Cycle Oregon delivers millions in grants, retail spending
By Lee van der Voo
As Cycle Oregon gears up for its 2013 ride in September, organizers are pointing to past spending in rural communities as a sign that cycling tourism contributes significant dollars to rural economies.
Which, of course, includes some of Oregon’s most far-flung towns.
This year’s 500-mile ride begins in John Day, then loops into the Strawberry Mountains, south to Burns, Diamond and Frenchglen. After stops at Steens Mountain and the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, the tour heads north to Crane, and west to Seneca before returning east.
In its 25-plus years, Cycle Oregon has toured every part of the state, and more than once. From Burns in Oregon’s southeast corner all the way to Astoria at the mouth of the Columbia, the thousands-long strand of bicycles has become well known to rural towns. For many towns, the cyclists provide a welcome site.
Cycle Oregon hosts 2,200 riders annually on the rural tour. Over the years, it has also adapted a business model that buoys both social service organizations and civic life in Oregon’s rural communities. Its Cycle Safe program starts cycling education programs for kids in rural Oregon, donating bikes and providing curriculum.
One such effort donated 25 bikes to a Boys & Girls Club in Cottage Grove for use in a three-day training. Similar efforts were made in Klamath Falls. “It’s not us going there to do it for them, It’s helping them so they can do it after we’re gone,” said Keith Ketterling, vice president of the Cycle Oregon Board of Directors.
But Cycle Oregon’s biggest impacts come from the tourism dollars it brings to rural communities, a grant program designed for rural towns, and payments to service groups along the route. Cycle Oregon offer between $10,000 and $20,000 to community groups along the ride for assistance with camp set up, food service, and other needs.
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