One of Oregon’s biggest bike rides is cycling back through Pendleton this September.
Cycle Oregon, a nonprofit that coordinates group bicycle rides to benefit community organizations, announced Wednesday night that its main ride route will be in Eastern Oregon this year, including a layover in Pendleton Sept. 12-13. A group of Pendleton Round-Up directors and the Round-Up and Happy Canyon courts were on hand to celebrate the announcement in Portland.
As an expected 2,000 to 2,200 cyclists descend on the city, the Pendleton Chamber of Commerce will help coordinate the local effort to host the riders.
Kristen Dollarhide, the tourism and hospitality manager for Travel Pendleton, said the 383-mile ride will start in Baker City before heading to overnights in Halfway, Wallowa Lake State Park and Elgin. On day four, the route heads into Pendleton for two overnight stays Wednesday Sept. 12 and Thursday Sept. 13 of Round-Up week. After the layover in Pendleton, riders will loop back east, traveling through La Grande before returning to Baker City.
Dollarhide said cyclists will be housed at Pendleton High School, but efforts will be made to send them out to the wider community. With the Round-Up in town, there will be no shortage of things to do.
The last time Cycle Oregon wound its way through Pendleton was during the Round-Up’s centennial celebration in 2010.
Round-Up Publicity Director Randy Thomas said he was unsure how the cyclists would mingle with the rodeo crowd, but the 2010 visitors enjoyed their stop.
“We had spandex and Wranglers coexisting harmoniously on the Round-Up Grounds,” he said.
Thomas said the Round-Up issued 1,270 tickets to Cycle Oregon riders in 2010 and is setting aside an even larger amount for 2018: 2,000.
Cycle Oregon’s benefit to the community won’t just come in the form of tourism dollars.
Dollarhide said as the ride gets closer, the chamber will begin soliciting interest from volunteers to help coordinate the cyclists’ stay.
With thousands of riders from almost every state in the union and a sizable international contingent from countries like Canada, Germany and Japan, hosting the riders will be a significant undertaking.
Cycle Oregon will spend approximately $150,000 to hire volunteers from local community organizations to undertake tasks like unloading luggage and feeding cyclists, the proceeds going directly to those organizations.
Furthermore, some money Cycle Oregon raises from the event will likely be reinvested back into Eastern Oregon.
Through the Cycle Oregon Fund at the Oregon Community Foundation, the nonprofit has donated $1.8 million to local organizations throughout the state.
While many of the projects are bicycle specific, like $5,000 to the Boardman Parks & Recreation District for new bikes and helmets and $5,000 to Pendleton High School for stationary bikes, there is a wide variety of grantees.
Other local contributions include $3,000 to Weston for a city hall preservation feasibility study, $3,500 to the Umatilla School District for an after-school program, $2,800 to the Oregon Trail Library District to bring the Missoula Children’s Theater to the Heppner Public Library and $6,700 to the renovate the kitchens at the American Legion Hall in Athena.
Chuck Wood, a founding member of Pendleton on Wheels, a local cycling club, could hardly contain his excitement.
“It’s just great for the community,” he said.
Wood said Pendleton on Wheels didn’t have an official connection the last time Cycle Oregon rolled into town and was unsure if the 60-member club will have a role this time around.
“If not, we’ll be riding,” he said.
Contact Antonio Sierra at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-966-0836.