RIDE THE PAINTED HILLS
Event information on this page is for our planned 2020 event that has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is our hope to host this event as detailed below in 2021 at a date to be determined later. The health and safety of our community—our riders, volunteers and the towns we visit—is paramount. For more information about the cancellation and how to support Cycle Oregon during these uncertain times, please click here.
Cycle Oregon laid out an incredible, reimagined event for our 32nd annual bicycle sabbatical we call Classic. Our destination will be Eastern Oregon for a week-long bike adventure through one of the most geographically diverse, awe-inspiring, other-worldly landscapes you’ll find anywhere. 2020 is all about choosing your own adventure so we’re offering multiple layover days, optional routes each day, non-cycling activities, and more opportunities to get directly involved with the communities who host us. On the bike, you’ll ride on quiet roads among scenic rivers, sweeping farmlands, famous fossil beds, dense forests, and soaring spires. Oh yeah, and you’ll see first-hand why the Painted Hills has been designated as one of the Seven Wonders of Oregon. This is a ride for the ages. Ride with us.
NO TIME LIKE THE PRESENT. This is the true frontier. The rivers, towns, passes, and canyons carry the boldness of those who came before and, in one way or another, managed to leave their mark. For generations, those that called this place home carved out lives amongst these great, colorful mounds of fine sediment banded with reds, yellows, blacks, and tans that sprawl for miles across the landscape. As we pedal through this strange, wonderful land, we begin to understand why. To explore the Painted Hills, the John Day Fossil Beds, the Malheur National Forest, and Twickenham Canyon, by way of some of Oregon’s most scenic byways, is an experience that will surely leave a mark on us all.
TASTE THE RAINBOW
SUNDAY SEPT 13
DAY 1 • JOHN DAY TO MONUMENT
MILES: Paved Route: 59.3 | Gravel Option: 64.2 (13.2 miles of gravel)
ELEVATION: Paved Route: 3,756’ | Gravel Option 4,587′
You’ve planned, you’ve trained, you’ve dreamed – and now it’s finally time to ride! A journey of a thousand memories starts with a single pedal stroke and today. is. the. day. Follow the John Day River along broad valleys, into the great Malheur National Forest, and on to Painted Hills country. Find out how rewarding a prime section of Oregon gravel can be. Savor every curve in the road and drink in every vista. These are the experiences that stay with you forever. And this is only Day 1.
INTRO TO GEOLOGY
MONDAY SEPT 14
DAY 2 • MONUMENT TO FOSSIL
MILES: Main Route: 59.6 | Long Route: 68.6
ELEVATION: Main Route: 3,226’ | Long Route 5,094′
The day starts out with an Ansel Adams-worthy-view of cliffs framing the John Day River as it meanders through green farmland – and it only gets better from there. The landscapes we ride through today are as varied as they are jaw-dropping. Great spires of rock complete with soaring raptors gradually transition to ancient cliffs that closely resemble melted candles. There have been forces at work here for millions of years diligently crafting and coloring everything in sight, making this journey through time one you could only ever experience right here.
AS YOU LIKE IT
TUESDAY SEPT 15
DAY 3 • FOSSIL – LAYOVER DAY OPTIONS
MILES: Short to Clarno and Back: 38.8 | Long Paved: 55.8 | Long with Gravel: 59.7 (9.3 miles of gravel)
ELEVATION: Short to Clarno and Back: 3,844′ | Long Paved: 6,366′ | Long with Gravel: 6,486′
Today, we invite you to choose your own adventure – you’ve earned it! Follow your fancy wherever it leads you. You can take a short out and back ride, go on a 60-mile excursion, head down a spectacular gravel road, go off on a fossil-finding hike, help the local Fossilites with a community project, or just take ‘er easy and figure it out as you go. The options are limitless and there’s no wrong way to do Day 3.
WEDNESDAY SEPT 16
DAY 4 • FOSSIL TO MITCHELL
Day 4 plays tricks on your mind, in a good way. We ride through wide-open farmland, rolling hills, pine forest, towering canyons, wide expanses with hills and mountains looming in the distance – and all within 43.9 miles. The Twickenham area is particularly perplexing. A fortress of rock surrounds the valley and plateaus ring the skyline. Where is this place? Colorado? Utah? Arizona? Mars? Nope, it only exists in Oregon. And the hands-down best way to experience it is by bicycle.
FREE FOR ALL
THURSDAY SEPT 17
DAY 5 • MITCHELL – LAYOVER DAY OPTIONS
MILES: Short to Painted Hills: 18 (2.6 miles of cinder road) | Medium with Gravel: 41.4 (12.1 miles of gravel) | Long Paved: 69
ELEVATION: Short to Painted Hills: 700′ | Medium with Gravel: 3,561′ | Long Paved: 7,284′
Day 5 is our second option-packed layover day of the week and there are adventures galore! Allow Cycle Oregon to be your activity directors – tell us what sounds fun to you and we’ll help you do it. Mitchell is the ideal home base for taking off on an ambitious 69-mile ride, exploring the world-famous Painted Hills, checking out an incredibly choice section of gravel, or pitching in on a community service project with the good people of Mitchell. Or do it all. Or do none of the above! Totally up to you. And that my friends, is the beauty of Day 5.
FRIDAY SEPT 18
DAY 6 • MITCHELL TO DAYVILLE
MILES: Paved Route: 77.8 | Gravel Route: 75.5 (21 miles of gravel)
ELEVATION: Paved Route: 3,520’ | Gravel Route 3,700′
Day 6 is a study in scale. Everything you will see today is grand, dramatic, and majestic. The mountains loom large in the distance. The vistas stretch on forever. The wide-open expanses of the gravel option cannot be contained by gully nor by barbed wire. And around every corner, the John Day flows on, opposite The Painted Hills, just as it has for ages and ages. The enormity of this landscape can make you feel kind of small in comparison, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, that’s kind of why we’re out here on bikes in the first place.
ONE LAST HURRAH
SATURDAY SEPT 19
DAY 7 • DAYVILLE TO JOHN DAY
MILES: Short Route: 32 | Main Route: 62.5 (2.7 miles of gravel – good shape!)
ELEVATION: Short Route: 750’ | Main Route 4,100′
Today is the final day of our epic journey. The big adios. One final transcendent day in the saddle with a long route that will undoubtedly land among your all-time best rides. The early jitters are long gone and you’re well in the groove. But now that the finish line is in sight, everything becomes a little more memorable. So savor every last climb and drink in every last descent. As you forge ahead, take a minute or two to look back at how far we’ve come. The friends you’ve made, the challenges you’ve met, and the communities you’ve helped support. All in a week’s vacation.
Tent + Porter
Imagine this: You arrive in camp and skip the trip to the baggage truck. Instead you head directly for a primo camping spot, where a spiffy 9′ x 7′ Cycle Oregon tent has been set up for you. Your luggage is waiting outside. And this process repeats itself every day. Tents fit one or two people, and the service costs $460 for the week. Tents will be the same all week, set up by 2 p.m. each day, marked with your tent number.
Tents are limited and available on a first-come, first-portered basis, so register early to ensure your spot. If two of you are sharing, only one person needs to sign up for the service. One or two chairs will be provided with each tent.
We know some of you are riding with friends and would like to be near each other when you camp, we’ve got you covered. Information regarding group requests will be sent in August.
Sleeping bags and pads are not provided, so please don’t forget to bring yours.
Cycle Oregon provides week-long parking for riders near the start/finish site. Parking passes are available here for $30 until August 25. We will post specific directions to the parking area as we draw closer to the event. Driving directions will also be on the parking pass that will be mailed to you in late August. Security is provided from dusk to dawn.
Taking the Bus
You must purchase bus tickets by August 13 to guarantee a space. All buses depart Portland at 9 a.m. on September 12. Return buses will depart John Day on September 19 beginning at 3 p.m. The travel time from John Day to Portland is about 6 hours via bus, so please plan accordingly and for unexpected delays.
Buses will depart from and return to the Sheraton Portland Airport Hotel. If you’re staying elsewhere, check with your lodging provider to see if they will shuttle you to the Sheraton.
Tickets will be emailed the first week of September. Staging for buses will take place on Saturday, September 12 at the Sheraton Portland Airport Hotel. Volunteers will be available to help load your bike and luggage. To save time and minimize hassle, bikes will not be boxed but will be wrapped in blankets and loaded directly into the baggage trucks. If you traveled with a bike case and it is still packed up, your bike can be loaded on the truck in its case. If you have already assembled your bike, be sure to bring your empty bike case with you, we’ll store it for the week at the start/finish location.
Flying to Portland
The Sheraton Portland Airport Hotel is the official hotel of Cycle Oregon, offering a special rate on September 11 and September 19 for our riders (and free week-long parking for guests). For reservations contact Cassie Kallmann, the Sheraton Group Coordinator, at (503) 335-2857 (be sure to mention that you are with Cycle Oregon) or book online by clicking here. They do fill up, so be sure to reserve early.
Ship Your Bike
If you’re flying or don’t want the hassle of dealing with your bike on the way to the event, ship your bike with BikeFlights.com to and from our event.
Click here to get started. Be sure to click the John Day link on their page to set the delivery address. Your bike will be shipped to a nearby UPS location and delivered to the starting line in advance of the event.
Bike Gallery can assemble your bike after you arrive for $75. If you need your bike disassembled and boxed at ride’s end, the fee is $86. Sign up for both for $150. You can pre-pay for both services here until August 30.
Are you flying in for the Classic and prefer not to transport your bike? Bike Gallery offers rentals that makes it easy. Bicycle pick-up and return is on-site at the Cycle Oregon starting and ending location. Sizes are limited so call early for reservations 503-281-9800.
The idea is to have a relaxing, enjoyable week of riding. The key to that? Take care of as many details as possible beforehand. In our logistics section you’ll find pretty much everything you need to know to make your Cycle Oregon experience a great one.
Hot showers will be provided at each overnight site. The showers come with dressing rooms, sinks and even a laundry area to hand-wash clothes. Please remember to bring a towel or two, as we do not provide towels or toiletries.
Rider Services is the Cycle Oregon customer service department. You will find the Rider Services trailer in a visible location near the entrance to each overnight campsite. This is the place to ask questions, get help solving a problem, meet friends, leave a note on the message board or locate missing items at lost and found.
Cycle Oregon Gift Shop
The Cycle Oregon Gift Shop is where you’ll shop for Cycle Oregon merchandise including cycling gear, t-shirts, sweatshirts, hats, jewelry, sundries, and much more. You can also buy extra meal tickets there. Look for the Cycle Oregon Gift Shop near Rider Services.
A medical tent will be set up at the overnight site. There is no charge for medical services on the course or at the overnight site. We will not transport you to a medical facility unless it is a critical situation. If you require services from a local medical facility, you will be financially responsible.
The Community Cycling Center has been working for over 25 years to broaden access to bicycling and its benefits in Portland. For the past 20 years, they’ve helped you roll smoothly over breathtaking rural roads by offering on-site services at Cycle Oregon, including solar-powered charging for all your phones, garmins, lights and more. In past years, your purchases and donations have helped them raise an astounding $20,000 per year to support their community programs. Thank you!
This year, they will continue to offer electronics charging via their solar powered charging trailer. Sign up in advance to guarantee your that your gadgets will be powered up all week — click here to sign up today!
- Charging Pass ($85): Good for all week (days Zero through Six), this charging pass allows you to charge all your personal devices, two at a time. One-time charges can be purchased on-site for $7.50. Power banks bigger than a phone will be charged $10 for a one-time charge.
- Bike Camp Scholarships ($75, $385, $720, or any amount you choose): We know you love your Summer Camp bike experience… so why not share the joy of a week on wheels with a kid? The Community Cycling Center serves an average of 700 kids per year with week-long summer camps, teaching kids how to ride safely and confidently on city streets. They love to share the experience with kids whose families cannot afford tuition, and your contributions can help. $385 sponsors the full cost of a week of camp for one kid; $720 provides one kid with camp plus a bike, helmet, and lock to keep! Donations of $75 or any amount contribute to a scholarship fund.
We will designate a camping area adjacent to the medical tent with electrical hookups for those who use equipment such as a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) or sleep machine. The medical crew will carry your CPAP equipment from site to site; the cost for this service is $50 for the week. This does not include the use of a tent – you must provide your own or register for Tent & Porter. You will still be responsible for delivering your gear bag to the baggage truck. This service is limited to the first 30 people who sign up. (Need help adding to your order, click here.)
The majestic mountains of Oregon seem mighty tall when you’re pedaling up them and knowing that a massage awaits you can make that climb a lot easier.
After a long day in the saddle, bring your tired legs down to the massage tent. Our therapists use a variety of Swedish, deep-tissue and sports massage styles to keep you riding strong all week. Massage relieves muscle pain and tightness by stimulating circulation, helping you recover after extreme exertion and stopping spasms before they stop you from riding. Massage can be tailored to your pressure preferences and to the areas where you need it most.
Pre-booking is available for all rides. To pre-book appointments, please visit the Cycle Oregon Massage Team’s website, click on the ride that you would like to book an appointment for, choose a therapist and contact them directly.
Massage rates are $100.00 for a 60-minute appointment and $145.00 for a 90-minute appointment. We accept all major cards or cash. A limited number of 30-minute appointments may be available the day of the ride. Come to the massage tent directly to inquire.
A little hint, when you’re choosing where to pop your tent for the night, you may want to set up away from the massage tent, as our music is loud and lively and we’re open until 11 p.m.
Stretch out the muscles that get tight during cycling. These yoga classes will help you stay close to your breath this week. Not only will this help you feel better, but stretching can also help prevent injury. And you’ll meet other great people who like to do nice things for their bodies too. There are typically two sessions each afternoon, depending on the length of the riding day. Mats are provided. Check the daily schedule at Rider Services.
Megan Moseley, PT, LMT, of Bodywise Physical Therapy, will be available everyday after the ride for free injury consultations including a brief evaluation, hands-on treatments including myofascial release, graston, cupping, mobilization, kinesio-taping. Megan will educate you about the origin of your symptoms, instruct you in stretches, exercises, and self-care techniques to get you back on the road! Additionally, Megan will make recommendations for bike fit adjustments as needed.
Get your CO adventure rolling early by attending Megan’s stretching, and injury prevention class from 4-5 p.m. on Saturday, your first night in camp. This a fun, interactive, and educational class geared toward teaching you core exercises and stretches to balance your body, prevent injuries, and relieve pain you may have due to the repetitive stresses and chronic positioning related to cycling long distances.
The Bike Gallery supplies a team of bicycle technicians who provide mechanical support on the route and at each overnight location. Technical support is available for emergency repairs of well-maintained equipment. It is your responsibility to make sure your bicycle arrives in good condition. Labor is available at a discount. Any repairs performed along the route will be basic in nature and designed to get you to camp for the evening.
Bike Gallery offers a bicycle rental program on Cycle Oregon events. Bicycle pick-up and return is on-site at the Cycle Oregon starting and ending location. Sizes are limited so call early for reservations. For more information and to book, call 503-281-9800.
Over 60,000 people have made the week trip with one 65-pound bag; you can too! Here are three simple rules for bags:
- One bag per person. Everything goes in that bag – tent, clothes, etc.
- 65 pound limit. We hand move over 2,000 bags, twice a day. Please abide.
- Do not strap/lash bags together. This may injure baggage volunteers.
Participants must pick up and deliver their own gear from the baggage trucks at each overnight camping area. Truck trailers are numbered and fitted with stairs. Remember to note the trailer in which you load your gear so you can locate it easily at the next site.
Local volunteers are usually available to carry bags from the trucks to the campsite and, again in the morning, from the campsite to the trucks. We encourage you to tip the porters ($2 per bag is suggested), as this benefits local volunteer groups.
Baggage Truck Departure
Baggage must be dropped by 8:30 a.m. each morning and picked up by 8 p.m. each night. Riders are responsible for getting their bags to and from the baggage trucks by the designated times.
Make Your Bag Easy to Identify
Please mark your gear bag with additional personal identification tags (including a phone number). A distinctive tag, such as fluorescent tape or a colorful ribbon (don’t use pink, we use that for bus bags), will also help you locate your bag among the 1,999 others.
Food, Drink & Entertainment
Cycle Oregon provides three hearty and well-balanced meals each day during the event, with plenty of choices. Both dinner and breakfast are served at the overnight site, and lunch is served on the course. We know that riding all those miles requires a lot of calories, and we don’t leave you short on that count. We offer vegetarian options at each meal; if you have other dietary concerns, please let us know in advance. Our daily menus will be posted here as soon as they are finalized, usually by early summer.
- Breakfast: 5:30 – 8:30 a.m.
- Lunch: 9:30 a.m. – 2 p.m.
- Dinner: 5 – 8 p.m.
Every evening at 7:30 p.m., the Cycle Oregon community gathers around the Main Stage. The evening meeting is part communion and part comedy. It’s a great opportunity to get the latest weather forecast, hear tips about the next day’s route, learn about the places we’re visiting and catch up on some local folklore. Best of all, it’s always followed by terrific entertainment.
Beer & Wine Garden and Whiskey Wagon
Each night’s campsite will feature a beer garden with craft-brewed ales. There will also be a selection of great wines along with daily cocktail specials. The Beer Garden is open daily from noon – 10 p.m.
Other Food Vendors
Other food available for satisfying those after-ride cravings includes the revered Nossa Familia coffee and other local community specialties.
Cycle Oregon showcases some of Oregon’s most talented performers, from country rockers to clog dancers, blues divas to jazz greats. Performances are scheduled each day on the Main Stage. After the nightly announcements at 7:30 p.m., we bring out our headliner act – these are some top-notch performances you won’t want to miss.
Clinics & Lectures
On Saturday, we will lead a Classic 101 from the main stage. Please join us whether you’re a newbie or a veteran. Megan Moseley, Cycle Oregon’s resident PT will lead a clinic on injury prevention as well. Typically there are several lectures on Geology and History throughout the week to add context to the route. Check the schedule at Rider Services for more details.
Cycle Oregon prides itself on providing a fully supported ride. Our goal is to help you finish each day’s ride. To that end, our course is complete with the following services and amenities.
Course Hours: 6:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m (4 p.m. on Saturday)
Course support services are available only during the course hours. If you leave before the course opens or are still riding after the course closes, there will be no support services available.
All Cycle Oregon riders still on the course after 6:30 p.m. (4 p.m. on Saturday) will be offered a ride to camp. If you choose not to take the ride, you will be on your own to get back to camp. Additionally, Cycle Oregon retains the right to move riders ahead who are unreasonably far behind during appointed course hours..
Food and Drink
Lunch: 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Lunch is provided on the course each day, usually near the halfway point. Lunch sites will be complete with food, beverages, restrooms, water, bike mechanics and gear drop. Usually lunch will consist of a robust sandwich or hearty pasta salad, with chips and a cookie to round out the meal. Take your time and enjoy the setting. Lunch is a great time to chat about the morning’s ride and review the route ahead.
Rest Stops & Water Stops: 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Usually, two rest stops will be available along the route each day to provide water, beverages and nutritious and delicious snacks. Rest Stop signs alert riders when one is just a mile ahead (or look for the banana on the route map). You can also see the location of each Rest Stop on the maps that will be inside the rider packet. In addition to the Rest Stops, one or two Water Stops per day will provide water and restrooms (indicated by a water bottle on the route map).
Each day at the first rest stop and at lunch, you can drop off a limited amount of clothing to be taken to the evening’s campsite. This service is for small items such as jackets, tights, leggings, gloves, etc. No half-eaten sandwiches, half-stuffed panniers or other oddities will be transported. Gear drop can be picked up near Rider Services, generally between 4 and 5 p.m.
There will be multiple SAG vans on the course each day. They are available to transport cyclists as needed due to mechanical problems or medical injuries. They also have extra water, snacks, and sunscreen if needed. If at any time you need assistance, please signal a SAG van with a “thumbs down” signal. If you do get into a SAG van, you may not be transported directly to camp. SAG vans typically wait until they are full to go to camp.
There will be a SAG van available each morning to transport cyclists from site to site if cyclists are not feeling well or are injured. Go to the Medical tent and get a medical release for riding the medical SAG . Bring that form to Rider Services before 8 a.m. to sign up for this shuttle option.
The Bike Gallery will provide mechanics on the course, at rest stops and at lunch. They will make basic repairs in order to get you to an overnight campsite. Cyclists will incur any charges associated with parts or extensive repairs.
MetroWest provides Advance Life Support ambulances that give around-the-clock medical support on the course and in camp. If you require medical attention on the course, you should notify a SAG van, ambulance or staff vehicle with the “thumbs down” signal.
Motorcycle Patrol Officers
Motorcycle Patrol Officers accompany Cycle Oregon each day. They provide a moving network of safety patrol and communications between the tour and the communities through which we ride. These officers have full authority to enforce the motor vehicle code of Oregon – which, of course, includes bikes.
Motorcycle safety patrol volunteers drive the Cycle Oregon course each day. They are a great source of information and assistance and enhance the overall safety of the ride by interacting with riders who may pose a hazard by unlawful or unsafe riding.
Check In and Packet Pick-Up
Each rider will be asked to sign the ride waiver when picking up their rider packet. The rider packet contains a wristband, bike number, baggage tag and course maps. Please bring a photo ID to show the volunteers in order to receive your packet.
Your wristband should not be removed unless you choose to leave the ride. Until you have checked in and are wearing a wristband, you will not be identified as a participant and will not have access to meals, course support, etc. If you leave the ride, it is important that you check in with Rider Services to let them know you are leaving.
- Saturday // Sept 12 // 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
- Sunday // Sept 13 // 6 to 8 a.m.
Arriving and Leaving Late
If you arrive on Sunday, you must have your bag in the baggage truck by 8:30 a.m., as the trucks leave by 8:45 a.m. You can pick up your rider packet that morning at Rider Services.
No camping will be available on the last Saturday of the ride. Consider getting a motel room in the area or finding a nearby park.
Rider Guest Passes.
Space is very limited in some of our host sites, which limits our capacity for Rider Guests and Support Vehicles. We cannot accommodate personal vehicles beyond this limited capacity (even if it is just a Prius).
Vehicle Registration Fee
A registration fee of $500 is required for each Rider Guest/Support Vehicle. The fee includes access to the services provided at the overnight site including showers, restrooms, beer garden, daily entertainment, other food vendors, and medical tent. It does not include food. Food can be purchased for an additional fee during the registration process.
Important considerations about the Rider Guest/Support Vehicle parking program:
- Vehicles must register – Anyone accompanying a rider through the week in a vehicle must register through the Rider Guest/Support Vehicle program.
- Tent Camping – Some of the Rider Guest/Support Vehicle locations will have grass nearby for tent camping, others will not.
- Rider Guests and Support Vehicles drive alternate routes to each overnight location – To enhance the safety of riders and their overall experience, Rider Guests and Support Vehicles will be asked to take alternate roads to the overnight site wherever possible (directions will be provided).
- Rider Guests and Support Vehicle drivers are not registered riders, and so should not be riding the route each day.
- Rider Guest/Support Vehicle campsites will be as close to the rider venues as possible – While the Rider Guest/Support Vehicle area is not an RV park – more likely it’s a city park, someone’s field or a parking lot – hook-ups (water, electricity and dumping stations) are provided when available.
- Quiet Hours – When possible, we try and locate vehicles that have generators separately from those without. In addition, the Rider Guest/Support Vehicle area will observe quiet hours (no generators) from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. every day.
Click here to purchase a Rider Guest vehicle registration and Meal Band.
Event Policies and FAQs
We understand things happen in life and sometimes you have to cancel your registration. We want to make it as easy as possible to do so. Please note we do not make exceptions in our cancellation policy (including family, medical, or employment situations). We cannot offer credits or transfers. Trip insurance is available for purchase during registration.
Click here to review our cancellation polices.
Relive rides of yore with our handy ride archive: