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|Tell me about Cycle Oregon.|
|You will never go hungry on this
ride. If you are, just say so and several people will feed you. I always
bring food home that I have hoarded thinking I might suddenly starve to
death. Believe me, it will not happen.
In that same respect, you will be totally taken care of in every way. You may certainly encounter moments when you think that you can't go on but there will always be people around you to encourage you and carry you if need be. I always have felt totally safe on this ride.
If this is your first Cycle Oregon, prepare to surrender yourself to a life experience. Even if the logistics of the ride do not measure up, the scenery will overwhelm you. Everybody else knows what I mean.
See you on the ride. MOOO!
As to what to pack on each day's ride, let your experience with organized rides be your guide.
Cycle Oregon is easily the best supported ride you will find anywhere. You will not be found wanting for food, water or any other necessity. What you will see on any leg of any day's ride is nearly two dozen support vehicles in the form of sag wagons, staff cars, EMT vehicles, and bike tech vehicles to help you at any time. (The bike techs are the only vehicles without radios or food and water.) In recent years, the Oregon State Police have been there for us. All are keeping an eye out for the rider's welfare. Those cars with radios (cellphones are more or less useless in the boonies) are in constant touch with each other. There is a radio base station which keeps track of where each rider is by count and by stretch of road, often within the nearest tenth of a mile. Truly, you are in good hands with Cycle Oregon.
As to what to pack for the trip, there will likely be a "what-to-bring-list" in one of the supporting brochures you will receive over the next few months. Heed the guidelines they provide for your overnight "pack". It is very easy to bring more than you need. I usually build my own list which ranges in content from personal items to a sleeping bag, ear plugs, a foam pad, flashlights (yes, plural - with spare batteries), and what ever "doodads" you consider useful for a week in a tent. Then, on the day before leaving for the ride, I stage all of the items on the list, and re-assess the value of each item. Even then, I usually end up with one of the heavier bags. (!)
If you do not have much tenting experience, I recommend you do some tent camping from your car so that you have a better feel for what you need along those lines. Plastic garbage bags and sheets are a boon to the tent camper. Learn how to camp in adverse weather conditions, especially wind and rain. Knowing how to keep your tent up and sleeping bag dry is a key area of knowledge. Trust me, if your bag gets wet, you will be miserable - at best.
As to clothing, if you are into washing your clothing as you travel, you will be able to do so in the vicinity of the showers. Don't count on much else, and bring enough spares to give your nice clean duds time to dry. If you are a fast rider, and get to camp early enough, and the weather is dry, and the sun is out, and, and, . . . you can dry your clothing on your tent before it gets dark.
Prepare for extremes of weather. Cycle Oregon 5 had beautiful days in the 70's and 80's, but one night, it went down to 17 degrees F. YES! That's 15 degrees F below freezing. Water bottles froze. Other nights on that ride were right down there as well. On Cycle Oregon 8, four days were over 100 degrees, and the remainder were in the mid-nineties.
The bike shops will have much of what you have forgotten or lose or break along the way, but don't count on them for items outside of what a bike shop carries. And the towns we stay in are small, and usually run out of some items quickly. One time, I staged my towel, but somehow did not pack it. I was lucky - I was able to buy the very last towel the little old country store had. Whew!!
Cycle Oregon has been pretty good about having water/food stops about every 15-20 miles. I drink about one bottle of water every 15 miles or so, except on the hottest days, so 2 bottles has always been plenty for me. Mechanics (the heroes of the ride every year) are out on the route at least as often as the food & drink stops, in case you run into mechanical problems, and sag wagons patrol the course to haul you in if something serious occurs.
Cycle Oregon is a fully-supported ride, and it is, to a large degree, just like putting together a string of consecutive supported day rides.
Now, if you can imagine more than a thousand tents set up pretty much shoulder to shoulder, with bikes, gear and (my personal favorite) tent ropes and stakes strewn every which way, you've got a pretty good picture of what every night will be like!
My advice for buying a tent is to get a dome tent that doesn't require stakes to be set up. Not only will it be easier to set up in 95 degree weather after you've spent 8 hours on your bike, but it won't cause someone to trip and fall on your tent after visiting the porta-potty at 3AM. Also, be sure you bring a flashlight and watch for stakes, bikes & other "gotcha's" after dark!
That reminds me, it's a good idea to bring a flag or banner or some other way of locating your tent amongst the sea of happy campers during the day, and maybe an LED bike light at night. If you don't bring anything, you can always camp near somebody who did. Finding your tent in a different field every night is harder than you might think!
Ron (been there - done that) Scheldrup
On Cycle Oregon there will be riders of vastly different abilities and a wide age range. Some go fast and some go slow and most of them make it. The better shape you're in though the more fun you will have. My first ride, at age 42, Cycle Oregon Eight, was tough. It was hot, hilly, and long over much of the same route this years ride will cover. My butt ached and my hands were sore from braking on the long, five to ten mile down hills. Really! Hadn't ridden over a mountain pass since my college days and that was only over the Coast Range to Lincoln City. Pretty flat compared to some of the things you will be seeing. But I made it.
The next year I had trained adequately and the ride was a snap. That included the optional century and the optional loop around Crater Lake. No problem.
The moral, get on your new bike and ride. You will need to be able to sit on that seat and pedal for eight hours of so. The fact that it is a triple is great, those granny gears will get you up the hills. The Oregon weather has been so fine lately- your probably not that far behind those of us in hibernation.
Bob TEAM CRAB
I'm a Cycle Oregon veteran, having done 8 of them, and I thought I'd drop by here just to see what was going on. I'm already excited about CO XII!
On Tue, 15 Jun 1999, R Heath wrote:
> We figured 10 mph average as a goal last year (on hybrid bikes) and I think we met it most days. It is easy to get sidetracked by waterfalls, mechanical difficulties, ice cream cones, etc.
Well, getting sidetracked is really the point of Cycle Oregon! It's a great time to set aside your focus on performance for a week and just enjoy touring Oregon by bicycle. If you can bring yourself to do it, set aside the cyclometer somewhere and don't worry about how fast or how slow you go. My only goal is to get to camp in time for dinner. Major tip: The people in the back half of the ride have the most fun.
There are always the super athletes and the hard chargers for whom every ride is a race, but you don't need to follow that model. Those folks don't see much.
There is a strong psychological factor involved in enjoying (surviving?) some of the hard days that are a part of every Cycle Oregon. If you're a new rider, you may not know yet just how hard you'll have to work, and you'll probably underestimate how hard you *can* work. I think most of us are pretty spoiled nowadays, so we don't know how tough we can be when we need to. I've seen Cycle Oregon participants who genuinely thought they were suffering great hardships because they couldn't use their blow dryers.
On that note, keep it simple. Leave most of the fluff of a pampered lifestyle at home. Just bring the basics to bathe, brush your teeth, and wash and comb your hair after the ride each day. It might be wise, however, to bring along one small luxury that really makes you happy. It will give you comfort if things get really hard!
> What we really ended up doing was getting up at 5:15 and getting on the road ASAP - which always seemed to take forever!
Yep. You'll hear the zippers beginning at about 5:00 a.m. They're impossible to sleep through, which bugs those who would prefer to sleep a little later.
Other posters are right. Be sure to prepare for extremes of heat and cold, probably all in the same day. If rain threatens, and there's a big mountain to climb, take your rain gear! Cycle Oregon X participants will tell you about that!
Get your clothes for the next day ready before you crawl into your sleeping bag. Put them in a little pile somewhere (under your pillow, maybe). It will save a lot of time in the morning when it's dark.
I don't know if anyone has mentioned it, but get your bike in tiptop condition before the ride, whatever kind of bike it is (and you'll see all kinds).
Most of all, have fun! Cycle Oregon is a wonderful adventure!
The one and only thing that you will definitely need is a good attitude – If you want to have fun, you will. Training comes in handy also. :)
It's easy to get tired on Cycle Oregon and we've seen some folks have a rough time because that was happening and they didn't realize it. Others seem to be able to stay up all hours, yucking it up in the beer garden, with no obvious ill effects.
I guess the trick is to pay attention to what's going on with the body, especially if the cranky index is suddenly ratcheting up.
I've done four Cycle Oregon rides so far. This last one was the only one [CO 12] I've done in which we didn't encounter rain. ALL of my four tours found us greeted with below freezing temps at least one morning.
I go to breakfast in therma fleece tights, jersey, arm warmers, bike sweater (or sometimes a mid weight poly long sleeve Teeshirt), bike wind shell jacket, bellaclava and long fingered gloves.
I do the minimalist approach to clothing wearing running shorts and a Tee by day and merely pull on a lined tracksuit over that when the temp falls in the eves. I do have one packable rainsuit I bring for those stormy nights in camp. (used it once in the four years)
I suggest a large fanny pack not for the riding but in the camp area. Specifically meals... You get to stand in line and end up with an assortment of paper plates, plasticware, and bowls and then go to the beverage tables and get bottles, cans etc. I wear a pack that has several water bottle holsters on it and stuff the drinks in them, all the loose articles (that don't drip or ooze) in the top of the pack and then merely have to balance a main plate, salad bowl, and desert plate for the sometimes entertaining 100 yard (or longer) traipse through a field to the tables and chairs in the eating area..
My pack also has external lash points so I lash on the aforementioned tracksuit and can leave camp in the sun and only need return for lights out.
For the last few years they have added a "gear drop" mid days route where you can drop off the clothing you had to wear in the 19 degree F morning that you had to peel off to make it thru the 80+ F day. I *never* use this, referring instead to carry my gear in my hydration systems backpack. Last year [CO 12] during the infamous day 2 there were a lot of people caught up near the summit at darkfall that had sent their gear off at the drop. We call them "icicles on bicycles" :-).
This ride is super! You just ride between meals, they transport your gear, have hot showers awaiting you, feed you and provide live entertainment. All you need carry on the bike is what you need to get from days start to days end. I tend to pocket an extra pack of cookies, sportsbar, etc from the food stops along the way in case you arrive at a lunch stop and there were some logistical problems (this is not common but does sometimes happen).
Day two last year was interesting. We started at 3300 ft climbed for 12 miles up to 5500 ft, spent 30 miles going up and down between 5100 and 5600 ft and then climbed 10 miles punching out at over 7400 ft *before lunch*! After lunch we descended back to around 3000 ft!
The two major climbs were OK, what was difficult was the 30 miles up and down at the altitude. This was a loooong day for most of us. It was one of the roughest if not the roughest days I've spent on a bike. I'd be surprised if there was anything that rough this year. A few years from now after the memory fades perhaps, but I'd expect not so tough a day this year. I would work on hills though.
Let me define hills for you...
1-5 miles... thats not a hill
Welcome to a truly great adventure.
Don "ever had your waterbottle freeze?" Bolton
All of these questions and responses regarding emergency response, parts & repair, etc. made me think of some griping I saw in another forum (OregonLive's general cycling forum) about the price of registration.
The general gist was "I pay several hundred dollars to sweat and sleep on the ground?? What kind of deal is that?"
The hidden answers are in the responses to these concerns. This event is supported in ways that many participants aren't even aware of. The communications crews, EMT support and State Police escort are major examples. In the past, there have also been off duty cops pedaling along with the crew, some equipped with radio gear. I don't know if this will be the case this year, but I would not be surprised.
So, my fellow Seagull (Kerry), and others worrying about being stranded, injured, or just plain tuckered out, remember that help of many sorts will NEVER be far away. And that's just the "official" help.
Spend much time riding the roads of Oregon (probably the rest of the country, too) and you'll note that if you have a problem of any sort, the very next cyclist to come along will probably offer help. Hell, I've been offered assistance when I was just parking my butt to take in the view! This remains true on Cycle Oregon, and the frequency of cyclists going the same way you are is guaranteed.
CO is a logistical wonder. I can't think of another way to put it. Yes, you have to work hard to get from camp to camp, and yes, most folks sleep on the ground, but even those two points are not absolute... you can ride one of the many sagwagons and you can arrange for homestays, too. But... this is really a rolling city, complete with newspaper, health care, sanitary facilities (OK, a blue room isn't "plumbing", but it's better than a slit trench), showers, and rudimentary laundry facilities. We even have a (sort of) mayor, city manager, and court jester/chief of police and TWO (if the Bobsled doesn't break down again) really good bike shops.
I often wonder how much the bike repair schedules in Portland back up around the middle of September. Many of the best wrenches in the area are out of town then.
As has been said before, carry your cell phone if it makes you feel better (but don't plan on relying on it). Tote your laptop if you want to risk it (Remember the Samsonite gorilla? He's found employment stuffing gear bags into semitrailers on CO), but watch your batteries... recharges will very likely be few and far between.
Alternatively... you could keep a pen and book of stamps handy and scribble postcards at rest stops. You could keep a notebook with your gear and scribble in the beam of your flashlight. You could socialize in the line for the pay phone if you must call home.
Last year, I just plain gave up on calling home. I made sure my family knew how to make contact with me in an emergency (you should be getting that info soon), but I warned them that unless I stumbled onto a telephone with a short line, they'd only hear from me by snail mail. It sounds odd, I know, but it worked well.
We will not be roughing it (unless your definition includes going without a blow dryer for a week), but it won't quite be civilization as you're used to it, either.
Relax. Have fun. You probably will not have any trouble. But, if you do, you'll probably be amazed at the quantity and quality of the help you'll get. That's what you paid for.
Stepping down off my soapbox now...
You'll meet more people if you camp - but bring ear plugs. There will be people zipping/unzipping their tents all night, probably a lot of snoring and a few late night partyers stumbling home from the bar.
Less elevation gain than last year [CO 12], but still a lot of hours in the saddle. Last year was my first and I wasn't sure how I'd do. I started early each day (to avoid the heat of the day and afternoon winds) and rode hard (to stay with my friends in a pace line). That made the ride easier, but I always felt rushed. This year I want to take it a bit easier. If my friends want to go too fast I'll just go alone or hook up with others.
- Bring a mirror and use it.
- Drink lots of water, continuously. Dehydration is a big problem.
- The all-sport drink made me cramp. I prefer salt-tabs.
- Calcium supplements (tums works for me) helps avoid cramps.
- Don't pass up food. I made that mistake on day 2 last year. I thought the lines were too long at the first rest stop. By lunch I was really dragging. The rule of thumb I've heard is 300 calories/hour during the ride then chow down in the evening.
- Nights and mornings can be cold (17degrees F one morning last year) and days hot so think in terms of layers.
Then there are the usual group ride stuff - things you probably already know
- Communicate with other riders. There are so many riders that you can't see obstacles ahead or cars behind. The people behind rely on those ahead to point out gravel patches, chuckholes, glass etc. The ones in front rely on those behind to warn about approaching cars ("car back!"), when it is clear to pass slower riders ("Clear!") and when you are passing ("On Your Left").
- Be considerate of the car drivers - single file when cars are coming.
Also, lubricate your tent zippers - your neighbors will appreciate it, especially if you're a "frequent flyer" at the "blue rooms" (and don't let the door slam behind you! Please!)
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