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Featured Riders

This month, once again we’ve delved into the registration rolls looking for something interesting – and we’ve found three generations of the same family all riding Cycle O together. Turns out Bob, Rob and Kirby Arkes have ridden many Cycle Oregons together, although it has been a few years since they’ve all been on the ride together

We decided to individually ask each of them the same questions, to see what kind of interesting (and, who knows, maybe conflicting) stories we’d get. Here’s what we found out:

Tell us about yourself.

Bob: OK, the statistics. I’m 72 and live in Portland. I’m retired, but worked as a national account manager for an insurance company. Don’t hold that against me. As you can tell, I’m dad and grandpa.

Rob: I’m 50 and live in Vancouver, Washington. I work in marketing for a software company. I’m kind of the “middle man,” as I am a son and a father in this group.

Kirby: 20, Eugene, student at U of O, daughter and granddaughter.

What was your first Cycle Oregon, and how many COs have you done counting this upcoming one?

Bob: My first CO was IV, Beaverton to Hood River. I honestly don’t think I knew about the first three. Assuming I make September, Cycle Oregon XXIV will be number nine.

Rob: My first Cycle Oregon was Cycle Oregon IV in 1991. This September’s ride will be my 13th.

Kirby: My first ride was Cycle Oregon XIII when I was 10, and including this upcoming ride I’ll have done six Cycle Oregons total.

Why did you first decide to do Cycle Oregon?

Bob: For one, I found out about the event. I was a 52-year-old broken-down runner, and Rob had just turned 30, so it seemed like a good thing to do. Besides, we have a beach cottage in the Nehalem area, the Day Two destination. I took the keys just in case – and no, I didn’t use them.

Rob: My dad had discovered the event and asked if I’d like to ride with him. At the time I was a serious runner who viewed cycling as strictly an activity one did when trying to rehab from a running injury. But I was unemployed at the time and thought, what the hell, this might be a nice break from trying to find a job.

Kirby: Doing bike rides with my dad and grandpa is something I’ve been doing even before I can remember, so I’m sure the first Cycle Oregon just sounded like another fun ride to do.

What are your strongest memories of the first Cycle Oregon?

Bob: Wow, I just think riding into Vernonia on Day One and seeing my first Tent City.

Rob: Well, for starters, I quickly realized that Cycle Oregon was a great break from looking for a job! I also discovered that cycling wasn’t just something to do when I couldn’t run. I loved being on the bike each day. And, as my Dad mentioned, seeing Tent City for the first time is quite a sight.

Kirby: To be honest, it was either too long ago or I was too young; I don’t remember anything from the first one. But I definitely have certain memories from other rides that I think will stick with me forever.

Who within the family group takes what role when you’re out on CO?

Bob: Well, Rob and Kirby beat me into camp, hands down, so they grab a camping spot and pull my gear. Since the beer garden and pizza have become a part of Cycle Oregon, my role is to buy. Kirby will be 21 for CO XXIV, so I’ll need to budget a few more beers.

Rob: A generous man by nature, my Dad always keeps us in beer and pizza. He can be a bit of a storyteller, too, so he usually has a few yarns to spin in camp. And everything I know about putting up a tent or efficiently packing my bag I have learned from Kirby. So I guess she plays the role of logistics director.

Is there a potentially embarrassing CO story you’d like to tell on someone else in the group?

Bob: I really don’t have one except on myself. I remember tossing up my tent, hitting the showers, the beer garden, dinner, the main stage, and then wandering around in the dark, trying to find my tent. Now I try to be more observant, beers or no beers.

Rob: Perhaps the most embarrassing story I can think of is one I would tell on myself. It was Day Three of my first ride, Nehalem to Willamina. Despite the fact that I had never really put a tent up before, I decided to make myself useful before my Dad arrived in camp and surprise him by getting our tent up. The task turned out to be far more challenging than any of the riding. It was somewhat windy and it looked more like I was flying a kite than setting up a tent. I wrestled with it for more than an hour before deciding the beer garden was a better option.

Kirby: I can’t really think of anything. It’s kinda hard to be embarrassed on CO… with everyone walking around in sweaty spandex, some people wearing crab hats, and maybe one too many people changing in the middle of Tent City, I’d say pretty much almost anything goes.

What about the event continues to draw you back?

Bob: What’s not to like? I consider CO a selfish week of self-indulgence. Being a slow – no, let’s say “slower” – rider, I get to observe things other riders zoom past.

Rob: Cycle Oregon has exposed me to places and people that I would never have encountered on my own. Each year offers the promise of new discoveries that I find awfully hard to resist. And the camaraderie among the riders is incredible. In a world that can be harsh, it is wonderful to spend a week surrounded by such enthusiasm and kindness. It’s also one hell of a rolling party. As a fellow rider mentioned to me a couple of years ago, Cycle Oregon is like “summer camp for adults.” And he’s right. It is. I’m also proud to be associated with an organization that is so committed to being an agent for positive change in the state.

Kirby: I don’t think there are very many other experiences like it. It’s great to see so many different parts of the state, and it’s a week to completely get away and relax. I love how you feel totally separated from your life at home, and at the same time feel really connected with everyone else on the ride. But the biggest reason is probably the opportunity to hang out with my dad, or my Daddy as I still call him, for a whole week. Plus, the last time I did the ride I wasn’t even old enough to drive. Now this year I’m going to be 21, so I’ll have to be sure to bring my driver’s license so I can finally join him and my grandpa inside the beer garden. For me Cycle Oregon just got even better!

What does it mean to you to be able to ride CO with family?

Bob: First, I have to define “ride with.” For me it means “riding the same route on the same day.” I have ridden COs with Rob and Kirby, plus my son-in-law and other granddaughter, in various combinations various years. All were fantastic experiences I hope to build on with many more Cycle Oregons yet to be ridden.

Rob: I love everything about Cycle Oregon. To have had the chance to share this passion with two people that I love very much has been an opportunity I will forever cherish. Kirby and I have ridden countless miles over the years, and had conversations that may never have happened had we not been pedaling away on our tandem. It has been quite a ride, both literally and figuratively, and come this fall I will, as always, be eager to saddle up and discover what awaits around the bend for all three of us.

Kirby: It means a lot, especially this year since it’s my first ride back since I’ve finished high school and been away at college. Ever since I’ve been gone at school I don’t get to see my dad very much, so I’m really looking forward to getting back on the bike and spending so much time with him.


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