Tour De France it isn’t. It isn’t a bike race either. No cheering fans, no rugged mountain course, no team strategy and no gold jersey. Neither is there a huge amount of glory, no large purse and no television spots nor commercials. It’s not held in a foreign country, through vineyards and along ancient roadways over dangerous mountain roads where the slightest mistake could cost a rider an entire career. It is, simply, a fun time for a bunch of folks.
The Eagle Point Bike-a-thon serves the purpose for which it was designed. Ramrod Allen Curriston says that people come for the pure enjoyment of riding through the countryside, for the thrill of seeing new territory and for the exercise it provides for many people that may be stuck behind a desk for the better part of a week.
Between fifty and one hundred bikers gathered on June 15 for the annual event, greeted by mild temperatures and brilliant sunshine, perfect conditions for a ride through the countryside. Three different routes were available to riders of different experience and conditioning levels. The first and shortest, the 10K route went through north and east Eagle Point. This could be considered the “bunny hill” and it was noted that “team Shady Cove” chose this route and no wonder. Their team jerseys could best be described as a “rainbow” though they have promised to be sporting bright orange for next year’s event.
An intermediate course of 50K took riders out to the Lake Creek Store where they were greeted by members of the community association with bananas and orange slices and much needed water. By this time, riders were beginning to work up a sweat, some more than others. These riders followed the orange arrows on the pavement after their stop at Lake Creek and around the loop, then back to Eagle Point.
Pink arrows were the call signals for the 100K cyclists. When they returned to eagle Point they didn’t stop, but went through town and on through Sams Valley before returning. This was the group that wanted the challenge and is content to push their limits for the ultimate in physical exercise.
It was a refreshing site to see riders of all age groups and physical condition enjoying themselves in the late spring sunshine. One father gave his daughter and son a choice of riding bikes or four-wheeling on a dusty mountain road, the choice was obvious. A mother from Ft. Jones came because she combined the bike-a-thon with a shopping trip for grain for her son’s animal projects for the Siskiyou County Fair later this summer. A couple of more experienced riders, one from Ashland and one from Medford, just can’t resist riding anywhere and anytime they get a chance.
Another couple from Medford was just enjoying the sunshine, getting their exercise and seeing countryside they had never seen before. That couple had the best “team” jerseys voted by an impartial panel of one. The friends from Ashland/Medford had the best and brightest. Others belong to clubs and they sported jerseys to show they rode together.
One runner entered and was granted permission to leave the starting line early. Before the first cyclists were entering Lake Creek, he was on the return trip. Rob Wilson must have some disdain for wheels, because he chose to run the course rather than riding. According to Curriston, he runs this distance and often more virtually every day of the week. He was still smiling after the halfway point, a good sign. It took him about five hours to finish the course.
The event achieved its intended purpose. It was a beautiful day; folks got out to see the countryside and toned their muscles. But most of all, they had fun.