Cycle Oregon has been canceled this year, just over a week before the ride was scheduled to start.
Wildfires and smoke in Central Oregon and the Willamette Valley raised safety concerns for event organizers. While Cycle Oregon originally planned on rerouting this year’s ride, alternate routes were also deemed unsafe.
“We have exhausted the options and possibilities of doing anything but canceling,” Cycle Oregon Executive Director Steve Schulz said in a press statement, first reported by Bike Portland. “The one priority we won’t jeopardize is safety; we feel we cannot go forward without doing just that.”
This is the first time in Cycle Oregon’s 30-year history the ride was canceled. In previous years, the route had been changed due to fires or weather concerns.
The original route for Cycle Oregon’s “Classic ride” started near Bend before heading south through La Pine, looping around Crater Lake, and coming back up through Oakridge and Sisters before returning to the starting point. The route was primarily threatened by the Milli Fire and the Spruce Lake Fire, burning more than 30,000 acres combined.
Officials made the decision to cancel after recommendations from the U.S. Forest Service, the Oregon Department of Forestry, the Bureau of Land Management and multiple incident commanders at the fires.
The 2017 ride sold out in July. Cycle Oregon’s website says riders will be compensated in some way, although much of the money incurred through registration fees has already been spent on non-refundable costs.
Officials at Cycle Oregon were not immediately available for comment. However, their website says more information will be available later this week.
Cycle Oregon Executive Director Steve Schulz spoke with OPB “All Things Considered” host Kate Davidson about the cancellation, and the ride’s economic impact on rural Oregon. Hear their conversation in the article at the top of the page.