Pendleton, Oregon: Rest Day at the Rodeo - Cycle Oregon 2018 - CycleBlaze

September 13, 2018

Pendleton, Oregon: Rest Day at the Rodeo

This was a layover day in Pendleton, with the option of riding, resting, or doing both. Months ago, when we signed on for this ride, we were both enthusiastic nodding to each other and saying, "Oh Heck Yeah, we'll ride that day AND poke around town!" Because ... you know, we can DO IT ALL.

Well, maybe not. We decided to dial it down and spend the day poking around historic Pendleton and doing a little recovery. So let's do a short tour of our Pendleton day, and then do a deeper dive into the logistical wonders of the CO Tent City set-up, because Margaret and I are both endlessly fascinated by that.

One of the joys of this trip has been meeting other riders and the greatest new friend we have met is our tent city next-door-neighber Lowell. He is a modern day philosopher, endlessly interesting and curious. A 76 year old guy out there killing it on rides like this. Such a good person to chat with, who asks questions and is more interested in hearing about you then he is talking about himself. We had the good fortune to bump into him today as he was also taking a tourist day off the bike and we all three decided to go tour the Pendleton Woolen Mills.

Me and Lowell.
Heart 0 Comment 0
Pendleton wool ready for fabricating.
Heart 0 Comment 0

Many may remember the iconic Pendleton Woolen Brands. It has existed for more than a century and started right here in Pendleton, Oregon. It's heyday has passed, but it it still going strong in a pared down version of itself. Much of its clothing product is made overseas, but their famous Pendleton wool blankets are still made in this facility and another in Washington state. It was fascinating to see the process in action. Margaret, who is a knitter, (and a damn good one) has a special kinship with all things woolen, and felt like she had ascended to knitters heaven. We decided to splurge and bought a wool bedspread, and had it shipped home. When we travel we always keep our eyes open for local art to bring home, and we decided this qualified in that regard.

Margaret amongst the wool. She is Really, REALLY happy to be here.
Heart 0 Comment 0
Our favorite picture from the rodeo. These Native American kids were about to go perform in the venue and they took time to let us get a group picture of them. I think the kid on the lower left has seen it all : - )
Heart 0 Comment 0

We were in Pendleton for their Biggest Week of the Year ... The Pendleton Round-Up. It is (if I have my facts straight) the largest, or one of the largest, rodeos in the US. It takes place over the entire week, on the 2nd week of September every year. It began in 1910 and has continued uninterrupted since. In walking around town, on the way to the venue, we could tell that the Round-Up undoubtedly qualifies as a Very Big Deal. Walking past the school district administrative offices, their electronic sign reminding everyone that all public schools were CLOSED for the entire week of Round-Up!!! Yes, they simply shut down for the entire week. I'm assuming the students are a big fan of Round-Up week as well.

We had purchased tickets in advance and watched about three hours of the various skills. It is a very well produced and presented. Super professional with very little down time between events. The announcers are pros and the entire experience is very audience friendly. I must admit some of the events made me cringe a bit ... watching calfs and cattle being roped, jerked to a halt and hog-tied for example. I'm not sure that the animals can really be said to "enjoy" their handling, but I understand this is all part of a shout-back to Western tradition and culture, so I did appreciate that representation. On the other hand, I also understand why events like this raises bile in the throats of PETA members. I have to admit we found ourselves rooting for the bucking broncos and bulls. And, side note, who in God's name would climb onto the back of an angry 2,000 bull with huge, potentially impaling horns? But on the whole it was a pretty neat experience. We'll let modern day philosophers decide whether an event like this is a good or bad thing.

Now our favorite topic: The logistic wonders of the CO tent city and rider support set-up. First category is food. Every day CO feeds nearly 2,000 hungry bikers breakfast and dinner in the host cities. They also need to feed what we would estimate to be upwards of 200 - 300 staff and volunteers in those spots as well. On the road there is a lunch stop on the route, again feeding we 2,000 two wheelers, and at least one other stop on the route where we can grab a snack and water. Every breakfast and dinner is cooked fresh, not served from shrink wrap, out of cans, or some other MRE army-style system. They do their best to source their food locally, and the daily menu makes note of what items are local, and where they originated. Here is a typical menu for the day, taken straight from the CO menu:

Breakfast: Baked eggs Florentine w/ Hollandaise sauce, bacon, diced potatoes, oatmeal. Coffee, white & chocolate milk, tea, and water.Nuts, granola, and brown sugar available for the oatmeal.

Lunch: Roasted turkey sandwich or mozzarella basil or hummus spread on Telera roll, cabbage vinaigrette salad, cookies and chips, fresh fruit. Soda, water, sparkling Fizze flavored drink,

Dinner: Pot Roast or vegetarian mushroom & Quinoa frittata, Baby Carrots, baby Potatoes, salad bar, dinner roll, brownies.

I'm salivating right now reminiscing about it. To provide the drinks alone, they hire a separate business that does "incident catering" around the country, such as at wildfires, hurricane recovery sites and other natural disasters. Their crews travel in large trucks set up like rolling bunk houses and they have several trucks from which they prepare coffee, lemonade, and other beverages. We forgot to inquire what company they used for the meal preparation but I would guess it is a similar set up. Think about this though ... Assuming there were about 2,200 people being fed every day (of seven days) that is 30,800 fresh breakfasts and dinners, and 15,400 semi-fresh lunches. That is mind boggling. And I tell you the quality of the meals was always excellent.

We've mentioned the shower trucks but let's go in depth. CO hires four rolling shower trucks to follow the ride and provide a place for a warm shower each night. The trailer section is hooked up to a portable water source and run through a heater. Inside each truck are about 12-14 small individual shower stalls with a curtain and an area to set your stuff. Outside each truck are two (total of eight) shaving/hand washing stations with six sinks also connected to a water source, and also have mirrors to better view your gradual deterioration throughout the week. They collect all the used "brown water" from the showering and recycle that! We stumbled upon that fact one day accidentally. They even provide several large ice cream buckets, hoses, and powdered laundry soap to wash your dirty bike clothing if you wish! Again, everything has been thought through.

Shower Truck Row .... Four semi-trucks converted to shower trucks were set up every night. blissfully warm showers and really not too long a wait!
Heart 0 Comment 0
Outside each shower truck is a tooth-brushing, face-washing, shaving station. Margaret demonstrates proper use.
Heart 0 Comment 0

On the road, the main logistic is setting up for the day's lunch stop. Usually in a small town if possible, or if not in a National Forest rest stop or something of that ilk. The lunches are awesome, though as a realistic nod to what is possible some of the lunch is in the form of packages cookies and chips. But the sandwiches are freshly made, as is the salad, and I've made myself meals at home that are a shadow of what we were served on the road.

The first rest stop, and the lunch stop, on each day's ride affords riders the chance to drop unneeded clothing. This is both brilliant and a god send, as everyone is usually bundled up at 7:30 AM because it can be in the lower 40's, but by lunch the temps can easily climb into the mid or upper 60's. They provide re-usable nylon bags with corded drawstring closures. You drop in your gear in the bag, and then write your rider number on a piece of duct tape and stick it to the bag. They take it from there and it is waiting for you at that day's finish town. All the bags are organized by rider number and you pluck yours out of the queue and off you go. How do you remember your riders number, you ask? It's printed on your plastic wristband that ID's you as a member of the ride. Again, another tiny detail that makes it easier for the rider.

CO has thought of everything. On the route each day you have two locations were you can drop clothing you want to shed and it will be transported to the finish area. You put your gear into reusable bags (shown) and put your rider number on a piece of duct tape so you can find it later. Brilliant!
Heart 0 Comment 0
The empty drop bags then go into this bin for re-use, and the duct tape is collected. The tradition seems to be to stick the tape on the bin.
Heart 0 Comment 0

At day's end, we arrive at the tent city and find our paid-for Tent & Porter site. As mentioned, CO pitches nearly 500 tents at each site for the T&P people. They actually have two sets of 500 tents which leap frog each other so they don't have to madly scramble to try and break down 500 tents, load and truck them to the next city, and then pitch them in time for the riders arrival. I don't think that is physically possible. Riders are instructed to leave their gear bags in front of their tent, zipped and stowed, when you are all done with them. The tent & bag crew prowls around on ATV's and snatches those bags up as soon as they are out. They also break down the tents ASAP for you. At one stop, when I saw the huge number of bags left out for riders who did NOT sign on for tent & porter, I almost fell to my knees in thanks for having done so ourselves. There was a virtual sea of bags waiting for their owners. CO warns you to tie something to your bag to make it stand out from the "other 1,999 black REI duffle bags" but finding your bag after a long day in the saddle would have been an immense bummer.

The bag pick-up area. LOTS of bags. Since we bought the "Tent & Porter" service, or bag gets dropped on our doorstep at the end of each day, and picked up for shipment each morning. Otherwise you have to sort through the massive pile on your own.
Heart 1 Comment 0

As mentioned CO is all-in on recycling the garbage and various detritus from the ride. Two thousand people generate a lot of garbage. At every stopping point on the ride there are a great many recycling stations to dispose of garbage. They are labeled and set up for riders to easily sort compostable, recyclable, and landfill. Only a stone age idiot could not follow the directions, but to be safe each station usually had one or two volunteers posted to help out. That's commitment.

CO has a huge commitment to recycling. Every snacks stop, lunch stop, and the tent city has multiple of these recycling tents. They clearly show what goes where, but also are staffed by volunteers who ensure things are deposited where they belong for disposal and recycling later.
Heart 0 Comment 0

Finally, a separate organization with similar commitments to cycling advocacy and energy conservation provided a couple services on the ride. They provide bicycle detailing on the ride. If you want your bike clean as a whistle they had mechanics on duty to do just that. Their flagship service was to provide device recharging for a small fee. With 2,000 bikers there are a BUNCH of cycle computers, phones, and other electronics begging for "juice." Since we were sleeping outside there are not many (if any) public "outlets" to recharge. This group has a large van set up as a vast recharging station. For $70 you could recharge as many devices as you wanted for the full ride, or for five bucks you could pay as you needed for each individual charge. I took a picture of the back of their charging van.

A separate bicycle advocacy group offers a recharging service for a fee. You can either pay $70 for unlimited charging and unlimited devices for the entire ride, or a $5 "pay-as-you need" option. I was entranced by their set up and these volunteers obliged my need to document their charging station, inside a van.
Heart 0 Comment 0

There is SO MUCH MORE I could rave about but I can already feel everyone's eyes glazing over on the topic. I am fascinated by "how things work" behind the scenes and can't get enough of this kind of information. So. Tomorrow we ride again.

Every overnight site has a stage set up for live music at night and the nightly rider meeting and announcements.
Heart 0 Comment 0
Rate this entry's writing Heart 3
Comment on this entry Comment 0