One of the first questions Cycle Oregon newcomers often have about the event is what kind of bike they need to complete the ride. The overwhelming majority of riders use a high-quality road bike with skinny tires. Why? Because these are the most efficient and effective machines to get from start to finish. And they’re fun to ride. And they’re functional works of art. However, on any given day of CO you’ll see a whole array of svelte steeds, precarious perches and crazy contraptions sharing the road.
Most of the road bikes come from companies like Trek, Specialized or Cannondale, but there are also plenty of exotic and sexy foreign race bikes and beautifully handcrafted custom jobs. And, of course, there are more than a few ancient rattletraps with down-tube shifters, missing bar tape and the need of a lube (often ridden by people whom few can catch). The overwhelming majority of frames are carbon fiber, but you’ll also see aluminum, titanium, steel and occasionally wood (including even bamboo). There are also multiple tandems and even a few bicycles built for three or even four.
There’s a large Bike Friday folding bike contingent. One would assume this is because so many people travel great distances to get to Cycle Oregon and folding bikes are more practical for travel. However, most of these riders are local. This would make no sense at all were it not for the fact that these oddly proportioned rigs are made in Eugene. One thing’s for sure – Bike Friday people are LOYAL. A lot of them are good riders, too, so before you go making fun, make sure you can back up your trash talk.
But there’s another group that makes the Bike Friday pilots look downright conventional: the recumbent riders. Recumbents come in all shapes and sizes. Some of them look very high-tech and some look like they’ve been cobbled together in someone’s garage (because they have). Some are shrouded by big Lycra “condoms,” some have giant windshields, and some are encased in full fiberglass enclosures. Some have long, crazy handlebars like antlers, and others are steered by bars located under the seat. They have all different types of wheel configurations.
Most climb at a snail’s pace and wobble all over the place, but somehow transform themselves into nimble downhill machines at every summit. Some even have more than two wheels. These don’t wobble at all, and they can fly downhill. Around corners, they become two-wheeled machines. About the only thing “’bent bikes” have in common is they look WAY more comfortable than anything else on the road, which is something the people who ride them DELIGHT in telling people all about – especially people in search of chamois lube.
Then there are the true nonconformists/sadists like the Bike Gallery mechanic who has been known to do some of the epic days of Cycle Oregon on his fixie, or the proprietor of Trailhead Coffee Roasters, who has a converted Metrofeits cargo bike from which he brews and serves coffee to riders on the course. These are the people of legend.
Finally, there are those do Cycle Oregon on mountain bikes, commuter bikes, cargo bikes (which may or may not be carrying pets or children), bikes pulling trailers and hybrids. Many of them do fine, but all of them are expending far more effort than they would if they were on a road bike. If you’re a first-timer and your goal is just to get through it, this isn’t the best way to go. However, at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how you ride. All that matters is that you ride.