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Cycle Oregon passes through

Look out for 2,000 extra travelers on Highway 238 today.

Those folks pedaling along the road in bright clothes are part of Cycle Oregon, the annual bike tour that showcases Oregon scenery and raises money for communities along the route.

Cyclists rolled out of their tents this morning at Lake Selmac in Josephine County and will pass through the Applegate Valley on their way to an overnight stop in Jacksonville.

They'll follow backcountry roads from Lake Selmac to Williams, then take Highway 238 to Cantrall-Buckley Park. From there, they'll follow Little Applegate Road to Buncom and take Sterling Creek Road north to Cady Road. Then it's a long downhill run to Jacksonville.

After lunch in Williams, the riders will stop for water and a rest at the Applegate Store and again at Buncom, the old ghost town at the intersection of Little Applegate Road and Sterling Creek Road. The Buncom post office will reopen for the day to provide special Cycle Oregon cancellations for letters.

— We thought it would be fun to open the post office again, said Lyn Hennion. She and her husband, Reeve, own all that remains of the old mining town.

Hennion said a local troop of Brownies has made commemorative pins that resemble gold pans for the cyclists, and local women will be selling costume jewelry at the rest stop.

Jacksonville has been getting ready for the visitors, too. A block of Third Street between California and Main streets will be closed to traffic on Tuesday and Wednesday to minimize traffic problems.

Merchants are looking forward to having 2,000 guests after a summer season when road construction limited access to many stores, said Terri Gieg, president of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce.

It's like Christmas in September, Gieg said. It's the biggest celebration anybody could think of.

We're all terribly excited, Gieg said. I don't think we know what to expect. We're doubling the town's population in a day.

Most of the cyclists will sleep in tents at Cascade Christian High School and Jacksonville Elementary School. All available lodging in town was reserved long ago, Gieg said.

Wednesday will be a layover day in Jacksonville. The tour will resume Thursday, with two different routes that both end at Stewart State Park. A 73-mile route follows backroads around Medford and Central Point and eventually reaches Butte Falls for lunch. A 105-mile route heads south to Ashland and then climbs Dead Indian Memorial Road before descending to Butte Falls for lunch.

Monday morning rain caused few problems for riders, said Tara Corbin, a spokesperson for the tour.

People just took their time getting out of camp, Corbin said, after a meteorologist traveling with the tour advised them that skies would clear toward noon.

Temperatures around 70 degrees provided ideal conditions Monday on the ride from Wolf Creek to Selma, Corbin said.

Reach reporter Bill Kettler at 776-4492, or e-mail

Volunteers at Medford?s Salvation Army make and pack sandwiches Saturday in anticipation of the arrival of 2,000 Cycle Oregon riders to Jackson County. Mail Tribune / Jim Craven - Mail Tribune Jim Craven