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Picturesque pedalling

Among the 80 bicyclists who spent their Saturday pedaling through miles of hills and scenic sights along the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, two saw a new side of Southern Oregon for the first time as they celebrated their wedding anniversary.

Rick and Kathy Dancer, who celebrated 33 years together Saturday, came from Springfield to ride 51 miles on the recently designated Cascade Siskiyou Scenic Bikeway. They participated in the Up & Down bike ride, the first official ride on the route since the state sanctioned it as Southern Oregon's first Scenic Bikeway in 2015.

As couple concluded their 51-mile ride by removing their helmets for barbecue and a beer at the Emigrant Lake County Recreation Area, they marveled at Southern Oregon's unique terrain, which is drier than Oregon's Willamette Valley, but offered woods and vegetation different from their Eastern Oregon rides. 

"You had a view all the way," Rick Dancer said, adding that the less dense woods meant there was more scenery for riders to take in. Kathy called the ride "gorgeous."

Beyond the views, the people warmed the couple to Southern Oregon.

"Your motorists are very kind," Rick Dancer said. "It's unusual."

The couple have been riding through Scenic Bikeways across the state, of which there are currently 15 designated. They will head to Port Orford next weekend to explore the Oregon coast along the Wild Rivers Coast Scenic Bikeway.

Most who rode in the Up & Down event, which started about 7 a.m. Saturday morning and completed with the barbecue close to 1 p.m., lived nearby.

First to sign up for the event was 79-year-old Sue Hutchison of Talent, who rode just after noon on her multi-colored bike with bright green wheels and a rainbow seat cover, according to Siskiyou Velo event organizer ML Moore. Hutchison rode to and from Emigrant Lake from her home, in addition to riding the 51 miles.

"I live in Talent so I do this ride all the time," Hutchison said. 

The Dancers, who rode near Hutchison, marveled at her fitness.

"You're our inspiration," Kathy Dancer said as Rick took a selfie of the three of them at the barbecue.

The event was a collaboration among Jackson County Roads and Parks, the Ashland Parks and Recreation Department, the Ashland Chamber of Commerce and Siskiyou Velo, among others.

"It was a combination of efforts," said Jenna Marmon, Jackson County Bicycle and Pedestrian Program manager, said as she dished out pulled pork sandwiches to the riders. "It all came together."

Moore said Marmon was instrumental in getting the designation for the Cascade Siskiyou bikeway, which has brought in tourists such as the Dancers.

Melissa Arakelian of Ashland, who rode the full route, commended Marmon for her work on the event. Arakelian's father Raymond Perry said he rode half of the route and joined his daughter for barbecue.

"This ride's from my backyard," Arakelian said. "Which is wonderful."

Because Siskiyou Velo has members at a range of ability levels, the club is looking into offering a second shorter ride for next year's events, Siskiyou Velo membership Chairman Matt Walker said.

Until about four years ago, Siskiyou Velo had organized a similar ride, the Mountain Lakes Challenge, according to Walker. The logistics were daunting for a single organization with one volunteer base.

"It's hard for one club," Walker said.

Walker said the club's goal is to get riders together, no matter their ability, and offer a range of rides — from leisurely to intense — throughout the year.

"That's what we don't get enough of," Walker said.

For information about Scenic Bikeways see www.rideoregonride.com. For information about Siskiyou Velo see www.siskiyouvelo.org.

Reach reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MTCrimeBeat.

Bicyclists make their way along Dead Indian Memorial Road while participating in the 'Up and Down' event. The 51-mile ride started and finished at Emigrant Lake. Mail Tribune / Jamie Lusch