Cycle Oregon VIII
Cycle Oregon VIII North-Eastern Oregon September 10-16, 1995
Grizzly Peak Cyclist member
Neil Mishalov rode in
Cycle Oregon VIII, held from September 10
through 16, 1995. Here's what he has to say about the
First things first. Here are some statistics about the ride.
- Number of Riders
- Registration Fee
- Riders from Oregon
- Riders from California
- Number of States Represented
- Oldest Rider
- 78 Years
- Youngest Rider
- 9 Years
- Female Riders
- Male Riders
- Sunny, no rain and temperatures in the 90's during the day and 40's at night
- Days on the road
- Distance Cycled
- 440 Miles
- Total Elevation Gain
- 27,300 Feet
- Area Cycled
- Wallowa Mountains, Strawberry Mountains, Blue Mountains, Hells Canyon National Recreation Area and the high desert.
- Towns Where We Camped
- Athena, Elgin, Joseph, Halfway, Sumpter, Prairie City, Monument and Fossil. (TEST: See if you can find these towns on your Oregon road map!)
Ok, now that the statistics are out of the way, I can tell you a little
something about the trip. 1995 was the eight year that Cycle Oregon took
place, and it was the third year that I participated in the event. The
ride is fully subscribed within a week of the applications being sent out,
and each year the ride traverses a different route. This year we cycled
through rural north eastern Oregon. Most of the towns that we cycled
through or camped at have a population of less that 500 people. The trip
traversed through the former home terrain of Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce
Indians, former gold mining areas, the Oregon emigrant trail, hay fields
and hills, hills, and more hills!
An amazing thing about Cycle Oregon is how smoothly everything works. The
logistics are impressive when you consider that there are 2,200 cyclists on
the road, a couple of hundred support people, and many support vehicles.
addition, the riders were provided with three meals a day; For example,
here is the quantity of food supplied for lunch on the 4th day of the trip:
625 lbs. of Turkey, (Yes, vegetarians had non meat meals.) 266 loaves of
bread, 300 lbs. of cheese, 1,632 cans of soft drinks, 34 cases of
Gatoraide, 2,000 lbs. of salad, 147 lbs. of bean sprouts, 44 flats of
grapes, etc., etc.
Camp sites are provided every evening. If you have never
seen ±1,500 tents set up on a high school football field, believe me it is
a sight to see! Every evening portable showers are also set up and they
never run out of hot water. Of course there is also a myriad of
The ride also has four ambulances riding on the course,
four Oregon State Motorcycle Troopers tooling along on the road plus five
sag wagons. In addition, three different traveling bicycle repair shops set
up free repair facilities every day, and 20-30 masseuses provided massages
for a fee. For those who were thirsty, Full Sail Brewery, out of Hood
River, set up a beer garden every evening.
The ride is great to
participate in just to see how this moving wheeled community flawlessly
Well, the first day we cycled from Athena (Elevation 1,734),
located just north of Pendleton, to Elgin (Elevation 2,692). The ride
was only about 45 miles in length; we had to climb one big hill (Peak
Elevation 5,160). Lunch was at Spout Springs Ski Area (Elevation 5,028
). Elgin is a community with the Wallowa Mountains to the east and the
Blue Mountains to the west. Elgin's site was once the location of the
Central Indian Camp of the Nez Perce tribe, and a trading area since the
1880s. Total climb: 4,150ft.
On day two we entered the beautiful Wallowa Valley, and had
lunch in Wallowa. We cycled 54 miles and climbed 3,280ft.
Camp was at Joseph (Elevation 4,247), a thriving art
community located on the edge of the Eagle Cap Wilderness.
This was a tough day. The distance was 78 miles, and the total
climb was 5,290ft. We had lunch overlooking Hells Canyon National
Recreation Area. Hells Canyon is the deepest river gorge in North America,
and a beautiful sight to see. After a sweet 17 mile decent into the Pine
Valley, we camped at Halfway (Elevation 2,684), the home of Inga
Thompson, former Olympic cycling medalist.
We cycled 84 miles and climbed 4,800ft. Lunch was just outside
Baker City at the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center. This is a special
place to visit. They have wonderful life size displays of the pioneers
traversing the Oregon Trail in the 1850s. You can still see the wagon ruts
in the high desert. Ah yes, the high desert. We cycled about 50 miles of
desert today. It was hot, it was sunny and it was hard. About 50 riders
sagged into the evening camp at Sumpter (Elevation 4,463). Sumpter,
population 150, was a booming gold mining community and as recently as 1957
their gold dredge was still operating. The dredge can still be viewed on
the edge of town.
This day was only 46 miles, and the climbing was 3,280ft. We had
lunch in Unity (Elevation 5,124), where we were treated to some
foot-stomping, hand-clapping, fiddling music. We descended into Prairie
City (Elevation 3,553), and saw to the west the beautiful backdrop of the
On this day we had a 72-mile ride and climbed 3,800 ft. During
the many mining booms that hit Eastern Oregon, thousands of Chinese
laborers were employed. John Day the first community we traveled through,
is the site of the Kam Wah Museum, which celebrates the herbal medicine
practice of the Chinese mine workers. Lunch was served at Fox (Elevation
4,387). After a few more hot and steep climbs, we dropped 10 fast miles
into Monument (Elevation 2,013). Monument is an agricultural town
bustling with activity in September. Hay, mint, apples and pears all come
to harvest during September.
Whew, the last day. On one hand you're pleased that the ride is
finishing, but there is sadness knowing that the special magical event is
almost over. We cycled 60 miles today and climbed 2,690ft. We had 40
miles of gentle downhill, and then a 2,100ft climb in ten miles. Then we
dropped down to Fossil (Elevation 2,656), and finished the ride!
- Yes, there were a few accidents on the ride. Such as dislocated shoulders,
fractured collar bones and road rash. However, the problems were small
considering the number of cyclists on the road.
- A question frequently asked is "do you feel overwhelmed
by all the people on the ride." The answer is yes and no.
While you are cycling along you are usually never out of
sight of another cyclist, however you never feel hemmed in
by other riders. The cyclists start riding at about 6 a.m.
(yes, it is still dark), and continue getting on the road up
to about 10 a.m. Thus, there is a line of cyclists
stretching 40 miles down the road!
- Camping is an interesting experience. The number of riders and a finite
amount of camping space require the tents to be set up close to one
another. So, if by chance, you happen to set up your tent next to a person
whom snorers, well, I surely hope you have ear plugs!
- Usually there are lines to use the showers and porta-potties. All lines
move quickly, and you can always strike up an interesting conversation with
the bikies next to you.
- Although I don't have explicit statistics, I believe that the average age
of the cyclists was between 40-50 years.
- Most cyclists rode road bikes, but there were many mountain bikes,
tandems, recumbents and folding bikes.
- The cyclists rode unencumbered. The ride provided six tractor trailer
trucks to cart the cyclist's gear from one campsite to another.
There it is, It was another great Cycle Oregon ride and maybe I'll see you
there next year!
If you're interested in finding out more about Cycle Oregon, call
1-800-CYCLE-OR, and they will put you on the mailing list for Cycle Oregon IX.
Or, check out the Cycle Oregon web page at
General information on Oregon can be obtained from the state's web page at
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