ELGIN, Ore. -- On Saturday, 2,200 cyclists from 48 states gathered in the tiny town of Elgin to experience Oregon at cruising speed.
Under a star-filled Eastern Oregon sky, race founder and longtime columnist Jonathan Nicholas kicked of the 23rd edition of the ride by reminding the veterans and explaining to the 700 how the ride was born.
Nicholas, recently transplanted from Wales, had been assigned by The Oregonian to get to know, and write a daily column about the real Oregon. What better way, he thought, than to travel it by bike. He wrote a column about the idea, expecting maybe 50 takers. Instead, he got 1,000 and Cycle Oregon was born.
Much has changed as the ride has grown in size and popularity. Recycle centers affirm the ride’s pack it in, pack it out ethic; cycling yoga classes have been added, as well as electronics charging stations and, new for 2010, a rolling blogmobile where these posts originate.
What hasn’t changed are the simple goals that inspired the ride: get to know the less visited places of Oregon, and give back to the small communities that give the state its diversity and unique character.
In that sense, Lance Armstrong could have been talking about Cycle Oregon when he said: “It’s not about the bike.”
For the next week, we’ll use our bikes as two wheeled ambassadors and explorers. Internet connectivity and fatigue permitting, I’ll post stories and photos daily from the roads of Cycle Oregon 2010.
PHOTO GALLERY: Cycle Oregon Day 0 - Arriving in Elgin