Cycle Oregon 2011 Ride Report: Day 1

Ride Date: 11 September 2011

Starting City: Sutherlin, OR

Ending City: Cottage Grove, OR

Ride Stats: 43.96 miles, 3,071' of climbing, 3:04:02

I got an early start on the first day. My goal was to be on the road by 7 am so I could make it to church in the afternoon in Cottage Grove. This is the best photo I was able to take of the "start line" if you can call it that. There were a lot of people trying to leave around the same time.

After a quick breakfast I was on my way! Not more than a few minutes later I passed one of the best signs of the week: "1 mile down, 498 to go!" I was in a hurry and didn't stop, although I should have. The weather was amazing!

The glorious sunrise over beautiful southern Oregon.

The hills that day were not that hard at all. Some of the hills were made even more challenging by the gravel sections. Some folks just gave up and walked. The gravel made yearn for something less bumpy, like maybe chip-seal? }B^)

The second gravel section on the biggest climb of day 1.

After all the climbing we were treated to a very fast downhill section. To give you an idea of how fun it was, take a look at this climbing shot. The other side was just as steep and winding.

The scenery was rural and amazing...

Looking down on the twisting road through the valley near Elkhead, OR, on the way to Cottage Grove.

With my early start I made it to Cottage Grove by 11 am.

Chocolate Milk at the finish line on Day 1 in Cottage Grove, OR.

The 30-mile optional loop was very tempting but I had promised myself (and my wife) that I would make every effort to go to church this Sunday. Which I fully intended to do. I even had my pick of the tent sites 1 block away from the LDS church.

LDS Church in Cottage Grove, OR

Several other folks finished early too. And then we waited. And waited. I had beaten the luggage trucks by at least an hour. My bags did not off the truck until 12:30.  The local High School provided us with lots of football and volleyball players to unload and porter our bags for us. They did a great job dealing with 2000+ bags, each weighing upwards of 70 pounds!

Waiting for the baggage trucks to unload in Cottage Grove, OR.

After a quick shower I was off to church, making it there in the middle of Sacrament Meeting at 1pm. I sneaked into the back of the chapel and found a seat. What a gorgeous building! There aren't many LDS chapels with paintings behind the pulpit. 

LDS Church in Cottage Grove, OR, 1 block away from my campsite! I even made it to church that day.

It was really cool to have my tent, the shower, and a chapel within a 100 yard radius! It made it really easy to go to church. 

I met another LDS family that was doing Cycle Oregon, a father and son who were riding and a support vehicle with mother and daughter. They tried something that I will have to do next time: Father and son rode the Day 1 course on Saturday using Mother and daughter as a support vehicle. The did the entire 70-mile ride with only that support and then went back to Sutherlin to camp with the rest of the group (i.e. no hotel cost). The next day, Sunday, they all drove up to Cottage Grove, attended church, and did some sight-seeing and relaxing. Wow, that would have been really nice. 

That afternoon I walked down to Safeway and Walgreens to buy some items that I inevitably forgot to bring (zip ties, antacid, and deodorant). 

By the time I got to dinner there was quite a line...

The dinner line on Cycle Oregon Day 1, Cottage Grove, OR.

After dinner I went over and listened to a cool local band called JSB Jazz. After their little sound check Jonathan Nicholas got up and gave a stirring recount of what happened on Cycle Oregon on September 11, 2001, exactly 10 years previously. 

Sunset on the main stage, Cottage Grove, OR. Jonathan Nicholas gives a stirring history of Cycle Oregon on Sept. 11, 2001. On that fateful day the Cycle Oregon group was in a very small town in Southeastern Oregon near the Steens Mountains. The town is so small and the area so rural that the local school is one of the last public boarding schools in the US. 

When news of the attacks reached the group on that Tuesday morning many people were trying to make plans to leave the ride to return home. Then the news came that all US air traffic was grounded. At this point most everyone decided to stay with the ride and keep going.

On the route that day local farmers drove out onto the course and parked along the road in the pick-ups and turned on their radios so that riders could hear the latest updates on the events of the day. That night they stayed at an equally small town, Diamond, OR.

After that incredible story Jonathan asked for a moment of silence followed by an incredible rendition of "America the Beautiful" sung by the JSB Jazz vocalist and guitarist. It was an amazing night. What a great way to start the week!

Sunset on the main stage, Cottage Grove, OR.


  1. Beautiful and almost easy day.
  2. I made it to church!
  3. Great music from JSB Jazz!
  4. Amazing 9/11 tribute.


  1. Not enough sleep!
  2. Gravel is tough to ride on with 700x23 tires.