It is a somber day in the world of organized long distance bike rides. Cycle Oregon has announced that this year’s Classic bike ride through rural Oregon will be the last one.
We caught up with two cyclists who collectively rode in 18 of the previous 32 Classics. They say it was an event they looked forward to all year, during which they made friends they’ve kept in touch with to this day.
“I first did Cycle Oregon when I turned 60. I wasn’t able run any more after back surgery. I didn’t know if I could cycle. I didn’t even own a bicycle, but I signed up and it went well.”
Jon Blackwell of Bend enjoyed it so much, he rode in six Cycle Oregon Classics.
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The weeklong rides through rural parts of Oregon attracted as many as 2,000 riders and were big economic boosts to small towns along the way.
“I was planning to make this my last year. Initially, I planned to ride from age 60 to 70 and call it quits. I’m 75 now so I just thought this would be a good time and the fact its ending this year is rather poetic,” Blackwell said.
Cycle Oregon says production costs, rider preferences, volunteer capacity and extended fire seasons impacted the model upon which the Classic was built.
The organization is shifting to shorter events.
“I thought that it was just the classic event, as it was named. It was the heart of Cycle Oregon but Cycle Oregon is evolving, people are going to other rides,” said John Ralston of Sunriver, who participated in 13 Classics. “The gravel rides are very popular. I don’t know why. It hurts my butt.”
Ralston described the Classic as an event where CEOs, janitors and firefighters were all equals, riding bikes for seven days, camping in small towns along the way.
The Classic passed through parts of Central Oregon five times the past 32 years.
The final Classic will take riders through Willamette Valley wine country, over the coast range and along the beach.
Click here to register for the last Cycle Oregon Classic.