Some people get their thrills by racing down hills and around corners at high speeds. The rest just get as close to the action as they can and enjoy vicarious adventure. But it's not every event that balances breakneck athleticism with front-row seat spectator opportunities. The Annual Cascade Cycling Classic is one of those rare Central Oregon competitions.
While the CCC includes four stages, including time trials and road races, it is perhaps best known for the wildly popular criterium race—it is to Bend what the marathon is to Boston. While it doesn't fall on a state holiday, locals and visitors alike nonetheless stake their claim to a slice of sidewalk well in advance to catch a clear glimpse of Spandex-clad bodies whirring past at speeds that threaten to topple them over like so many dominos.
But it's not just a Bend tradition. Because it's the oldest stage race in the nation, and the hub of the longer races, which stretch like spokes into the region, throngs of spectators make their way to town for the event. In some ways, it's like the Super Bowl of cycling—people who aren't particularly interested in bike racing are still drawn to the spectacle.
In fact, it's one the largest events the City hosts, bring between 10,000 and 15,000 visitors to downtown to stand in the eye of the cycling storm.
For the event, speed limits on Bond and Wall streets are suspended, since cyclists fly by at as much as twice the 25 mile-per-hour posted limit. Because of the high speeds, the criterium can take on a hockey-like intensity. No fights, typically, but crashes do happen—and spectators cram into the corners thanks to their higher incidence of wrecks and race-changing shifts in cyclist positions.
Downtown Twilight Criterium
Saturday, July 25
Downtown Bend. Free to watch.
Cascade Cycling Classic
Wednesday, July 22 - Sunday, July 26
Various start times, days, locations, and prices for different races. cascade-classic.org.
OTHER OUTSIDE EVENTS
June 17 - 21
Oregon Senior Games
We were surprised to learn that you only have to be 50 to participate in the Oregon Senior Games. In Bend, 50-plus-year-olds can be found running/biking/skiing circles around people in their 30s on the regular. If you're one of them, and looking for a venue to test your mettle, this is it. For the rest of us, it's motivating to see super fit seniors, like 92-year-old runner Florence Latter, who won bronze in the 100-meter at her first national in 2009, in the 85-89 category. They remind us that a creaky knee is no excuse to build a life around the couch. The Oregon Senior Games include 16 sports and serve as a qualifier for the National Senior Games, held every two years, including this July in Minnesota.
Various times and locations around Bend. Various prices for different events. oregonseniorgames.com.
June 20 - 21
Central Oregon Wildflower Festival
With more than 200 species on display, this annual event co-sponsored by the High Desert chapter of the Native Plant Society of Oregon attracts more than 500 visitors. In addition to stopping to smell the rhododendrons, attendees can sit in on lectures on native seeds, noxious weeds, landscaping, and more. For more the actively oriented, the events includes botanical hikes and a garden cleanup. If you plan on digging in, don't forget your gloves.
Saturday 9 am-5 pm, Sunday 9 am-4 pm. Sunriver Nature Center, 57245 River Rd., Sunriver. $8 adults, $6 children. highdesertnpsoregon.org.
June 24 - 28
Subaru Outside Games
Anchored by the kayak, standup paddleboard, and mountain bike races, this weeklong extravaganza has a little bit of everything. Mountain bike stunts by Ryan Leech, free outdoor yoga at Yogis Unite! Bend, slackline demos and clinic, a climbing wall, Tahitian dancers, a K9 Kings dog performance, bubble soccer, a mountain biking clinic, group rides, music from Steve Earle, and more. Seriously, everything.
Various times and locations around Bend, at Riverbend Park, and on the Deschutes River. Various prices with many free events. subaruofbendoutsidegames.com.
June 26 - 28
Pacific Crest Sports Fest
Known as the "jewel of multisports events in the Northwest," the Pacific Crest Sports Fest attracts athletes from across the globe. The weekend-long event includes Tour de Crest bike tours, long course and Olympic triathlons, endurance and Olympic duathlons, a marathon, half-marathon, 10k, 5k, and children's events. And for after the athletic activity dies down, visitors can explore the pop-up fitness expo, beer garden, and live music.
Friday and Saturday 6 am-8 pm, Sunday 6 am-2 pm. Various locations in Sunriver, 57100 Beaver Dr. $15-$275.
Tour des Chutes
With races varying in length from 7 to 100 miles, the TDC is an accessible way to join in the ride (or run or walk) to support cancer care and survivorship in Central Oregon. Started by Gary Bonacker, co-owner of Sunnyside Sports and a cancer survivor, the personal mission of the event elevates it from a mere bike ride to a celebration of life.
Ride—various start times between 6 am and 9:30 am. High Lakes Elementary School, 2500 NW High Lakes Loop. $50-$60 adult, $20 children.
Run—8 am. NW Crossing Neighborhood, 2500 NW High Lakes Loop. $25-$35 adults, $10 children.
July 18 -19
The 12th annual family and spectator friendly multi-sport event coalesces in the Old Mill District, which means you can watch people run, swim, and bike, all from the comfort of your brunch table. If you're more inclined to participate, there are two days of events with both sprint and Olympic distances. Choose from a triathlon, aquabike, duathlon, or a 10k. And for the kiddos. Deschutes Dash offers a youth triathlon, a 5k, and an obstacle race. And, because everyone needs a little encouragement, awards, medals, food and Deschutes brews await the participants.
8 am-1 pm. Various locations in Bend for different events. $35-$120. descutesdash.com.
Beat Beethovens 5k
Racers participate in a 5k or 1 mile fun run/walk to the sounds of Beethoven's 5th Symphony, with the hopes of finishing before the music ends.
9 am. COCC Track, 2600 NW College Way. $12-$30.