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Rogue Valley fun on two wheels

From special events to professionally guided outings to free, weekly group rides, the Rogue Valley offers a plethora of options for those who enjoy riding bicycles.

From the Bear Creek Greenway to the Rogue River Greenway to the trails that crisscross the Ashland watershed, getting around Southern Oregon on two wheels is fun and, at times, breathtaking.

The Bear Creek Greenway is a 17.9-mile biking and hiking path extending from Ashland to Central Point.

The Rogue River Greenway begins in Rogue River and, from the south end of town, heads southeast along the northern bank of the river for almost four miles.

The Ashland watershed trails — extending from the top of Mount Ashland to Lithia Park — offer many miles of options for dirt and gravel riders.

If you're looking for a little guidance from some local pros, Ashland Mountain Adventures (700 Misteltoe Road) offers shuttles to Mount Ashland and Applegate Lake, as well as guided biking tours.

The cost is $25 per person for five or fewer people, or $20 for six or more. The cost covers an entire day with a guide.

Riding with an experienced cyclist is convenient and fun, says Sue Roussel, co-owner of Ashland Mountain Adventures.

"People may not want to spend the time looking at a map and trying to figure it out," she says. "They just want to follow someone."

Anyone can take on the trails in Ashland with the right equipment, Roussel says, and for that, bike and equipment rentals are available.

"Mount Ashland has some very difficult trails but also has some nice intermediate trails and fire roads for first-timers," she says. "The fire roads are great for people who aren't avid mountain bikers."

No matter how fast or slow you go, the experience will be enjoyable, Roussel adds.

"Mount Ashland to me is the most beautiful place in the world," she says. "All the different trees and terrain. I just love it. It is definitely busier than Applegate. ... Applegate is more quiet. There is more water and it is much more remote."

Shuttles run from May to November and cost $15 for trips to Mount Ashland and Applegate Lake.

Wine tours after biking are also available. Visits to four wineries and Dagoba Organic Chocolate cost $35 per person.

For more information, see ashmtnadv.com or call 541-499-2298.

If bicycle camping is your thing, Phil Gagnon leads overnight bicycle tours with Siskiyou Velo, the Rogue Valley's largest bicycle club. He will offer 12 tours this season.

"A lot of people have never done a bike tour," he says. "An overnight tour is an excellent way to experience the adventure aspects of bicycle touring."

The first trip of this year was a 24-mile overnighter to Valley of the Rogue State Park on May 2.

The next trip, on June 20, will start at Pony Espresso in Jacksonville and go to Applegate's Sulphur Campground. The next morning, they'll head back to Jacksonville.

The group will go from Ruch to Applegate Lake and back July 30-31.

Aside from campground fees, there is no cost to participate. For more information and a full list of rides, contact Gagnon at 541-488-4289 or star@mind.net.

The Siskiyou Velo club also offers numerous group rides just about every day of the week. Gagnon, 82, leads a group called the Slo-Mo's, who like to take their time. Other members lead longer and faster rides for people who like to push themselves. See times and details of the rides at siskiyouvelo.org.

If you're looking for a road-biking event at the end of summer, the seventh annual Ride the Rogue on Sept. 20 offers numerous options.

The event, which begins at Palmerton Park in Rogue River, includes four different rides: a 25-, 40-, 70- and 100-miler. All of the routes travel along the Rogue River Greenway through Valley of the Rogue State Park and then branch off, with views of the Table Rocks, Rogue River and the vineyards of Applegate Valley and Evans Valley.

In short, it's an opportunity to enjoy scenic surroundings with like-minded people. "It's definitely not a race," says event manager Richard Amneus. "It's a ride."

Action begins at 7 a.m. for the 100-mile ride, which heads toward Grants Pass, crosses the Rogue River and moves up to Robertson Bridge. From there, cyclists will go down to Wilderville and into the Applegate Valley. At that point, they'll join the 70-mile route through Jacksonville, Central Point, Gold Hill and Rogue River.

On the 25-miler, the ride enters Evans Valley and descends through Rogue River and to Valley of the Rogue State Park. There, it connects with the 100-, 70- and 40-mile routes.

"The places you get to ride through are spectacular," says Amneus, who owns BikeKraft in Grants Pass. "There are beautiful backroads and light traffic."

The post-ride celebration includes food, live music, raffles and a silent auction at Palmerton Park Arboretum.

Online and mail-in registration closes Sept. 1. Meal tickets cost $10 (deadline to purchase meal tickets is Sept. 5).

The event raises money to help build the Rogue River Recreational Corridor and Greenway.

The event wouldn't be possible without assistance from the community, Amneus says.

"The people of Rogue River come out in droves to help," he says.

For more information, contact Amneus at 541-476-4935 or bikekraft@yahoo.com, or visit ridetherogue.org.

Reach reporter Dan Jones at 541-776-4499 or djones@mailtribune.com. Find him online at twitter.com/danjonesmt

Siskiyou Velo club members ride through Blue Heron Park in Phoenix. The club offers free group rides just about every day of the week.