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Gravel Grinder series’ 2-day stop in Oakridge with sold out capacity of 400 entrants

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A sea of tents awaits weary Gravel Grinder riders. Tents are set up, tore down and moved to the next destination by volunteer groups who will then set them up again for the next night. It’s just one of the many full-service amenities that are afforded the riders. Herald photo

By GEORGE CUSTER/Editor/The Herald  —  Twelve countries and thirty-eight States are represented in this year’s Gravel Grinder race series. Each leg of the contest has an overnight camp prepositioned ahead of the riders, so the attendees need only concentrate on enjoying the riding. Oakridge was host to a 2-day stay for the bikers because of our extensive trail and gravel road system. It also helps that we live in such a paradise-like setting here in Oakridge.

As you pull off the highway and enter Greenwaters Park, you are instantly overwhelmed by the sight of nearly 100 tents that are neatly organized at the east end of the park. A large outdoor kitchen has been erected next to the community building with an adjacent service line for the food. It’s almost lunch and those who have remained at the camp this morning are starting to mill around the food area. Vendors and sponsors dot many of the shaded areas.

The Gravel Grinder series is composed of three separate rides around Oregon that include the Gorge, Cascade, and the Oregon Trail events. Within each event you can choose to either be a Pioneer Rider (competitor), or a Settler Rider (non-competitive). See all the events at www.oregontrailgravelgrinder.com. As opposed to what most of know about mountain biking, gravel bike riding is just that, riding primarily on old forest logging roads and other gravel roads.

When I asked who was in charge, I was directed toward a person at the tented massage table where riders can have their aches and pains rubbed out or assisted with stretching. Not wanting to interrupt, I chose to do interviews of some of the riders.

Rebecca Rasberry, L, and Jamie King enjoying the camp’s amenities while time trial riders were out on the roads.

While waiting, I asked a few questions of two riders who were at the souvenir booth. Rebecca Rasberry from Bend and Jaime King who traveled from Portland to attend the event were more than happy to speak with me. Rebecca alerted me that she is a 6th generation Oregon Trail family member. Both were really enjoying the events. Neither are competitive riders for this event, though Jamie does ride competitive in some events. They couldn’t speak more highly of the affair.

I soon was able to speak with Colleen Cook, the logistics director for the event. She has been with Breakaway Promotions, the event producer, for several years now and enjoys the challenge and requirements of moving the camp from site to site. When asked about today’s event, she said that around 100 bikers were out doing time trials.

Colleen noted that during the evening hours, games and activities are available to the entrants.

At the time of the interview, the women’s division leader was a French woman, with a New Zealander leading the men’s.

Michelle Boraski of Ventura, CA and Sharon Keith, Honolulu, HI.

This particular ride, the Oregon Trail, started in Bend, proceeded to Gilcrest, then to Oakridge, and ending up in McKenzie River.

I caught up with two riders who were just getting ready to hit the chow line. Michelle Boraski from Ventura, California and Sharon Keith who traveled from Honolulu, Hawaii, both entering as Settler (non-racing) riders. Both are members of an online cycling training group Joinbasecamp.com. The two know each other from being members to the site where you are professionally coached to fit your style of riding. Michelle said that there are more than two hundred riders who are part of this online experience.

 

 

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