A funny thing happens when it comes to major life experiences—like, say, spending seven days and 457 miles on a bike. Over time, the difficult aspects dissipate while the good memories take over and grow rosier. Call it survival instinct or call it selective memory, it happens. How else could we as a species get through the terrible twos, organic chemistry, and dance recitals?
As we look back on this year’s Week Ride to the southern Oregon coast, one thing becomes clear—our memories needn’t be so selective.
On the first evening in camp at Myrtle Creek, Executive Director Steve Schulz climbed on stage in his hiking boots and cowboy hat and laid down a message of “we not me.” Clearly, it stuck. Camp truly was a community this year, and riders looked out for each other. New and old friends gathered nightly to share stories and libations in the beer tent. At the crack of dawn, cheerful volunteers from the local community offered up extra-big slices of spinach feta scramble with a smile. SAG drivers picked up riders and got them to camp safely when their equipment or bodies had let them down. Everyone was determined to make the week a success, and we all came together to do it.
Mother Nature seemed to be on board as well. September in Southern Oregon can be unpredictable, but we had terrific weather all week. Mild wind, ideal riding temperatures, and hardly a drop of rain. After last year’s trial by fire, the weather gods seemed eager to make it up to us with great weather that only enhanced the beautiful country.
It wasn’t all endorphins and high fives though. The hills on days two and five pushed a lot of people to their limits. And a few thoughtless riders blew through stop signs or buzzed other riders without so much as an “on your left.” But those things will soon get filed away in the dusty archives of our brains, only to be replaced with memories of rolling country roads, breathtaking coastal views, and the rugged Rogue River. Flat tires and sore muscles aren’t worth remembering, but whales feeding just steps from our camp at Gold Beach and the lone bagpiper atop the day-two climb sure as hell are.
It’s also important to remember why we were out there in the first place—to bring some prosperity to small Oregon communities that really need it. Sometimes that prosperity looked like hundreds of bikes leaned up against a Mexican restaurant, as it did in Glendale. Sometimes it looked like Cycle Oregon riders buying and drinking all the beer in Gold Beach (really Gold Beach, it was our pleasure). And sometimes it looks like a new sound system at a high school football stadium, or a $5,000 grant for community development. Locals we talked to everywhere made it clear that Cycle Oregon is much more than a bike ride to them. They greatly appreciate it every time Cycle Oregon rolls through their towns.
Next year is the 30th anniversary of Cycle Oregon and we are beyond excited for it. We have 30 years worth of great memories and experiences that make us thrilled to do this year after year. As for the inevitable challenging moments of a weeklong bike ride—what challenging moments?
Here’s to 2017!