This Year Showcased What Cycle Oregon Is Actually All About 

We are feeling especially grateful for the Cycle Oregon community as we wrap up Cycle Oregon 2015. We had been planning for more than a year and were excited about our Hell on Wheels ride through Hells Canyon and the Wallowas. We know these communities well and were looking forward to giving them the old Cycle Oregon economic boost.

rainbowWe were scheduled to visit the scenic town of Halfway and then ride over the Wallowas to enjoy two days on the idyllic shore of Wallowa Lake, one of Oregon’s most iconic and important natural features. Then the Dry Gulch Fire erupted two days before we were scheduled to arrive in Halfway. We were faced with a difficult situation: could we find an alternate campsite so we could still make it to Wallowa Lake? We knew it was too far to ride in one day – 124 miles plus more than 10,000 feet of climbing.

Ride Director Steve Schulz brought a small team down Hells Canyon to evaluate whether we could move our camp. We typically need 10-15 acres for our campsite and services. Coppefield Park at Oxbow was simply not big enough for us – and that was the only possibility.

midvaleSteve and the team then visited Halfway to see for themselves what the conditions were like and to talk directly to Oregon Department of Forestry and County Commissioners. When they arrived in Halfway, hills above town were aflame and the air was heavy with smoke. While rain was forecast for the night, it was predicted to be accompanied by strong winds, which were expected to increase the fire.

After weighing the information at hand, Steve made the toughest choice. We had to cancel our plans to go to Halfway and – by extension – Wallowa Lake. We couldn’t risk interfering with fire-fighting efforts and we didn’t want to expose our riders to what we thought could be dangerously smoky conditions.

We gathered our community to stage in a soaking downpour and gave them the news. Then this happened: everyone felt some degree of disappointment – and then they got over it. The community – including staff, volunteers, host towns, community groups, vendors, service providers, state and local governments and agencies, speakers, entertainers and, of course, the riders – rallied and did what needed to be done (which was a lot).

We had an amazing week. Every day the smiles and well wishes just kept coming, and Come Hell or High Water, everyone was determined to just keep riding. While we did not make it to Halfway, Joseph and Enterprise, we did make it to Cove, Pondosa and Union along the Grande Tour Scenic Bikeway – an utterly stunning route.

day 6We encourage everyone to use our maps or the website to create their own Hell on Wheels Ride. And we look forward to going back to Halfway, Joseph and Enterprise.

In the end, we all realized that Cycle Oregon is not a destination. Cycle Oregon is an experience. It’s about creating community with riders from around Oregon and the rest of the world and with the small towns we call home for a day or two. And it’s about seeing a different, slower, rural way of life. And along the way we got to see our mission in action: transforming lives and communities through bicycling.

So thanks again from all of us at Cycle O headquarters, where we are already hunkered down, working on our 2016 rides. Stay tuned. They’re sure to be epic. And memorable. Always memorable.

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  1. Kevin Wagoner says:

    Thanks for an awesome first Cycle Oregon. Two things really stand out that I didn’t expect.
    1. How much Cycle Oregon gives back to the communities. It was great to hear about the grants, hear the people from the community talk and realize our ride helps those economies. I felt very welcome the entire time. It would add a lot to hear from the Native American communities.
    2. Cycle Oregon is so well organized. I was amazed at how easy you made it for me to get up in the morning and start riding. Extremely well supported. I was never hungry or thirsty, my bike was fixed in route one day, I was bandaged up from a small fall, and I was entertained along the way. I appreciate the decision to back track and felt well informed the entire time. Amazing work.

    Thanks again for a great ride!

  2. This hits the nail on the head – the destination is merely the end of a good day of riding.. I believe one of the earlier years motto was “Slowest One Wins..” This has been my approach since the 90’s and it always yields a great vacation.

    Please thank Jonathan for another great vacation for me, and ask him to please think about narrating the rides again – his stories of the road are missed by many.

  3. Linda Collier says:

    Come to Halfway next year, we’ll try NOT to have a fire!

  4. Our grand daughters class was having a bake sale the morning cycle oregon was traveling through union oregon the support from cycle oregon particapants for her 7 th grade class was so much more than what could possibly have been expected or hoped for it can not be explained. What a great group of people your support was truely something special. Thanks

  5. Terry and Glenn says:

    We had an amazing week and were completely wow’ed by the scenery, friendly people, and the most prepared and flexible organization we have ever seen. Everyone kept apologizing about the change in plans but we were never disappointed with the experience.