We rode in our second Cycle Oregon Weekend ride this past weekend. Honey and I have done 7 different Cycle Oregon Week long rides, and 2 different Cycle Oregon Weekend rides. There are some definite differences and similarities between the two distinct events. It is helpful to have an understanding of just what you are going to get out of a cycling event. It allows you to adjust your approach to the effort, and to better match your expectations to the realities.
Some pictures during our Vernonia ride
Our list of thoughts about this ride and the differences between the two events. In no particular order.
- Registrations for the weekend are typically substantially lower than the week long event. Of course this varies year to year usually depending upon the routes of each, but for example, this years week event maxed out at 2,000 plus, five months prior. The weekend had about 700 riders.
- Since the weekend ridership is scaled down, navigation is easier. On the roads, there is usually no bike congestion, and you rarely feel endangered by the proximity of other riders of less predicable skills and rider actions. This weekend I never once had to wait in line for a porta potty. On the week ride, if you can find a porta potty without a line, then you are having a pretty good day.
- Meals and showers on the weekend? No lines at all. Plus they were both inside the Vernonia High School. Ya, the shower water in the guys locker was luke warm at best, and Honey was less then pleased with her shower of cold only water, the shower was in a locker room with not wait, and we didn’t have to wait 10 minutes to share a shower room stall with 12 other guys in a semi truck.
- The organizers have tried to make the weekend route a little more family friendly, and that was made obvious by the large number of riders with their kids in tow on alley cats, tandems or their own bikes. This was nice to see. And for the most part the young riders were pretty dependable on the roads, and rarely did the stupid things that some older riders will do. A common mistake people will make on organized rides is to think that since they are part of a ride, that they are not part of the general public. They become oblivious to the safety issues around them and perhaps ride in a fashion that is quite different than if they were riding alone.
- The minimum mileages for the week long ride are set. If the mileage between the morning and evening campsite is 96 miles, then everyone on the ride must ride those 96 miles. While this is ok for most riders on the ride, when you are prepared for them. However, the weekend ride, when the route is a loop route as it was this year, then riders could chose between a 33,44 & 73 mile ride the first day and a 23 or 33 mile ride the second day. Not great mileages, but it did allow for tailoring your efforts to your physical constraints, and that is important to many riders.
- This years route was a figure 8 route, which allowed riders to set up camp just one time, either friday night, saturday morning, or saturday night. This also meant we did not have to deal with baggage trucks or return transportation via a bus. This makes the logistical planning a lot easier.
- We had spent a night in Vernonia a couple of years before. (And it rained then too) They had a little experience in dealing with a group of riders and it was a very nice setup again.
- The ride from Vernonia also featured the Vernonia-Banks trail, parts of which are paved and a pretty good ride. And, as advertised, a special preview presentation of the Stub Stewart State Park that is set to open later in the month. Riding through the park is a bit of a challenge in that there is some climbing required to get through the park, and that will raise your heart rate a bit. But the roads, for now, are new smooth asphalt, although I can see that some care will need to be taken when descending this road during the busy times of the park.
- Some of the ride details don’t seem to change whether its a week long ride or a weekend. Cycle Oregon still provides well planned rest stops and lunches, marks the courses pretty well, prepares a good map, with elevations, and they provide Ambulance service, motorcycle patrols by OSP, flashing ODOT signs to warn motorists of the bicycle traffic, and the usual services around camp.
- They did offer the tent and porter service again this year and for 25.00 its a good deal for most people. Using the tent service means that the tent is set up when you get there, and they take it down after you leave. And, for this weekend it meant that those who used the service didnt have to spend another day spreading out all their went tent stuff under cover and waiting for it to dry before packing it away. I had chosen to use our own tent, which meant I had to do the drying stuff afterwards. But it really allowed us to pick our own spot, with just a little more room. Their tent town has tents set up with no room between tents either side of yours. This can be particularly annoying when you happen to get a tent next to a snorer. There are plenty of snorers out there, and nylon tent walls do nothing to dampen the noise. The weekend ride is a chance to have a spot a little more spaced out, with room for your bikes next to the tent, which is just a little harder to do on the week long ride.
- The weekend rides are nice. The experience is a little more low key and relaxed than the week long ride. We would recommend the week end route to anyone who shows an interest in a multi day ride. The weekend is just a sampler, or a stepping stone to the big event. The week long ride is really the one to do.