For our first Bike Trekker episode, we’ve decided to film our experience at the Cycle Oregon Weekend ride. Cycle Oregon is an epic week long ride that showcases the great rural communities around Oregon. Aside from creating a well organized and wonderful riding experience, they do a lot of philanthropy for the small communities they go through. The Weekend Ride, just like it sounds, is a mini-version of the week long ride. This year, it took place in Corvallis, Laura’s home town and within a long day’s bike ride from Portland. We thought, “what better way to start a biking event than to bike there!”

It was a LONG ride, coming in over 80 miles. We took the MAX out to Hillsboro and began our ride there. For the most part we meandered all day through small country roads right in the heart of Willamette Valley wine country. Our favorite part of the trip was stumbling upon some quiet gravel roads with nary a car in sight.

We arrived in Corvallis tired and famished from the ride. Thankfully, we had a rest day before the madness of the Cycle Oregon Weekend began. On Friday, we rode to the OSU campus, registered and then set up our tent on campus. We got there fairly early so we were able to find a spot by some trees. In a few hours, people trickled in and the field became a tent city!

That night, we walked around the grounds and chatted with some fellow cyclists. We ran into quite a few readers which is always a treat. The folks camped next to us followed our trip to New Zealand and were planning their own NZ tour in January. We gave them a few tips of where to go and what to avoid. Later in the evening we had a few drinks at the beer garden and listened to some music on the main stage. This was our first ever “event” style ride and after years of fully supported touring this felt pretty luxurious even though we were still in a tent. We crashed out fairly early, still tired from our ride from Portland and rested for the next day.

The next morning we got up bright and early (with about 2200 other cyclists!) had a quick breakfast with bleh coffee (sorry, Portland coffee has spoiled us) and hit the road. We opted to do the medium length rides on both days since we knew were going to be stopping a lot to take photos and video.

The first day was the hillier of the two, but didn’t have any major climbs and only a few rollers. It was beautiful riding through several scenic back roads around Corvallis that we had not been on before. Some were so devoid of traffic we didn’t see any cars on them. Another first for us was pulling up to rest stops with food and drinks! We are so use to carrying all our own stuff that through force of habit we still had a pannier filled with almond butter, fruit and tortillas. Riding without carrying all your gear is a strange new world 🙂

One thing we did enjoy immensely was pedaling along and seeing we were traveling at a decent clip of around 15-18 mph! Much faster than our turtle like touring pace. It was good to know that beneath the piles of all our panniers, we can be pretty zippy bicyclists. On the evening of the first day, we had some wine in the beer garden and spotted a copy of the new maps of the Oregon Scenic Bikeways, which featured some of our photos form our recent trip out there.

The second day, some clouds rolled in and there was a forecast for strong winds. We got up fairly early and banged out the miles quickly but still stopped at all the rest stops (what a luxury!). We even got a tour of an old water-powered mill.

At the end of the second day, Cycle Oregon rolled out the red carpet for the cyclists at the finish. There was a balloon arch and a small squadron of cheerleaders, as well as a freezer truck full of ice-cream. Cycle Oregon Weekend was our first ever event ride and it was definitely different from what we were use to. Although the camping wasn’t quite as scenic, it felt pretty pampered to have rest stops with local volunteers serving sandwiches and fresh local fruit (if only that would happen on all our tours!). We had a great time and it was nice to have a few days where all you had to do was pedal your bike and everything else would be taken care of. With such a positive experience with the weekend ride, we hope to one day get a chance to do the full week ride and really get the full Cycle Oregon experience.