Eugene at the University of Oregon, but also in the host town of Cottage Grove. Some of the riders stuck around for the flick while others headed back to their tents to prepare for the next day’s 55.5 miles to Oakridge.

Biker Path

Biker Path

For Scott and Jeff, Cycle Oregon was the challenge and adventure they had been awaiting and an experience beyond compare. Both campaigned that everyone in the Tourism Development Department at Travel Oregon needs to do the ride next year.

Hmm, not a bad idea… I guess I should start training!

For more information on sporting events similar to Cycle Oregon, please visit our Upcoming Events Section.

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