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Cycle Oregon bike tour comes back to Jackson County

MEDFORD — Look for 2,000 cyclists rolling through Medford in September as the city will serve as the first and last stop in the 22nd annual Cycle Oregon tour.

Cycle Oregon announced this year's route Thursday night at the Tiger Woods Center on the Nike campus outside Portland.

The ride will run Sept. 12-19. It will kick off in Medford and head south into Northern California.

The tour will drift south into California with stops in Yreka and Happy Camp. The cyclists then will loop north toward Lake Selmac, Glendale and Grants Pass.

A good portion of the trip will include a picturesque ride along the Rogue River's wild and scenic area.

Cycle Oregon normally attracts as many as 2,000 riders. Cyclists average 60 to 100 miles each day and camp at the end of each ride in a different community.

The Medford City Council Thursday approved letting Cycle Oregon participants camp at Fichtner-Mainwaring Park Sept. 11 and 12.

The unanimous vote came at the council's noon meeting Thursday, where city officials and business people praised the 22-year-old cycling tour, which takes thousands of riders on an exploration of Oregon — either one week long or just for a weekend for the less dedicated riders.

"This is going to be a showcase for the city and good for business," Mayor Gary Wheeler said.

The Grants Pass City Council has approved camping for cyclists in Riverside Park on Sept. 17-18.

Under the agreement approved Thursday, Cycle Oregon will pay the city $2,182 for camping at Fichtner-Mainwaring Park and $1,100 for using Jackson Park for parking from Sept. 12 through 19.

Cycle Oregon still must seek a special event permit from the city to serve alcohol at the park.

Cycle Oregon ended its 1992 ride in Bear Creek Park and camped two nights in Jacksonville in 2004.

Local cycling enthusiast Dan Wooten was glad to see the tour return to Jackson County.

"It's a great event," Wooten said. "Anything that brings notoriety to the sport is a good thing."

Wooten, who belongs to Siskiyou Velo Bicycling Club, does not plan on joining the tour this year, but he hopes the town rallies around the cyclists who will pitch their tents in the park for an overnight stay in Medford.

"I think they'll find that cyclists are real people — doctors, lawyers, moms and dads," Wooten said. "There are even handicapped people who enjoying cycling."

Sign up for the tour at www.cycleoregon.com. Registration for the week-long tour costs $850. Tour officials limit the ride to 2,000 cyclists and encourage those interested in joining to sign up early to secure an available spot.

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 776-4471 or e-mail cconrad@mailtribune.com; reach reporter Anita Burke at 776-4485; or e-mail aburke@mailtribune.com.