was it?

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Cycle Oregon Highlights

Postby Red Zinger » Mon Sep 15, 2008 4:00 pm

Having been with Cycle Oregon since CO III, Matt and I found we had a different attitude this year. We've been over most of the roads and visited all the communities several times before. This year, the ride would not be about just covering miles on the bike. Rather, we would take time to immerse ourselves in the local culture and lifestyle and try to take advantage of some of the opportunities the wonderful people and land of northeastern Oregon were offering us. This year's tour seemed the perfect time to do that.

We had all day Saturday before the ride to enjoy Elgin and its warm welcome. It didn't take long to discover the wonderful blended mochas at the "Pizza and a Movie" shop. Then, with the idea that it would be good to contribute something to the community, we decided to take in their performance of The Sound of Music. What a surprise! It was truly stunning! How in the world did a community of 1,700 manage to produce such a magnificent show? It brought tears to our eyes more than once.

The layover day in Halfway was a real hoot. We had done the Hells Canyon ride a couple of times before, so again we decided to meet some of the local people and see what they had to show us. We did the walking tour, rode our bikes around the area for a while, visited the old Forest Service lookout tower, and talked with a couple of the staff at the encampment there.

I almost can't believe what we did next. We tackled the gravel roads and biked out to the Durr buffalo ranch, where Mr. Durr runs a herd of couple of hundred buffalo on his 600 acres. He provides good natural meat for the area. Now here was a lifestyle we knew nothing about, and we were full of questions. The personable Mr. Durr, my ideal of a classic western rancher, was happy to talk with us about his operation, and it soon was apparent to us how much we don't know about life out there on the wild side.

The high point was when we piled into his car with him and couple of his dogs and drove right out into the pasture into the middle of the herd. Those critters are big! He told us they can outrun a racehorse (for a short distance), then proceeded to prove it! We chased several of the largest of the bulls around the pasture with the car, with cows and calves scattering in all directions. Matt and I couldn't stop laughing for hours after that. Disclaimer: No bull, cow, or calf was harmed in any way. They just got a bit of exercise. Indeed, Mr. Durr treats his critters much more kindly than they treat each other, and come butchering time, the job is done quickly and humanely.

Day 5 was quintessential Cycle Oregon, and that day was indeed all about the ride. We did well, but it was tough, and by the time we rolled into camp at Wallowa Lake State Park, I didn't want to ride my bike anymore that day. The agenda was showers and dinner!

We had already signed up to work on a trail project on Day 6. At 8:00 AM, we went to find our group, hosted by two knowledgable Forest Service seasonal employees, Caleb and Sam, who study at OSU here in Corvallis during the year. They had brought commemorative bandanas and water bottles for us, along with lunch, snacks, and drinks.

Our trail was within walking distance of camp, so we shouldered our tools (we were going to do trail maintenance) and hiked a long way up a wilderness trail high above camp and the lake. Mostly, we cleared brush and moved rock obstructing the trail. We could have used more "loppers" for clearing brush. Apparently there was a lopper shortage in the tool storage area. :P

We felt good about helping with this effort, but we wondered more than once whose idea it was to take advantage of the presence of all these strong healthy Cycle Oregon riders! By evening, we were tired, but we had used a few different muscles.

You know about Marv and Rindy Ross and Quarterflash and the spectacular meteorite Friday night. There was the Cycle Oregon magic. What a memory to carry along on Day 7 back to Elgin. We took our time that day, avoiding the rag tag pace lines, and savoring every mile. We weren't the only ones. Quite a few riders stopped at the cute espresso shop in Lostine. How often do you get to sit in the back seat of an old VW bug and enjoy your coffee?! :P

Keeping in mind the Ride Director's request that we finish by 4:00 PM, we rolled into Elgin about 2:00 PM. It's over already? How in the world did the week go by so fast?
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it was great

Postby SchleckJr » Mon Sep 15, 2008 6:20 pm

It was great.

my first CO, gonna come back next year. Only comment: food sucked
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Re: it was great

Postby bogiesan » Tue Sep 16, 2008 7:33 am

SchleckJr wrote:It was great.
my first CO, gonna come back next year. Only comment: food sucked

I help organize a much smaller event, Ride Idaho, 200-250 riders. I'm always interested in what clients expect to be included in the cost of luxury tours like CO compared to our very basic event.

Could you tell me why you formed this opinion?

I did not think the food was as interesting or varied as on past CO rides but it was far better than anything Ride Idaho can offer now with our resources and for our fee.

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Postby Entiat » Tue Sep 16, 2008 3:02 pm

I don't understand the complaining about the food - it seemed like every other CO I've been on (4 so far). We did know enough from previous experience to avoid the salmon and go into Joseph for burgers, but still. I thought the beef in Halfway was a nice touch (if overcooked, but it's hard to make medium rare cow for 2000+). The meat sauce for the pasta night was very tasty. Breakfasts almost always had bacon (yum! bacon!).

I _did_ miss the gel shots at the rest stops - I'm glad I brought a couple of my own, ended up using one on day 5. But they tend to be out of stock by day 3 anyways.

Hot Lips? Well, they seemed to finally get their act together after about day three, which is at least two days better than 2007 (if you thought they were disorganized this year, you should have seen last year!). So they're improving. Their pizza is really good, but darn, they need a competent business manager.

Overall, though, I was perfectly happy with the food.
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Postby Brettha » Wed Sep 17, 2008 8:12 am

I am extremely disappointed with the food as well.

This ride advertised "gourmet food." It was certainly not that.

On Day 5, the longest of days, the hardest of days, when many of us were rolling in at sunset, there was no chocolate milk. I was completely depleted and, had it not been for the string cheese I'd put in my pocket from the first ODS rest stop, I would have passed out. As it was, eating the melted pizza-like cheese sent all the blood to my stomach and I became severly chilled... almost hypothermic.

When I got to dinner after warming myself in the much needed shower, there were no more meatballs or pasta sauce left.

Running out of food on the most difficult day of riding is simply unacceptable.

Especially when you give a check for $60,000 to the community that served us the very next night.
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Postby bradc » Wed Sep 17, 2008 12:21 pm

Well, with all the rampant disappointment, maybe it won't sell out so quickly next year. Knowing that resources are NOT unlimited (that should become apparent by Day 5, and if not, well....) should prompt one to consider that perhaps dinner after an 83-miler is more important than a shower. I came in just early enough to get chocolate milk (about 6:30), but I certainly didn't feel that I had time before dinner to take a shower. That was the one day that I ate dinner first, because it was late. I absolutely loved the food, as I'm sure most did - what a pork-fest!
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Postby GearHeadOSU » Wed Sep 17, 2008 1:20 pm

Gee, I thought the food was OK myself... maybe I'm used to more "simple" fare :)

I could see the need for gu or other gel maybe on day 5, but on the other days you barely get through one water bottle between rest/lunch stops which were only 15 miles apart. There were a couple of days when we were eating "lunch" by 10 AM. Maybe I'm more used to "3 squares" then grazing, but I think I can handle the "starvation" of a whole hour between rest stops!

The locals were great - always friendly and willing to chat.

The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time

-- James Taylor --
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Sweet Spot in the Middle

Postby John A Campbell » Wed Sep 17, 2008 4:49 pm

On CO IV they gave the communities the money and let them decide how to feed us. The food varied wildly, some of it was great, some of it was awful, and the communities worked their fingers to the bone.

Last year the food was uniformly bland. I wonder if there isn't a sweet spot in there someplace where we get some local color and some institution food insurance.
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Postby Brettha » Wed Sep 17, 2008 5:02 pm

I can't remember if it was CO2 or CO3 but we had some grain/vegetable concoction for lunch that was delicious. I wish I'd gotten the recipe. There was another day on CO2 after we came down from Crater Lake when I ate a grilled steak that was so dry and overcooked it was like jerky. But, I gotta tell you it was the best darn piece of meat I'd had in years (I was a practicing vegetarian at the time). I ate it with my fingers, Cro-Magnon style. I can still remember how good it tasted.

So, I'm not just looking for something to complain about. I did like the chicken fajitas night. I was looking forward to the beef dinner but my pieces of meat were tough and rubbery.

As far as making a choice between a shower and eating. If my husband hadn't put a blanket around me and a hat on my head I probably would have ended up in the medic tent instead of doing either.

What's worse is that many folks I talked to said that their portions were enough for two people. So for those of you who either pigged out or threw out half your dinner... perhaps this post will make you more conscious.
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Postby Oroluk Lagoon » Wed Sep 17, 2008 5:35 pm

I gained 5 pounds, so I guess I must have thought the food was OK. But then I generally don't expect restaurant quality fare when I go camping.
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The food this year

Postby wayneh » Wed Sep 17, 2008 6:47 pm

My main focus of hoping for improvement is at lunch, at least this year's ride. Breakfasts were ample and what I've come to expect. Dinners were ok, you're so hungry anyway, some were above average, like the chicken fajitas, no real complaints there, those were yummy. Thew folks in Halfway did a good job with the smokers, but that's a tough cut to keep moist if it goes past medieum rare. On Day 5, I thought the servers put too much sauce out early in the evening, which is why I think they ran out before everyone had been fed.

Overall, I thought all of the fresh fruit at the rest stops, like the organic peaches (awesome), the watermelon, strawberries, canteloupe, as well as all of the other goodies offered, were particularly strong this year. Gummi bears were a blast from the past. Granted there were some short days where we were eating lunch at 10am, I still would like them to lose the mayo and focus more on quality complex carbs at lunch, and that shouldn't cost anymore than what they are currently doing. I hope these comments are taken as constructive. I'm not a picky eater, and certainly no nutritionist, and appreciate the challenges of feeding 2,000 plus riders three times a day for 7 days in a row. I'll be back next year, regardless.
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Postby beachdog » Wed Sep 17, 2008 11:53 pm

The meat cooked by the people of Halfway was really good. The rest of the food was mediocre to awful. Who thought powdered eggs were a good idea? Hot cereal that was cooked without salt - inedible. I threw four complete dinners away after tasting them and wished I had packed some MREs to hold me over. I lost six pounds. I'm not a picky eater - I would have killed for a bowl of Kraft macaroni and cheese, or a TV Dinner, a can of Chef-Boyare-Anthing, or a toaster to make the stale bagels edible.

While talking to the guys doing the cooking in Halfway, they were happy to share meat, medium rare, hot off the BBQ. The stuff that made its way to our dinner plates was pretty overheated and dry, but still not too bad.

Seriously, for what we're paying, there is no excuse for the food to be as bad as it was.
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Postby pumatracker » Thu Sep 18, 2008 12:37 am

I am a vegetarian and come down on the side of really liking CO food. I've never been so well taken care of at any type of conference or event in the vege protein department. I use MRE's in the winter because I can have something hot while I'm out but I would never consider them preferable to CO food. I think CO does a good job with the food.
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Postby Lazlo » Thu Sep 18, 2008 9:27 am

I'm a big eater with a high metabolism, and I never went hungry. Lots of options at breakfast; they had what I like - fruit, yogurt, cereal, plus eggs and a bit of meat. Always left lunch with an apple and cookies in my pocket because I couldn't eat it all. Dinners were OK, plenty to eat. I didn't expect gourmet food, it was never promised; nor was chocolate milk. Plenty of good stuff at rest stops, too; if anything, there were more rest stops than I even needed. There were more support vehicles than I've seen on any organized ride; there were HOT SHOWERS every day, and generally clean blue rooms; they hauled my gear all week; there was Ben & Jerry's, Hot Lips Pizza, a beer garden, and entertainment. Stop whining.
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this is from the CO Website

Postby Brettha » Thu Sep 18, 2008 9:34 am

"How: You pedal; we'll take care of everything else. Beautiful campsites, [size=0][size=18]gou[/size]rmet food[/size], hot showers, massage, cold microbrew, Oregon wine, live entertainment and a fully supported route."

I am not whining. I am merely making constructive criticisms to provide Cycle Oregon with an opportunity to make their ride better if they so choose.

I too often packed away snacks in my bag for later because eating too much at one time slowed me down.

Powdered eggs are not gourmet. The meals were not gourmet.
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