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    Do I need a cell phone while riding?  
    I usually bring my cellphone, but leave it in my duffle bag on the truck for use in calling home during the evening. The reason is that a cellphone will not likely be of much use in the boonies, especially if you are in a canyon. This is why Cycle Oregon relies on ham radio to maintain contact on the route. Every day, there is a ham base station perched on the high spot of day, and is in radio "sight" of all radio-equipped vehicles. Believe it!! They know where every rider is on the route at all times during any day. If you are bringing up the rear, there will be a sweep sag tailing you.

That said, occasionally a cellphone can get through, but service is spotty at best. The sag wagons have a sheet which gives a lot of information for the day's route to the sag driver and radio operator. In the past, this sheet has had info showing the areas where cellphones MIGHT work. For rider support purposes, the primary tool is the ham radio. Out there, it is much more reliable.

Communications and rider support on Cycle Oregon is the best there is. Every sag wagon (4 or 5 of them), staff car (2 or 3 of them), ambulance (3 plus a supervisor van), and the State Police (3 or 4 of them on fast motorcycles) are out there just for you. It is safe to say that you will see one of these vehicles within a few minutes of any bad thing that might happen. (Bike mechanics do not have radios.)

For example, there was a hit and run on the ride between Diamond Lake and Glide last year [CO 11]. Literally within minutes, every support vehicle, and every rider who passed through a rest stop was aware of the situation and alerted to be on the look out. They caught the guy.

As to any other high tech item, bring what you want, but keep in mind that its weight and bulk, along with the "obligation" to protect it can get to be a headache. As usual, good judgment is your best asset: Ask yourself "Is this item REALLY worth the effort to bring it?"

Curt Coleman

P.S. The fellow who was hit last year was hurt, but he went on to finish the ride that day. As one would expect, he was a thankful being.

Certainly you can take your cellular phone. If nothing more it sounds like you'll sleep better and have more piece of mind if you have it with you.... even if it doesn't work.

This year's route [CO 12] is quite rural. I don't know what the cellular coverage is like, so can't say for sure. But on CO#10, when we started farther to the south and headed west across the state, cellular phones didn't work for most or all of quite a few days.

And, as Curt C. mentioned in his response, Cycle Oregon will have (as always) a very large, experienced, totally dedicated ham radio crew (I recall it's more than 20 people) who have marked every one-tenth mile on the entire course and are in constant communication with all the key support. If you have a problem ANYWHERE on the course, they will know EXACTLY where you are. Cycle Oregon does not rely on cellular, because frankly, cellular is not good enough or dependable enough.

And trust us... you will never be stuck somewhere without other cyclists around you. Even if you lag way behind, someone will come by and take care of you to make sure you always get to camp safely. And if you try to hide, they will find you. =)

And if you, or someone else gets hurt, there is prolifically more horsepower and hi-tech support on the ride which will respond immediately. A call to 911 on your cell phone (assuming it works, which it probably will not) will be almost useless... how will you tell the dispatcher (wherever they are) where you are? Cycle Oregon will know exactly where you are.

My vision for you is that upon doing Cycle Oregon, you will realize that you can actually survive without being plugged into your cellular phone. And you'll also realize that life can truly be more enjoyable without all the "hang-ups" we so often believe we must have to survive, and then find out we're better off without them (at least some or most of the time.)

But take it if you must. If there is cellular coverage where we camp in the evenings, you can sell 5 minutes for $5.00 to people who don't want to wait in line for the phones CO provides. You'll be rich and famous (assuming you have enough charged spare batteries).

Happy dialing!!

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  Page Last Updated: Jan. 20, 2003  
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