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A bigger 'Up and Down'

The popular 49-mile “Up and Down” bike ride and fundraiser in the hills east of Ashland has been expanded for this year's event on July 22 to include a new 80-mile loop that should take about six or seven hours to pedal, organizers said.

The basic 49-mile jaunt is still there — part of the Cascade-Siskiyou Scenic Bike Ride system. It goes up the challenging but scenic Greensprings Highway to a gratis lunch at Greensprings Inn, then left at Hyatt Lake Road and down Dead Indian Memorial Road to Emigrant Lake for beer and chow.

The annual event draws about 80 riders and, at $60 a person, raises some $3,500 for the Bear Creek Greenway Foundation. It is part of Oregon’s Scenic Bikeway program, which includes 16 remote and beautiful bikeways. Oregon is the only state with such a program.

“The riders, including me, just love the ride on paved road, out of town, a one-day ride, usually an especially great ride in the country,” says ML Moore of Ashland, who designed the new, expanded route, called the Burton Flat loop. It follows Keno Access Road and Brown Mountain Road, then down Route 37 to Daley Creek.

“A strong rider can do this in half a day,” she says.

The main requirement for inclusion in the system is that it’s paved, beautiful and peaceful — meaning it doesn’t have much traffic, says Moore. The only other such loop in Southern Oregon is around Lakeview to the east, she adds. Some cyclists travel around the state, hoping to bike all 16 routes.

Sponsors of the event, all taking an active role, include the Ashland Chamber of Commerce, Ashland Parks & Recreation, Siskiyou Velo Club, Jackson County Parks and the Bear Creek Greenway Foundation.

While many think Greensprings Inn on Highway 66 is the summit of the area, when you get there, you still have a lot of elevation gain in front of you, says Moore. The old loop, for instance includes 4,900 feet of total vertical gain in elevation.

Moore, 68, estimates that only 15 percent of regular cyclists in the valley can do it, adding that age doesn’t matter and “if you’ve been a strong cyclist all your life, you still are in older years, just not as strong.” She bikes regularly with a group heavily populated with 80-somethings.

The "Up and Down" jaunt is sprinkled with several water stops and rest stops, most handled by sponsors, who contribute fruits, cheeses, peanut butter-laden bagels and “trail putty,” which is homemade logs of peanut butter, chocolate chips, dried milk and honey.

“Everyone talks about those,” she says.

Howard Prairie Lake Resort is another welcome stop, with fruit and peanut butter treats offered by Rogue Credit Union. A stop at Burton Flat is run by the Bear Creek Greenway Foundation. The Daley Creek rest stop, with fruit, cheeses and energy bars, is run by Siskiyou Velo. The finale at Emigrant Lake features BBQ and beer.

The group is followed by a “Sag Wagon,” which can pick up any cyclists who feel they can’t go on and need a lift home. A mechanic from Bear Creek Bike Shop takes care of malfunctions before the trip.

You can register at upanddownashland.com.

Reach Ashland freelance writer John Darling at jdarling@jeffnet.org.

The annual Up and Down bike ride follows the Cascade-Siskiyou Scenic Bike route along the Greensprings Highway. [Mail Tribune / File Photo]