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Art of Survival bike ride returns

Riders take part in the Art of Survival bike event near Klamath Falls, which will return over Memorial Day weekend following a pandemic-affected version last year. Photo by Larry Turner

LAVA BEDS NATIONAL MONUMENT — After surviving a year complicated by the pandemic, the eighth annual Art of Survival Century will return over Memorial Day weekend.

“We’re pretty excited about it,” said Ryan Bartholomew, a member of the event’s organizing committee. He notes the 2020 bicycle event was scaled down because of the pandemic and moved to September, luring fewer than 100 participants.

“Our goal last year was to keep it alive. We’re hoping we’ll be able to reconnect with people who weren’t able to come,” Bartholomew said.

This year’s renewed Art of Survival will again offer a variety of distances for road bicyclists and mountain bikers May 29 and 30, along with a preride party from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Friday, May 28. Because of COVID-19 restrictions, the May 29 rides will begin in the Malin Community Park instead of the Tulelake-Butte Valley Fairgrounds. The mountain bike event, as usual, will begin on Forest Service Road 44N68 — a map is on the Art of Survival website. The Sunday, May 30, rides will begin and end at the Butte Valley Community Center. Post-ride meals will be served both days.

Rides offered Saturday, May 29, include a 100-miler, 59-miler, 38-miler, 14-mile family-friendly ride, and a 22-mile mountain bike ride. All go through portions of Lava Beds National Monument and give participants a sampling of the park’s rugged, ragged volcanic landscape, which includes towering cinder cones, expansive black lava flows and more than 700 lava tube caves.

Lava Beds also has a rich cultural history, including many petroglyphs and pictographs, along with the major battlefields of the 1871-72 Modoc Indian War. A large portion of the park was burned by a fire last year.

The rides, especially the longer Century event, also explore portions of Merrill, Malin and the fringes of Klamath Falls in Southern Oregon and Tulelake in far Northern California.

The Sunday, May 30, rides include a trio of gravel riding options for mountain bikers on less traveled roads. Rides covering distances of 74 and 54 miles will be offered along with a 13-mile family-friendly ride. The routes follow the flat lands by the Butte Valley Wildlife Area and Juanita Lake and feature frequent sightings of Mount Shasta. In addition, the routes pass by several historic sites along with farms and ranches.

No events are scheduled Monday, Memorial Day, but road or mountain bikers are encouraged to explore on their own. Information and suggestions are available from Art of Survival organizers or from other riders during the weekend. Information is also available on lodging, including camping.

The theme for this year’s event is the Applegate Trail, the mid-19th Century emigrant trail that passed through the Tulelake, Merrill and Malin areas. People on the 100-mile ride will cover 15 miles of the trail. Bartholomew, the Malin Museum’s director, terms this year’s event a “ride through American history.”

Bartholomew notes it was 175 years ago when 15 men led by Jesse and Lindsay Applegate set out to blaze a safer, more direct route to Oregon Country as an alternative to the Oregon Trail. The Applegate Trail, or “South Road,” took the trailblazers through the Klamath Basin, the homeland of the Modoc Indians.

“Take in the beautiful vistas following in the footsteps of Southern Oregon’s and Northern California’s earliest settlers,” says Bartholomew, noting rest stops along the Saturday rides will feature information about the Applegate Trail. “Hear about the trials and tribulations the pioneers endured along the trail and learn how the Modoc Indians defended their homeland against these perceived invaders.”

Bartholomew and Linda Woodley, who leads the organizing committee, both stress the event is “a ride, not a race,” and that along with providing fluids and nutritious snacks at the rest stops, riders will have opportunities to learn about the region. Each rest stop will offer “educational components and/or ranger or historian led talks highlighting the cultural history, geography, environmental issues and geology of the area.”

“The Art of Survival Century was founded to bring economic development to our region, and to share our gorgeous landscape and rich heritage with others,” Woodley says of why efforts were launched to create and continue the event. We invite you to explore this historical land and learn why we love it so.

For more information, including maps of the various routes, starting times and suggestions for out-of-towners staying overnight, visit The Art of Survival Century Facebook page, email aoscentury@gmail.com, website at www.survivalcentury.com, or contact Woodley at 541-723-3181.

Reach freelance writer Lee Juillerat at 337lee337@charter.net or 541-880-4139.