Ok, I’ve shamelessly poached this from a posting to the Tandem@Hobbes Email list by Dwan Shepard that was just too good not to share with our readers. This was the inaugural Oregon Gran Fondo sponsored by Co-Motion Cycles & Rolf Wheels this past Sunday….
The Oregon Gran Fondo was wonderful. We were thrilled with the number of participants. In all, 370 riders came out for our inaugural run. The ride is in one of the most beautiful parts of the state, the Smith River watershed in south Lane County and parts of Douglas and Coos counties, starting in the lovely town of Cottage Grove, about 35 miles south of Co-Motion HQ in Eugene. Most of the riders were on single road bikes, but we had a few recumbent s and a handful of tandems as well. With nearly 6000 feet of climbing over the 117-mile course, the Oregon Gran Fondo is a little daunting for many tandem riders. Among the tandem riders who came, had a little star power in Paralympic hopeful Rachael Scdoris, and her world-champion pilot Lisa Turnbull riding their new Co-Motion Macchiato tandem on course, and they did very well. We’d love to see more tandems next year, so we’ll certainly be looking at ways to draw more interest from the tandem community.
We know 117 miles and 6000 ft of climbing is a bit much for some, so we also offered a 71-mile (Medio Fondo) option with about 1/2 the climbing, and a 32-mile (Piccolo Fondo) option with zero climbing. Those rides were also well attended, with lots of families and beginners on the short loop. Every route was mapped, cue-sheeted and well-marked, with aid stations distributed at regular intervals to keep everyone fed, hydrated and um… bathroomed.
One of the things that makes a Gran Fondo fun and different from a typical century ride is that it is timed. Each rider for the Oregon Gran Fondo received a timing chip and a number. At the start, the riders cross a mat where each timing chip is registered and the clock begins. We had separate timing for a major hill climb so riders can compete, if they wish, for fastest hill climb, or fastest overall time. This brought some racers into the event, and also brought out the competitive spirit in many of those who ordinarily don’t take much interest in racing. A lot of people enjoyed seeing how their times compared with others in their age group, or with friends.
Weather in late June in Oregon is iffy at best, and we really lucked out with just a few minor showers and lots of sun breaks throughout the day. The highlight of the ride was certainly the long stretches of road with absolutely no traffic; roads so seldom used they have no center line, so they look more like bike paths than highways. Miles and miles pass through a canopy of primeval forest with giant trees towering above you, the road sometimes feeling more like a tunnel cut through the greenery, with mosses, giant ferns, waterfalls and wildflowers calling for your attention along the way. For many of the people who came, it was their first time on these scenic byways, even though the majority of riders live fairly close. Without the support the OGF offered, the ride is very difficult as there is no civilization, not even a water faucet to be found for at least 65 miles, so it’s understandable that many locals hadn’t ventured out there. We did pull in cyclists from all over the west, and from as far as Nebraska. Word will surely get out that this is an event not to be missed. We received many compliments about how well it was organized, the quality if the food and course markings and the after-ride BBQ and beer garden, vendor fair and awards. Who wouldn’t want to win a Co-Motion Nor’Wester frame?
It was a really fun weekend, and I know anyone who comes out for it next year will not be disappointed!
Co-owner Co-Motion Cycles, Inc.