There’s an annual three-day ride in Pendleton, Oregon that takes place on Memorial Day Weekend called the Century Ride of the Centuries and it is awesome. It is put on by a local bicycle club that either wishes to remain anonymous or forgets to promote itself on the sparse event website. No matter, whoever puts this ride on does one hell of a job. As is the case with so many multi-day supported bike rides, the volunteers work tirelessly to pull it all together. These particular volunteers really get into the spirit of things. Each rest stop has a theme and many of the more prominent folks are in character. There was a Mexican stop, a Hawaiian stop and even a white trash wedding.
The riding itself is outstanding. Day one offers a variety of routes including what appears on paper to be a fairly easy century ride (around 3,500 feet of climbing in total). Don’t let the ride profile fool you. Severe headwinds can make it seem like there is plenty of climbing. However, the scenery — mostly rolling wheat fields — is spectacular. And, because you are in canyons much of the time, even the winds aren’t that bad for too terribly long.
Day 2 is an out-and-back route that goes up Emigrant Hill, the old highway just north of I-84. 15 miles of steady 5% followed by another 30+ miles to the Oregon Trail Interpretative Center. Those who tackle the entire course climb more than 6,500 feet. Quite a way to follow up a century.
Day 3 is another out-and-back, the longest option being another 80+-mile route. I opted to hit the casino where all the rides start and finish for a little morning blackjack, but I’ve been told this day is the most scenic. The casino isn’t very scenic, but there was a lot less rain at the tables than there was on the course.
While the ride is fully-supported, the event is really geared for folks who plan on finishing what they start. The SAG vehicles consisted of cars with bike racks on them and there didn’t appear to be a whole lot of them. Riders will also want to pay close attention to their cue sheets as the course was marked with biodegradable arrows that tend to blow away in the wind and rain.
The food at the rest stops was more than adequate and featured a lot of home-baked goodies. Many of the stops also featured local baked potatoes. I’ve always heard that spuds make fine cycling fuel — and they absolutely do. The locals seemed very happy to see us. Even the (few) drivers on the road we encountered were friendly.
Pendleton itself is a great small town and there are a few really good places to eat. These include the Prodigal Son brew pub, the Main Street Diner and, if you are in the mood for something slightly upscale, Cimmiyotti’s.
If you want a more detailed report on the ride, check out this one from a fellow Portland blogger also named Dean who attended last year. His descriptions are swell and I’ve got a lot to do today.
For those interested in geology, this ride features a lot of geological stuff (I presume that’s were the ride gets its name). Since my knowledge of this subject is limited, that’s about all I can say about that. I’ll try to bone up a little more next year and, hopefully, will have something more intelligent to report.
We’ll be back to Pendleton this year with Cycle Oregon and it will be interesting to see how different the place looks in the fall. It will also be cool to see the town teeming with rodeo fans. I’m looking forward to it.