Get ready for a spandex invasion.
Upward of 2,000 bicycle riders are expected to pedal into Wallowa County Sept. 9 as part of the Cycle Oregon Classic.
The 383-mile ride begins in Baker City Sept. 8 with the first stop in Halfway. The next night, the riders will camp at Wallowa Lake, leaving out the following morning for Elgin.
The event also rolls through Pendleton for two nights, coinciding with the Pendleton Roundup.
Cycle Oregon’s premiere event was scheduled to visit Wallowa County in 2015; however, the Dry Gulch Fire near Richland prevented riders from coming. They were rerouted into Idaho, safely out of the reach of the fire.
Businesses had geared up to serve the plethora of riders and were disappointed by the cancellation. A salmon feed was planned by the Lions Club and Terminal Gravity had geared up for the onslaught of riders.
The financial blow was softened somewhat in February 2016 when Cycle Oregon announced it would plow thousands of dollars of grant funds into the county despite the cancellation.
Among those grants was $10,000 toward bike-friendly campsites at Wallowa Lake.
That project could be built and opened in time for this year’s ride.
“With Nancy’s (McLeod) retirement and then me transitioning over to here, the project got delayed a bit,” said J.R. Collier, Park Managet at Wallowa Lake State Park. “I worked with our planners last summer to get a design finalized.”
The grant paid to clean the former amphitheater site, which entailed removing an extensive amount of old asphalt and concrete.
“In addition, we’ve purchased the materials to construct two covered camp areas that will go in that location,” Collier said. “We’ll work this season on getting those units up, getting power to the site and then doing some restoration back to native soil and plants.”
Other grants went for playground improvements in Joseph, assessment for the Joseph Branch Trail and an apprenticeship program for high school students sponsored by Wallowa Resources.
Money to produce bicycle maps highlighting the best roads, gravel and mountain bike trails in the county was also made available.
Cycle Oregon also contributed $50,000 in 2008 to protect Wallowa Lake’s glacial moraines from development pressure.
Little information as to how local organizations can participate in this year’s stopover is available, according to Vicki Searles, Executive Director of the Wallowa County Chamber of Commerce.
“It will be an exciting time for all of us,” Searles said.
The chamber will be handling inquiries and provide details as information becomes available. Information is also available through Cycle Oregon, which is expected to spend approximately $150,000 to hire groups and organizations to undertake tasks such as unloading luggage and feeding cyclists.
Traditionally, proceeds have gone directly to those organizations.
Cycle Oregon charges each rider $999 to participate.
Cycle Oregon’s 2018 Classic Sept. 8-15
DAY 1: Baker City to Halfway
DAY 2: Halfway to Wallowa Lake
DAY 3: Wallowa Lake to Elgin
DAY 4: Elgin to Pendleton
Day 5: Pendleton Layover
DAY 6: Pendleton to La Grande
DAY 7: La Grande to Baker City