|CyclingSite > CO Collected Wisdom > Insights > 2000 Cyclists|
|Is it hard to ride with 2000 people?|
|The actual ride can be pretty much
by yourself if you leave real early (I guess) or closer to the 9 o'clock
camp closing (like I always seem to). But it is fun to ride with others
at times, too. Cycle Oregon tries to pick the less traveled roads, so there
always seemed to be enough room, as long as you took your time. The campsite?
Well, that's something else! My wife woke me up one night by kicking me,
and when I asked why, she said because I was snoring! I said that that wasn't
me, it was someone in the next tent! ... We wore ear plugs at night, and
found the experience quite tolerable. (We were pretty tired each night!)
You've got to remember that this ride is for 2000 close personal friends. Imagine 30~40 people sleeping in your two-car garage - it can be done, but.... The snoring isn't the bad part, it's the ^)_^%)#^ "folks" that feel that they MUST break camp starting before 0500 and that hollering at their buds a few tents down is quite acceptable. Have you ever noticed how loud and long tent and sleeping bag zippers can be? A pox on (way too-) early risers! 0600 is plenty early enough.
My experience over several CO's is that it is not as crowded as you might think, all things considered. Fortunately, CO staff have continued to improve and expand resources each year, so 2,000 is a fairly manageable group. My recollection is that CO#10 was more than 2,000 (something like 2,200) and it felt much more crowded than CO#11 (which was closer to 2,000, or less).
The campsites are cozy, but usually large enough to handle everyone. Like others have said: "Bring earplugs" for sure! Fortunately, the campsite area is typically located a good distance away from the music and "louder" portions of camp, but, alas, there are plenty of zippers and snorers at the tents... you'll get used to them. Though I don't normally have any problems going to sleep at home at night, I do bring a few Excedrin PM on CO. Just one nudges me to sleep a bit quicker on those nights I'm still wide awake.
Breakfast and dinner lines are fast... very, very fast. Last year I never had to wait more than 60 seconds to start getting served... that's a fact, really! Occasionally, out on the road, the rest stop refreshment lines are a bit longer, but usually never more than a few minutes.
Since people leave camp from anytime between 5 a.m. and noon on any given day, there isn't usually a crowd on the road. You can get the feel of the crowd by riding in a group or a pace line, or when riding up steep hills, but for much of the day you'll not usually feel crowded.
Where are the crowds at? I'd say at the porta-pottys, in line, some of the time. It varies. They have been doing better each year with more of those, too. Again, on CO#10 it seemed much more crowded than on CO#11.
Sometimes, there are lines at the showers, but again, it varies. Ten or fifteen minutes is the most I have ever had to wait, and usually much less. The stainless steel showers are great, and NEVER run out of hot water!
There will also be lines at registration, at bikes box areas, etc., but these are only at the first day and/or the last day. And hanging around with the crowd is fun, especially at registration.
Overall, it's very fun. The camaraderie of the group is wonderful. If you chose to enjoy it, you absolutely will... even in spite of an occasional wait.
You'll love CO. I found I was too tired to care if anyone made noise, slept great every single night. An occasional line to the porta potties or the showers but not unbearable. Socializing with the folks in line is fun. It all depends on your attitude. Overall, CO handles everything and everyone beautifully. A few minor inconveniences amount to nothing compared to the whole of the experience.
I've not done the southwest ride you described but have done 2 COs. 2,000 people is a lot of people and interacting, functioning with them is part of the CO experience. The jokes and camaraderie around standing in line for the blue palaces (porta potties) and meals is part of the experience and did not detract from my fun. In fact, it provided an opportunity for personal exchanges and quite a bit of laughter. I would expect that the ratio of porta potties to riders would be similar for a 150 person ride and a 2000 person ride, same with food lines. Your decision would probably rest on your comfort level dealing with a group of 2000 people vs 150 people. The logistics are magnificently handled by the CO folks and they have 11 years experience [written before CO 12]. A lot of the wrinkles and kinks have been worked out of the process. Does the SW tour have the same experience?
Re 2000 people and the likelihood of lines . . .
In as few words as possible, Cycle Oregon has its logistical act together.
In spite of these kinds of facilities, there can be lines, especially if your timing is bad. Your best bet on timing is to estimate when the majority will hit your area of interest, and shoot for earlier or later.
Probably the most typical worst line is for breakfast, but with multiple serving lines it goes fast.
I felt the 2000 people was more of a benefit than a deficit.
Yes, you may have to wait a few minutes for the porta-potties at sag stops. If you are in a rush you can grab food and drink and stand there and chew. A lot of people talk to other people during this time. The longest I waited for a shower was 5 minutes and the longest food line we were in had 3 or 4 people ahead of us. [Note: This was CO 11. CO 12 had more people and longer lines.] Things move pretty fast. I did notice a chair shortage in the dining tent. Sometimes we just sat on the ground or nearby curbs, etc. After all, you won't have any chairs at lunch.
Mostly the way I noticed the crowd was out on the course. Frequently, someone would pass us or we would pass them. Most of the time people say "Hi," and maybe some comment about where you are from or the ride or something else positive. This gives you a great uplift and helps to keep you going mile after mile - especially when the going gets tough. It is also really nice to know that a lot of other people are having just as much trouble as you are on the steep hills. They tend to cluster in groups taking breaks off the side of the road. Great community feeling!
The other way you notice the big crowd is because it gains you privileges. When 2000 people do anything in a rural area it gets noticed. Sometimes they close roads to motorized traffic for us. Last year [CO 11] they closed one side of a 2-lane tunnel so we had a whole lane to ourselves. This is a neat feeling. There are also so many of us that people are really aware that there are cyclists on the road and watch out for us. The law enforcement people are also out there trying to help make it safer for us. This really makes you feel safe and comfortable.
Some campgrounds are crowded and some aren't. (I know that's not much help!) You can still have enough room for whatever tents you bring though - things just expand into the surrounding area/town. On CO 11 and 12 they staked out nice wide "streets" before we put up our tents so you could get across the fields pretty easy even if you were on the far side.
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