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Seth’s Scenic Summer

Seth Patla is an Oregon bicycle all-star. Born and raised in Lakeview he now calls Forest Grove home and can be found riding and racing bikes statewide almost every weekend and lots of days in between. With cycling events yet to return in full force, Seth posted the Oregon Scenic Bikeways Map on Instagram with this caption on May 20th:

“New goal for me: ride all 17 Oregon Scenic Bikeways routes over this year and next. This is an excellent excuse to explore Oregon! I have already done one of the routes: the Oregon Outback. It was splendid: swipe for some pictures from that 2016 ride. And (I’ve been waiting for years to say this!!): DM me if you want to collaborate on this little adventure!!”

Cycle Oregon, Oregon State Parks, Travel Oregon, ODOT and others joined forces in 2009 to create the Oregon Scenic Bikeways program, the first of its kind in the United States. Cycle Oregon provided a signature grant of $50,000 to launch the program and fund the first bikeways coordinator position. Official routes are nominated by community leaders and selected by Oregon State Parks with official on-road, printable maps, and downloadable GPS files assigned to each route. The first route was designated in 2009 and now includes 17 routes across the state. Seth has completed six since his announcement so we checked in to hear how his scenic summer in the saddle is going.

You ride all types of bikes in all sorts of places and seem to be quite good at all disciplines, how did you get into riding and then on to racing?

I started riding an old banana-seated BMX-style bike at age 5 and haven’t stopped since! I used bikes as transportation originally; I grew up a couple miles from town so would ride to my friends’ houses. Then in my early 20’s I started to ride for fitness, fun, competition, AND transportation. 

Baseball was my sport growing up and I have always been interested in all kinds of sports. Racing and doing bicycle events now definitely brings out the competition, but it’s the friendly competition with fun folks that I really enjoy.

Where does your boundless enthusiasm for riding come from?

This is actually a tough question for me to definitively answer… 🙂 I really, really enjoy getting outside under my own power. The simplicity of the bicycle, the freedom to go where I want at the pace I want, the feeling of accomplishment when finishing a ride, the smooth way a bike rolls (as opposed to my not-so-smooth walking or running), the scenery: it all adds up! 

Perhaps the only known photo of Seth not smiling! Snacking is serious business on the Oregon Scenic Bikeways adventure.

What inspired you to ride all the Oregon Scenic Bikeways routes?

I thought this would be a very cool way to see parts of Oregon that I don’t necessarily make a point to see. It’s also a neat accomplishment to strive for and doesn’t require a huge amount of training or preparation. It just requires a bicycle, the will, and some logistics. 

How many have you ridden and what’s next on your list?

I’ve done six of the 17 so far, and have been really impressed with all of them- they are unique in their own ways, which is awesome. Next up, Sisters to Smith Rock, Twin Bridges, or possibly the Crooked River Canyon (I’m really excited about this one, I had no idea this route existed!). 

Do you have a planned itinerary or are you taking it as it comes?

Taking the opportunity as it comes. I’ve started with the rides that coincided with trips (or combined with other things to make a trip) so those have been easier from the logistics side. I’m definitely going to have to set aside a couple weekends to make the Eastern Oregon rides happen, but that’s the whole point for me: new experiences, new places, new parts of the state to see!

You’ve ridden two routes we’ve featured here on our blog, Covered Bridges and Sherar’s Falls, quite a contrast between them, right? What’s been the big takeaway for from riding these routes and is there a simple way to explain the diversity of these rides?

Definitely a huge difference! Those two rides clearly capture the Eastern versus Western side of the Cascade Mountains, Oregon High Desert juxtaposed with lush Willamette Valley – such a contrast! My big takeaways so far are: 1) Oregon has an amazing variety of terrain, climate, and vegetation, 2) Oregon has a huge number of ride options, 3) I thought I was pretty well-versed in Oregon geography, ride routes, and riding hot spots but this was completely not the case.

Co-conspirator in the grand challenge – Maria Patla

There’s a climb on Sherar’s falls you say is your favorite in Oregon. Are you a climber and what is it about this route you like so much?

That Grass Valley Climb is amazing. To be clear, you need to do a quick side out-and-back loop off the official route to grab this climb/descent, but that extra 5 miles is very much worth it to me! No traffic, good pavement, winding road with a couple switchbacks, consistent grade that isn’t too steep, and incredible sweeping views out over the landscape: so good!

I would say I am a climber. If given the choice, I prefer to ride up (and down!) than on the flats. I like to get to the top to have grand views and like the satisfaction of being able to say “I did that”.

From Cycle Oregon: We will feature this climb on Day 2 of the Road Forward weekend at Tygh Valley Rally as one of our two optional hill challenge segments. Sign up and test your mettle against the climb Seth says is “simply splendid“. Hey Seth, what’s your best time here, again?

Have you been riding the same bike for all routes?

So far I’ve only done paved routes which means I’ve been on my Ren Cycles road bike but I’m planning on going with the bigger tires on my gravel bike, also from Ren, for the varied terrain routes ahead.

What would make Oregon Scenic Bikeways better?

More of them! I’m very impressed with the website, course description, GPS files, road signage, and use of backroads/low traffic roads whenever possible. It’s been super easy to follow the routes, and they are thoughtfully designed and researched.

I’m super pumped on the whole experience, and especially excited to try out more of the routes now that I’ve done these and been so impressed with them!

Thanks, Seth!

We wish Seth tailwinds for the remainder of his rides and we’ll check back in with him once he has an even dozen in the books. Until then, you can follow Seth on Instagram here @sethpatla and to learn more about Oregon Scenic Bikeways please click here.

Seth’s titanium road bike from Oregon-based Ren Cycles

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