For those who don't know, Cycle Oregon, or just CO for short, is one of the best supported touring rides in America, spanning 7 days and upwards of 450-500 miles of some of the best mountains, valleys, and countryside in one of the most beautiful states in the US. OK, I'm partial to it because I spent 10 years of my life living in various cities in this great state. Even 20 years later I find myself drawn back again and again to visit family and vacation in places that remind me of my home long ago.
2009 was my first Cycle Oregon experience (ride report in progress, to be published later this spring) and it was indeed life changing. Memories of that great week have been flooding my mind for the past couple of months. Every year on the last night of CO Jonathan Nicholas, one of the founders of CO, gives a hint for next year's ride which is a closely guarded secret until the route announcement, typically in early February the following year. The hint for CO2011 went something like this:
"We are going to ride next year the finest 80 miles of paved road in Oregon that Cycle Oregon has never done. Go look at your maps and figure it out."
I wasn't there so this is a quote/paraphrase posted in the CO2010 forum. Over the coming weeks there were riddles and other hints about "heavenly" and "powers that be" as well as a statement that the overnight stops would be cities that have never host an overnight stop before, which eliminates a lots of cities. One night last month I was up late and decided to figure out where Jonathan could be referring. After some rudamentary statistical analysis I figured that the coast, central, and south-eastern areas of Oregon were ripe for the picking.
Another forum user came up with a better analysis: they put up a map and started putting in push pins in every city CO had ever visited and then started coloring in routes between cities. Their results:
"We think the southern Willamette Valley, the central coast range, south central coast and possibly the Roseburg area. Possible overnight spots are Philomath, Junction City, Waldport, Mapleton, Reedsport, Coquille, and Winston.... There is also the Powers to Glendale Bike Route."
Speculation and rumors were running high! OK, maybe they weren't actually but I was getting really excited. I didn't care what they were to announce, I was signing up!
On announcement day I was glued to my computer hitting refresh on the CO twitter feed, the CO website, and the CO Facebook page one after the other until FINALLY they updated the website with the route and a very interesting graphic...
Going Coastal! The route is to start in Sutherlin, just south of Oregon, meander out to the coastal towns of Reedsport, Coos Bay, and Bandon, and then loop back east to Powers, Riddle, returning to Sutherlin on day 7. This, like the route in 2009, was going through areas where I lived during my High School years in Roseburg, Oregon. Even though the ride difficulty and climbing elevation are not that high the scenery and experience will be well worth it.
My own "debate," if you can call it that, lasted all of 24 hours. I wrestled with the decision only because of the cost and week-long commitment of vacation time. I'm glad I didn't wait too long because the ride sold out in 36 hours. I hear their popular "tent and porter service," where they provide you a tent, set it up at each city, and move your luggage for you, sold out in a couple of hours.
Now the fun begins: training, training, training, and begging. Begging? Yes, begging. Begging friends, family, and anyone else I know to go with me. In '09 I did the ride essentially by myself. Yes, I made some friends and met up with some co-workers along the way, but I went there alone knowing nobody. One of my uncles originally agreed to do the ride with me but other priorities got in the way. This year one of my sisters was in the same position but, once again, the stars just didn't align. Several friends from work are either registered or on the waiting list so hopefully I'll know someone going in this time.
Maybe I can convince my wife to volunteer, who knows?