Gear up for adventure: the 30th edition of Cycle Oregon’s Classic is just around the corner. And the anticipation is at an all-time high. This year the week-long cycling event hits the roads of Northeastern Oregon, where the route weaves through a landscape of tremendous canyons, historic trails and awe-inspiring peaks. Communities filled with centuries-old history and charming downtowns are rolling out the welcome mat, including the city of Pendleton, which will also be celebrating its annual Pendleton Round-Up when riders roll into town.
The Cycle Oregon Classic takes place September 8-15, 2018. Miraculously there are still tickets available. Here are just some of the location highlights of the 2018 ride:
Thanks to its easy access to mountains, lakes and rivers, as well as major highways, Baker City is known as the “base camp for Eastern Oregon.” Within the city is a charming downtown, featuring 100+ historic buildings and an array of talented taste-makers, and plenty of vibrant Oregon Trail history.
For day one of the Classic, riders will pedal past the same vistas that Oregon Trail settlers once encountered, with the Powder River leading the way to the foothills of Halfway. A gravel option is available for experienced cyclists.
The deepest river gorge in North America isn’t in Arizona, it’s Hells Canyon. One of Oregon’s most wildly beautiful places, Hells Canyon is also one of the most remote. Most visitors come via the Hells Canyon Scenic Byway, looking for adventure in 215,000 acres of wilderness or on an unique jet-boat tour.
On the second day of the Classic, riders will discover the literal highs and lows of the canyon, with long climbs and breezy downhills. The centerpiece is Hells Canyon Overlook, where the geologic wonder just might leave you slack-jawed.
The Wallowa Mountains are called the “Swiss Alps of Oregon” for good reason. The range’s towering peaks and vast wilderness are unlike any landscape stateside. Nearby Joseph is a happy getaway with bronze art sculptures throughout town and unique pursuits like pedaling train tracks.
Day three begins where day two ends: by the deep-blue waters of Wallowa Lake. Then riders head west to the sweet town of Enterprise, along the Wallowa River Canyon, before a big climb and downhill cruise towards Elgin.
They say the West is still wild in Pendleton. Here cowboy hats and leather boots are handmade and homespun and local history can go deep underground. But the city really comes alive in September for the Pendleton Round-Up, a week-long rodeo and celebration of tribal culture.
It just might be the perfect place (and timing) for the layover day. After spending the fourth night in Pendleton, cyclists can ride a countryside loop along the Umatilla River, or they can attend the world-famous Round-Up, which offers online discounts for Cycle Oregon participants.
Stretching from the Snake River to Pendleton, the Blue Mountains are consistently the backdrop for the Classic. Once an obstacle for Oregon Trail settlers, the range today is a delightful destination via the Blue Mountains Scenic Byway and the Blue Mountain Century Scenic Bikeway.
On day six of the Classic, riders take Emigrant Road to the challenging Cabbage Hill and eerily named Dead Man’s Pass. Then the reward comes in miles of downhill through tree-lined roads before reaching the party in La Grande.
Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Mountains, La Grande is home to an university, a vibrant arts scene and creative chefs. Outdoor pursuits really shine here, thanks to the city’s location along the Grande Ronde River and Grande Tour Scenic Bikeway, plus hot springs to rest weary bones.
The last day of the Cycle Oregon Classic departs from La Grande to a relatively flat finale. Sprawling farmland sets the scene as riders pedal through Union back to Baker City, with the majestic Elkhorn Range in the distance.
You might hear people say “enjoy the journey more than the destination.” With Cycle Oregon, you can have it all: the beauty of riding quiet roads in Oregon’s backcountry and the glory of reaching your well-earned destination for the day. But don’t just listen to us. Here are two accounts of the Cycle Oregon Classic, from 2014 and 2015 respectively, and all the perks of exploring Oregon by bike with dozens of new friends.
Cycle Oregon: More Than a Ride
The 2014 Cycle Oregon Classic showcased the rural beauty of the Columbia River Gorge and Central Oregon, from The Dalles to Madras. A participant recounts her experience on the ride, as well as the positive impact Cycle Oregon has on communities.
On the Road with Cycle Oregon
Parts of the 2015 Cycle Oregon Classic mirror this year’s route, venturing through the Elkhorns and Wallowas in the northeastern part of the state. This particular rider shared his story live throughout the week-long event.
A new ride is on the horizon…
Cycle Oregon’s Gravel Ride puts the spotlight on the Tillamook State Forest with exciting routes deep in the woods. Take a ride through lesser known roads, along abandoned rails and trestles that will one day become the Salmonberry Trail, and make new friends in the backwoods. Due to the ride’s proximity to the Portland Region, participants can even travel car-free to the starting point. The Gravel Ride happens October 5-7, 2018. Watch the video below for a snapshot into the fun.