The Things I Like Most About Cycle Oregon
With the 2010 route announcement party tomorrow the 4th, I had some time today to think about my past Cycle Oregon experiences. It’s important to note - the great part of Cycle Oregon is that it’s an experience. When returning home from Cycle Oregon, you will routinely have people come up to you and inquire, “Hey man, how was your trip.” No. This is not a “trip.” A trip is what you take to the grocery store for sour cream. An experience is something else entirely. Only when you are far removed from the creature comforts of the daily routine do you have a Cycle Oregon experience. People who would call it a “trip” are just not in-the-know.
Now, don’t get me wrong here, experiencing Cycle Oregon is not like roughing it in the Gobi Desert without water or shelter or something. In camp and on the ride there are all kinds of comforts. Beer Garden. Main Stage. Bands. Local entertainment. Beer. Local activities and wares. People from all over to meet and talk to. Pizza. Beer. Great food. SAG vans. ODS rest stops with food galore. And beer at the end of the day at the “Beer Garden” (did I mention that?)
Hey, where else but on Cycle Oregon can you ride 85 miles, then eat a lot of awesome food, get a great massage, stay up late listening to great bands and entertainment while meeting new friends, drink enough beer together in your small group to construct a “beer-needle” and then go to bed? Wake up the next day at 6AM. Repeat. Epic Win.
But on a Cycle Oregon - especially if you have never been - you will have moments. Times realizing that you are so far removed from any comfort zone. Questioning your decision to come. In tears of joy and agony at the same time. In those moments you simply cannot flee to the warm fuzzy protection of the familiar. It might be on a monstrous climb as you are getting passed by seemingly everyone. On a quiet stretch where you suddenly realize you haven't seen another rider for who knows how long. Or in camp at night when you look up to a sky full of more stars that you have seen in years. Those are the moments when you know - this is no trip... those are the very best parts of the experience.
A few of the innumerable moments of Cycle Oregon:
... getting your tent set up upon your arrival to camp and soaking it all in for the first time.
... when you taste chocolate milk at the end of day 1 and its like tasting it for the first time ever.
... realizing you have not used a cell phone for 4 days and you never missed it.
... having to be woken up by the massage therapist at the end of your 10PM appointment because you fell asleep.
... eating breakfast outside under a tent at 6:30AM with your hands wrapped around a hot (and rapidly cooling) cup of coffee.
... having your picture taken with the locals in town.
... reading the daily CO news to see what the day has in store for you.
... reading all the notes and things people post to the info board.
... realizing that you have been and are going to places that you would likely never go to if you were not on Cycle Oregon.
... feeling the rush of the downhill coast into camp after a full day of climbing.
... wondering if the climb you are on will ever ever ever ever end.
... loading up on pizza, smoothies, dinner, ice cream, beer...and still being hungry.
... Seeing more stars that you have seen in years.
... navigating camp in darkness so thick you can’t see your hand in front of your face.
... navigating camp by a full moon that is the biggest and brightest you have ever seen.
... meeting new people from all over the world.
... running into old friends you never knew would be on Cycle Oregon completely out-of-the-blue.
... sitting in a blue room after waiting in a long line to realize there is no toilet paper (luckily a rare occurrence HA!)
... watching a local guy put his finger in a donkey’s bum for the crowds viewing pleasure.
... rounding the last switchback on a mountain and realizing you have made it to the top.
... welling up at the thought that you have just rode to the top of a mountain - on a bike.
... welling up at the fact that a quick look at your map shows that alas - you are only at the false summit.
... welling up that looking at your map 5 times on the roadside does not change the fact you are still only at the false summit.
... welling up at the thought that there are still three more false summits and 2 more mountains to go.
... finally hitting the mountain peak (for real) and yelling out at the top of your lungs while laughing AND tearing up.
... falling asleep at night to the chorus of snores and quiet laughter and conversation about the days ride coming from outside your tent.
... wandering in the dark to a blue room at 3 AM and seeing your head lamp beam reflecting off the eyes of deer wandering camp.
... navigating camp with the local native residents.
... waking up on day 1 never more excited than you have ever been in your life.
... waking up on day 3 wondering if you are completely crazy for having signed up.
... waking up on day 5 and getting a tear in your eye realizing its the last day.
... riding across the finish line and wondering when you will be able to sign up and do it all over again?!
Sign me up!!