The first day of the Cycle Oregon ride is referred to as Day 1 and the day before, when all the riders arrive and set up camp, is referred to as Day 0. What most people don’t get to see is an even earlier day of Cycle Oregon, known only to the local community and ride volunteers, when everything gets assembled and organized. That day is appropriately called “Day -1″.
Day -1 feels quiet in some ways: dinning tents set up for 2,400 people host only a few hundred, parking lots are empty, and vast fields of tents sit unoccupied. In many other ways it’s a very busy day because it’s when all the volunteers prepare for the beginning of the ride.
Tent set up, radio install, and table arrangement in the beer garden are all crucial activities that have to occur before the riders arrive. People who ride Cycle Oregon sometimes ask why anyone would take a week of vacation just to “work” on Cycle Oregon. John Jackson, a 20-year veteran of Cycle Oregon who supervises the team of support van drivers, described a typical day like this:
You wake up, you eat breakfast, you work for 10-14 hours, you eat dinner, you go to bed, and then you wake up the next day and do the same thing over again.
It is hard work, but the people who volunteer for Cycle Oregon are up to the task. Even after long days in the sun, the volunteers are eager to help out wherever needed. If you ask someone why they do it, even those who volunteer for the same job year after year for decades, the answer is consistent: volunteering on Cycle Oregon is fun.
I’ll have more about this year’s ride in the upcoming days. Stay tuned to hear more about the ride, the hustle and bustle behind the scenes, and more.