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.