On January 29th, Cycle Oregon will announce its 2020 routes at the annual Kickoff Party. According to their website we can expect some surprises such as, “short and long options, gravel options, multiple layover days, bonus activities, and more opportunities to really become part of the communities.” The new options and extra rest and recovery time should make the ride accessible to more people, but plenty of riders will spend some time following the announcements wringing their hands over the costs, training time, and logistics of committing to a wonderful-but-challenging week of epic rides.
I’m here to tell you that there’s a way to ride Cycle Oregon with a built-in group of new friends, a schedule of training rides, extensive additional in-camp support, and maybe even some financial assistance; all while supporting another worthy charitable organization. It’s kind of like a Cycle Oregon cheat code and it’s called Ride for a Child.
Ride for a Child is still Cycle Oregon. You’ll experience the same world-class routes, on-course meals, entertainment, and mechanical support as every other rider. You’ll still support the great work that Cycle Oregon does in rural communities across the state, changing lives and building bridges through cycling and community development grants. But if you commit to raising money for Candlelighters for Children with Cancer, you can power-up your experience.
If you’ve ridden Cycle Oregon in the last 20 years, you might have noticed a pack of riders wearing matching jerseys with a child’s name printed on them; often folks think Candlelighters is a religious organization, it isn’t. Candlelighters for Children with Cancer is a non-profit that provides support and community for the whole family of kids fighting cancer. Support like travel and financial assistance, stuffed animals in the hospital, and an annual camp for families to relax and connect. Every year, Ride for a Child raises around $200,000 for Candlelighters, it’s a critical component of their fundraising.
You’re probably aware of Cycle Oregon’s tent-and-porter service, which is great. Not having to set up or tear down your tent can be the difference between a long shower line or an early start in the morning. Ride for a Child has tent and porter service and then some. Candlelighters are supported by a team of volunteers who set up camp while you’re on the road. Camp includes a private massage team (really!) and a hospitality tent stocked with snacks and beverages (of all types), and generators to charge your stuff.
The Ride for a Child support team hauls its own gear, which allows a bit more space and flexibility for riders. In addition to two large bins for your belongings every rider can bring along a cot or even an air mattress! Every morning you’ll wake up better rested and put on your freshly washed Candlelighters jersey because another benefit of Ride for a Child is nightly laundry service!
Cycle Oregon is full of friendly and interesting people, but, unless you’re a world class extrovert, it can be daunting to find a crew to hang out and ride with. Ride for a Child participants show up on Day One with a group they can meet and train with well before hand. Your distinctive jersey will attract questions and comments, too, giving you more chances to meet new people. And the community goes beyond the riders, you’ll get to know the children we honor on the ride, including a heartwarming “ride-out” one afternoon on the route with the children followed by dinner with their families.
This year Candlelighters wants to make Cycle Oregon and Ride for a Child more accessible to some new riders. If you’re a first time rider with the team and you commit to raising $2,500 for Candlelighters, then Candlelighters will cover the cost of your Cycle Oregon registration! This option is limited to 10 participants.