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Ask the Veterans

We’ve asked first-time pairs to tell us what they’d like to know, and then turned to a group of veteran duos for answers. We hope this will give you answers to some questions you might have – and some you might not have thought of.

Q: Tim and Wilfried Austrip

Tim and his dad Wilfried of Germany are first-time Cycle Oregon riders, but have both been cycling for a number of years. After having run 25 marathons, Wilfried decided to switch to his first love of cycling (he has been watching six-day track races since his youth) and has been doing regular long(ish) distance rides ever since – having completed rides up to 540 kilometers. Tim says he tends to read cycling magazines more than he actually gets to ride, although he managed to do a fairly hilly 205k ride last year (“just!”). The duo have done several one-week cycle trips on race bikes across Europe though, including a memorable trip from Normandy, France across the Pyrenees to Madrid, Spain.

They’re not actually sure anymore how they came across Cycle Oregon; Tim has lived in the UK for a number of years and thinks he may have read about it in a British cycling magazine (there’s a theme here!). Anyway, Wilfried signed up for the Cycle O newsletter and every year they thought, “This seems like a ride we should really do sometime.” So when Wilfried turned 70, it seemed like a great opportunity to join Cycle Oregon – their first bike ride outside Europe.

A: Don and Nancy Olsson

Don and Nancy, in their mid-50s, have participated in Cycle Oregon for the past 11 years. Most of their cycling experiences occur around the hills of Portland and throughout rural areas 15 miles west of the city in Washington County. Each year they both look forward to Cycle Oregon, “like a couple of kids getting away to summer camp!”

They reply: “Hello, Tim and Wilfried – it’s great to have you along for Cycle Oregon this year, adding to your rich history of father/son cycling experiences. It sounds like you both have had a lot of time in the saddle, and I would encourage you to make sure you get at least 2,500 kilometers of cycling in prior to the tour in order to fully enjoy the event. With that being said, the tour is not a race and whoever comes into camp last truly is the winner. If you enjoy riding fast, that is fine too.

Coming from abroad, we will probably fly into Portland a day or two early to acclimate. Would it be best to proceed to Sutherlin right away, and what would be the recommendation in terms of transport/accommodation before the ride?

It’s my understanding that Cycle Oregon provides a round-trip bus service directly to Sutherlin, and this is what I recommend you sign up for. This service does come at an extra cost, but it is a great value and minimizes the hassles of arranging alternative transportation to and from Sutherlin and the Portland airport. I believe the bus service will get you to Sutherlin one day prior to the start of the tour, which is when most cyclists arrive. If you can spend a couple of days on your bikes in Portland prior to Cycle Oregon, I would strongly recommend this as well. There really are some incredible rides to be had around here, and you won’t be disappointed.

We have gone for the Tent and Porter option – is there a checklist of equipment that we really shouldn’t be without and (being used to staying in hotels on our cycle trips) maybe wouldn’t think of?

Cycle Oregon has a checklist for you to follow if you want; there is a limit to the number of bags (1 per person) and weight (65 lbs per bag). The one item my wife insists upon is a double-size air mattress and a battery-powered air pump to fill it. I must admit, this air mattress is quite comfortable for two to sleep on and is about half the size of a sleeping bag when deflated. Also, some rain gear to ride in is a must. You never know what type of weather we’ll get at the coast. The tent service is a great program, and you will be given two chairs as well. I tend to pack fairly light. Other than bike clothes, I bring one pair of shorts and a pair of long fleece pants and a fleece top for evening wear. I also bring one pair of sandals and a pair of sneakers. You’ll be able to wash your clothes by hand if need be, and some of the towns may have a laundromat if you prefer.

Are there any maps that we should be getting in advance?

You’ll be provided a route map of each day of the tour when you pick up your registration packet.

So how steep are the hills on day 6?

Day 6 hills… can’t help you there because I haven’t ridden this route before. Since you have been on tours before, and assuming you ride your bike during the previous months for conditioning, you should not have any problems completing the climb. From what I recall of this day’s profile, the climb seems to be less difficult than what we’ve experienced on past tours.

And finally: Is the weather actually really as nice as the beautiful photos suggest, or should we pack some cold-weather gear?

The weather is usually nice and cooperative. Being close to the Pacific Ocean, however, we may encounter some rain. Temperatures this time of year are ideal: 60° to 80° F during the days, and evenings and early mornings as cool as 40s F. We won’t be in the high mountains, so I don’t expect freezing weather. For riding, I expect to wear shorts, short-sleeve jersey, arm warmers and maybe a light windbreaker/rain jacket – depending on the weather forecast. Every evening a stage is set up for various announcements and music entertainment. You’ll find out about the next day’s weather forecast during the announcements. If for some reason you miss the forecast because you were at the beer garden, just ask your neighbors in Tent City.

If for some reason you have any bicycle issues, one of the tour sponsors, The Bike Gallery, can and will solve any of your problems, whether it be on the road or in camp. The mechanics are all top-notch and work their collective tails off to accommodate the riders. You’ll find a complete mobile bike store set up by The Bike Gallery at every layover. This tour is the mother of all tours, and the organizers really have thought of everything.

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