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Rolling to a Stop

The 22nd annual Cycle Oregon cruise ended Saturday right where it began — in Medford's Fichtner-Mainwaring Park.

The 2,200 riders trickled into the park throughout the day as community volunteers and vendors from across Oregon loaded tables and tents into trucks and pulled away.

A cadre of riders from Juneau, Alaska, had nothing but praise for this year's ride through the so-called State of Jefferson.

The 2009 ride took cyclists down Highway 99 over the Siskiyou Summit and down to Yreka and Happy Camp in Northern California, then up over the Siskiyou Crest, through the Illinois Valley, along the Rogue River, up to Wolf Creek, and then to Grants Pass, with a swing through Glendale before finishing where it started in Medford.

This is the first time the tour has headed into Northern California.

"It was so beautiful down here," said Juneau native Liz White. "It was a lot warmer weather than we're used to."

White was talked into the ride by her friend Susan Bell, also of Juneau.

Bell said the best part of the ride was the enthusiasm shown by the Medford community.

"They were so helpful to us," Bell said. "This town really opened up for the riders and made us feel so welcome."

The park once resembled a tent city as the riders spent a night there staging for the event. By Saturday evening, barely a tent was seen as the riders packed their gear and headed home.

Second-year Cycle Oregon rider Jeff Kerr was strapping his bicycle to the bumper of his car as he sang the praises of the Medford community.

"One of the coolest parts was when all the kids came out and gave us high fives as we rode out of town," Kerr said.

Kerr and his co-workers with Portland-based Dragon Fly Chai provided much-appreciated caffeinated drinks for the riders.

Suze Fischer, of Boulder, Colo., said she would be happy to bicycle through the State of Jefferson in the future.

"The general attitude of the people here was wonderful," she said.

This year's ride was not without drama, however, as a Boise, Idaho, woman was injured Sept. 16 in a crash on Highway 199 south of Grants Pass.

Catheryn Alexander, 48, originally was listed in fair condition last Wednesday night at Rogue Valley Medical Center in Medford, a hospital spokesman said.

Alexander was riding northbound with a group of cyclists between Wonder and Wilderville at about 8:30 a.m. when her bike's front tire hit the back tire of another bicycle, Oregon State Police said in a news release.

She lost control and fell into the northbound lane of the highway. An online report from the Daily Courier in Grants Pass said she suffered head and facial injuries.

The highway lane was briefly closed while Alexander, who was wearing a helmet, was treated, police said. A Mercy Flights helicopter transported her to Rogue Valley Medical Center.

RVMC officials Saturday said she had been released from the hospital after being treated for her injuries.

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 776-4471; or e-mail cconrad@mailtribune.com.

Rod Street, right, of West Linn, 56, crosses the Cycle Oregon finish line at Fichtner Mainwaring Park in Medford Saturday. Mail Tribune Photo / Siboney Lusch - Siboney Lusch