Visit Bend, Dirty Freehub partner to create ‘Gravel Scenic Bikeway’

Central Oregon cyclists who think they’ve ridden it all better think again.

Visit Bend has teamed up with a local online guide to the region’s best gravel cycling routes to create the Cascades Gravel Scenic Bikeway, Oregon’s first.

The collection of six routes curated by Visit Bend and Dirty Freehub utilize forest service roads and more rural gravel roads, but includes quiet paved roads, bike paths and even singletrack

“Gravel cycling has exploded because people are looking to get away from the crowds and out into nature,” said Linda English, (aka, Gravel Girl), Co-Founder of  Dirty Freehub.  “Deschutes County alone has more than 5,000 miles of gravel and forest service roads, so it’s the perfect place to establish Oregon’s first Gravel Scenic Bikeway.”

While many dedicated gravel cyclists own bikes made specifically for this type of riding, many gravel routes can be ridden on a mountain bike.

Some of the routes on the Cascades Gravel Scenic Bikeway even permit eBikes.

The sport has gained popularity for two reasons: changes in bike technology allowing cyclists to better handle a large range of surfaces, and cyclists are looking to escape from stressful busy roads.

Trevor Lyden

“Mountain biking on singletrack is a challenge in the era of COVID and social distancing, where riders find themselves going off-trail to avoid contact with other riders,” said Visit Bend CEO Kevney Dugan. “The result is widened trails, damaged plants, and harm to our fragile forest ecosystem. But gravel cycling takes place on wide, existing roadways with plenty of open space, making it a much more environmentally-friendly choice.”

The routes range from flatter, beginner-level rides to steeper and longer mixed-surface rides.

Dirty Freehub has created online maps, cue sheets, and ride descriptions for each of the routes.

Scenery and topography varies widely between the routes.

The Water & Lava Cascades Gravel Scenic Bikeway spans 31 miles along the Deschutes River just off the Cascade Lakes Highway, while the whimsically named Poke the Bear route spans 33 miles of rolling hills on the northeastern edge of Madras and includes stunning views of Mt. Jefferson and the Three Sisters.

“We’ve designed these routes so you visit places you probably haven’t been before,” English said. “They each offer up big views of mountains, waterfalls, rivers, and the natural beauty of Central Oregon.”

To learn more or view detailed information about the routes, visit

The Great Outdoors: Mountain Bikes in Our Wilderness Areas

In this week’s Great Outdoors, Brian Jennings explores both sides of one of the most volatile proposals facing our wilderness areas.

A special thanks to our Great Outdoors sponsor, Parr Lumber, for giving us the time and resources to explore the lakes, rivers and mountains across our beautiful state every Wednesday night on Central Oregon Daily.

Origin Story: Project Bike

It’s not often that a person’s childhood hobby becomes their adult career, but John Frey could not ignore his lifelong passion for cycling. But in a place like Central Oregon, where cycling is a big part of the outdoor community, John is changing up the bike retail game and offering bike people like himself a personalized bike shop experience.

Project Bike is located at the corner of Bond and Colorado, right across the street from Palate Coffee. Stop in, grab a beer from the 10 Barrel vending machine … they’ll provide the nickel … and say hi to John and the bike guys.

Trial for Driver Accused of Hitting/Killing Cyclist Set for 2019

Driver Plead Not Guilty and Did Not Appear in Court Wednesday

Shantel Witt, 41, is accused of hitting 38-year-old Marika Stone of Bend with her pickup truck as Stone was cycling with two other people in late December. Stone died of her injuries.

Witt was scheduled to appear in court on Wednesday and friends, family and local cyclists filled the courtroom to support the Stone family. However, just before 9 a.m. it was announced to the packed courtroom that Witt’s case would not be called.

Witt entered a plea of not guilty out of court and Deschutes County Court scheduled Witt’s trial for January 29, 2019.

During Witt’s January hearing, deputy district attorney Kari Hathorn said Witt had briefly drove off after hitting Stone but returned to the scene to yell at Stone’s surviving companions.

Witt also failed three field sobriety tests at the scene and acknowledged to officers that she took painkillers and muscle relaxers, according to court records. Officers found empty beer cans, prescription drugs and a 9mm pistol in her vehicle.

First Court Appearance for Woman Accused of Killing Cyclist

The woman who allegedly struck and killed a cyclist is now on house arrest and banned from consuming any alcohol until her arraignment in February.

Shantel Lynn Witt, 41, of Alfalfa had her first hearing today after she was arrested on Dec. 30 and charged with DUII, three counts of Recklessly Endangering Another, Reckless Driving and Manslaughter in the First Degree.

Witt was allegedly driving under the influence on the evening of Dec. 30 when her car crossed over into the opposite lane and struck 38-year-old Marika Stone who was biking with two other people near the corner of Dodds and Obernolte Road in Deschutes County. Stone was declared dead at the scene.

Roughly 30 local cyclists and community members attended today’s hearing to support Stone’s family.

Witt’s bail was set at $270,000. She posted 10 percent of this amount and, per Oregon law, was released from jail. During her first court appearance on Tuesday, the state attorney asked that Witt’s bail be increased, that she be put on house arrest, that she be given an alcohol monitor and that her driving privileges be revoked.

The judge did not raise Witt’s bail but he did agree to revoke Witt’s driving privileges. The judge also ordered Witt to wear an alcohol monitor, banned from purchasing or consuming alcohol and put on house arrest.

Witt will be back in court for her arraignment on Feb. 6 at 9 a.m. and many of the local cyclists said they’ll be back again to support Stone’s family and represent Bend’s biking community.

Exploring the Wage Gap Between Male and Female Cyclists

It’s an event that draws professional cyclists from all around the world, but a change intended to bring the world’s best riders to this year’s Cascade Cycling Classic had some unintended consequences.

Central Oregon Daily’s Allison Roecker looks at why, when it comes to pay, men and women are not on the same playing field.

***THURSDAY NIGHT UPDATE – Combined with the more than $5k raised by the GoFundMe campaign, Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon and the Nicole Reinhardt Fund kicked in more than $10k to officially equalize the purses for both men and women for all stages of this week’s Cascade Cycling Classic.

Local Families House Riders During Cascade Cycling Classic

Housing can be difficult to find on an average day in Bend, but when you have hundreds of riders looking for housing for days on end it can be both difficult and expensive. Teams in town for the Cascade Cycling Classic this week often turn to kind families willing to open up their homes to house them for the duration of the event.

Central Oregon Daily’s Allison Roecker spoke with a family that is hosting members of the Hanger 15 Cycling Team, and two of the riders themselves.

Get Ready for the 13th Annual Tour des Chutes

Tour des Chutes co-founder and Sunnyside Sports owner Gary Bonacker along with Tour des Chutes Executive Director Sarah McDougall stopped by Central Oregon Daily to talk about how the annual non-competitive bike ride/walk/run got started and how you can participate in this year’s event on July 8th.

More info and registration at

Proceeds benefit LOCAL cancer survivors.