As a rider, the principal of the high school in Baker City that has hosted us on a few occasions, the husband of one of our finest Rider Services volunteers (Betty Peacock) and a guy who volunteers for other great cycling events (including the Elkhorn Classic Stage Race – which later became the Baker City Cycling Classic), Jerry Peacock has quite a rounded perspective on Cycle Oregon. Fortunately for us, he’s a big fan.
Jerry’s first serious exposure to Cycle Oregon was in 2003, when his school, Baker City High, was the launch pad for the Week Ride. According to Jerry, the impact Cycle Oregon has on the community is significant – particularly when a school serves as a campsite. School funding is always a challenge and if there’s a budget shortfall (which is common) local businesses are the first to be approached for help.
Hosting Cycle Oregon provides the school with another way to raise money, which is good for the schools and takes the pressure off the local businesses (many of which – particularly those that sell “recovery beer” – see a pretty nice uptick in sales as well).
It also gives the students a chance to earn money for their teams/clubs and even spread their entrepreneurial wings. During the ride in 2003, a few students saw how dusty the parked cars became over the course of the week. This inspired someone on the track team to create an impromptu car wash service for departing riders that turned out to be one of the biggest moneymakers of the event.
As anyone who has ever ridden Cycle Oregon knows, interacting with the hard-working and well-mannered young people who volunteer is a genuine treat and it’s nice to get confirmation that the benefits are mutual.
Over the years, Jerry has talked with people from other towns considering hosting Cycle Oregon. His advice is to do so without hesitation (unless you don’t want to raise funds for your community) and to make lots of pies. If that isn’t sound advice, I’m not sure what is.
Jerry’s first year riding CO was 2006, and 2014 will be Jerry’s eighth (he missed Cycle Oregon XX). He recalls with fondness the feeling he got crossing the finish line in 2006 for the very first time, which he describes as an “overwhelming sense of accomplishment.” That first year, he explains, is filled with overcoming hardships, feeling discomfort and wondering if you can do it. Every year thereafter will still contain some hardships and discomfort (though that all decreases as experience increases), but you’ll never again wonder if you can do it because you already know. The feeling of accomplishment is there every time; it’s just slightly less whelming.
2008 was another very special year for Jerry because he was able to participate as both host and rider. That particular year a child from Baker City was among those for whom the Candlelighters were riding. Jerry was asked to wear that child’s jersey (pictured above), which he was honored to do.
What Jerry likes best about Cycle Oregon
- The friendships – During his first ride he met a group from Idaho. He rode with them that year, and they have remained friends and riding partners ever since.
- The common ground – Most of the people who ride Cycle Oregon are professionals or retired professionals with a shared passion for cycling. It’s really easy to have a long, enjoyable conversation with others who already “get it.”
- The organization – Providing a first-class experience to 2,200 nomadic riders takes serious commitment and hard work by everyone involved, but it happens — flawlessly.
- Getting to know the state – Jerry’s involvement with school accreditation requires that he visit communities all over Oregon. He enjoys knowing “where that road goes” no matter where he is, as well as having experienced all the various types of beauty Oregon has to offer.
Jerry’s Suggestions for new riders
- Plan your training regimen early and stick to it. The more you put into preparation, the more you get out of it.
- Equip yourself properly. Having the proper gear ahead of time is key – even the stuff you don’t always use. Rain gear, long-fingered gloves, knee warmers, arm warmers, shoe covers and windbreakers are all important pieces of kit to have on hand.