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Old 08-31-17, 04:03 PM   #1
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Cycle Oregon cancelled due to wildfires

Sad news out of Oregon

Cycle Oregon 2017 canceled because of wildfires | OregonLive.com
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Old 08-31-17, 04:46 PM   #2
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That's disappointing.

I wasn't riding, but I had heard their logistics could deal with dynamic route changes.

By that map, most of the Willamette Valley, and the coast range appears clear.

They indicate not having enough time to prepare, but some of the fires have been burning over a month.

They should have been working on a coastal range route a month ago, if not having a complete backup route ready to roll.

I can imagine some staff changes for 2018.
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Old 08-31-17, 04:50 PM   #3
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That's disappointing.

I wasn't riding, but I had heard their logistics could deal with dynamic route changes.

By that map, most of the Willamette Valley, and the coast range appears clear.

They indicate not having enough time to prepare, but some of the fires have been burning over a month.

They should have been working on a coastal range route a month ago, if not having a complete backup route ready to roll.

I can imagine some staff changes for 2018.
It seems like they were sitting on their hands waiting for the fires to be contained and the smoke to clear. When it didn't they had an "oh poop" moment and it was too late to make the necessary changes. Poor planning IMO.
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Old 08-31-17, 05:07 PM   #4
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I've been tentatively planning to do the "Ride the Rim" this fall. I suppose I should review the fire status maps.
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Old 08-31-17, 05:35 PM   #5
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I've been tentatively planning to do the "Ride the Rim" this fall. I suppose I should review the fire status maps.
Those are soon. A week and 2 weeks respectively. We signed up but with Ty's hand we had to cancel.
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Old 08-31-17, 08:12 PM   #6
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I can't imagine CO has the manpower to plan two completely separate and unrelated routes and pull off one of them in short order when fires are not put out. I wouldn't call this mismanagement. However, I would like to see them learn their lesson and begin to hold two annual weeklong rides. That would even allow them to more easily deal with moving one of them to the other route when this stuff happens.

And make no mistake, fire issues will happen again and again in Oregon. Historically, our fire season was super short since the rains didn't stop until July, the forests didn't dry out until late August and the rains started again in September. Now, the forest is dry in May or June and the rains don't come until October, sometimes later. Our "save the structures and let the rest burn until the rain puts it out" approach MUST change, or this state will be unliveable in short order.
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Old 08-31-17, 08:40 PM   #7
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The challenges for CO route changes is huge. There just aren't many places you can put the 2000 riders, 1000 support folk and probably 18 semi-trailers. And especially if minimizing environmental damage is one of your goals. There are many agencies they have to go through to approve routes, towns that need to be worked with, often farmers provide acreage for CO to camp on. 2015 they did a masterful job of rerouting CO on the fly when we were, after two days, at the furthest reach of that ride. We got to see the long faces and tired eyes of organizers who got almost no sleep while pulling that off.

Yes, I am disappointed big time. I signed up and spent my summer riding to get ready. Did my last long ride today. Cycle Oregon will get through this. I am sure there will be changes, maybe big changes.

Ben
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Old 08-31-17, 09:46 PM   #8
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If they've been doing this for 30 years, there has to be a previous route that isn't on fire, or perhaps merge two previous routes.

I'm sure it isn't easy, but it shouldn't be impossible.

As it is, they'll have a mess of rental agreements to be broken, employees that have done work, future employment promises, customers that paid for services in advance and will want a refund or credit. Customers who have made vacation and travel plans.

Cancellation may well be worse than scrambling to repeat a previous route.
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Old 08-31-17, 10:08 PM   #9
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And make no mistake, fire issues will happen again and again in Oregon. Historically, our fire season was super short since the rains didn't stop until July, the forests didn't dry out until late August and the rains started again in September. Now, the forest is dry in May or June and the rains don't come until October, sometimes later. Our "save the structures and let the rest burn until the rain puts it out" approach MUST change, or this state will be unliveable in short order.
Not exactly true.

For the last 40 years or so, in the valley, it would generally start drying out around June 15. A few rains till July. September was usually fairly nice (one of the reasons the late start at the University is nice).

This spring was pretty close to average for precipitation. We'll see about this fall.

Is the fire season a week longer?

Oddly, I noticed some of the Forrest Service fire danger signs around Eugene and Marcola downgraded from Extreme to High.

Many of the fires generally clear out brush and undergrowth and most of the mature trees survive. Intensive fire suppression for the last century has also made new fires worse. Perhaps clearcutting too.

No doubt there will be climate change issues too, but this year's fires aren't significantly due to climate change.
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Old 08-31-17, 10:28 PM   #10
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Cancellation may well be worse than scrambling to repeat a previous route.
+1 - The backlash from this is sure to be greater than had they thrown together some sort of route.
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Old 09-01-17, 12:24 AM   #11
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Not exactly true.

For the last 40 years or so, in the valley, it would generally start drying out around June 15. A few rains till July. September was usually fairly nice (one of the reasons the late start at the University is nice).

This spring was pretty close to average for precipitation. We'll see about this fall.

Is the fire season a week longer?

Oddly, I noticed some of the Forrest Service fire danger signs around Eugene and Marcola downgraded from Extreme to High.

Many of the fires generally clear out brush and undergrowth and most of the mature trees survive. Intensive fire suppression for the last century has also made new fires worse. Perhaps clearcutting too.

No doubt there will be climate change issues too, but this year's fires aren't significantly due to climate change.
The fires aren't in the valley and rarely are. It's what's happening in the mountains that counts. The usual rains that fall there from June through August, and yes they fall there even when we're staying dry down here, have vanished. Also, the temperatures are simply higher, so what moisture was previously staying put has evaporated. It's noticeably drier and hotter nowadays. In decades prior, those fires that started, often from lightning strikes, would mostly burn themselves out by either running up against wet fuel, being doused by a summer rainstorm or by having started so late that the Fall rains put an end to them before they are measured in tens or hundreds of square miles.

The closest stand-in for the valley that actually does burn is the Coast Range, and thankfully we've been mostly spared this year with the hugely notable exception of Brookings, where the Coast Range meets other mountains. I really don't want a repeat of the Yellow Point fire of a couple years ago. That was some prime cycling land that went up and sent its smoke over to us.

It's a new world. The Gulf Coast and Florida get to learn about it every couple of years with stronger, more damaging hurricanes (and now chronic flooding along the coast). In the West, we're getting longer, drier droughts and longer, more intense fire seasons, with heavier rains in between. Will we put in place what we need in order to have breathable air, or will we behave like the Gulf Coast and put our collective heads in the sand and hope it's not going to continue?

Oh, by the way, I hope this air forecast is wrong. If not, I may have to take my grand-daughters and go to a coastline far, far away. (The heat is fine, the smoke, not so much.)
Smoke, heat returning to Willamette Valley after unprecedented air pollution last weekend | Local | Eugene, Oregon
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Old 09-01-17, 05:27 AM   #12
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The challenges for CO route changes is huge. There just aren't many places you can put the 2000 riders, 1000 support folk and probably 18 semi-trailers. And especially if minimizing environmental damage is one of your goals. There are many agencies they have to go through to approve routes, towns that need to be worked with, often farmers provide acreage for CO to camp on. 2015 they did a masterful job of rerouting CO on the fly when we were, after two days, at the furthest reach of that ride. We got to see the long faces and tired eyes of organizers who got almost no sleep while pulling that off.
^^^This^^^

Towns, U.S.F.S., B.L.M., private land owners, etc., etc., etc., to deal with. There are also "internal" logistics to deal with, such as how to get water for thousands of people when the only place to camp is on part of a cattle ranch .5 miles down a dirt road from an already lonely highway.

It's just not that simple to change the entire venue for the event late in the game.
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Old 09-01-17, 12:11 PM   #13
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Summer has been Hot and dry for quite a long time.. that equals Fire season.
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Old 09-01-17, 12:56 PM   #14
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It's noticeably drier and hotter nowadays.
I experienced this during my NW Montana tour that started on June 11th from Missoula. That's usually an iffy time of year out there weather-wise. In the weeks leading up to my arrival they had many days in the 90s. Some in the high 90s if not 100s. Except for the first day of my trip, it was warm to downright hot virtually every day, even in Glacier N.P. Only two brief showers over the course of two weeks. (Fire just destroyed the main building of the famous Sperry Chalet in the park.) I had done some of the same roads during prior trips. Even though areas had a hell of a lot of snow over the winter, a lot of it had melted already. Riding along the Mission Range of the Rockies south from Eureka I could see that the visible peaks were relatively bare compared to same time in 2009. Same was the case when I toured in SW Montana last year. Much less visible snow on the peaks compared to when I rode many of the same roads in 2014.
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Old 09-01-17, 01:45 PM   #15
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There are currently 14 large, and dozens of smaller wildfires burning in Oregon. Most of the state is affected by high levels of smoke pollution.

I believe CO did the right thing by considering the participant's welfare their highest priotity.

We rode 40 miles to the train station Tuesday, but only because we had a train to catch. The smoke was really bad!

My daughter in Kalispell said the smoke has also been bad in that area of Montana.

There is a severe smoke advisory for the Willamette Valley that said, "keep children indoors."

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Old 09-01-17, 10:52 PM   #16
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^^Montana is really bad too. When Ty and I were in Missoula in July the Lolo fire had just started and it was getting pretty bad.
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Old 09-02-17, 08:54 AM   #17
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Air Quality is quite smoky, as well.. ( Fortunately I'm near the Ocean with on shore winds..)

Route was to be in the basin & range high desert, SE of Bend, east of the Cascades..






.....

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Old 09-02-17, 11:39 AM   #18
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Actually, not that difficult - -

Cycle Oregon may have had to meet prior financial obligations,
but had they chosen to put out a broad request for alternatives - -
it could have been done.

How? Use churches and other organizations that can make quick, independent decisions.
Churches are an important choice because it is hard to challenge their generosity.

Where? Areas with little fire risk and limited smoke with possibilities for lodging.
That would then point to northwestern Oregon.

Since the weather is likely to cool some with a remote possibility showers later in the week -
It would make sense to start on the coast and then do the Willamette Valley.
It would also make sense to start and end in Portland.

Possible route -

1. Portland to Longview via Banks & Vernonia
2. Longview to Astoria via Calthamet & Cape Disappointment
(Or via Mist and Jewell if staying in Oregon is essential)
3. Astoria to Tillamook via Ft. Stevens & Tillamook Cheese
4. Tillamook to Newport via Three Capes Route
5. Newport to Corvallis via Siletz
6. Corvallis to Detroit via Jefferson and Mill City
7. Detroit to Portland via Breitenbush and Estacada
(Detroit would be the biggest challenge - but with time to prepare)

Each of the overnights would be larger communities with many churches.
Most churches also have kitchen facilities. Bathrooms. Often large green spaces.
Obviously, portalet, cleaning, and other expenses would need to be covered.

Sorry, but I believe that it could have been done - -
had their have been creative thinking.

PS - They should have been preparing an alternative months ago.
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Old 09-02-17, 12:54 PM   #19
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the company, has Assets .. things like a semitrailer that provides hot showers for the many riders, they drive to each pre determined campground,,
And a Kitchen truck for feeding.. the multitudes.. this is not a self contained tour, they haul all the riders gear for them, from overnight to overnight..

the participants pay for all those conveniences..
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Old 09-06-17, 07:37 PM   #20
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The folks that maintain CO could have come up with an alternative route need to look at the "Hazardous" smoke warnings for the state of Oregon. You might also look at Northern California, Washington, idaho, and western Montana.

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Old 09-06-17, 08:15 PM   #21
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Actually, not that difficult - -

Cycle Oregon may have had to meet prior financial obligations,
but had they chosen to put out a broad request for alternatives - -
it could have been done.

How? Use churches and other organizations that can make quick, independent decisions.
Churches are an important choice because it is hard to challenge their generosity.

Where? Areas with little fire risk and limited smoke with possibilities for lodging.
That would then point to northwestern Oregon.

...

PS - They should have been preparing an alternative months ago.
It is a HUGE production. Think 2000 tents. Think of General Sherman's march to the sea.

There is a local churchyard here near my house. Maybe room to put up 50 or 100 tents. I haven't seen extensive cooking quarters. But, to use churchyards for camping would take at least 20 rural churches with large churchyards. It might work for lunch stops, assuming that people spread out over a few hours.

They also apparently have live entertainment and activities in the evenings which wouldn't work well with a distributed crowd.

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The folks that maintain CO could have come up with an alternative route need to look at the Hazardous smoke warnings for the state of Oregon. You might also look at Northern California, Washington, idaho, and Westending Montana.
Things change rapidly.

Here is the map accompanying the cancellation notice.



Much of the northwest and coastal area appears to be unaffected.

Since then, a major fire has erupted in the Columbia Gorge east of Portland, and the latest maps seem to show clearer skies where the original route was than along the coast.



Looking at the two maps, I think the fires are mainly in the high Cascades in Oregon, Washington, and California, and in the Rockies in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. Where the smoke goes depends on the winds (or no wind), reaching into the coastal range which is largely unaffected.

I've biked around Eugene (with some of the highest smoke levels in the country), but I wouldn't organize a tour here.

Perhaps fietsbob can confirm coastal conditions. Perhaps right along HWY 101 would be ok, but not inland.

Based on the two maps, it looks like the least affected area of the state might be the southeast, along the Oregon/Nevada border. That could be one HOT, DRY ride. Perhaps an impromptu Cycle Nevada?
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Old 09-07-17, 05:46 AM   #22
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the company, has Assets .. things like a semitrailer that provides hot showers for the many riders, they drive to each pre determined campground,,
And a Kitchen truck for feeding.. the multitudes.. this is not a self contained tour, they haul all the riders gear for them, from overnight to overnight..

the participants pay for all those conveniences..
Those services are contracted for. CO doesn't own trailers and showers trucks and mobile kitchens for one week out of the year.

And the footprint of the event is quite large. You can't simply plop down that many people and that much equipment anywhere. Even when we stayed at large schools things were sometimes tight because we couldn't simply pitch tents in areas like athletic fields due to possible damage. And as I mentioned above, things like utility access is a major issues. Each night you need potable water for thousands of people to drink, shower with. You also need it for food prep. And don't forget power. A large scale change in the route might also affect the number of volunteers who are willing and/or able to serve.
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Old 09-07-17, 07:34 AM   #23
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.... So that agrees ; they just cannot pick another route, as if it were a 10 person club ride..
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Old 09-07-17, 08:40 AM   #24
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I was on committees who organized a few events in college. Nothing on the scale of 2000 people rolling around the Oregon countryside with a rolling support system, much smaller, but the folks saying just change the route don't realize the enormity of what goes on behind the scenes. Routes would have been coordinated with and approved by local officials months in advance, stop locations negotiated with land owners and contracts signed, insurance policies that relied on these documents underwritten. Heck, even coordinating with a septic service in the new location to have on course portapotties setup at the last minute may have been a huge obstacle. It is nowhere near as simple as just using an old route, road choice is amongst the smallest of tasks required.
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Old 09-07-17, 09:07 AM   #25
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I still contend that there was poor planning - - combined with record fires.

I am an environmental historian, a historian of rural communities in the West, and a cyclist.

Two elements of the cancelled Cycle Oregon Tour date immediately jump out.
First, late summer is the peak of fire season in the West.
Your risk of fire and smoke on route through national forests is greatly elevated.
Plus, a September tour generally precludes use of school facilities, if needed.
Second - Why wasn't there a back-up plan? Especially given the heightened riskof fire in late season?
The back-up could have been developed in stages - with the first stage in place from the start.
By late July, with fires already increasing, the back-up could have been further developed.
Then in mid August, it could have been fully implemented as the fires worsened.

At $1000 a person for 2000 people - it seems that C.O. took in two million.
That's quite a lot of buckeroos. Money to provide for a back-up plan.

Rather then look at daily fire reports with furrowed eyebrows and crossed fingers.

I am certain that churches would have been quite generous in use of their facilities in such a situation.
And churches receive greater latitude in their engagement with the broader community - such as events.
Not to mention that C.O. has mobile food and shower facilities, portalets can be restaged.

Yes, the fires are bad this year - although I was in Yellowstone in 1988.
But the combination of poor scheduling and lack of a back-up point a finger at C.O.
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