The Best Bike Ride in America

Cycle Oregon Blog

It’s More Than Just a Ride

Schulz HeadshotSince returning from the Week Ride, I’ve poured over your surveys and met with many of you who have expressed what a wonderful time you had and how extraordinary you thought the event was in one way or another (which is always great to hear). I’ve also been approached by folks who haven’t ridden Cycle Oregon and want to know why it means so much to so many. My first Cycle Oregon experience was in 2001 as a first time rider. I, too, asked, “What’s the big deal?” Then, I was transformed. Ever since then I’ve been a part of Cycle Oregon – as a rider, as a coach and as ride director.

It’s hard to simply describe Cycle Oregon and why it is so very special. It draws upon a myriad of senses and emotions. With it still fresh in our minds, let’s see if I can capture some of it.

The sounds of tent zippers and blue room doors opening and closing rustle us from our hibernation. We watch the morning sky light up as the sun breaks the horizon; the warmth beginning to radiate through our sufficiently chilled bodies – the result of our night sleeping out in nature. We see the steam rising out of the beverage tent as that next round of coffee is prepared for mass consumption. We hear bike pumps fighting the pressure in tires, water bottles being filled and quiet laughter as folks begin their journey for the day. The road beckons.

The legs are a bit stiff, but we listen to the pace of our breathing, we hear our cadence transferred through the drivetrain and we feel the buzz of the rubber hitting the road. Things start to come into rhythm and we are once again alive. Another blessed day in nature, simply riding and letting our cares drift away. A canvas of the countryside becomes painted in our minds. Mountain peaks rise up in every direction and we are in awe of their grandeur. We smell the fresh sage and pine. We hear quiet laughter in our surroundings. All is as it should be.

Our day is filled with emotion. Dread and pride come hand in hand as we approach and conquer the next hill. Childlike giddiness takes command as we fly effortlessly down the other side at speeds some would say defy the imagination. We begin to feel the fatigue in our body and our pedal stroke begins to suffer. Relief overcomes us as we approach the next gathering – a family reunion of sorts – at the next stop. We rest. We refuel. We converse. As we roll away, we’re warmed by thoughts of the small child who excitedly served us strawberries and thanked us for coming.

The day continues on like this, rolling through the countryside and small towns with magical townsfolk who prove to us that yes indeed, the world is full of wonderful people. We reach gathering after gathering until we finally roll to our day’s end. We are greeted by hordes of smiling, cheering locals. Most think we’re crazy for riding our bikes that far in one day but genuinely love that we have arrived. Joy overcomes us as we cross that finish line, and again, we hear quiet laughter.

Fatigued and elated, we relax into the next part of our day. The hot shower feels good on our tired bodies. We explore the town and meet locals, hearing their stories, which inspire us to look deeper inside ourselves. We feel good knowing that by just being here, we’re contributing to the sustainability of this haven we’ll call home, if just for one night. We vow to come back.

A cold beer quenches our thirst and begins to unwind our muscles. The hum of voices becomes the background music of our stories told with friends old and new. We settle in. Our hosts serve us our evening nourishment with smiles and ‘welcomes’ – we thank them. We’re honored that they’ve allowed us a quick glimpse into their life.

The chill of the evening creeps up as the sun begins to withdraw from our sky. We gather around the campfire and listen to stories, waiting patiently for our evening joke. Regardless if it’s good or bad, we laugh – because it feels good; we find comfort in our surroundings and at that moment nothing else matters. Eventually our mind and body start to tell us that this day must come to an end. We roust ourselves up, follow the narrow beam of light shining ahead of us to our tent, and slip into that cold sleeping bag – anxiously waiting for it to warm up. We think back on the day and all of the magnificent experiences we’ve had, and slowly start to drift off to sleep.

The camp is quiet. Again, we hear quiet laughter. We realize that it’s not coming from outside; It’s coming from within. We smile. Yes, of course it is. This is Cycle Oregon. And we can’t wait for tomorrow when we’ll do it all again.

What does your Cycle Oregon feel like to you? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Until next year …

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Two Years Later, The Mark Bosworth Fund Proves an Overwhelming Success

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Ashley Diamond and Sara Farley meet Julie, Claire and Kelly Bosworth at Cycle Oregon 2014

Mark Bosworth, a two-time cancer survivor who was battling non-Hodgkins lymphoma, began volunteering for Cycle Oregon in 2007. He went missing on September 16, 2011 in Riddle, the last stop on that year’s Cycle Oregon Week Ride and was never found. In 2012, to honor Mark’s memory, his wife, Julie, and their daughters, Claire and Kelly, created the Mark Bosworth Fund to help new riders experience Cycle Oregon for the first time.

Just two years later, the fund has proven to be an overwhelming success. First, it provides a great deal of comfort for the Bosworth family. Julie describes the feeling of being “enveloped” by the Cycle Oregon community when she and her daughters come to the event to meet the riders each year. Second, it has become a great way commemorate a beloved father, husband, mentor, teacher, musician and avid cyclist who was an important part of the Cycle Oregon family. This year’s sponsored scholarship riders all mentioned how much they enjoyed hearing about Mark and how the community rallied around the family in 2011.

Last, but certainly not least, the fund has enabled six new riders to participate in the Week Ride. The original plan was to sponsor one person each year, but generous donations and a lot of qualified applicants made it possible to extend the reach of this great program significantly.

This year’s winners were Lillian Karabaic, Ashley Diamond and Sara Farley. If you didn’t get a chance to meet them on the ride, here’s a little bit about each of them:

Lillian

Lillian first heard about the fund when it was established in 2013. As a passionate rider with a lot of experience in self-supported bike touring as well as someone heavily involved with bike advocacy, Cycle Oregon has been on the radar of this recent graduate of Reed College for some time.

Glee-CO14 (85)Her advocacy experience includes working with SHIFT, where she helped with numerous Pedalpalooza events. She now works for the Community Cycling Center (and even helped work the charging station while on the ride).

Lillian is a big fan of wearing cycling gear that passes for street clothes so it’s easier to blend in and mingle with people while out in the wilds of Oregon on a solo tour. Her bike, a custom Ahearne touring rig named Dora, may look more like an old Schwinn than a road bike, but in reality, she’s a thoroughbred (so if you felt sorry for the poor woman in the flowing dress riding the big heavy bike up those hills, there was really no need – and if you wondered how she wafted past you like you were standing still on that one climb, now you know).

In addition to working for the CCC, Lillian helps with the BikePortland podcast. Check her out on this recent episode featuring CO executive director Alison Graves.

Ashley

Ashley started her cycling career in college where she competed in several triathlons. While Ashley was in nursing school, her mother, a former Cycle Oregon participant herself, told her about the Mark Bosworth Fund and convinced her to apply for the scholarship.

The ride took place in the small window of time between graduation and certification exams. She did find the riding to be a challenge, but she loved the fact that everything else at the event is handled, which gave her the opportunity to relax and enjoy herself before heading off to ace her tests.

While Ashley isn’t sure when she’ll be able to ride Cycle Oregon again, she is sure that she’ll be donating to the Bosworth fund as soon as she gets her career underway.

Sara

At the beginning of 2013, Sara was an out of shape stay-at-home mom. She started cycling when her 10-year-old daughter suggested they go on a bike ride together. In April of that same year, she enrolled in a weight loss program and committed to getting in shape. By September 2014 she had completely transformed herself into a lean, mean cycling machine. To learn more about this inspiring metamorphosis, click here.

The Mark Bosworth Fund – What’s Next?

Julie, her family and the board of the Mark Bosworth Fund are extremely proud of everyone they have sponsored to date and are now preparing for 2015. The number of scholarship recipients depends on the amount of funding they are able to raise this year. If you’d like to make a tax-deductible donation to this extremely worthy cause, visit http://www.markbosworthfund.org/donate.html.

Applications for scholarships for Cycle Oregon 2015 will be accepted in February and March and winners will be notified in April so they’ll have plenty of time to train. The scholarship covers registration fees and Tent & Porter service. Other assistance may be made available on a case-by-case basis based on need. For more information visit http://www.markbosworthfund.org/application.html.

Mark and Julie’s youngest daughter, Claire, may be riding Cycle Oregon in 2015 (and it sounds like it might be possible to talk Julie into doing the same). Julie recently purchased the Julie Lawrence Yoga Center in downtown Portland and will be offering a yoga workshop in the spring specifically geared toward cyclists, so if you want to get a jump on your 2015 training (and help convince Julie to join us) that will be the place to be.

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Another Cyclist is Born

Her name is Sara Farley and she’s a cyclist. She wasn’t always this way. Not that long ago she was a slightly overweight stay-at-home mom living in the wilds of northern California. It wasn’t until her husband lost his job of 15 years in early 2013 that she realized she had been so focused on caring for him and their three children that she had forgotten to take care of herself. That all changed on April 1 of that same year when she put herself on a weight loss program (Weight Watchers) and started exercising.

Her 10-year-old daughter encouraged Sara to get a bike so they could ride together. She borrowed a neighbor’s mount and off they went. It didn’t take long before Sara was hooked and began riding regularly. She soon began riding with other cyclists including her friend, Luci, who was training for Cycle Oregon 2013. Luci tried to convince Sara to join her for Cycle Oregon 2014. Though Sara’s husband remained unemployed, she was able to attend thanks to a grant from the Mark Bosworth Fund.

By September 2014, she had lost a total of 50 pounds, bought herself a road bike and trained dutifully for the upcoming challenge. Below is a piece she wrote about what she learned preparing for the Week Ride, which, as Sara now knows, is every bit as much a part of Cycle Oregon as the ride itself.

As I am preparing to leave for Cycle Oregon I can’t help but reflect on what I’ve learned while getting ready for this ride. It’s crazy to think that 5 months ago I had never been on a road bike and now I have logged more than 1,400 miles on mine.

Lesson number 1 – If you have a passion or a dream then follow it. You don’t have to know how you’re going to achieve your goal or dream; you just have to start somewhere.

 Lesson number 2 – Build a foundation and you will succeed. I didn’t start out riding 80 miles per day or climbing big hills. I started out riding 3-5 miles. That was a challenge for me at first but I slowly pushed myself and challenged myself mentally and physically each time. Hills that used to look like mountains now seem like bumps in the road.

 Lesson number 3 – It’s ok to not know it all and ask for help. This process has taught me to be inquisitive and search out information. When you’ve never done something before how do you expect to do it without researching, reading, and seeking out people who have done it before you?

 Lesson number 4 – Let go of the fear of failure. There is no such thing as failure. If I spent my time worried about the “what ifs” I would have stayed stagnant and never moved forward. Why waste my energy focusing on what could go wrong? Instead, I focus my energy on everything that can go right.

 Lesson number 5 – Trust other people. My grandma is always so worried about me getting hit by a car on my rides. I am never worried because I have trust in the drivers around me that they will see me and drive cautiously and courteously.

 Lesson number 6 – Enjoy your own company. When you’re out on a long ride you really have to like the person you’re riding with and when you’re riding solo you had better like yourself. I’ve had lots of great conversations with myself on long rides.

 Lesson number 7 – Be present in the moment and be grateful. When you’re riding against a strong headwind, cursing the wind the whole time seems to make the ride longer and harder. Accept what is and just enjoy the moment and be thankful for the things that are around you. All of the sudden the ride becomes a little more enjoyable.

 Lesson number 8 – Be kind to yourself. There are going to be days when things don’t go your way. Maybe you thought you should have done better on that climb or ridden harder on your ride. Don’t beat yourself up or have negative self-talk. What’s done is done and you cannot change it. Life gives us setbacks and speed bumps so that we can slow down and regroup, refocus, and then move forward with more clarity and strength. My motto for this ride has been “Believe it, see it, and be it.” I’ve believed in myself, I have set a vision of what I want to achieve, and now is my time to be it. I am grateful for this opportunity and thankful for what it has taught me not only about riding but also about myself and life.

Needless to say, Sara had a great ride and is even more enthusiastic about cycling than ever. And as she tells her story, she’s inspiring others to follow her lead. Here’s wishing her continued success!

 

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AAA Oregon/Idaho Sponsors Cycle Oregon For the Sixth Year in a Row

Cycle Oregon  (1 of 1)The following article was provided by our sponsors at AAA Oregon/Idaho.

AAA Oregon/Idaho has been a sponsor of Cycle Oregon for six years. But what, you ask, does AAA have to do with bikes?

There’s a lot you can encounter on a long bike ride – from the good (cool breezes, cautious drivers, lemonade stands) to the ugly (dehydration, bugs, road kill). And, of course, there’s a long list of bad things that could happen to your bike along the way. Flat tires, slipped chains, brake failures, oh my! Many of these are easy fixes for experienced cyclists, but what happens when you encounter a problem you can’t handle yourself?

Easy, you call AAA. Yep, it’s not just for cars anymore.

AAA Oregon/Idaho includes bicycles in all our roadside assistance plans. AAA members get the same coverage on their bike that they get in their car, so you can call AAA and we’ll take you and your bicycle to a repair shop or another safe place, up to 200 miles for Premier members!

We added bicycle service five years ago because we saw how important cycling was to our beautiful corner of America. We live here too, and we’ve seen how bikes can positively impact so much in the community. Our mission is to protect the interests of all our traveling members – not just motorists, so it was an easy decision to include bicycles in our service offerings.

We’re so proud of the help we’ve provided to thousands of stranded cyclists since 2009, and look forward to even more. So pedal on, and ride with the peace of mind that AAA will be there in a pinch. Find out more and sign up at AAA.com/bike.

 

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One More Time (With Feeling)

A nice long photo slideshow featuring the “Magnificent Seven” and many who conquered Cycle Oregon 2014. Grab some popcorn, kick back and enjoy!

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