Oregon bike rides portland

Supported Rides: What’s the Fuss?

Yes, you can ride on your own. You can tool all around the state, stop for lunch and carry your gear with you. If you can read a map (or aren’t afraid of surprise hills and getting lost), you can do this.

So what’s with all the supported rides and why do so many people do them?

Organized rides are a relaxing way to ride. When they’re well organized, you don’t have to worry about a thing. Many, like the Portland Century, offer so much food along the way it seems as if you could actually gain weight on the ride. This gives you a chance to focus on your riding, perhaps push yourself harder and certainly socialize with friends while taking in the sights, sounds and scents of the landscape.

A top notch ride has well marked routes so you don’t even need the course map. Rest stops are approximately every 15 miles. There is a number you can call for support. There is ample nutritional food at the rest stops and bathrooms abound. These are all things you don’t want to have to think about while riding.

The finish line features a lunch or dinner, and hopefully a beer garden. Anyone who organizes a ride without one is crazy! Everyone loves to socialize after a long day of riding and sipping on a beer is the perfect way to relax and unwind while you let your muscles melt.

Most supported rides are pretty much about the riding, landscape and the food. But some are also about the goofy fun, such as urban rides like the Worst Day of the Year Ride. How quirky the ride becomes is really up to the riders, who often come in costume. The ride maxes out at around 40 miles, with a shorter 18 mile option and four rest stops, so “proper” riding attire really isn’t all that necessary and fun reigns supreme.

Fundraising rides abound. Sometimes there is a fundraising minimum (an amount you have to raise on top of the registration fee) and sometimes there isn’t. Some of them are multi-day rides like the two-day Bike MS. All of them offer an excellent opportunity to ride your bike and make a difference. The American Lung Association in Oregon relies on their annual ride Reach the Beach to fulfill most of their budget for the year. Other rides like Tour de Cure are part of a national affiliation so you can choose your cause (in this case, diabetes) and choose where you want to ride. The Oregon ride, formerly known as Summit to Surf, has been around for many years and is very well run.

Cruise through our calendar to peruse all the options for organized rides. Explore the website, the route maps and event details. Find rides that suit where you want to ride, when you are available and the types of features you’re looking for (supporting a cause? extreme climbing? touring an area you’ve never explored? incredible food?) and sign up today!

Yes, you will pay more than if you were to ride on your own, but it’s worth it; you’re paying for the service, the food, the support (you never know), the well-chosen courses and all the relaxation that goes with not having to plan a ride on your own. On top of that, you get the camaraderie of tons of other riders and you’ll probably make some new friends.

There is no shortage of rides to choose from. It’s going to be a great summer for riding bikes in Oregon!


Training Rides

You’ve signed up for a supported distance ride, now what?

While the area’s best supported rides truly to support you all day long, it’s up to you to ensure your body is up to the challenge. The ride organizers can feed you and mark the course well, no small feat either of them, but they can’t make your legs move.

This is a recommended training schedule geared toward participants who have not been on their bike much in the few months prior to the ride. If you ride 50+ miles a week, you probably do not need to train for a ride that is 100 miles or fewer. This is only a recommendation. Pay attention to your body’s needs and do not push yourself in a way that is uncomfortable.

Week one: 1/2 the total miles of your chosen course (and reward yourself afterward!).

Week two: Add 5 miles (and reward yourself afterward!).

Week three: Add 10 miles (and reward yourself afterward!).

Week three: Add 10 miles (and reward yourself afterward!).

Week four: If you are not yet at your total mileage, ride 90% of the mileage of your course or more if you’re feeling really good (and reward yourself afterward!).

Week before the ride: Unless you’re a regular, experienced distance rider, avoid going on a ride longer than 25 miles in this crucial week. Instead, pedal for around 15 miles on the weekend and ride your bike 4-8 miles every day leading up to the ride. Keep your legs moving, stretch and relax. Stay on the bike, but keep it very light.

Look through the event’s website to see if the ride provides training rides. It has been a long-standing tradition of Reach the Beach to have the Portland Wheelmen Touring Club lead training rides. This is a fantastic feature of the ride that makes it easy for participants to loosen their legs for this early season ride. The training rides are free and led by expert cyclists.

Above all else, prepare well for your ride so you’ll have a great day in the saddle, relaxed enough to enjoy the ride’s amenities and just sore enough afterwards to feel the reward without feeling completely ruined.


Maintaining Your Cool on the Road

All road users could navigate the streets more respectfully. It’s not a matter of your mode of transportation, humans are simply humans.

So what do you do when you’re nearly hit by a car? First off, be thankful you weren’t hit. Being hit by a car, even if the injuries are minor, is a terrible situation to endure. Your blood is rushing, your anger intensifying and, quite frankly, you’re pissed. It’s a natural reaction to a dangerous situation, but yelling at the driver isn’t going to get you anywhere.

If you have the opportunity to approach the driver, such as at the next stop light, lightly knock on the window of the car and engage the driver in a respectful conversation if you do not feel this would put you in a dangerous situation.

What do you say?
1) Take a deep breath before you say anything. Give yourself time to calm your rattled nerves.
2) Let the driver know how his or her actions made you feel scared. Most humans can related to the awful feeling of fear.
3) Let the driver know what almost happened and what the end result would have been; he or she is likely unaware of what happened (which is often why it happened).
4) Emphasize how grateful you are that nothing more serious happened.
5) Encourage the driver to be alert for that type of situation so it can be avoided next time.
6) Thank the driver for his or her time and for hearing you out. “I was really rattled by that situation. Being able to share this with you has helped calm me down. Thank you for your time and for hearing me out.”

If you are not comfortable approaching the driver but can obtain the license plate number, the Bicycle Transportation Alliance can help you send a letter to the vehicle’s registered owner. Use this opportunity for constructive dialog and say much the same as what is mentioned above.


Clipping in For a Cause

Tony Halford loves everything about the outdoors, especially cycling. “Putting rubber to the road is more than recreation or exercise to me, it is a lifestyle. Cycling, like nothing else in my life, has been a way for me to feel free. I can socialize while meeting like-minded people and simply relax to a point where I can forget all my stresses,” he says. But this year, Tony is pedaling for more than stress relief.

“I have found a new reason to clip in,” he explains. “Up until now, all my cycling has been for me. I’ve enjoyed group rides with friends, the competitions of road races and the velodrome. Now I’m riding the Ride to Defeat ALS to honor and pay tribute to my mom, Judy Halford, a remarkable woman who lived an amazing life and eventually lost her life because of ALS. From the time of her diagnosis, this relentless disease plucked away her abilities, unfairly leaving her paralyzed and choice less to even walk, let alone ride a bicycle.”

Ride to Defeat ALS is a new fundraising ride for the ALS Association (ALSA) of Oregon and SW Washington. ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease is a slowly degrading disease. Gradually, a person is robbed of the ability to walk, speak, eat, and eventually breathe. The ALS Association provides guidance and much-needed resources for patients and their families – from ALS and caregiver support groups, to respite care grants and providing equipment almost immediately from their loan closet, the association helps every step of the way.

Ride to Defeat ALS is July 14 and will cruise over the gently rolling hills of Mt. Angel, Oregon on courses of 100, 50 or 25 miles. This well supported ride will be a fantastic event, whether you know someone suffering from ALS or you’re fortunate enough not to.

You can support Tony’s ride through his personal fundraising page or sign up for your own ride today.


Bringing up the Rear

What to carry on a ride depends on your priorities, your ride length, the amount of ride support you’ll have and your own comfort level. Whether you ride minimalist or with everything but the kitchen sink, there’s no shame in taking a page from the Boy Scouts and “be prepared”! Have your pack ready to go at all times so you never have to look for the items you want to put in it.

Level I: Weight Weenie

You want the smallest, lightest, most compact bag possible.
A tire lever (or two)
Tube – out of box and tightly wrapped in plastic wrap to be compact and not open up
Patch, glue and emery cloth (essentially a patch kit without the box)
Cash (for food, bus fare or as an emergency tire boot)
CO2 and inflator
I.D./Insurance card/debit card (Note: Debit card does not work as replacement for cash in a tire boot.)

Level II: Easy Rider

You ride solo a lot and are weary of getting stranded.
Duct tape (1 ft wrapped around a small piece of cardboard)
Tire boot
1-2 additional tire levers
Small multi tool
Presta-to-Schrader valve adapter (which you can simply leave attached to your valve)
Pump (may be carried on bike or in pocket)

Level III: Not counting grams

You’d rather be safe than sorry.
Extra tube
Emergency energy gel or nutritional bar
A master link or replacement pin for chain repair
Tire Boot

Go to a bigger multi tool with all the bells and whistles

Level IV: Going the Distance

You’re in it for the long haul. You’re randonneuring, have a really long commute or are on a self-supported bike tour. You’re not afraid of the weight, but weary of the cold dark rain. Your small seat pack has morphed into a carrier clamped to the seatpost.
Zip ties
Lightweight jacket/extra clothes
Emergency spoke replacement
Tire Boot
More extra food
Spare batteries
4″ crescent wrench
Anything else you don’t think you can live without

Tori Bortman is a mechanic and instructor who runs classes through her company Gracie’s Wrench.


Your Handy Guide to the 10th Anniversary Filmed by Bike

Filmed by Bike is a film festival featuring bike-themed movies from around the world. The festival happens only here in Portland every April and this year is the 10th anniversary. Because of this celebratory year, there are 75 movies over the course of six different programs that show on five days with 13 screenings total. That’s a ton of movies.

The festival happens April 13-18 at the Clinton St. Theater, 2522 SE Clinton St.

The opening night on Friday features the New Belgium Street Party in the middle of Clinton St. with a beer garden and live entertainment.

Wade through all the excitement and make the most of your Filmed by Bike experience with this handy guide.


A limited number of pre-sale tickets are available. When those sell out, additional tickets are for sale at the box office while supplies last. The Friday box office opens at 5:30 and the shows will sell out. A pre-sale ticket guarantees entry.


Each program is different, and they repeat twice so hopefully one of the times will fit your schedule. Check out the program to find the shows you want to see. Tuesday features all cyclocross films and Wednesday the Best of the Best, crowd favorites from the Filmed by Bike archives.


Beyond the street party, Filmed by Bike offers more than just movies on the screen. The filmmaker Q+A sessions (Sat. at 5, Sun at 7) are powerful nights in the theater, when filmmakers talk about their work. In honor of their 10th anniversary, Filmed by Bike is bringing in filmmakers from all over the country. You also don’t want to miss the Golden Helmet Award, presented by Nutcase Helmets at the 7:00 Saturday show. The winner of this top award will receive $300 cash and the coveted Golden Helmet trophy.


If you love the idea of watching bike movies on the silver screen, a festival pass is the way to go. For only $32 you’ll get unlimited entry to the theater all festival long. It also includes a free commemorative 2012 DVD.


If you’re trying to get in to the Friday shows, even if you’ve purchased pre-sale tickets, you should arrive early. The crowd is fun and the beer will be flowing. You can pick up your tickets and come back later, or simply stay for the fun. There is no fanfare on the other days, but arriving early is still recommended.


The Audience Choice Award, presented by Mellow Mushroom Pizza Bakers, gives fans like you a chance to vote online for your favorite movie. The willing filmmaker will be awarded $100 cash.


How are you getting to Filmed by Bike? Don’t go alone, go with Gary, mt. bike legend Gary Fisher. The Friday ride leaves from the Bike Gallery Spring Sale at 1001 SW 10th Ave at 6pm sharp. More info >>


Bring friends, take pictures and revel in the excitement of this momentous 10th anniversary celebration.


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