Sunday, September 18, 2022

Day 7 - Cycle Oregon…check!

Wow it finally arrived. We’ve come to the end of Cycle Oregon 2022.  For many, todays ride is more like the ceremonial last day of the Tour de France.  You take it easy and glide into town.  Of course, taking it easy is never the case for this crew.  There were multiple route choices as usual.  For us it was between a 31 mile straight shot to John Day or the 61 mile, 4100 ft of climb route through the trees on some beautiful Forest Service roads (oh and 2.5 miles of gravel) For me the choice was easy.  With a 6 hour ride back home I didn’t want the entire group waiting for me and getting a late start on the ride back. Besides, I’ve already got 350+ miles in and I’m not a big gravel fan so I’m good.  Of course the rest of the group wanted to do the long ride.  Being the guy he is, Jack hung back with me and we did the short ride together.   

Secretly, I think Jack wanted to punish me as we didn’t just “cruise” into town, we cranked it.  The road was not great as there was a lot of traffic. There were a few interesting things to see but I couldn’t take pictures as I was working so hard trying to keep up with Jack!

We made it safely back to John Day with the other 1000 or so riders.  A lunch, shower, pack up the van and go.  Just like that, my Cycle Oregon 2022 experience is over.  Though the time passed by quickly, the memories will last a lifetime.  This type of experience is not for everyone but if you are even considering it, I highly recommend giving it a try.  

Thanks again Jack and Craig for the invitation. I would never have signed up if it were not for you and I would have missed out on a wonderful experience. 

So there it is. Another trip in the books.  If any of you are still out there, I appreciate you joining me on this adventure. I’m not sure what’s next, but Cheryl and I will think of something. 

Until then….

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Day 6 - punch card empty

We are entering the second to the last day of Cycle Oregon 2022 and what and amazing experience. Of course Steve Schulz and the CO organizers couldn’t ease up on us and we had a 78 mile ride from Mitchell to Dayville with 3900 feet of climb. 

That’s OK. The way we’ve been eating (and drinking) we need even more miles to keep our weight down. We started the morning with the usual breakfast but this morning they added hockey pucks, sorry, I mean waffles. Overall, the food has been very good,  but today someone overcooked the waffles and they were as hard as the rocks we’ve been riding through. Of course I want the calories for the long ride today so I just soaked them in syrup and ate them like a cookie.  Not bad actually. 

The ride took us though another beautiful route.  I probably took 30 pictures but broke them into 3 Categories: 

Waffles (I mean rocks)


Barns (just for you John)

I’ve mentioned food and calories a lot in this blog and that’s because they are an important part of the week. You are either taking them in or burning them.  CO is a well supported ride, especially in the rest stop department.  Today I think we had the best stop so far. We hit the trifecta 1) by the river 2) band playing 3) variety of food.  Over a long period of time it’s easy to grow tired of the same refueling food (PB&J, protein bars etc). This stop had large variety including pepperoni sticks and Doritos!  I found a piece of heaven next to the John Day river. I had 4 pepperoni sticks. (they were small!)

Though it was a lot of miles and climbing, it wasn’t too bad physically.  Either I’m getting into shape (which is highly unlikely) or I was just too taken with the scenery to notice. 

Dayville is another “small” rural community but just as welcoming and delightful as the others we visited on this trip. Our camping area is a huge, flat, grassy pasture that we are apparently borrowing from a local farmer. It’s the best location so far. 

We were strongly encouraged to walk to the Dayville Cafe and have a  slice of pie so of course we did (more calories). There were multiple flavors (many already sold out) but I had the pecan which was delicious.  Regarding that calorie thing, I bet there was 1000 of those babies in my slice. 

Since it is our last night together, I pulled out the Honey Whiskey I’ve been lugging around for a week  and our group had a toast to acknowledge and celebrate the wonderful time we have spent together.  Cheers!

After dinner we continued the nightly routine of listening to a local band and hearing the announcements from Steve and his team.  Of course multiple trips to the beer/wine bar are included in the routine.  It was a special night in that I successfully punched the two cards I purchased this week. Charity (one of the servers who has been here all week) joined me in celebrating this monumental occasion. I’m not going to tell you how many punches are in a punch card so don’t ask. 

The group tonight was The Holly Sorenson band and they were terrific.  There was a debate as to if they were the best yet. It’s a tough call. 

Well, the last night of Cycle Oregon is over and tomorrow is our last ride. Some of our group is already committed to the long route but for Jack and I, it will be a game time decision.   The pull of finding a place to watch football is pretty strong. 

Until then….

Friday, September 16, 2022

Day 5 - Painted the town

What a day in Mitchell!  It’s 9:30 pm and I’m dead tired and only put in 34 miles on the bike (more on that later).  A lot to share tonight!

First of all, as a public service announcement, I am withdrawing my support of Verizon cell phone service. I’m tired of not having service when others do (not just in this trip). I had to use Jacks “hot spot” to post the blog this morning (and need to for this post too) which is frustrating. Whew, OK, had to get that off my chest.  

Now, about the day. The morning actually started great as I was getting things organized for the ride and a nice lady came to me as said “my husband and I bought an extra Americano, do you drink coffee?”  BOOM! I can tell it’s going to be a great day!  

Breakfast had the Mexican flair with Chorizo with the eggs, cheese and salsa. Don’t you think they would have sour cream?  Nope still just yogurt, but I didn’t fall for it this time. 

There were two ride choices today: 1) a short, picturesque 18 mile ride to the Painted Hills or 2) a grueling, 77 mile ride with 7000 feet of climb.  I’ll take door number 1 Monty.  

Though I’d like to say the Painted Hills were spectacular, I used that adjective yesterday, so let’s say extremely beautiful. I can’t believe I’ve lived in Oregon most of my life and not seen them before now. The only down side for a road cyclist is the 2 mile gravel road to get there (dropped the Yelp rating to a 4.5). As I think you all know, gravel and I mix like oil and water but the view was worth every extra gray hair I got from the stress.  The hills are so amazing. 

I have been downing food like a competitive eater this trip so I figured a few more miles were needed.  I added and extra 16 miles and 1500 feet of climb to the days ride on my own. 

With it only being 11:45 am when I finished, I decided to volunteer to help paint the Mitchell Community Center. Yep, that is not a typo. Even though painting and I mix like road cycling and gravel, I’m going to paint a community center.

To get there we needed a shuttle. Well of course the shuttle was late again but this time the driver was actually AT school. As it turns out, Pat, the shuttle driver, is not only the school bus driver but the school janitor, owns the local hostel and is the Pastor at the local church, so I need to cut him some slack.  Plus, he’s a great guy. 

OK, so about 20 of us volunteered to paint and stain the walls and built in buffet cabinets at the Mitchell Community Center.  Scott (a fellow rider from Portland) and I were assigned the built ins. Took a couple coats but what do you think?  

What’s ironic is that I’m a pretty good handyman but the one thing I NEVER do at home is paint, but hey, I’m a cheap hire. 

I deliberately missed Pats 2:30 pm shuttle (in lieu of the 5:00 pm) so I could continue painting (Scott and I were on a roll!) and I also wanted to check out the town.  

Mitchell is home to a very nice little brewery and pub (Tigertown) with, what I am told, is good food and beer. Problem is, 80% of the 1000 CO riders either went there or wanted to go there so it was packed all the time and I never got to see for myself (reminder: Mitchell is a town of 130 people). 

No problem, I’ll just hang out and use the WiFi. Nope, there were so many people in town that it overwhelmed Mitchell’s system so I couldn’t connect anywhere in town (reminder: Mitchell is a town of 130 people). “Hey Jack, I have Verizon, can I use your “hot spot?”  

Now its only 3:30 pm and my plan to hang out, eat, use the WiFi and catch the 5:00 pm bus is out the window. 

No problem, I’ll walk back to camp.  But first I’ll swing buy Beaver Creek Cafe for a milk shake. A cold beer will have to wait until after dinner. Though the Beaver Creek Cafe kitchen was also slammed (reminder:…..) they fit my milk shake order in quickly. It was delicious!

To end the day we were treated to The Collins Trio (never mind that there are four of them).  They were fantastic. I think they give Elwood a run for the money for best band on the trip so far.  

Tomorrows ride is the longest of the trip to Dayville. (I wonder if they have any painting that needs to be done?) Weather is supposed to be perfect. I hope my legs are up for the challenge.  

Until then….

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Day 4 - this is why we ride.

Today started out very well as I slept great.  I didn’t wake up until 5:45!  Might have had something to do with that poor decision to do the extended ride yesterday, or maybe the IPAs, but either way, I’m not complaining. 

We got antsy to get going knowing we had to pack up camp this morning so we decided to hit breakfast early. It was the best breakfast yet.  Large sausage links and French Toast to go along with our usual eggs and potatoes.   An unexpected bonus was that I got to taste the sausage twice as I was burping it up all ride long. 

About the ride. Today we traveled to Mitchell Oregon (pop 130). For those of you keeping track, it is 10 people bigger than Monument so we are excited to stay in a larger town. The route was 45 miles with 3900 feet of climb.  (no chart because I have no cell service….again). Let me say, this route is why people participate in Cycle Oregon. It was, in a word, spectacular!  One of the best rides of my life (bold statement I know). At times, it felt like we were riding through the Grand Canyon and the road was the Colorado River.  It was simply amazing looking up at the beautiful landscape mile after mile. Ian would be disappointed that I can’t tell you the specific names of the formations we encountered, but I do know there were some pretty cool rocks!  

Cheryl and I frequently talk about restoring an old car or truck and cruising on a nice summer day. Along the route today I came across this beauty. I may have to come back here and make an offer!

In addition the truck/planter, we saw some interesting wildlife (note its not behind a fence)

All in all, a fantastic day to be on the road, on a bike, in central Oregon.  

We arrived in Mitchell a little earlier since we were antsy to get started this morning and it was a shorter ride. Camp is a little over a mile out of town and we were told there would be a shuttle to take us in to see how the 10 extra people delineate Mitchell from Monument. We set up camp, showered, and eagerly walked to the shuttle loading area but there was no shuttle. “Why is there no shuttle?” we asked. “Sorry, the driver forgot he had the school bus route this afternoon, it will be delayed.”  Ahhhh you got to love a small town. 

Since we will spend two nights in Mitchell, we decided to hang out in camp for the evening (I’m confident one night will be eno do ugh to see everything in Mitchell).  I decided to grab a beer (big surprise there) and I ran into an ex teammate of mine from Nike, Steve.  It was nice catching up with him. He is on the Cycle Oregon Board of Directors and they happened to be serving the food at dinner tonight. Thanks for the extra helping of rice Steve!

Another memorable day with Cycle Oregon. We are past the half way point. A lot has happened but I look forward for what is yet to come. 

Until then….

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Day 3 - stick with the primary route

We are staying in Fossil a second night so todays ride is an out and back. The primary ride is 40 miles and 4000 feet of climb while the extended route is 56 miles and 6500 feet of climb. More on how that turned out a little later. 

Before we get into the day, a little background on a couple inter workings of Cycle Oregon. First, there is the passport. You get stamps for every city you visit. I get the idea and I’m even participating but there is really no point as there is no prize at the end or anything. I am afraid it will be just another “thing” we have in the memorabilia box in the garage. I do think I’m going to keep it though as I’m SURE the kids will fight over this when I pass away. Can’t wait for the Mitchell stamp tomorrow (I’m sure the kids can’t either  

The other creative idea to build a sense of community is personalized license plates. I like it because as you approach someone you know their name and can call them by name as you pass. Some riders have unique names like Thunder Pedals or Cycle Master while most put their first names and town but dress it up with flowers or something. Being the highly creative person I am, I came up with the following:

I must say, it has worked. There has been no miscommunication on who I am or where I am from. 

So about today. Our group agreed to do the primary ride and take it easy today. I admit I was in the conversation and supported it. The thing was, as I approached the halfway point of the primary ride, it was at the bottom of the hill and I felt great. Since I typically ride alone (remember my group is much faster than me) I didn’t have anyone to consult with so I continued on the extended ride. I figured I’d just go a couple miles up the hill and turn around. Yea right. I’m no wuss, (Dad voice) “once you start something you need to finish it!” So of course I did and as I approached the finish of the extended portion I was really tired and thought “bad idea, I still have the huge hill from the primary route to get back to Fossil”  Well I eventually made it but it was not easy. I was moving so slow I almost fell over. Final tally, 56 miles and 6506 feet of climb. I was completely spent. 

It was a very beautiful ride. We got some rain last night and the wind changed directions so it cleared up and visibly was much better. 

A little time relaxing and a shower and I was ready for the evening activities. Top on the list was steak dinner with baked potato. It was very good. Then it was over to the stage for some refreshments (beer), music and announcements about tomorrow. 

A little detail about the announcements. Every night at the concert, Steve Schulz, the executive director of Cycle Oregon talks about the days ride and introduces local officials, recognizes volunteers and talks about the next days ride. Since an important part of this section of Oregon is the beauty and history of the rock formations we get a geology lesson from Ian Madin, former geologist for the state of Oregon. It’s really interesting though I completely forget everything he says 5 min after he says it but I wanted to recognize him here. The riders love him. 

As we waited for the rest of our group this morning, I got a picture with Jack my brother in law who many of you know turned me onto cycling.  As I looked at the picture I was reminded of a year ago when Jack joined me on my coast to coast ride and a picture we took in Eastern Montana as we reached the end of another major climb.

I want to thank Jack for the invitation to join him and Craig on this ride.  It’s been terrific (well, excluding todays extended ride).  I don’t think of you as a brother-in-law, I consider you a friend.  Thank you.  

We pack up the campsites tomorrow and head to Mitchell. Ian assures us we will see some amazing rock formations.  I can’t wait. 

Until then….

Day 2 - A day in the life.

We have “successfully” completed two days as participants in the Cycle Oregon 2022 Classic and though we have by know means figured things out, we have a grasp of the routine. I figured it might be interesting for you to spend “ a day in the life” of a Cycle Oregon rider. Besides, I need material so what the heck and if you don’t like it, I’ll give you your money back.

Prepping for the day….

For me the day starts at about 4 am.  Why 4 am?  Because that’s when I wake up and can not get back to sleep. May be because we go to bed early or maybe thinking of the day that lies ahead but regardless, its a looong hour or so until people start moving around and the support vehicle generators start up, then it’s go time!  

To start the morning, most people just grab their tooth brush and head to the community sinks but for me I need to grab my entire toilets bag. Toothbrush, contacts and solution and my medicines.  It’s a thing. We come back and get the gear on and head to breakfast. Today was a special day as we all wore our Aloha Bike Club jerseys. Spoiler Alert!!  You might see a picture of us in them later.  

CO does a great job with the food.  Tastes good and there is plenty of it, especially yogurt.  

Next we pack up camp. Though it’s not a race, no one wants to be the person holding everyone up so packing up goes fast.  Though I’m improving, I’m usually last.  Last when we ride, last when we pack, but I’m first at the beer line.  

Haul the gear to the truck (you can pay a local kid do it), fill your water bottle, pump up your tires and visit the porta potty one more time and we are FINALLY on the road.

The ride…..

There are a few different choices of rides each day depending on skill level. How hard you want to work is probably more accurate. Some say it’s the easy or hard route.  I like to think of it as “primary” or “extended” because I take the primary and nothing is easy for me.  Todays ride was 60 miles with 3000 feet of climb much of it along the John Day River.  Absolutely gorgeous.

There are a couple rest stops each day with plenty of the usual: energy drinks, PB&J, Clif bars. CO often has local fruit and baked goods available and entertainment at the second stop. Pretty cool. Makes it tough to leave. 
As I mentioned, team Aloha’s jersey game was on point today so we decided to get a team photo. Though I’m leading here, it’s only to stage for the photo. 

After the ride ….

The local residents of these small towns are really something special. They have signs and cheering as you head to camp. Really neat. We find our bags which can take awhile since there is 1500 all stacked together. Think of PDX on steroids. Next we scope out a spot and pitch our tents. You need to be strategic on location. Close enough to the showers and porta potties but not too close as there is noise and traffic. Though I was initially embarrassed for “slightly” exceeding my bag weight limit, all that melts away as I’m asked to use my battery powered air pump to blow up the air mattresses. I may be new to this camping thing but I’m also lazy which has its advantages. 

The big debate is when to shower. Relax first and wait in line or hustle and beat the crowd. We usually wait as the line moves quickly. There is a “system” to access the shower trailer where you enter the “circle of chairs” and as one person exits the shower trailer another one enters. Pretty funny to watch but it is effective.
After showering I’m usually hankerin’ for a beer so we head to the stage where we meet other riders and trade “war stories” about the days ride. Standard stuff like flat tires, steep climbs, fast downhills and tomorrows ride. It’s all window dressing because people really just want dinner to start as we are usually starving by 6 pm. 

Dinner is just like breakfast, with lots of good food. Today was ham, rice, mixed veggies and salad. Oh and an ice cream sandwich for dessert. 

Time to head back to the stage for another beer (or ?) as the nights entertainment gets warmed up. I really enjoy the nightly gathering listening to music, hearing about tomorrows ride and the overall cocmoradery of everyone being together. Kind of like sitting around the fire at summer camp. In this case, it’s fortunate that I’m not doing the singing. 

After that it’s time to get ready for bed (or should I say sleeping bag).  Brushing my teeth outside the porta potty, taking my pills from my water bottle etc. By this time it is completely dark and if you forgot your headlamp you need to walk carefully, especially after a few beers. The CO version of a sobriety test. I haven’t failed yet!!

So there you go, if you made it this far you hopefully have an idea of what Cycle Oregon is all about. It really has been a great experience so far and I look forward to 5 more days. See you at 4 am tomorrow. 

Until then….

Monday, September 12, 2022

Day 1 Please pass the yogurt.

It was not the most restful night in my life to be sure.  First of all, I under estimated how chilly it was going to be (yes I have the weather app) and had to add a couple layers of clothing right out of the gate. Then there was the squeaking of the air mattress as people shift positions, the zipping and unzipping of tents as people got up to use the porta potty. There are people within 10 feet in all directions and they make the craziest noises at night!

The sun came up and I could hear the rustling of my fellow riders as they unzipped those tents for the last time  

The morning was as expected for a first day. Lots of hustle and bustle and the nervous energy about what was to come riding through the painted hills. Of course breakfast was the first order of business and Cycle Oregon did great. Eggs, onion potato’s, bacon and oatmeal as the main offering. There was a second buffet with toppings. There was cheese and salsa and what appeared to be sour cream so I piled it all on my eggs for a little Mexican flair.  As it turned out it was not sour cream but yogurt. I guess my first clue should have been that it was between the granola and bread pudding. Hmmmm, eggs, salsa, cheese and yogurt. The breakfast of champions.  I ate it all as I was too embarrassed to admit my mistake.  Don’t expect this recipe on the Food Network anytime soon. Yep, yogurt right in the middle!  

After breakfast, I completed what is now the routine procedure of parking lot tooth brushing while waiting at the porta potty. I then headed back to camp to tear everything down and get packed up so we can hit the road.  I was pretty proud of myself as I was packed up before everyone else then I turned around I realized I didn’t put that  roof thing away. Damn. I also left the tooth paste tube in my pocket. Worst of all I forgot to put on my Chamois butter!!   No slippin’ and sliding for me today.  I’ve got to get the routine down.

Overall it was a nice ride at 60 miles, 3800 ft of climb and wonderful scenery. A little hazy but beautiful nevertheless.  Seven of us started as a group but it quickly became apparent that 6 of the group were doing their best Tour de France impersonation so I stayed back, kicked in an 80s playlist and I was good to go!  I eventually ran into Ed (one of our group) and we summited Long Creek Mountain together. 

The route was well supported and all the riders and staff were super nice. 

As I finished the ride I ran into Oregon State fan Frank from  Portland sporting a Beavers jersey. Just a reminder Greg, this is what it’s supposed to look like. 

We spent the night at the high school in the metropolis known as Monument (pop 120). The people could not have been more welcoming. There was even a cheering section of local kids when we finished. 

Camp set up was much easier today though I was definitely tired.   After a shower, it was beer thirty. Felt awesome to kick back and sip an IPA (or 4) after a long ride. My kind of hydration. They even have RPM!  I was a little early with my Mexican flair this morning as for dinner we had fajitas. I didn’t find any yogurt though. 

Listening to a band out of La Grande named Elwood finished off the night. They were awesome. It may have

been the RPMs I think they were good. Need to see if they have any Portland dates on the calendar. 

All in all a wonderful Day 1. We are off to Fossil tomorrow. 

Until then…

Saturday, September 10, 2022

Day 0. Another Adventure.

It’s been over a year since I logged into the blog. It’s been quite a year at that. A lot of amazing things have happened (Grandkids? New in laws?  New job?  Heart procedure?). I’m so blessed (well maybe not the heart procedure). But I’m not one to just blog about my daily life and the cookies I baked this afternoon (do I even know how to bake cookies?) I like to share experiences and I’m off on another one. This time it’s Cycle Oregon 2022!  

As a reminder, during my coast to coast trip, Jack and  Craig joined me for a very difficult portion of the ride traveling through Montana. Bike trouble, blistering heat and miles and miles of…..well…..not much. They helped me get through it for which I am thankful.

Then, this past February, Jack calls and says “Craig and I are doing Cycle Oregon.  Get this, we’ll drive 6 hours to John Day, sleep in tents and use porta potties.  It will be awesome.  Come join us”  Though you all know I’m an RV guy, with a mattress and bathroom, but what am I going to say?  

So today is the first of seven days of riding in eastern Oregon. So sit back and get comfortable, because I can’t as I’m laying on an air mattress in a tent (Im kidding. I’ve had a couple beers so of course I’m comfortable)

The day started at Craigs house where we all met to load up the bikes and gear. The rules say you only get 65 lbs in one bag only and I’m panicked because I weighed in at 66. Of course Jack comes in at 35 and Craig at 50. So I’m already “that guy.”  Oh well, they’ll thank me when they want some of the honey whiskey I brought. 

We were fortunate to catch a ride with Allen and Brian, two experienced Cycle Oregon riders in an amazing van. Things are starting off well. 

We are off to John Day, only 6 hours away. The gorge was awful with heavy cross winds and smoke from the fires. Allen was awesome in keeping the van between the white lines. Well done Allen!

For lunch we wanted something “unique” so we hit Beachwoods Eatery and Lounge in The Dallas. It hit the mark for unique with special names for the dishes and bacon served with nearly every item. Interestingly, the selections were often named after people. The Vicki, The Austin, Tiffany’s Veggie. You get the idea. The food was very good though. 

Of course it is Saturday afternoon and I’m trying desperately to watch the Cougs beat the ranked Wisconsin Badgers on my phone but since we are out in the middle of nowhere I spent more time watching the buffer icon than the game but it was all good because the Cougars won!!!!

We arrived at the John Day fairgrounds with 1500 other riders and it was terrific from the start. High energy volunteers, food, a band and best of all, beer!  I am also happy to say, the tent when up without a hitch. 

We listened to the band for a while walked the grounds (I got my Cycle Oregon Passport stamped) and decided to get ready to shut it down. Getting ready for bed was a little different than the RV. I brushed my teeth in the gravel parking lot outside the porta potty and washed my pills down with my water bottle in the tent. I even have my brace for my Plantar Fasciitis so mission accomplished. 

I am really looking forward to the week ahead. 60 miles through beautiful eastern Oregon and thankfully I don’t have to carry my 66 lb bag. 

Until then… (I hope I get cell service!)