The StoriesThis is where we will collect the stories from each rider over the years.
Riders Carey, Jeffery, and Kayla.
A Cycle Oregon Memoir
Arriving in John Day, Oregon on September 6, 2013, I stepped off of the John Day People Mover with merely a bicycle and a bag of belongings, ready to go! I was very excited for my first bicycle tour and didn't really know what to expect. I kept an open mind while remembering why I was there.
I was a recipient of the first annual Mark Bosworth Scholarship fund, which sponsored a first time rider to Cycle Oregon (C.O.). I had been chosen because of my newfound love of cycling after the tragic loss of my 13-year-old brother as a result of a bicycle accident. This resonated closely with the tragic disappearance of Mark Bosworth, who went missing during C.O. back in 2011. Although I didn't have the faintest idea of what I was getting myself into on the day before the ride, I knew that I was going to make the most of it and ride in the memory of Mark and my brother… and ride I did!
At the final MODA rest stop on the sixth day of C.O., after riding 57 miles consisting of some of the steepest hills on the ride, I was pooped. It was the first time at C.O. that I truly felt tired. I was excited about the prospect of only being 11 miles outside of camp. “I can make it 11 miles… If I've already rode almost 400 miles this week, 11 should be a piece of cake,” my thoughts convinced me. I got back on that beautiful bicycle and began to pedal… Right into one of the strongest headwinds OF MY LIFE!!! Oh no!
Due to the ferocity of the headwind, I couldn't stay in my big chain despite being on flat terrain. I was using the smallest gears on the bicycle; gears that I only had to use when the hills got ridiculously steep. Here I was, riding towards Seneca, completely exhausted (partly due to riding my first Century the day before) and finally breaking down mentally. IT WAS HARD! When the going became too much for me, I started to think about waving down a SAG wagon to take me back to camp (something I promised myself I WOULD NOT DO!!!).
Luckily, Seneca had decorated the last few miles of the course with little signs every couple hundred feet containing jokes and phrases to keep the riders entertained while rolling closer to town. With my head down and thoughts turning slightly negative, I looked up and there was a sign with a bicycle on it. On that sign were three words that I will never forget. The three words below the bicycle read “Best Day Ever.” Upon reading it, laughter escaped my mouth. I realized that despite the pain coursing through my legs and the fact that, of course, there was a headwind when I thought that the last 11 miles to town were going to be easy, it was indeed the BEST DAY EVER! What else would I be doing on that particular day that would even come close to comparing to the beauty and magnitude of it all?
Looking back on it, it wasn't just the BEST DAY EVER… it was the BEST WEEK EVER! In fact, Cycle Oregon was one of my favorite adventures I have ever embarked on (that's saying a lot since my life for the last three years has consisted of constant travel…). Throughout the pain of climbing mountains, of riding centuries and pushing through those hardcore headwinds, I noticed I always had a smile on my face. Perhaps the smile came from the fact that I had over 2,000 instant friends on the road to cheer me on, offer great conversation and blast the likes of Tom Petty and Steve Miller Band throughout the ride. The energy of it all somehow made the miles seem nonexistent. Every aspect of the trip was friendly, positive and fun.
One of my favorite moments of the week occurred on Friday night when I was dancing to the funky music that resonated through the valley of Seneca from the CO stage on the last night of the ride. To my right was Miriam- the lady that inspired me to ride 100 miles with her the day before. To my left were Julie, Kelly, Claire and Eric Bosworth — the family of Mark Bosworth — who gifted me the amazing opportunity to participate in Cycle Oregon as a first time rider via the scholarship. All around me were friendly faces that were complete strangers not six days before. Here we were, 2,200 riders strong, in what seemed like the middle of nowhere Eastern Oregon under the most amazing starry sky.
It was such a magical moment to see how different I was, how far I'd come and how many truly amazing people existed in the world that I never had the opportunity to meet until we rode Cycle Oregon together. It also struck me how, because of the truly tragic happenings of Mr. Bosworth's disappearance and the death of my brother, I was able to get to C.O. but because of it, so much beauty, happiness and inspiration had come to me. It was very touching and truly profound.
The seven days and 450 miles that I got the opportunity to not only ride my bicycle, but make friends, learn about bicycles, drink wonderful Oregon beer, and dance to music with Cycle Oregon went by way too fast. Tomorrow I knew that it would all be over and I reveled in the fact that I got this one last, truly phenomenal, night to experience and enjoy it all.
Reflections on Cycle Oregon
Cycle Oregon is so much more than a bunch of avid cyclists indulging in
I told people that after my first CO, I would be able to cross it off my bucket list. But once is definitely not enough for me. As one of three very fortunate winners of a scholarship in the memory of Mark Bosworth — a CO participant and volunteer for many years — I will return to ride in his honor and that of my brother, and more importantly, will volunteer and donate toward the scholarship to pay it forward for another person to have the same amazing opportunity. Without the scholarship I would never have been able to make this happen, so am indebted to the family and the board for finding my story compelling enough to select me out of many worthy applicants.
Cycle Oregon was Amazing
Cycle Oregon was amazing. That's the best way I can put it. I'm going through some pretty hectic and stressful times right now as I transition from a full-time worker with a mortgage and kids to a full-time student with bills to pay. Cycle Oregon was wonderful in giving me a week to just relax and ride with people who love cycling. There is no possible way that I would of been able to ride on my own.
I doubt in my lifetime I would of ever gone through Central/Eastern Oregon without this ride. I would of missed some beautiful country and wonderful people. Cycle Oregon was fantastic. Everyday I met someone (or rather many someones) new. I loved the feeling each day, waking up with thousands of other cyclists and having to do nothing but get on the bike and ride. In a perfect world, this would be pretty high on the list of things that I would want to do every day.
It's been years since I have had a vacation, and I can finally say that I've had a real one. It wasn't easy, I did have to ride up some pretty steep and long hills, but it was worth every minute on the bike and drop of sweat that I shed.
All of this was possible because of the Mark Bosworth Fund. I feel guilty in some ways, because I know that none of this would of happened without the events that happened back in Riddle. When I dig into that thought deeper, however, I realize that if it had been me that disappeared I would of wanted my family to do the exact same thing that the Mark Bosworth Fund is trying to accomplish. I would like to think that wherever Mark is, he's pretty proud of what you all have done and would approve.
I can never express how thankful I am that I was given this opportunity. I am positive that Kayla and Carey echo that very same sentiment. I am far more appreciative than words can express.
Mark Bosworth Fund Home Page