Tour de Fronds
An Insider’s Perspective
By John B.
Looking to this year’s 22nd Tour de Fronds, I wondered if anything could be added to the long list of positives about this event. Well, I found one – it’s a sorry thing, but true that cycling events in Southern Oregon after mid-summer are going to be smoky, unless there’s a big change in what’s been happening in our forests the last several summers.
Good news! The Tour is June 15 in smoke-free Powers.
Register on the Tour’s website to get one of the remaining spots in the field limited to 300.
Each year the Tour improves on its perfection. Getting voted the #1 ride for by readers of ORbike.com reflects the excellent work of the volunteers who make this ride such a perfect combination of natural beauty and a community working hard together and enjoying it.
Friday night is a spaghetti feed at the county park with live local music, Saturday is the ride and a fabulous dinner following the ride (think berry cobbler…), then a pancake breakfast on Sunday. The drive home, quite frankly, is kind of a downer.
There are six rides to choose from, the shortest being the 30-mile out and back over mild rollers along the Coquille River to Daphne Grove. Or, you can continue past Daphne Grove to Eden Valley, which is just as beautiful and quiet as the name implies, for a 63-mile round trip. Or, keep going past the Eden Valley rest stop to Arrastra Saddle for a 77-mile ride that climbs to a rest stop on top of a ridge before you turn back for home.
For the young, the strong or the delusional, go over Arrastra Saddle and complete the 117-mile Cruiser Loop. Last year this ride was known as the Mahaffy Century named for the 75+ year old local legend who you might pass on this route, but you might not. He rides like it’s milking time for the cowherd he tends.
If you’re not in Mahaffy’s league, do what I do – ride the Rogue River-Singing Springs option. It’s 71 miles and 5,500 feet of climbing. Up over Agness Pass, then six miles down a bumpy gravel road until you get to the smoothest pavement I’ve ridden on. This route follows the Rogue. You can stop at Foster Bar and put your feet (or all of you) in the Rogue, dry off and ride that smooth pavement down to Singing Springs Resort for lunch on the patio looking over the river as mail boats and rafters go by.
After lunch, hop on and ride up the gradual 11-mile climb to Agness Pass. Stop at the cold-water spring that’s about 2/3 of the way up, as if a Hollywood director said ‘wouldn’t this be a good spot to have a cold-water spring coming out of the bank next to the road.’ When you get back to the top of Agness Pass, you can just about coast back to Powers.
If you like a cycling event where there is only occasional car or pickup traffic, the Tour de Fronds might not be for you – there isn’t even enough traffic to call it “occasional.” And it’s an event that is just about guaranteed to be smoke free.
Tour de Fronds is well worth a lot of effort to get there and when you leave you’ll start thinking about next year.