The wheels have stopped spinning. We have just wrapped Cycle Oregon No. 27, and what a magnificent week it was.
Nearly 2,000 riders representing 44 states and 6 countries traveled between 400 and 489 miles, gaining more than 30,000 feet in elevation through the scenic, rural towns of The Dalles, Glenwood, WA, Dufur, Tygh Valley and Madras. Ringed by mountains — Adams, Hood, Jefferson, Washington and the 3 Sisters, surrounded by fields of grain, boulder-strewn rivers and dense green forests — Oregon shared much of its outdoor splendor with our eager, two-wheeled travelers.
But Cycle Oregon is more than a ride. In addition to a great route and good times, the event connects riders to people and the rural and remote places that make our state unique and postcard-worthy. CO does not stop at that connection, either. It also contributes, providing much-needed financial support to the towns it visits. Community groups, ranging from 4-H to the Chamber of Commerce earn up to $20,000 by hosting Cycle Oregon for a night. Each year host communities receive nearly $150,000.
The Cycle Oregon Fund, developed through proceeds since 1987, preserves special places in Oregon, promotes bicycle safety and tourism and supports community projects. With more than $2 million in the fund, CO gives roughly $100,000 each year in grants that spotlight the kind of endeavors that frequently lack statewide attention but often mean everything to the people in the small towns who welcome us on our tours.
Over nearly three decades, we have adapted a business model that buoys both social service organizations and civic life in Oregon’s rural communities. This year, riders spent a night on the football field in Dufur. That field now has lights for night games because of a Cycle Oregon grant. Riders also spent some time on the Madras Mountain View Scenic Bikeway, a 30-mile loop through high desert country. Cycle Oregon initiated the scenic bikeway program in 2008 after completing its annual tour and trying to imagine how to make iconic rides available to others beyond Cycle Oregon’s events. Oregon State Parks now manages the program, and the Madras route is one of the most recent additions.
So yes, Cycle Oregon is more than a ride. In addition to our annual weeklong tour, we offer other ways for people to explore Oregon, including our family-friendly Weekend Ride and the philanthropy-focused CO3. Our rides were created as a way to connect people to each other and to the special places around our state, and to positively affect where we’ve visited.
We are already planning next year’s rides and are excited to introduce even more people to Oregon’s special blend of scenic magnificence and down-home hospitality. Check back in February for news of our 2015 rides and what magic is in store for riders – and communities.