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1st the impairment part:

If any of you are folicly challenged, such as Phil Ford and myself, either don't forget to put suntan lotion on the top....sunburn up there hurts, or wear a bandana/cap. This will also absorb the sweat and help keep it out of your eyes.

2nd Suggestion, For the hair impaired, wear a stocking cap to bed at night. You will sleep much warmer as ??(you name the percentage) much of your heat loss is out the top...I speak from personal experience.

Dave (Slug) VG

[Where to pitch a tent for a quieter night…]

Bring ear plugs, but also stay away from centers of activity such as beer garden and showers.

Curt Coleman

Camelback tubes can freeze overnight even in your tent. Blow air in to empty the tube overnight.

Rox Heath

One thing that helps to get you out of camp each morning is to streamline your packing for fast starts. Pack everything the night before that you can. Dry your cycling clothes in the afternoon and put the ones you will need the next morning in a plastic bag along with whatever else you need. Your tent will be very wet from condensation in the morning and this keeps stuff dry. This also makes it easier to find stuff in the dark. We spent some time one morning looking for somebody's arm or leg warmer last year [CO 11].

Rox Heath

The smaller stuff sacks are a definite plus. However, after having even them soak thru on the last day of COX, I now prepack each days attire in ziplock bags in the smaller stuff sacks. Makes grabbing the day's gear a real no brainer...

I recommend a soap carrier, a little box on a rope you can hang off the shower head. Fits "motel" sized soaps *with* sample sized shampoo bottles. You can get these things at most places where camping/RV equipment can be purchased.

Meal time tip...All meals are served on paper plates, most beverages are in cans/bottles (except AM coffee, tea, etc). The dinner line gets interesting as you can end up with three plates (entree, salad, desert), your napkin/plasticwear, condiments, and beverage. Walking out to find a seat is a rather interesting balancing act.

Best solution: hire a lackey.

More practical solution: I use a fairly large fanny pack and I have added a water bottle carrier to its belt. I can holster the beverage, stuff the implements and packaged condiments in the pack and then only have to balance the three plates. EEEW! I GOT GOULASH IN MY CARROT CAKE! :-)

Get the pack with external lash points and you can lash on clothing items. I use running shorts and Tee shirts by day and simply pull on a lined track suit as it cools in the eve. With the pack you can leave the tent in the afternoon and not have to come back till bed time.

For those of you that have that "I'm a slug and I have to be on the road at course opening" mindset... One item that is a must... HEADLAMP! Taking down the tent in the dark with a hand held flashlight is not good. Get a light that fits on your head, always points where you are looking and leaves both hands free.

Having one of those 14 oz tripod stools isn't a bad idea either. Chairs become scarce at the evenings meeting and entertainment.

Don "Ever had an apple pie burger?" Bolton

If you don't already have a flashlight (maybe even if you do), I'd recommend buying a headlamp for hands free use. They're the best for reading at night in a tent among other things. REI carries a variety of headlamps from $10-15 or so to much more. I highly recommend the Petzl Zoom - it won't turn on in your pack, has an adjustable beam for direction and brightness and last but not least is practically unbreakable. You should be able to find it at REI and mountaineering shops.

Tom Spille

Head-lamp is a great idea. Last time Cycle O was at Joseph [before CO 12] , the overnight camping was at the school (great site) and the nightly entertainment was across town at the Rodeo Arena (even better site.) The best way to get between the two was by bike, but the entertainment finished after dark and bikes are required to have lights! The head-lamp can be used in your tent and while you ride.

Chris Miller

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The Petzl Tikka would be alright for reading by, but if you wanted to be able to walk to the blue rooms at night-forget it. It puts out a decent semi-blue light for about 2-3 feet, after that it's all washed out. The beam is not focusable. Digging around in your tent is a bit awkward because it's not adjustable - you literally are forced to move your head up & down to adjust where the beam is pointed. If you are looking straight ahead, as in crouched down setting up your tent, forget about the light pointing straight ahead. Also, because of its shape, holding it between your teeth is next to impossible. The plus side is that it is very light and extremely comfortable to wear, battery life is L-O-N-G, the item is built well and appears that it could withstand harsh environments and brutal treatment.


It's way too expensive for such a limited item. Light output is great for up close use; reading, filing your nails, sewing, eating. It is NOT suitable for walking around at night. The inability to adjust the beam pattern & position are this item's major shortcomings.


My Petzl Zoom, from last year is a much better value - especially when combined with the 4.5v halogen bulb (in place of the standard round bulb) and the square battery. Battery life is approximately 6-8 hours, but the beam [angle & focus] is fully adjustable. It's not nearly as comfortable to wear as is the Tikka, but its (near perfect) function far outweighs any of these issues.

That's my opinion, and you're entitled to hear it...


You're going to want & need a headlamp for Cycle Oregon, it'll be worth its weight in gold - I promise.


What's wrong with a flashlight? In all my years of camping I never used or needed a headlamp. Is my generation gap showing?

John Carr

Here is my .00000002 Cents worth on lights. I have one of those little Mag lights which uses the AAA batteries. It is very, very small, has a Halogen lite and throws a good, narrow beam. Great for moonless walks to the BlueRoom(s), finding stuff, reading. I also have a couple of the PaleAle blinking lights to put on my cap so I am visible to other night wanderers. Used to take a riding light, but it is just to bulky to carry around and my MAG has a carrying case attached to my Leatherman Wave. So, I have my lights, my Wave, my "blinkin' lite.

Who could ask for anything more?
Donald, It sure was hot down in Napa, Lockridge


You might consider leaving the blinking light on and in your tent when you're perambulating to the blue room in the middle of the night.

Amy-easy to find them blue rooms, not so easy to find my tent again-R

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Good Idea: I remember getting "lost" at the Haines Campground each and every time I wandered away from my tent site. Could also have been that my tent won an "unofficial" honor for being the smallest one out there. It was easy to lose it in the tall grass. I will keep my "blinking" light on the tent.


I have used a headlamp and a flashlight and a lantern.

Headlamp pros - the light goes where you point your head

Cons - if you look at someone the light goes right where you point your head - in their eyes!

Flashlight pros - point it where you want it

cons - narrow cone of light, you have to aim it and support it in the aimed position

Battery lantern pros - more all-encompassing light, can use it easily in the blue room or the tent

Cons - often big or fragile

My answer - get one of those convertible flashlights that you pull the front out to change it from a flashlight to a lantern. Ours run on 4 AA batteries and are quite bright for walking along treacherous (full of tent bungies and stakes) ground to the blue room. Once there you just pull out the front and you have a lantern. You can set it down or hang it up. We also hang it from the center of our tent ceiling a lot. These flashlights used to be round and yellow and available everywhere (Everready???) and then they turned rectangular and green (Coleman?) and now they are available in several brands, and they are sure handy! Ours are the yellow kind. Try REI, GI Joes, Target, you name it. I have seen them at outdoors stores and at variety stores - often in camping, but sometimes just with other flashlights. They used to come in 3 sizes, too. BTW, the 4 AA size will go through one set of alkaline batteries on a CO for just general use if you like to get up at 5 a.m. (sunrise is at 6:30) This does not include using the light to read by at night so add more batteries if you like to do this.

Rox Heath

In the small, flat front pocket of each duffel I put some spare trash bags and a small flashlight. These are not our main flashlights, but function well if we get back to our tents in pitch dark or need a flashlight in a hurry. We always know where they are and can get to them quickly and quietly in the dark.

Rox Heath

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I always need some sort of pillow on camping trips. I took an old bed pillow, cut it in half, and it provides just what I need! And it's compact! (I could never sleep comfortable using a stuff sac filled with clothes).

Jennifer Phillips

If you don't have an old bed pillow to cut down a cheap throw pillow works well. I got us each one from Target last year. They are covered with gingham checks (orange or green) and squish down very small. The cover is comfortable for your face, also. And they are washable!

Rox Heath

Occasionally we all drop a chain or flat a tire. Your hands get greasy and dirty. If you are near a fast food shop, try rubbing French fries on your hands. It's as good as GoJO.

Jan and Paula in Minneapolis

Last year a group of us put together a little "first aid" kit for CO consisting of a pair of earplugs, a travelpak of Kleenex, four AA batteries (nothing like having your flashlight go out in the middle of whatever---it's always the worst time) and some Advil. To this I would definitely add, make sure that you bring along sufficient supplies of feminine hygiene products; although the EMTs have some, they don't have enough and the general stores in these little towns are just not prepared for the number of women in need. (Sorry if this offends anyone, but it's really no worse than talking about saddle sores.)

Candace Reed

The suggestion to use an insulated mug is a good one for the stated reason. There is at least one other which is not so obvious.

Going through the food line twice is frowned upon. By the time you have progressed through the breakfast or dinner line, it is likely you will be looking for places to carry what you have just picked up. Pockets, pouches, belts, and loose shirts collect items they were never intended to hold.

If your insulated mug can be effectively closed up, and carried with a strap around your neck, or any other innovative means, I'll bet you would congratulate yourself on your ingenuity as you march out of the food area and look for a place to sit down.

But, since most insulated mugs are difficult to fold, you may want to also use it to pack things in for the day - things like socks - presumably clean socks (!!)

As to musical instruments, many do bring them - guitars, harmonicas, washboards, tubs and tin whistles. But, be warned: they are exposed to the potential for high level abuse and breakage during daily shipping! Those semi-trailers are packed solid - front to back, top to bottom. In fact, as the pile of luggage rises the top-most layer is JAMMED IN.

Also, tent camping may not be the best environment for your instrument, what with dust, rain, newly mowed grass, etc.

Curt Coleman

Many have ventured to bring musical instruments on the ride. Some don't worry about them. Others have inspired our great transportation team from Interstate Dist. to carry them in the cab. A few have convinced a staff member to carry the instrument in one of the vehicles that carries equipment from site to site. Space is definitely limited, that is Sousaphones discouraged.

Don't forget that music to some is misery to others. I personally find great pleasure in the sounds of bagpipes as the sun sets. Others would like to lynch the piper. Please remember your neighbors when performing. There has been talk of a impromptu Cycle Oregon band over the years, but it still seems to have eluded actual formation and a performance.

We look forward to hearing you all in September.

Cycle Oregon.

One thing I saw last year that I wished I had had - REI (and probably others) have a plastic hammer that looks kind of like a skeleton of a hammer. It is for putting in tent pegs and pulling them out. There was one field last year [CO 11] when I sure would have loved to have had one of those. As they are plastic they weigh very little. With two tents and a sun-tarp we have a fair amount of tent pegs to deal with.

Rox Heath

We bring a 3/4 sized geologist's rock hammer. Yeah, it weighs, but some of the places we've camped, it's the only thing that works if the tent must be staked. The pointed end not only works great getting pegs out, it can be used to gouge out a hole to jam the peg INTO if need be. Cost $35, but I use it a lot to break rocks too.

Jeanne Gostnell

Yeah, the plastic hammer. Mine would disappear for several hours at some of the camp sites.

Don "can't hammer a stake with your SPDs" Bolton

On the low-tech end, a regular claw hammer has served well on 2 STPs and 2 CO's....


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I was shopping for whisk brooms this morning - I knew I had seen a small one somewhere. REI has the smallest I have found. It is found in the tent department at ours - right next to the tent repair stuff, seam sealer, and grommets.


PS That's where their tent stake hammers are, too.

Small ones [whisk brooms] are available at auto parts stores. They think, apparently, that some people use them to clean out their cars ... Obviously, not cyclists.

Andrew Black

It is generally a good idea to bring along spare parts of things that wear out if they are strange and you don't think BG will stock them. Our brake pads come right off the wall and they have lots in the store (in several colors) so I am not too concerned. Since Bob and I take the same we may throw in one set for the two of us in the duffels. Last year brake wear was no problem at all for us, but this year looks like it has some nastier down hills and we are on the heavy side. Make sure you have whatever tools you need to replace the pads. If you are using one of those funny combo tools make sure it will actually work in that location. It sure wouldn't on our bikes. I am taking a straight 10 mm wrench I got at REI.

Rox Heath

I know it seems a long way off, but I'll throw this out while it's fresh in my mind. A dermatologist I met has recommended using at least 30 SPF with the following ingredients: Avobenzone (Parsol 1789 3%), and octylmethoxycinnamate 7.5 %. One brand with this stuff is PreSun ultra.

Amy Ream

I just re-read Amy Ream's darned good advice on sunscreen and can recommend another excellent product, called No-Ad. It has those great big long-named ingredients Amy mentioned and a 16 ounce bottle only costs less than $8.00. It is available down here in Safeway stores and I'd guess they carry it in their stores up in your country---or all over the country at Safeway or other stores. The reason for its very low cost is, as the name implies, they do NO advertising whatsoever, relying on word of mouth by satisfied customers, I guess. I've used it for about five years now and haven't had a sunburn once. As one who has undergone the chemical burn treatment to remove precancerous skin tissue all over my whole face I'm a VERY strong advocate of protecting all exposed skin from those nasty UV rays. Take care, everyone!

Penny (lucky to live in Colorado) Overdier

[This should apply to most CO’s -]

For whatever its worth - I was just checking the LaGrande [CO 12] weather forecast and noticed the sunrise and sunset times. Sunrise is 6:13 a.m. and sunset is 7:31 p.m. Because of mountains and excessive clouds it can get dark even earlier. One thing that surprised me last year was how early it got dark at the end of day 1. This was caused by a large hill close to camp on the west side.

I guess what I am getting at is that a lot of the running around in camp in the mornings and evenings will be in the pitch dark (probably with no street lights) and we should be prepared...

Rox (can’t find my favorite flashlight!) Heath

CO 12 was much drier at night than CO 11. Even if we get no rain at night it is a good idea to be prepared for a very heavy dew. Cover your bike seats and make sure you pack up spare clothes laying around the corners of your tent before you go to bed and you will be fine. We left our cycling clothes in plastic bags over night and they were much more comfortable to put on in the cold mornings.

Rox Heath

Among other things, I carry Benadryl cream in my personal on-the-bike first aid kit. Also Benadryl tablets for something stronger, just in case.

Amy-comfort on the trail is inversely proportional to comfort in camp-Ream

We always carry baby wipes.... they are great for removing "extra" bag balm, they wash faces, they are great for getting really clean in the "blue room" , we recommend the "huggies" natural unscented. Not to mention they wipe up baby poop really well.

Amy and the poopmonsters (Grahamcrackers)

The Bike Gallery carry common batteries (D,C,AA) If you have something that requires other than that ya best make sure you have your own spares.

Don "you guys shave? I thought this was vacation" Bolton

Bob tried out the Duracell "Ultra" batteries last year vs. regular alkalines in his camera. The Ultras lasted almost twice as long. Now he uses NiMH rechargeables.

Anyhow, just before CO I put brand new Ultras in all of the flashlights, etc. It means we need to carry fewer spares.

Rox Heath

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[Note: On CO playing music out loud (so that others can hear) while riding is occasionally done, but it may earn you some scowls…]

What I want are some technical details and opinions about stereos. We are sort of thinking about this...We have some non-CO touring coming up soon. I am wondering how loud you have to turn it up to overcome road noises and if this is something we could both use or if the sound from one will fight the sound from the other...Naturally we might want to listen to different things!

Also, can you still clearly hear cars, etc. approaching from the rear? Can you hear the outside world better than if you just set some earphones around your neck, but not over your ears (another option I have thought of)?

A lot of the time I prefer the sounds of the great outdoors, but some days it would be nice to have some fast music to inspire me.

Rox "audio-deprived" Heath

I tried non-amplified speakers. They could not be heard in heavy traffic nor could they be heard over the wind noise generated when going 20MPH. So, amplified speakers are necessary.

I have a volume control so I can adjust to the competing car noise and wind noise; or to adjust for soft or hard music. I can still hear cars. The music competes with but does not drown out the sound of cars. However, I have found that at 40MPH, the wind noise is so loud that I can not hear music or cars or even "on your left". ;-)

I have also found that when there is other music, my ears perceive noise rather than two sources of music. I do have a hearing disorder, so this noise phenomenon may be a personal issue. I guess if stereos became popular, then I would need to go to headphones. I have not tried "dangling" headphones. One concern with headphones is having a volume control. In city riding, I have to adjust the volume frequently. I very much like having my amplified speakers directly in front of me with an easy to reach volume control.

I would think that headphones would limit my ability to hear other sounds, would be uncomfortable on long rides, and would fly off at high downhill speeds. So, I haven't even considered headphones. So far, competing music has been a rare problem.

Ron Zahm

In CO last year [CO 13], I brought a CD player. I used it on the century. I actually didn't enjoy it because I missed the interaction with the other cyclists. I thought it was something that would motivate me, but it ended up just being a nuisance. I didn't even use it during camp because I was too busy being social.

Just my experience.
Stace Gray

I have been looking at mileages and elevations and so on for this CO [CO 14] and it looks to me like the first day will be the toughest by far. Somehow we always start CO's minus on sleep and somewhat stressed by getting everything done back home before leaving. This looks like a good CO to get a couple of good night's sleep and spend a couple of easy days before starting.

Rox Heath

Rox? A good nights sleep? On the first night? Right! ;-)

That’s when one discovers the Thermarest just ain't no substitute for normal bedding, and the bag is too constricting and warm. While the person next door can't find their "X" and is communicating their panic to a person in another tent, On the other side a chorus of snoring raises a clatter not unlike an indoor motocross start, blue room doors going thump in the night:-)

Perchance there’s some sleeping aid here we should know about? :-)

Don "Branches, pebbles, and roots oh my" Bolton

My pediatrician always said to use Benedryl for a sleeping aid. The only problem with it is that it takes about 24 hours before you REALLY wake up... Perhaps this would mean a late start.... like about dinner time... ;-)

Rox Heath

BTW- The same dose and chemical is used for some over the counter sleep aids. I found this out by reading ingredients one day.

Dave Stranahan


Maybe with enough "sleepover effect" perhaps those day one hills will go by unnoticed :-)

Don "no thanks, I'm climbing" Bolton

My wife and I use Ambien when travelling internationally to help overcome jet lag. Knocks you right out and no "hangover" 8 hours later. It is a prescription drug and I am not sure I'd want to try it the night before a ride. No particular reason except I don't use drugs except for jet lag. It *is* known to cause "traveller's amnesia". If you don't go to sleep after taking it, or wake up too soon, you might have some short term memory problems. It is called travellers amnesia because folks taking it for jet lag on too short a flight (or too late into the flight) "wake up" at their destinations with no idea how they got there.

Ask your doctor. I also believe there is a shorter acting drug called Sonata that has a 3-4 hour effective duration. I don't know any more about it, though.

Is the noise and hubbub really that serious? Should I consider a strong sleep aid?

Michael "How did I get here in Diamond?" G.

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Serious noise and hubbub? That depends on how close you are to the blue rooms, and did you pick your neighbors wisely. Some folks don't remember to ease the blue room doors closed so the thunder builds from 0500 in evil chorus with the "zipper fiends" as they call across the sleeping camp to see if their buds are up yet - If it ain't light enough to read the fine print, don't start to pack your tent!


I've never been bothered by regular camp noises - just first night excitement and that early morning train at LaGrande. After the first day's riding I am tired enough to sleep through major racket!

Lots of people use earplugs so it wouldn't hurt to bring some in case you need them.

Rox Heath

For some maybe:-) I was just having some fun here. The first night is tough because of the excitement and unfamiliar bedding. After the first day’s riding sleep comes easier:-) The ground, however, isn't the luxury you are used to.

You will exert yourself over seven days and not sleep quite normally. Expect to get a bit weary towards the end of the tour. Some can get a tad cranky long about day seven. Been there, now its a source of amusement when I see it in others. (Amateurs! I was much more offensive) :-)

You will find in yourself strength you didn't know you had. There will be a sense of self accomplishment, an awe of nature, an amazement at the logistics required to orchestrate the tour.

As a first timer, for seven days you will be a kid again discovering new things about yourself and the world in which you live.

Don "for the week, sleep is secondary" Bolton

Blue Rooms –

>From a page in the Random Thoughts dictionary..

Blue Room (Porta-pottus-domesticus) A large plastimyd creature. So named because of the predominate color. Certain mutations of the breed can be seen in other colors.

Normally these gentle giants are herding animals and can be found at the supported touring cyclist's watering holes, grazing grounds, and nesting grounds.

Occasionally, the cyclist may encounter a wayward lone blue room. Be careful, they could be very mean.

Blue Rooms have an alter ego known as "Blue Meanies" which can be observed in the morning hours. The stress and strain of their morning workload makes them quite frazzled. However they are docile creatures and you should be OK as long as you don't make any sudden moves and don't look them in the um "eye".

Stay tuned to this channel for more drivel from the Random Thought Cavity where next week we'll discuss a medical condition common to cyclists... Helmethead.

Don "whadda ya expact at 5:00 AM, Shakespear?" Bolton

Perhaps a final word on the notorious species: Blue Room. These migratory creatures are known to have a particularly obnoxious disposition if they have over eaten.

Steve Heim

Not to mention "morning breath" :-)

Don "and we line up for 'em too" Bolton

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