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Ask the Veterans

Each year we try to provide some form of useful advice for our first-time riders – although even repeat offenders can always learn a new trick or two. This year we decided to pair up some pairs: We’ve asked first-time duos (couples, siblings, etc.) to tell us what they’d like to know, and then turned to a group of veteran duos (mostly couples; all have done CO at least eight times) for answers. We hope this will give you answers to some questions you might have – and some you might not have thought of.

Q: Nick and Mike Massaro

The Brothers Massaro

Yes, they are brothers – Nick is older than Mike by two years. And while this is their first time on Cycle Oregon, the two have done other organized multi-day rides together, including Ride the Rockies. When Mike did the Cycle North Carolina ride two years ago, he rode with several people who raved about the Cycle Oregon ride. “These were people who had done lots of multi-day rides, and to a person they said the Cycle Oregon ride was by far the best,” he recalls. “How could I not be interested?”

Nick adds his perspective on how they ended up in Oregon: “Mike, who lives in California, thinks Oregon is halfway between his house and mine in Colorado. So it made perfect sense!”

The brothers tried to get into the Cycle Oregon ride last year but waited too long to register and the ride filled up. Undeterred, they set aside that week last September, met in Oregon and spent the week cycling in and around Ashland and the Crater Lake area. They had a great time and decided to sign up quick for CO this year.

A: Mike and Gail Williamson

For answers, we turned to Mike and Gail Williamson. Mike, too, had heard from several sources that Cycle Oregon was not to be missed, so he tried to ride COs VI and VII, but both filled before he could get in. When he got in for Cycle Oregon VIII, he “found out what all of the fuss was about. I knew Gail would love the CO experience, but also knew that we rode at different speeds, so we bought a tandem and signed up for CO IX. It was all we’d expected, and I’ve now ridden in CO 12 times, nine of those as half of a tandem team with Gail.” The couple has done other rides during this period, but they keep coming back to Cycle O. They attribute this as “50% due to the roads/communities/terrain of rural Oregon, 25% due to quality organization/food/support/entertainment, and 25% due to the ride’s philosophy and that of the Cycle Oregon Foundation.”

Having done several multi-day rides, the brothers Massaro don’t have a lot of training questions, but they do have a few CO-specific ones. Here are their questions, followed by the Williamsons’ answers.

Are there any secrets to getting the best food? What should we expect?

Getting the best food is simple – just get in line. The caterer, OK’s Cascade, sets up fire camps for the USFS during fire season, and they know all about feeding hungry folks with very good food in ample portions. Of course it’s fun to sample the local fare provided by some of the communities, but you will do very well just sticking to the CO chow line.

What’s the best strategy to avoid shower lines?

The portable shower facilities are also those used at fire camps, with plenty of hot water and a setup to accommodate 2,000+ riders with generally manageable waiting times. Of course, lines can be avoided by waiting for slack periods (during dinner or evening), but the lines really are not too bad.

Are pumps plentiful, or should we pack our own?
Pumps are adequate in number and quality for topping off in the morning, but many riders do bring their own. Waiting for a pump, a Blue Room (slang for “portable toilet,” for our newcomers), showers, laundry bucket and meals is really part of decoupling from the urban existence most of us are escaping. By the second day most riders are in the groove and enjoying the moment, even if that moment happens to be waiting in a line.

What sort of weather should we expect? How low will the temps be?

Weather – yeah, this is always a tough one to answer properly. The 2011 route is west of the Cascades, so lower elevation and warmer nights than the more typical high-desert and mountain routes. September is generally a pretty good month, with daytime highs in the 70s, lows in the 50s, but there is always the chance of “marine disturbance” – i.e., rain, wind and 50s for both day and night temps. Bring your rain fly, a good rain jacket and some warm layers. We’ve experienced a nasty day or two over the years of COs, but a hot shower, good food and a dry tent can make all right with the world again.

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