Central Oregon: A Cycling Paradise All Year Long
The 37th annual Cascade Cycling Classic, North America’s longest running cycling stage race will kick off July 20th with a ride over McKenzie Pass – and the McKenzie Pass Scenic Bikeway. The 5-day event features some of the best professional women and men cyclists in the country (who aren’t currently over in France doing that “other” big bike race) competing in stages throughout Central Oregon.
Riders will also tackle the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway and a time trial in Prineville before Saturday night’s main event – the downtown Bend criterium. It’s NASCAR on bicycles in front of some 15,000 fans lining the streets. (For more amazing images of the race like the one above, visit Matthew Lasala’s website.
Those elite road cyclists will be pushing the pedals hard the entire time they’re here, which is a pity considering they won’t be able to take in the scenery.
Luckily for you, Oregon has created a network of scenic bikeways designed for you to do just that: sightsee by bike. And four of those bikeways are right here in Central Oregon
Whether you choose the Madras Mountain Views route, Sisters to Smith Rock, Twin Bridges, or McKenzie Pass you’ll find a route perfect for your ability and with enough scenery to fill the memory on your smart phone.
If mountain biking is more your thing, Central Oregon is home to truly world-class mountain biking evidenced by the the mountain bike marathon national championships held here in the past and a recent nod as the “Mountain Bike Capital of Oregon” from Singletracks.com. With more than 400 miles of singletrack, you’ll find a trail perfect for your ability. For the true two-wheeled adrenaline seekers, check out Mt. Bachelor’s lift-served downhill mountain bike park. The ski area has some really fun cross country trails as well.
Beyond the core trail systems close to Bend, many more can be found throughout Central Oregon including new trails in Redmond and Prineville. Most of the trails are family friendly, but there’s plenty of technical rides to cater to the more extreme or advanced riders. And you don’t have to go it alone. Cog Wild Mountain Bike Tours offer guided trips and local shuttles so you can hang with a pack who knows their way around the vast trail system. (And don’t worry about bringing your own bike. Bike shops Pine Mountain Sports, MWS, Hutch’s and The Hub Cyclery and Blazin Saddles in Sisters offer great rates on road and mountain bike rentals.)
If you’re looking for a much more leisurely option, rent a Surrey or cruiser bike at Wheel Fun Rentals in the Old Mill District, or take a brewery tour on an electric bike with a guide from Let it Ride Electric Bikes. Both are family friendly as can be and are a great way to take in some of the sights and sounds of Bend.
So whether it’s a leisurely road ride with majestic mountains as your backdrop, or tight switchbacks in the woods, Central Oregon is the cycling epicenter of the U.S. this summer and beyond.