Summer is in full swing, which means we don’t like to talk about fall too much. With such a short season, it’s best to savor ever moment of it and clock as much riding as possible while the gettin’s good.
But eventually fall will come. And at that time we’ll pay tribute to sweet summer, a particularly fervorous one this year, by riding our bikes in one last supported ride. It has become an annual tradition, one that offers a special closing to the season. It’s the Harvest Century, this year on September 27th. This well-organized ride raises funds for Community Vision, a non-profit organization that helps adults with disabilities lead full lives.
So mark your calendars for the ritual that is Harvest Century. As the date draws nearer, we’ll tell you more about what makes this ride so special.
It’s widely regarded as the most grueling mt. bike race in the US, and it happens right here in Oregon. The Cascade Cream Puff is August 1 in the area of Oakridge, Oregon.
Adam Haynes, owner of Rolling Cycles in Nampa, Idaho was simply looking for a 100 mile mt. bike event when he first signed up. It was either that or the Leadville 100. He didn’t make the cut for the extremely limited Leadville entry, and for that he is thankful. His experience on the Cascade Cream Puff was incredible and he says he can’t wait to race it again.
Not everyone finishes the Cascade Cream Puff. “I’ve talked to many people in the endurance world: Leadville, High Cascades 100, etc. Cream Puff is the hardest race in the US. EVERYBODY I’ve talked to says it the toughest day of their lives on a bicycle.”
ADAM’S GREAT RIDE
Adam had a lot of experience under his tires when he signed up for the Cream Puff. He’s been a competitive traithlete, completed Olympic distance rides and rides very regularly. But he had never completed an event that was much longer than five hours, and with the 100 mile ultra endurance course of Cascade Cream Puff he knew he was in for a challenge. “Everyone I had talked to raved about the trails in Oakridge so I was eager to give it a shot.”
The landscape of the Willamette National Forest is a stark contrast to Adam’s regular riding region, a high desert singletrack landscape south of Boise. He says there it’s like riding on the moon; the rugged cattle tracks make for a difficult ride. He likes the smoothness and flow of the Cascade Cream Puff. Adam says the trails in Oregon are just too fun to be race trails. At times, even in the midst of such a grueling race, he thought, “How can this be part of a race course? This is so fun!”
A BIKE SHOP COMMUNITY
Rolling Cycles is a huge part of Adam’s life. “We are a community first, a bike shop second. That is truly our focus,” he says. They are one of only two shops in the second largest city in Idaho and they just opened in 2012. “Our grown has been bonkers,” he explains. “We are blessed by our cycling community and friends who encouraged us to do this.”
ADAM’S CASCADE CREAM PUFF TIPS
- Hone in on fueling and nutrition
- Your mental game is almost more important
- Block out time for Oakridge
I’ve never needed fuel for anything past five hours. This race was 14 hours and 46 minutes – you need to fuel yourself that entire time, and that’s not easy. It takes planning.
If you don’t have it mentally you’re not going to finish. You’ve got to train your mind to keep yourself going for that long. There are many times when you’re by yourself. The real demons you’re battling start to come out, and it’s even more intense when the dark starts settling in. Train for that as much as the physicality.
I’m an over-preparer but this is not the race to bring extra stuff. I would never race that long with a Camelback, not with the amount of aid they provide out there. A hip pack is what I recommended – something you can stand to carry for that extended distance.
Plan to go a day early or carve out at least a day or two or three afterwards. The town and the community really come out to support it and we as racing stewards need to support it – small communities rely on events like this and that little extra really helps them out.
SHOULD YOU SIGN UP? YES!
If you’re considering the Cascade Cream Puff, or a similar ultra endurance race, Adam says, “Everyone has busy schedules, but just do it, I’m a business owner, I organize a high school mt. bike team, we have acreage to maintain, I’m a shop owner and I’m on the local bike advisory committee. I am so thankful I made the time for my experience at Cascade Cream Puff.”
Adam adds that if you’re even looking at a 100 mile mt. bike event, you’ve already made up half your mind. “Get off the couch, get off the computer, put your helmet in the ring and just sign up.”
HOW DID IT GO FOR ADAM?
By the end of the day, Adam was still grinning ear to ear… and he was the very last finisher (pictured here with the “DFL” award for last finisher). Of course he was excited to complete the race, but he says he was surprisingly still excited to be riding the trails.
We think that’s pretty amazing, and so is the Cascade Cream Puff – a special race we’re honored to have here in Oregon.
WATCH THE VIDEO
Last summer, Adam and his friends challenged themselves to sign up for an extreme bike event. Watch the video here >>
The Portland Century (August 1) is an annual tradition that is not to be missed. This incredible ride features top notch support, awesome courses of varying distances, excellent route markings (so you can chat and ride, not study a map) and a full day of delights.
You’ll be catered to with a delicious breakfast and fresh coffee, tasty treats on course and a finish line dinner that’s out of the world. Oh, and of course the awesome beer and wine garden at University of Portland.
You can even stay on site – premium on-site lodging is available at Portland State University. If you’re coming from out of town, this is a great way to enjoy the event. You’ll be positioned just minutes from the cool neighborhoods of both St. Johns and Historic Kenton, or very close to downtown Portland and the waterfront. Be sure to swing up to Cathedral Park under the St. Johns Bridge, an awesome spot for river views and to take in the majestic Gothic bridge that looms overhead.
This year the ride heads south with all new routes that zoom through the heart of the city and into the forest and fields at the fray. You’ll even get to ride a ferry!
MORE INFO >>
Summer is short. Before you know it, the rains begin to fall. That’s why these little one-day rides we love to do are fun, but simply not enough.
And that’s also why we think Tour de Lane is such a fantastic idea.
Spend an entire weekend sinking into the landscape every day on your bike. Choose your own adventures with multiple routes and plenty of exciting features like a tour of bike manufacturing facilities or a ride to the coast.
There are still spots available for this incredible annual ride, this year launching July 31-August 2.
No matter if you’ve been dreaming of it for years or it’s a spur of the moment idea, when you decide to go on a European bike trip you’ll want to make sure you have many of the details buttoned up before you head overseas.
For the best experience, plan as much of your route as possible in advance from home. This organization frees you up to be open to spontaneous adventures and interactions with locals. It also frees you up in your spare time; you won’t have to spend your time overseas planning, you can spend it adventuring and sharing a pint with strangers at the local watering hole. Be open to spontaneous side trips and deviations that pop up along the way. Take advantage of “on the ground” local info – this will give you a much richer and more enjoyable experience.
At first glance, planning a European Bike tour can feel overwhelming. But in the end it’s not much different than planning a tour back home. And after several years of traveling back and forth from Oregon to Europe, and around the continent, I’ve found planning a multi-day, even multi-week or open ended tour comes down to answering four simple questions.
1. “Where do I want to go?” – the research
France, Germany, Austria are all great, maybe head east past the former Iron Curtain. Slovenia is nice, so is Italy… It’s a big continent. Pick a region, maybe highlight some places you already know about, and make this your starting point.
But don’t stop there. Research the places, even the place 10 miles past the places, you want to go. There’s a lot to see and you likely have only a limited time to see it. Once you have a list, put it all on a map, and following the next steps, begin to winnow your planning from there.
2. “How much time do I have?” – the schedule
I’m talking about both on and off the bike. Determine how much time you want to spend riding then subtract 20%. You’ll always find side trips and spontaneous diversions soak up more time than planned. Leave space in your schedule to stay an extra day someplace or peel off the route to find a local gem you just heard about.
Time off the bike is as precious as time in the saddle. Take an extra hour at the farmer’s market you weren’t expecting. Stop to buy homemade wine from the nice little man beside the road. Take the back road the locals at the pub warned you about. Stops like these add up to a lot of extra time, but they literally make the trip.
It can also be helpful to plan a “buffer day” in your schedule. That could be a day when you plan to have a layover somewhere you think you’ll want to stay for one more day, but you’re not sure. That’s okay, you can always shift this day to be elsewhere if your reserved accommodations aren’t dependent upon a strict schedule.
3. “What to see?” – the plan
Europe is full of great sights. Far older – and steeped in history – than the US, most European places, especially in the East, are marked by historical buildings and sights. You will find these in your research. Following local roads, add these variants into your route. In my experience, small, out of the way places far surpass larger iconic cities in bike touring goodness and richness of experience.
Here are some features I look for when planning a route:
- Castles – Germany, Czech and Poland are littered with them. And we don’t have Castles. So…
- Churches/Monasteries – beyond the spiritual, these make for interesteresting historical/local info stops and waypoints.
- River Valleys and Mountain passes – this is what it’s all about.
- Wineries – I think we can all agree on this. Europe has great wines. You should have some.
- Medieval Fortifications – Often combined with churches and castles these make great waypoints and historical pit stops to gain more local insight.
- Historical Sights – Every region is known for something. Take a detour and find out why
- Villages/Towns known for something special – Many small towns have famed local produce or foods specific to just that region – highland cheese in Slovenia, wines in Italy, go find it and enjoy it.
4. “How to get there?”- the route comes together
When developing your route itinerary from home, the first stop should be EuroVelo. The Pan-European cycling network, administered by the European Cyclist’s Foundation, is an international collection of local and national routes. Several of the routes are still under development, especially in the East, but a few, like EuroVelo 6, are among the best-signed and served cycling routes in the world.
Each country is responsible for organizing the info for their section of EV routes, and as you can imagineFrance, Germany, Switzerland and Austria are the best organized with only intermittent signage in some of the Southern and Eastern routes. But that doesn’t mean you can’t follow these routes. In fact I’ve followed several sections of “future EuroVelo” routes and made my own connections into an incredible tour.
Take a look at online route resources too. Sites like Open Cycle Map and Cycling Waymarked Trails provide user generated map data of routes all over the world. And Europe is covered with map nerds who have filled both of these sites with thousands of tracks. Incorporate them into your plan.
National tourism boards are another great resource. Slovenia and Czech Republic, in particular, have tremendous touring opportunities and significantly fewer tourists. Both nations’ tourism boards provide great resources adaptable for touring cyclists.
Add these resources into your planning arsenal. Don’t be afraid to reach out. Contact tourism boards and ask for advice or resources. If you’re traveling through out of the way places, these folks are often most excited to show their home to outsiders.
Using these resources as a base, fan out your search and begin to identify where and how long you want your route to be, but don’t be confined by prescribed routes. You’ll travel slower, but you’ll travel richer if you’re open to spontaneity.
5. Make it Your Own
In the end, your tour is exactly what you make of it. You can follow docile riverside routes from the EuroVelo network, you can plumb the depths of some off the beaten path village roads, or you can link famous cities together, all rather easily. It just takes a bit of preparation.
To borrow, twist and personalize a bit from my good homie and one of my favorite lyricists, Brother Ali:
“Depending on the day and depending on what I ate, I’m anywhere from 20 to 35 pounds over weight. I got blue eyes and one of them’s lazy and they both squint so when my eyes get tired I look crazy… Face tight, rugged, I stay up and work late nights. My wardrobe is jeans and faded shirts… I am what I am doctor, you ain’t gotta love me.”
Style. We’ve all got it, sort of. Mine’s not classic. Not my wardrobe nor my riding style. I walk and ride looking something between the dude pulling a zombie walk through the mall, the cat that stole your cousin’s SUV, the poly sci prof you had a crush on, and the lumberjack at the gas station who accidentally dropped a twenty but had just given you a look like he’d rather torch the hair off your head than hold the door open so… screw him.
Basically, I have no definable style, I don’t think. Forced to explain my riding style I’d say it’s blunt force trauma. Definitely not a “style guy’s” style. I get to the bottom, pretty fast. I get over the big stuff, eventually. But style? I don’t know. What is style? Is style faster? I mean, if you can dodge a wrench… right?
Is style how I look? If so, when? When I’m sitting? Standing? Riding? Is style how I walk? How I move my hips? My bike?
Obnoxiously Orange Hardtail
At the trailhead I’m the guy on the obnoxiously orange hardtail with the big fork, heavy tires, dent in the downtube, ripped shirt, dusty kneeguards and baggy shorts. Probably smiling, or sporting a scowl. I don’t have the shiny new carpet fiber bike (yet) or color matched kit (don’t hold your breath) or shiny helmet. Mine’s covered in dirt, scratches, blood and stickers – lots of stickers. My “kit style” sorta reflects my birthday suit style, dirt, scratches, blood and tattoos, lots of tattoos. Huh – maybe I do have style after all…
By now it’s probably clear: I’m not overly concerned with “style”, at least not in the traditional or classic sense. Certainly not in regards to pop-culture or trends. If I’m being honest – and let’s be honest with each other – I do put a bit of effort into my “style”. I mean, it takes a lot of coffee, chocolate chip cookies and energy to get *this* up to speed and over shit.
It’s hard damn work.
Either You Have It or You Don’t
Seriously though, style. Either you have it or you don’t. It pains me to admit that while I definitely know how to ride a bike. I don’t have crud for style on a bike. I damn sure know how to give a look, jump a jump, blow a berm, get my swagger on and play it cool, but I can not look good while riding a bike. Can’t be done.
I can be the first one down on a good day or more commonly, smack in the middle of the pack. I might even best a few of the young boys in the up and coming set, but I’m damn sure not going to be the one that looked rad floating down the trail. Nope. You’ll hear me coming. You’ll feel sorry for my tires and wheels. You’ll wince a few times as the trees jump out of the way and berms shutter, but you won’t wonder “Where’s he get his style?”. And that sucks because style matters, right?
Dewds on the Trail
I pondered this while riding a few nights ago. In a network I helped bring alive. On a trail I built. With a buddy who most definitely rides with great style. He’s a bit faster than I, but not a lot. We both hit the big stuff and both know where to put the tires and when to deploy the parachute or get on the gas, but dude looks so much better doing it. And that matters, right?
What got it into my head, at least recently, was some gentlemen, let’s call them “dewds”, who were riding *my* trail. Most on fancy carbon sleds. All of them 100 or more pounds lighter and a few years younger. All of them looked the part, talked the part. They all seemed to have the right style to rip it. They never said “hi” when I rolled up and greeted them, out of breath and dripping with sweat from dragging myself up from the bottom of “my” trail. They displayed their style like peacocks display their feathers. Clicked and clacked their buckles, levers and gadgets as they named dropped sections of my trail. Then something odd happened: They rode their bikes down my trail.
The pack of them drop in. “Scuze us bro, we gotta shred.” At least I think that’s what they said. Maybe it was “Derka Derka” or “Jelly of me style brah?” Not a lick of style, grace, speed or sack among them. Normally I don’t pull my man parts out on a bike and let ‘em wave about for the world to see. Mostly because when I do, things tend to go horribly wrong. This moment seemed to call for just that though: an old, dusty, bloody, stickered up, style-less fat guy being bold – on his trail. Fortune favors the bold, right?
Can’t Buy It
Style. Can’t buy it. I don’t think you can find it. Some of y’all have it. Some of us want it. I think I exorcised my desire for “style” that night though. There wasn’t anyone faster, nobody landed deeper – not one smile was wider. I think I found my style: You do what you gotta do. Imma ride.