July in Central Oregon has cyclists of all affinities putting rubber to pavement and dirt. While I shuddered to see the well-meaning father pulling his toddler up Skyliners Road in a bike trailer a few days ago, mostly I am giddy to see so many people riding bikes of all kinds for so many reasons. True bike love.
How We Roll
Many local racers are tearing it up regionally in sanctioned events like the recent High Desert Omnium and the weekly Central Oregon Crit Series around Summit High. And when a formal bike race doesn't present itself, our local hotshots create their own, like last week's renegade mountain bike race at Wanoga. "A dozen or so guys rocked it down Funner, COD, Marvin's and the Lair on the way to 10 Barrel," said Bend mountain bike pro Adam Craig. "Cash was won, beer was consumed and fun had by all."
This time of year the bike lane is noticeably more crowded as badass pros come from all over the country to train for, and compete in, the annual Cascade Cycling Classic. Field size limits were just expanded to include 200 pro men and 120 pro women. Best bets for watching the action: the prologue, which starts and finishes at the Old Mill, on Tuesday evening, Saturday's downtown criterium (I like the final corner better than the finish line) and on Archie Briggs Road during Sunday's circuit race sufferfest.
Tour Des Chutes
A diverse group of cyclists - including cancer survivors - come together every July in Bend for one purpose: to kick cancer's butt. One of Bend's most successful community fundraisers, the Tour Des Chutes sold out again this year with 1,000 riders, and raised approximately $80,000 for cancer research and survivorship. I was honored to be one of 200 volunteers for the event, and rode the 48-mile ride with my teammate, Kerry, who was equipped with spare tubes and Co2 cartridges. Anyone who paused along the roadside, to answer a cell phone for example, was asked if they needed help as we rode by. We were thrilled to finally encounter our first flat tire in Redmond and handily changed it. For a guy. Cool. We also helped another gentleman with a dropped chain. We felt useful and got a great ride in on a beautiful day.
Girls in hot-pink tutus rang yellow cowbells as we climbed up Shevlin Park Road towards the afterparty at High Lakes Elementary. Not even an older lady, who looked like she could use a good bike ride, could spoil our mood when she rolled down the passenger window of her SUV and yelled at us to get out of the road. ("Have a nice day, and cure cancer, Lady!" I thought.) On the grounds of the school, we were treated to a yummy burrito bar and great live music courtesy of Breedlove.
Tour de Chance
We do the bulk of our TV watching in July when the Tour de France is broadcast daily on Versus. At no other time do we adjust our schedule to suit a televised program, and with the DVR duly set, we don't have to compromise too much. But three hours a day spent blowing through commercials and slow-mo-ing key moves leaves little time for other endeavors. This year's tour - with the much-hyped return of seven-time winner Lance Armstrong - has been rich with drama and more akin to The Real Housewives of New Jersey than to the ultimate spectacle of a demanding sport: fistfights, crashes, mind games and disqualifications for head-butting have provided a nice diversion from watching our hero-worshiped Texan flounder instead of battle Alberto Contador for the yellow jersey. Armstrong appears to be jinxed. Anyone who rides a bike knows a fair amount of luck plays a significant part in the outcome of the ride. Speaking of Contador, I find myself not liking him, for foolish riding and a smug demeanor. When asked about his rivals before heading into the Alps, he looked dumbfounded. As if he was thinking, "What rivals?! I have no rivals!"
The tour also provides style guidance of dubious quality. The ubiquitous necklace, bouncing from pec to pec, is the accessory of choice among the Euro pros while climbing the Alps. I think I'll pass, though, on the flesh-colored team clothing and belted black garbage bags the podium girls are wearing for stage winner presentations. Yikes.
Michelle Bazemore is the mother of two mini cyclists, a freelance writer and an amateur competitive cyclist for Sunnyside Sports.