On Friday, September 13, over 1,500 cyclists spent the final night of a seven day, 485-mile ride at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Schwarz Campground near Dorena Lake.
The event known as "Cycle Oregon" converted the campground into a “tent city” that included over 500 pup tents, portable showers, an outdoor cafeteria, an entertainment stage, a first-aid station, a massage therapy center and a bicycle repair shop.
The Cycle Oregon crew began setting up Thursday night and had the camp nearly ready as the first cyclists arrived on early Friday afternoon. On Friday, the cyclists completed a grueling 90-mile ride from Diamond Lake to Dorena Lake.
While the majority of the cyclists on the bike tour were from Oregon, 42 different states and seven countries were represented. For some riders, Cycle Oregon is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and a personal journey. For others, the event is an annual tradition they share with friends or family members.
Steve Hill, from Seattle, Wash., was completing his seventh year of Cycle Oregon.
“I enjoy the challenge of the ride, the beautiful scenery along the way, and the sense of community during the event,” he said. “Schwarz campground was one of the best locations where I’ve stayed during this event.”
Cycle Oregon’s Executive Director Steve Schulz said that selecting the overnight sites along the route is challenging because they need 10-15 acres to set up the event.
“The Schwarz campground is a great place for us. It’s very beautiful and has lots of space,” Schulz said.
Cycle Oregon relies on partnerships with government agencies and community groups to provide logistical support along the route. In return, Cycle Oregon funds a grant program for community projects, and contributes funds directly to the local communities along the route. For example, students from Cottage Grove High School helped moved baggage for cyclists in exchange for contributions to their athletic programs.
When Cycle Oregon last came to Schwarz campground in 2007, since-retired park ranger Mark Chappelle said that the organization and efficiency of the base camp reminded him of a military operation.
For park ranger Teresa Bailey, the event felt like a circus coming to town for just one night.
“On Saturday afternoon when the excitement was over and the camp was all packed up, the Schwarz campground seemed more quiet and empty than ever before,” said Bailey.
Article by: Christie Johnson, Willamette Valley Project park ranger