Cycle Oregon Blog
This February, Cycle Oregon awarded 12 grants totaling $69,635 to projects that will promote the health and vitality of rural communities through the Cycle Oregon Fund at the Oregon Community Foundation.
In all, Cycle Oregon received 36 grant requests totaling more than $400,000, the most in the program’s history. Grantees typically come from communities that Cycle Oregon has visited. Of this year’s proposals four were awarded to projects along the 2014 route. Five proposals were awarded to projects along the 2015 route.
It is always a challenge to select among the excellent proposals and this year was no exception. The grant committee, comprised of Cycle Oregon board and staff, awarded the following grants in the three funding categories:
Historic Preservation and Environmental Conservation
- Habitat rehabilitation and enhancement near the Red Apple access point of the Mt Emily Recreation Area, outside La Grande (2015 route)
- Fitness Trail at Dufur Park (2014 route)
- Culturally-specific health promotion for the Latino community in Madras (2014 route)
- Trail groomer for school-based cross country ski program in Halfway (2015 route)
- Natural resources apprenticeship program for high school students in Enterprise (2015 route)
- Vandal-proof drinking fountain at public library in Jefferson (2015 Weekend route)
Promote Bicycle Safety and Tourism
- Creation and maintenance of mountain biking trails outside Baker City (2015 route)
- Bicycles for the Jefferson County Safe Routes to School program (2014 route)
- Design wayfinding in Oakridge and Westfir (2007 route)
- Informational kiosks along the Madras Mountain Views Scenic Bikeway (2014 route)
- Maintenance equipment for the Old West Scenic Bikeway (2013 route)
- Feasibility study for rail-with-trail project between Elgin and Joseph along the Joseph Branch rail line (2015 route)
The Cycle Oregon Fund, developed through event proceeds since 1996, makes annual grants to preserve special places in Oregon, promote bicycle safety and tourism and support community projects. Since its inception, the Fund has awarded 189 grants totaling more than $1.6 million to projects ranging from helping provide lights for the football field in Dufur to re-roofing the Pete French Round Barn in Diamond.
Simply by riding Cycle Oregon you help us do good. Thanks for being a part of a great event and helping to provide much needed support to our rural communities.
You can help us grow the fund by making a tax-deductible contribution! It’s an easy way to help us do more good for the special places and important projects throughout the state.
Cycle Oregon is a great ride for a great cause, but if there’s one thing that keeps people coming back, it’s the bonds we form on the event. Mile by mile. Day by day. Through the years we’ve become a family of volunteers, riders, supporters and friends.
Sadly in 2011 we lost a longtime family member. Mark Bosworth, a Cycle Oregon rider and volunteer went missing on the Week Ride when a swift resurgence of cancer in his brain caused severe disorientation. After a search effort in Oregon and a national media campaign, the mystery surrounding Mark’s disappearance has never been resolved.
But in the face of tragedy, hope has persevered. Friends and family wanted to build a lasting tribute to Mark’s love for cycling, the natural beauty of Oregon, and his tireless mentorship of young people. Over the past two Cycle Oregon rides, the Mark Bosworth Fund has sponsored 6 first-time riders who otherwise would not have been able to attend.
Applications for the 2015 ride are being taken at www.markbosworthfund.org, and are due on March 15. Applicants must be a first-time Cycle Oregon rider, be physically capable of finishing the ride, and supply their own equipment. The scholarship will cover registration fees, Tent & Porter and $100 for expenses.
If you know any great candidates for the scholarship, please email this page or share our Facebook post with them. You can also get inspired by the stories of past riders. Recipients will be chosen and notified in early April.
The fund is supported by individual donations from those who knew Mark Bosworth and many people in the Cycle Oregon community. The Bosworths are close to reaching their goal of raising the $30,000 needed to create a permanent endowment. If you’d like to support this amazing foundation, please consider a donation.
It’s that time of year for the annual Cycle Oregon holiday gift guide. It seems like every year there’s more and more cool gear and gadgetry for those who call the open road home. The clock is ticking and there are only a few shopping days left so let’s do this.
For the urban biker on your list, perhaps a solar-powered, keyless “smart bike lock” like the Skylock. This thing can be locked and unlocked via a mobile app, sends alerts to its owner if someone is trying to tamper with it and will send an alert to friends, family or EMS if you crash. You can even use it to set up an informal bike share.
If you have a loved one who carefully programs rides on GPS bike computers, chances are they might like to use a Garmin or Fitbit to track other fitness data. These gadgets allow users to measure things like activity, heart rate, sleep, and more when paired with with your smartphone or computer.
Video cameras like the GoPro are becoming increasingly popular on bike rides and the newest GoPro model is amazing. People are using them to capture some great images from mountain biking to track racing and everything in between. Of course GoPro isn’t the only game in town. Garmin makes a cool camera called the VIRB. Not only is it more shapely than the GoPro, but it also incorporates a number of bike computer functions. There’s also the Shimano Sport Camera, which was used in this year’s Tour de France to provide footage of the peloton.
There’s another interesting video camera called the Fly6, which is built right into a functioning taillight. Why would anyone want this? First, if you ride with friends it’s a great way to capture interesting video of them. Moreover, if a motorist comes up behind you in a less-than-courteous fashion (or ends up occupying the exact same part of the road as you at the exact same time) it could be handy to have a video record of the event.
Speaking of lights, the Blaze Laserlight has a unique way of letting cars know a cyclist in their blind spot (plus it’s always fun to give the gift of lasers). Of course you don’t need to spend a fortune to find a cool cycling gift. Items that are commonly used (gels, chamois lube, tubes) are always appreciated. So are things that are commonly lost – like tools.The Nutter Cycling Multitool, which was launched via a successful Kickstarter campaign, is now commercially available. The Nutter offers enough function for any cyclist, while offering enough form that people who see beauty in things like a Brook’s Saddle will surely appreciate it.
Mirrors are another important piece of cycling kit. Some people mount them on helmets or glasses and others mount them on their bikes. The RearViz mounts to a rider’s arm and looks like a very nice alternative. Or how about items that are less about cycling and more about a celebration of the lifestyle like Christmas ornaments or beer openers or some bicycle taxidermy?
If you’re just looking for stuff to stuff in stockings, consider the Rapha Drawcord Hat (which serves as a hat, neck warmer or headband), Fix It Sticks tools, a custom engraved cowbell or the Cycling Handbook and Log. If money is no object and you are trying to find something for the cyclist who has absolutely everything, we give you the Corker Wheelman Penny-farthing!
Have a happy and safe holiday season and we look forward to seeing you soon.
One of the things that we get a lot of comments about in our surveys is how seamlessly everything appears to work from a logistics standpoint (“appears” being a key word here). Cycle Oregon is a big event with a lot of moving parts.
How big is it?
Each overnight site occupies 15 acres. In a single week, we go through 11,000 bananas, 350,000 gallons of water, 8,000 half-pints of chocolate milk, 14,000 gels, 20,000 beverages and 125 kegs of beer. We transport (and fastidiously clean) 160 blue rooms and 6 shower trucks. With your help in our sustainability commitment, we compost 32,000 pounds and recycle 41,000 pounds of waste which diverts about 70% of the waste we generate out of landfills. We even utilize our own street sweeper to keep the course as clean as possible.
Six Cycle Oregon staffers, 125 Cycle Oregon volunteers, 1,385 community volunteers (who work more than 8,000 hours per event) and trusted vendors work together as one to create a mobile city/circus capable of feeding, bathing, entertaining and housing more than 2,500 people. Pulling it all off isn’t easy; the trick is to have the right people and systems in place as well as the ability to react and adapt when things go sideways.
We’re always looking for ways to improve, though after 27 years, we’ve got the basics down pretty well. This is one of the reasons we’re popular when we go to Bicycle Tour Network’s annual conference – the place where the bike tour industry gets together to share best practices and war stories.
I attended this year’s conference a couple weeks ago. One of the key people behind this year’s conference was Jerry Norquist, my friend, mentor and predecessor, who retired from Cycle Oregon in 2012 to focus on his bicycle advocacy work.
As I was discussing event logistics with some of the other top cycling events in the nation, I was prompted to reflect back on how some of these systems came into play. Jerry was a big part of the creation and implementation of the logistical solutions that make Cycle Oregon the well-oiled machine it is today. A few systems that he was a part of:
- Site and Route – Cycle Oregon actually has two camp set-ups that are managed by separate site teams (with their own site set up equipment,) which leapfrog from town to town. As one campsite is being torn down, the other is being set up. There are two dining tents, two sets of Tent & Porter tents and many other pieces that simply take a while to get situated. On the route, there are two sign teams putting up and taking down signs on the course. The AM sign team works a day ahead to make sure things are laid out, and the sweep team follows the last rider in on the actual day, cleaning everything up. Utilizing this leapfrog approach, we’re able to be ahead of the riders and get most things in place before the first one arrives.
- Tent & Porter Service – One of our most popular amenities, T&P, has grown from 50 to 650 tents. This was put into play to help accommodate riders that don’t have equipment, or quite frankly just don’t want to have to deal with it at the end of a day of riding. For many riders, this is a luxury they won’t do without. After a few years, retired tents are donated to Oregon non-profits – yet another way we’re able to give back.
- The Volunteer Program – We have a core group of 125 volunteers who work on the event for seven or eight days (and come back year after year). Specific teams were developed to work with our unique systems and needs. Without these people Cycle Oregon couldn’t exist.
Though we have a million moving parts, constant improvements to some of the larger logistics helps us keep the circus manageable. If you want to know more of the Cycle Oregon secrets, you’ll have to come back stage and become a volunteer – we’re not simply going to give you the playbook! A big thanks to Jerry, our current staff and past and present volunteers. Thanks for making us look so good.
Since returning from the Week Ride, I’ve poured over your surveys and met with many of you who have expressed what a wonderful time you had and how extraordinary you thought the event was in one way or another (which is always great to hear). I’ve also been approached by folks who haven’t ridden Cycle Oregon and want to know why it means so much to so many. My first Cycle Oregon experience was in 2001 as a first time rider. I, too, asked, “What’s the big deal?” Then, I was transformed. Ever since then I’ve been a part of Cycle Oregon – as a rider, as a coach and as ride director.
It’s hard to simply describe Cycle Oregon and why it is so very special. It draws upon a myriad of senses and emotions. With it still fresh in our minds, let’s see if I can capture some of it.
The sounds of tent zippers and blue room doors opening and closing rustle us from our hibernation. We watch the morning sky light up as the sun breaks the horizon; the warmth beginning to radiate through our sufficiently chilled bodies – the result of our night sleeping out in nature. We see the steam rising out of the beverage tent as that next round of coffee is prepared for mass consumption. We hear bike pumps fighting the pressure in tires, water bottles being filled and quiet laughter as folks begin their journey for the day. The road beckons.
The legs are a bit stiff, but we listen to the pace of our breathing, we hear our cadence transferred through the drivetrain and we feel the buzz of the rubber hitting the road. Things start to come into rhythm and we are once again alive. Another blessed day in nature, simply riding and letting our cares drift away. A canvas of the countryside becomes painted in our minds. Mountain peaks rise up in every direction and we are in awe of their grandeur. We smell the fresh sage and pine. We hear quiet laughter in our surroundings. All is as it should be.
Our day is filled with emotion. Dread and pride come hand in hand as we approach and conquer the next hill. Childlike giddiness takes command as we fly effortlessly down the other side at speeds some would say defy the imagination. We begin to feel the fatigue in our body and our pedal stroke begins to suffer. Relief overcomes us as we approach the next gathering – a family reunion of sorts – at the next stop. We rest. We refuel. We converse. As we roll away, we’re warmed by thoughts of the small child who excitedly served us strawberries and thanked us for coming.
The day continues on like this, rolling through the countryside and small towns with magical townsfolk who prove to us that yes indeed, the world is full of wonderful people. We reach gathering after gathering until we finally roll to our day’s end. We are greeted by hordes of smiling, cheering locals. Most think we’re crazy for riding our bikes that far in one day but genuinely love that we have arrived. Joy overcomes us as we cross that finish line, and again, we hear quiet laughter.
Fatigued and elated, we relax into the next part of our day. The hot shower feels good on our tired bodies. We explore the town and meet locals, hearing their stories, which inspire us to look deeper inside ourselves. We feel good knowing that by just being here, we’re contributing to the sustainability of this haven we’ll call home, if just for one night. We vow to come back.
A cold beer quenches our thirst and begins to unwind our muscles. The hum of voices becomes the background music of our stories told with friends old and new. We settle in. Our hosts serve us our evening nourishment with smiles and ‘welcomes’ – we thank them. We’re honored that they’ve allowed us a quick glimpse into their life.
The chill of the evening creeps up as the sun begins to withdraw from our sky. We gather around the campfire and listen to stories, waiting patiently for our evening joke. Regardless if it’s good or bad, we laugh – because it feels good; we find comfort in our surroundings and at that moment nothing else matters. Eventually our mind and body start to tell us that this day must come to an end. We roust ourselves up, follow the narrow beam of light shining ahead of us to our tent, and slip into that cold sleeping bag – anxiously waiting for it to warm up. We think back on the day and all of the magnificent experiences we’ve had, and slowly start to drift off to sleep.
The camp is quiet. Again, we hear quiet laughter. We realize that it’s not coming from outside; It’s coming from within. We smile. Yes, of course it is. This is Cycle Oregon. And we can’t wait for tomorrow when we’ll do it all again.
What does your Cycle Oregon feel like to you? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Until next year …