By Deanna Hogan

Way back in February, a few of us decided to organize our own “Cycle Oregon Kickoff Party” here in Astoria (the official party was held at the Nike campus in Beaverton). So we gathered around the kitchen table with our laptops, anxiously awaiting the announcement of the 2011 Cycle Oregon route and the opportunity to register for September’s week-long ride. Naturally, we had an assortment of Fort George growlers on hand to embolden the potential riders.

Left to Right: Kyle Medlin, Chris Hogan, Deanna Hogan, Mike Mitchell, Paul Gascoigne, Janet Graul, Steve Meyer, Allison Mattila Missing: Teresa Hogan, who got an early start
Cycle Oregon, known as the Best Bike Ride in America, is an amazing experience that began in 1988. Over 2000 cyclists travel back roads from one small town to another, enjoying gorgeous Oregon scenery, significant physical challenge, community, hospitality and philanthropy. Proceeds from the ride go to the Cycle Oregon Fund, which helps preserve and protect the special places of Oregon. The ride also provides financial benefits to the host towns as well as cycling-related causes throughout Oregon. The route is different every year.

End of 1st Day in Cottage Grove

This year’s southwest Oregon route encompassed fertile valleys, deep forests, rugged coastline and rolling wine country. 90 percent of the 2011 route traveled on roads Cycle Oregon had never pedaled – which may be why the ride was sold out within 36 hours! Host towns were Sutherlin, Cottage Grove, Reedsport, Bandon, Powers and Riddle. The week’s mileage was 410-499 miles, depending on options on a couple days. Nine of us registered for the ride, and five were first-time Cycle Oregon participants. This was my fifth.

Camp in Bandon
There’s no question we spend a lot of time at the Fort George, so it was a no-brainer we chose to call ourselves “Team Vortex.” Someone had the brilliant idea of having Fort George cycling jerseys made. We passed on the suggestion to the Powers That Be, and by May had our red, black and white jerseys.

The summer was spent riding at every opportunity, though when the event finally arrived I would have liked another month of preparation. I repeatedly (and neurotically) reviewed the ride’s daily maps and elevation grids with a sense of panic. Day 6 had me particularly worried, but I should have taken a closer look at a couple of the other days as well. By August I was bargaining with myself, allowing one beer for every 20 miles ridden, but no more than two beers at a sitting (I cheated once or twice). Contrary to popular belief, beer is not a recovery drink – though it tastes awfully good after a long ride.

To make the most impact, the team decided to wear Fort George jerseys on days 1, 5 and 7. We received lots of questions and comments on the ride, like “hey, that’s in Astoria, right?” and “Fort George – where’s that?” and “Whoo Hoo, Vortex!” We invited a few folks to sample the 1811 and Vortex at camp. We were surprised to meet three other locals sporting Fort George jerseys.
I preloaded each day’s map on my blog and added a few brief posts during the week so that family and friends could keep track of where we were.
Crossing the Finish Line in Sutherlin
The ride was fantastic, and the fact that we did it with friends and family make it even more memorable. A few of us have even started talking about next year – with a few more friends who want to join us. We’ll have to hold out for February, for the next kickoff party.

Thank you, Deanna Hogan, for writing this first-hand account of Cycle Oregon and for your support in sporting the Fort George jerseys on the ride.  Deanna is an RN at Columbia Memorial Hospital in Astoria, with a variety of interests, including a craft beer enthusiast, a member of the Barley's Angles

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