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Cycle Oregon to tackle Southern Oregon mountains, coast

Two thousand cyclists rode together for hundreds of miles across the state, making overnight stops in Myrtle Creek in 1998 and in Riddle in 2011. This year, Cycle Oregon announced its plans to return to Douglas County and other parts of Southwestern Oregon for the annual Week Ride.

The seven-day bike ride will cover either 365 miles or 457 miles, depending on whether optional rides are taken, and climbing elevations will range from 25,853 to 33,689 feet. Cycle Oregon chooses a different part of Oregon over which to pedal each year.

“We have not been down to the far Southern Oregon coast in over 20 years, so we were looking at ways to get us down to that area and go to some communities that we haven’t been to in a long time,” said Steve Schulz, deputy director of Cycle Oregon.

The participants will start out at the South Umpqua School District grounds in Myrtle Creek for their first overnight stay Saturday, Sept. 10, and leave their vehicles there until the ride ends the next Saturday.

“That’s 2,000 people coming into town, even though they’ll be here for a short period of time,” said Ted Romas of the Myrtle Creek Chamber of Commerce. “They’ve got mobility, they can get on their bikes and ride them into Myrtle Creek.”

He said there’s been some discussion about having shuttles transport people into downtown Myrtle Creek, as well.

“That all relates to having these extra shoppers in town,” he said.

The riders will also stay overnight in Camas Valley, Bandon, Gold Beach, Brookings, Indian Mary Park and Glendale. Indian Mary Park sits alongside the Rogue River 16 miles northwest of Grants Pass.

“The way that the route laid out, those were just ideal places for us to go, and we could bring people through the coastal range that’s in the area,” Schulz said. “When people think of the coast, a lot of them think of the Northern Coast, so we wanted to bring them to the less populated but just as beautiful, if not more beautiful, Southern Oregon coast,” Schulz said.

Along with the coast, the scenic bicycle excursion will parallel portions of the Umpqua and Rogue rivers. After leaving the ocean, riders will climb the steep, isolated Bear Camp Road on their way to Indian Mary Park.

“We were able to put all those things together, so it’ll be some stunning cycling and some stunning beauty,” Schulz said.

The cost of the Southern Coast Week Ride is $985 and includes the supported route, campsites, food, showers, live entertainment, as well as massage, acupuncture, microbrews, Oregon wine, coffee and more.

Through the Oregon Community Foundation, the Cycle Oregon Fund has awarded $1.7 million in 200 grants since its start. The grants go to promote bicycle safety and tourism, preserve Oregon’s beauty and support community projects across the state. Recipients of the grants are often from some of the places the ride visits. In 2015, the fund offered $95,150 in 11 grants.

Next week, Cycle Oregon staff plan to visit the host communities and look for local volunteers to help with the event. The groups that help will get a stipend for volunteering.

For more information about the Week Ride, or Cycle Oregon’s other events, see cycleoregon.com.

Cycle Oregon riders set up camp on the Southern Oregon University campus for a layover in 2012. Mail Tribune File Photo