You get some unusual press releases come through if you’re signed up to so-called wire services that pull out anything with the words “bike”, “cycle” or “cycling” in them. For example, washing machines have a “cycle” and are only tangentially related to riding a bike when it comes to washing your gear after a wet, muddy or sweaty session.
It’s also not possible to forecast which part of the world the press releases will relate to. And it probably isn’t that interesting here to know that a new bike shop has opened 6500 miles away.
My first reaction when I saw a release arrive in my inbox that mentioned cycling in Oregon was that this was probably going to be one that didn’t get used. But by strange coincidence I had seen some UK statistics recently, showing that there were 2.2 million residents of the UK who went to North America in 2014; the overwhelming majority went to the USA rather than Canada, and also were going on holiday rather than on business.
So I thought it would be worth taking a look at the details of what Oregon has to offer.
The answer is a lot. Part justification for saying “a lot” is that they now have over 1,000 miles of designated bikeways. And theother part is the variety of what is on offer and the remarkable scenery of the area. One of the routes under their “Scenic Bikeway Program” loops through the multi-coloured John Day Fossil Beds. As you cycle by – and I imagine, stop frequently to take photos – you can see millions of years of geological history revealed in the delicately coloured stratifications in the soil, with layers of yellows, golds, blacks and reds formed millions of years ago by shifting volcanic islands. A closer look reveals ancient plant and wood fossils.
The Ride- Oregon-Ride website lets you select rides by their length and difficulty levels and you can also select whether you are looking for mountain biking, gravel tracks, or road biking. Good news for cyclists is that the state is bike friendly. The CEO of Travel Oregon, Todd Davidson, explain that “bike travellers in Oregon stay longer – and spend more money.” In 2012 cyclists contributed $400 million to the Oregon economy. It’s no wonder then that the Oregon Tourism Commission, who trade as “Travel Oregon”, works to enhance visitors’ experience by providing information, resources and trip planning tools.
A few years back, I had to go to Portland, Oregon, on business and got to stay for a weekend with an old buddy that I had made friends with when we were both working in Germany. In those few hours we were able to fit in a good bit of touring around the area (by car rather than bike on that occasion), with changing heights from the rugged Oregon coast to Mount Hood and on to the Cascade Locks on the Columbia River. The scenery was stunning, and the beer and food were good. In the meantime, Chris and his German wife Susi have honed their skills to produce some great wine at Christopher Bridge Wines at the Satori Springs Estate Vineyard. If you decide to try the cycling and get anywhere near Oregon City which is only about 25km South of Portland, call in and say hello for me.
You can get information about cycling in Portland including on where to rent bikes online from Bike Portland. And if you visit in or after July of this year, the Nike sponsored bike share program (which we mentioned a few days ago) will be operational in Portland.
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