(September 6 – written by Dave)
And away we go – 2019 Cycle Oregon –September 7-14, 2019
For those not in the know, Cycle Oregon (CO) is an annual weeklong cycle trip run every September since 1988 – making it one of the longest standing “state” rides in the USA. It is a supported ride with gear trucks hauling your stuff, food and tent sites provided and good news for us, we get to ride our lightweight road bikes. CO takes a different route every year, with an emphasis on riding little-known Oregon back roads, while spending nights in small Oregon towns that are willing to host the travelling circus that is 2,200 riders and associated support teams. CO makes strong financial contributions to the economies of these small towns and riders get to see some of the little known corners of Oregon.
We rode our one and only CO in 1994 with Pete, yes the same Pete that we rode with on our America’s trip. We managed also to connect with a few other riders within the first riding days. Back in the early days, CO sold out within hours of announcing the route. Large groups of riders with matching gear, fancy camp set-ups and a rolling party atmosphere were the mainstay of CO. Our little posse had fun, but we couldn’t help feel a little like we were crashing a neighbourhood block party.
To be honest, we didn’t love everything. It was our first ever big organized multi-day ride and the queues for food, toilets and showers were crazy. Add to this, a couple thousand tents crammed into a small town park or local football field and the early risers slamming the port-a-potty doors, well you get the picture, it’s not exactly a peaceful week of riding around Oregon. We didn’t swear off repeating CO but somehow since then, we’ve found other things to try out on our annual cycling trips.
So what’s changed now? For starters, while Nancy was still working, I rode as a guide on a couple of the big state rides in Australia. Doing these large rides while being part of the crew was really fun – I got to ride the whole rides, had a pre-made posse to ride and work with but clearly best of all, I got to help all the normal riders get through to the finish. While it sounds a little corny I found “giving something back” quite rewarding.
CO doesn’t have ride guide positions but there are number of companies that follow the ride daily. For example, The Bike Gallery offers bike/gear support, local breweries follow suppling the nightly beer gardens and massage therapists follow to work on sore legs. Best of all for us, there is also a coffee provider who follows CO. Nossa Familia Coffee has been serving tired riders fresh espresso every morning since 2005 and this year we get to join up as part of their crew.
Nossa Familia was founded in 2004 by Augusto Carnerio. He was raised in Brazil and studied engineering in Portland but he kept coming back to coffee. His family in Brazil had been growing coffee since 1890 – going all the way back to his great-great-grandparents. In Augusto’s words, “I moved to Portland to attend the University of Portland and was deeply inspired by the social-responsibility aspect of my education. It reinforced my heritage and the farms’ commitment to social and environmental practices. For me, Nossa Familia is a great expression of two worlds coming together.”
Augusto’s first beans were bought from family but today he still cares deeply about the farming communities where he buys his coffee. This is reflected in their general avoidance of using the commodity market as the basis for pricing. Instead, they have a conversation with farmers to determine what price would not only cover their costs, but provide them the income necessary to be sustainable, happy, and able to continue coffee farming.
A good deal of the world’s coffee is grown on small family land holdings. As coffee production has increased worldwide, consolidators and bulk buyers have put a squeeze on the growers doing all the hard work in the fields. We’ve seen this first hand in our travels and appreciate Augusto’s approach. Good coffee, done responsibly is a double win from our point of view.
So here we go, 25 years after our first Cycle Oregon, we’re heading back out to do it all over again. Only this time, we get to be the first ones in camp to slam the port-a-potty doors. We start every day at 4:30 – yes that’s AM! Seriously, we promise we’ll shut the loo doors quietly, drink our own personal espresso, put on smiling faces and finally we’ll serve up some delicious socially responsible Nossa Familia coffee to the rest of the sleepy riders of Cycle Oregon thirty-something. And oh yeah, then we go do the daily ride – tail end Charlies of sorts.
I’m not sure how I’ve talked Nancy into 4:30 starts and long rides every day for week – perhaps I got to her before she’d had a proper coffee… It’s ok, we’re giving something back, right Nancy, Nancy?, Nancy? Now where’d she go? She was here just a minute ago…
Hang in their Nancy, on the Nossa Familia Coffee truck, teamwork makes the dream work!