2021 began for me in reflection. Last week I took a drive out through the McKenzie River Valley; my first trip of the New Year. Many times I have travelled this valley – its backroads and highways – by both human-powered and motorized vehicles. As recently as 2019, on an unseasonably rainy September evening during the Classic, along with many of you I spent the night in the community of Rainbow.
As I headed west through Rainbow and past the junction of the Aufderheide Scenic Byway, looking at the blackened landscape in front of me, it was hard to fathom that rain ever fell here. The charred remains of hundred-year-old trees, homes, cars, and livelihoods are scattered on both sides of the highway. I have travelled this valley a number of times since the fires of last summer and it never fails to take my breath away. What these communities experienced I can only imagine; all I know is the pain I feel every time I am there.
However, every time I pass through I see change. Homesites are cleaned up, new buildings and fences are being constructed, bright, handmade signs proclaiming “thank you first responders” are posted in yards and on businesses. I see these signs of resiliency and hope and I am inspired.
Though in no way the same scale or impact, in 2020 the staff and board of directors of Cycle Oregon had to come up with our own charge of resiliency and hope. We worked tirelessly to manage the effects that COVID-19 had on the organization from the cancellation of our events, and to develop a strategy to not only sustain Cycle Oregon through the year, but to position us for the future.
The board was called into action more than ever before, dedicating hours and hours of time to work through all the challenges, opportunities, and consequences of the unknowns of our future. In a difficult time for so many, they showed their commitment to this organization and the people and places of this state we call home. Our board guided through many challenging decisions but the fundamental determination made was that Cycle Oregon must continue to exist; we must continue to be impactful.
I would personally like to thank the Board of Directors for their support, vision, and determination to move us forward one pedal stroke at a time.
Chad Davis, President
Sarah Gates, Vice President
Scott Towsey, Treasurer
Karmen Fore, Secretary
Jackie Yerby (’20 Vice President)
Dan Eller (’20 Secretary)
In addition to the board, I would like to thank the Cycle Oregon staff and all of you – this community – for your support through these challenging times. I’m eager for the day when we can be together in person, in a small rural community, experiencing the wonder of Oregon through its special people and places.
Historically at this time of year we are preparing for our annual community gathering that is our Kickoff event. With the restrictions around COVID-19 still in place, we will not be hosting a Kickoff event in 2021. However, beginning next month we will share what we believe 2021 looks like in other ways for the organization and this community.
Until then, be safe, be kind, and be resilient.
Steve Schulz, Executive Director