Monday, September 23, 2013

CycleOregon - A Typical Day

Ready to go while others still have a bit of packing to do
Of course, the day begins by getting up. We are camping so we don’t just get up and hop in the shower, get dressed and go. I got up about 6:00, an hour later than the real early birds. Some of these early birds seem to have trouble understanding why we are here. One rider tried to roll into the next camp by 10:00 am. That way he got to the showers first and did not have to waste time waiting in line. But leaving in the dark and being too early to enjoy any of the stops along the way is the real waste of time in my humble opinion.

Early Morning Blues
After crawling out of my sleeping bag, I would grab my riding clothes for the day and make my way to the ‘Blue Rooms’ as we called the Port-a-Potties. Since I have a pup tent, having mistakenly picked up the wrong tent when I packed, there just is not enough room for me to change in the tent. After changing, I would go have breakfast which always included bacon or sausage, eggs, potatoes, mush ;-( , fruit, V-8 or orange juice, and coffee. At breakfast we got our copy of the daily Cycle Oregonian (the Oregonian is one of the sponsors) which included information about the ride, stops along the way, our destination, and a few stories about riders.

Tent and porter service means sleeping close to your neighbor
After breakfast, it was time to tear down the tent and pack up. For some reason this always took longer than I thought it should. Some riders purchased the tent and porter service which meant they did not have to deal with the tent. The upside is being able to just ride in and have your tent already set up and your bag waiting for you. The downside is sleeping cheek by jowl with your neighbors – literally as the tents are set up only inches apart. I talked to riders who could not avoid the snoring because the snorer’s head is almost touching yours from the other tent.  Ear plugs are on the what to bring checklist.
Fresh water for our bottles. The ingenuity amazes.
Once packed, we waited for a porter to pick up the bag and let us know what color to look for when we got to the next camp. Five trucks and five colors made it easier to find your bag, helpful since there are only so many bag styles. At least they aren’t all black like luggage on the airline carousels. The $2 expected tip for each porter was worth it and went to support local programs, most often at the local school.

On road help is just around the corner

Bikes go anywhere they can while we eat and drink
After a quick check of the bike, we took off for the ride. I tried to leave about 7:00, but riders would leave anytime between 5:30 and about 10:00. Leaving at 7:00 gave me plenty of time to stop along the way at the sights or just to take a picture. Each day’s ride has five stops: two water stops, two snack stops, and one lunch stop. In a sense this turns the ride into a series of 10-15 mile rides, all in one day. When you look at it that way, doing 70 miles a day is not such a big deal.
Ready for the night
At some point in the afternoon, we finish the ride. For me that was usually around 4:00. If you have the tent and porter service, now all you have to do is find your tent, numbered for convenience. For the rest of us, the first step is to find my bag and a porter to help me find a tent spot. I learned that I wanted a spot close to the main stage and fairly close to the toilets. Food, entertainment and the bathroom matter the most. I don’t want quiet and far away although for some that is the priority. I enjoyed the possibility or retreating to my tent and continuing to listen to the music.
Music by sunset

At 4:00 the entertainment starts on the main stage. Before dinner, it will be a local singer or group. After dinner, the headliner will be someone with more experience if not more reputation. Everyone I heard was someone I would go see again. At 7:30, the stage is taken over by CycleOregon for announcements and more. Leading off on this trip we had a cowboy poet who shared poetry and stories with us each evening. One more way that CycleOregon shows its connection to the local communities. Each evening we heard about ways that CycleOregon is sharing with the communities with its grants and connections. The highlight of every evening was Ken Chichester. Ken always shared a joke before he cajoled us about sharing the road with the drivers. Unfortunately, not all of us listened and we had a few riders who continue to give those drivers who hate cyclists reason to hate. Then Ken would share a bit about the route he had designed for us the next day. When Ken was finished, the band retook the stage until it closed at 9:30. Some returned to their tents. Others would stay to enjoy the music and the beer garden supported by Widmer or the wine provided by Eola Hills. Eola Hills even created a special label for Cycle Oregon – cases available to be delivered to John Day for pickup.
Just in case you forgot something or want a souvenir of the ride

Amenities available in camp

·         CycleOregon and Bike Gallery both had stores with clothing. Bike Gallery sold anything one might need from clothespins to Chamois Cream to tent pegs and insect repellent
·         Yoga, physical therapy and massage. Some of the massage therapists have been coming for years
·         Medical tent
·         Bike Gallery volunteers would fix anything on your bike for tips – only charging for parts
·         A support tent would answer any questions, find your lost items, and solve almost any problem you might have
·         Every local community had a tent with information about things to do and often items for sale
·         Local artisans often set up their own booths. I bought a Christmas ornament carved from a Juniper tree from a little girl at a card table
·         Nossa Familia Coffee opened their coffee shop at 5:00 every morning and served all day
·         At most stops a laundry option was a possibility - $10 for a grocery bag of laundry
·         A Portland group like Bike Clark County that works to help kids get into cycling and provides free bikes to kids who can’t afford on had a charging facility for electronics. They also detailed bicycles for a donation of $80. While that sounds expensive, I watched them work and decided (too late) that it was well worth the money.
·         I was most amazed by the ingenuity of the shower trailers. Semi-trailers outfitted with a dozen showers and dressing areas makes the logistics of providing showers a breeze.
·         The whole enterprise reminded me of what I read in Water for Elephants and saw at the Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey Circus Museum in Sarasota, FL. Everything is torn down and set up ready for cyclists to arrive by about 2:00 in the afternoon every day. A town of 2500 people moves over 60 miles each and every day. No problem for these folks.

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