Monday, July 30, 2007

Day 6: Rest Day!

We are currently at a party at Idaho River Sports in Boise, ID to celebrate the Payette River put on in honor of Hybrid.Pedal to raise awareness for local conservation group Idaho Rivers United. We are psyched for such a great reception, delicious BBQ with locally grown butter dipped corn on the cob and cold beer and wine donated by the Co-op and Sockeye Brewery all set to some tasty local music by Bill Coffey and Ned “with the amazing hair.”

On this rest and recovery day we want to send a BIG THANKS to all of you who have been rooting for us on our journey. From here the ride will only get better!

Day 5: Burns to Frenchglen, OR

We went into today expecting an easy refresh day after yesterday’s 90 miles only to find that each day presents its own challenges. Although the road from Burns to Frenchglen is only 60 miles and mostly flat it became one of our most grueling rides. With long stretches of open prairie land, cross winds and a clear view of exactly what lay ahead today’s ride was a tough one.

As the miles slipped past us we entered the wildlife refuge that surrounds Frenchglen and prairie turned into marsh grass and rock banded hills. In the end we were rewarded for the days efforts with dip in a deep, fresh swimming hole (3 sandwiches), a home cooked meal at the Frenchglen Hotel, and air conditioned rooms and a grassy lawn to camp on. Much to our glee the bugs that we had been warned about seemed to be taking the night off.

After a brief nap we headed off to Steens Mountain Wilderness Area, which we had been watching on the horizon all day. I don’t think any of us were prepared for the take-your-breath-a-way beauty of this amazing place. The Steens is one of the places Conservation Alliance Grants helped to preserve. Standing atop this 9,000 ft. mountain overlooking geographic features unlike anything I have ever seen before, watching the sunset, then the moon rise was a moment of a lifetime and the kind of experience that makes the importance of the work of conservation groups across the world come into sharp perspective. I am so grateful the Steens will be available for future generations to experience.

As we turn in tonight we are all looking forward to a great rest day tomorrow as we head off to Idaho.

A Little History: Steens Mountain, Payette River

As the Hybrid.Pedal riders cross the border between Oregon and Idaho, I thought it would be a good time for a history lesson. The team spent last night in Frenchglen, a small town on the west side of Steens Mountain. Steens is often called the "crown jewel of Oregon's High Desert", and I won't argue.

In 2000, The Conservation Alliance gave $20,000 to Oregon Natural Desert Association ( to support the group's effort to secure permanent protection for Steens Mountain. In the waning days of the Clinton Administration, ONDA generated the public support necessary to help move legislation through Congress to designate 170,000 acres on Steens Mountain as Wilderness. In addition, through the legislation, ONDA won the first-ever legislated "cow-free" Wilderness on 100,000 of those acres. (Grazing is allowed in Wilderness unless otherwise prohibited). The protections ensured that Steens Wilderness remains roadless and closed to resource extraction forever.

Tomorrow, the riders will pedal along the North Fork Payette River, which holds a special place in the lore of The Conservation Alliance. In our very first funding cycle, back in 1989, The Conservation Alliance made four grants, one of which was to the Friends of the Payette. It was a little group of paddlers that banded together to halt a proposed dam on the North Fork Payette. Those of you who paddle, will recognize the NF Payette as one of North America's premiere whitewater runs. This ragtag group of kayakers decided to take on JR Simplot -- Idaho's largest landowner -- who wanted to dam the NF Payette for hydropower. Friends of the Payette -- which morphed into Idaho Rivers United ( -- stood up to Simplot and rallied enough public outrage to halt the dam proposal. The victory proved to The Conservation Alliance that supporting passionate, local organizations was the most effective way to preserve the special wild places that we need for habitat and recreation.

As Hybrid.Pedal continues through Idaho, the riders will visit more places that need protection. It's important to pause and remember the people who worked hard to save places we now enjoy, and occasionally take for granted. Thanks ONDA and IRU!

John Sterling
Conservation Alliance Executive Director
(still chained to my desk)

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Day 4: Paulina to Burns, OR

90 miles today! Make that 90 miles of climbing and ripping descents. It was a roller coaster of a day, and with temperatures hitting 97 degrees it tested all of our endurance.

As we darted (and slugged) through Ochocos we were stopped by a (very friendly) ranger who almost turned us around due to fire crews at work. Thankfully he was sympathetic to the mission of Hybrid.Pedal and let us proceed with caution. The stop also provided a much needed rest after the longest hill climbs to date en route to Salt Lake City.

One of the most amazing things about the country we rode through today was its vastness and the change in landscape. As we traveled from high desert to forest and back down into the plains I was reminded of how special Oregon is and how very important it is to set aside lands that will retain the character of what we saw today for future generations.
As I sit in Burns at the Sage Bed & Breakfast enjoying the last hours of the day, and the accomplishment of our hardest ride to date I'm looking forward finding out what adventures are on the horizon for us tomorrow as we head to the Steens.

Prineville to Paulina, OR

What a day! We saw miles and miles of open space, on our 58 mile ride today. After a long gradual climb we hit one of the most fun descents into a gem of a valley. Definitely a ride highlight. We all seem to be riding stronger and are traveling faster than anticipated, but with a 90 mile ride ahead of us tomorrow, we’ll get a real sense of how much the group has progressed.

Today we stopped in Post, OR. (photo of Post general store).
Which is significant to our journey for 3 reasons:
First - it is the geographic center of Oregon.
Second - it is the location where Linda lost her iPod to a port-a-potty. Although it was a sad moment, the comedic value of the loss mitigated the tragedy of the situation. The saddest part of the loss will be riding (tomorrow) our longest day on the trip sans music.
Third -we met Mariah, the grand daughter of the Post General Store shop keeper who amazed us all with her animal impersonations. This little girl could give Jim Carey a run for his money. She did the most convincing cougar any of us had ever heard.

After the ride we settled in for the night in Paulina, OR (population 36). This overnight ended up being more of a treat than any of us could have anticipated. The town Mayor Mason came out to greet us, the locals made us a pasta dinner, at which Linda's salvaged iPod (retrieved from the depths of the port-a-pottie) made a suprise appearance.
Add a dip in a 4 sandwich swimming hole in the Ochoco National Forest to the mix and , and music with “cowboy singer,” Jerry, who came down from the range to play for our group and end up with a truly perfect day for the Hybrid.Pedal crew.
It was amazing to see such different ways of life and to catch a glimpse of how creating wilderness areas impacts differnt groups of people. For instance, Mariah has grown up with daily wildlife spottings that without protected wilderness areas may one day become rare.
Stay tuned for updates on the iPod saga

Friday, July 27, 2007

Hybrid.Pedal Team Doing Great

As doping scandals diminish the Tour de France, the integrity of the KEEN Hybrid.Pedal team remains intact. They've downed plenty of CLIF Shot Bloks, and a few cold beers, but the riders are making their way across Oregon without blood replacements or steroid injections.

I visited the group in their campground in Prineville, Oregon last night and their spirits were high after a great ride from Sisters by way of Smith Rock State Park. Riders from Bend and Sisters joined the group for most of the day. The crux of the evening was swatting gnats. I decided not to tell them about the mosquitoes that await them when they reach Frenchglen.

They are off today for what will likely be a quiet few days traversing Eastern Oregon. The area is rich with Pronghorn and raptors, and wolves are making a gradual comeback to the area, so, with any luck, they'll see plenty of wildlife along the way.

-John Sterling (stuck in my office in Bend)
Conservation Alliance Executive Director

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Day 2: Sisters, OR to Prineville, OR

Eastern Oregon brings it! After a tasty breakfast in Sisters (where we found a newspaper that covered yesterdays kick-off in Portland) we were met by 50+ riders from Bend and Sisters who came together to ride with us in support of Conservation Alliance Grantees, Oregon Natural Desert Association and Deschutes Basin Land Trust.

Brad Chaulfant Executive Director of the Land Trust and Sister’s Mayor Brad Boyd led our group on a super fun 47 mile ride with peleton speeds hitting up to 28 miles per hour. Not to impressive when compared to The Tour but way faster than we ever imagined we’d travel during Hybrid.Pedal. With long deserted roads, vistas to Skyline Forest and a lunch stop in Smith Rock, day 2 of our ride proved to be every bit as fabulous as day 1.

In large part because Hybrid.Pedal is a corporate funded ride, buzz around the ride continues to spread. Bend/Sisters local news and radio shows came out to interview today’s riders showing that Hybrid.Pedal is having an affect on drawing attention to Conservation Alliance issues. I’d like to extend a huge thank you to all of Hybrid.Pedal’s sponsors for using their names to drive awareness for the Conservation Alliance and the areas it is helping to preserve.

Today also marked our first swimming hole stop and the creation of the swimming hole rating system. On a scale of one to five, our swim spot in the Crooked River got “two sandwiches.” The sandwich system is based on clarity of water, river bottom type, water depth, and scenic value.

Movie worthy moment of the day: Shannon (Medicines Global) receiving a FedEx package on our lunch break at Smith. Darn those guys are good!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Day 1: Portland to Government Camp

We started at 7:30 with an amazing send off breakfast at the KEEN headquarters then headed out for a 60 mile jaunt past the proposed Mt. Hood Wilderness area to Government Camp. Our crew of 18 (with representatives from Yakima, Dansko, Medicines Global, KEEN and Oregon Wild) had the great fortune of a perfect Oregon summer day for the inaugural day of the ride.

Two flats, a stop at Joe’s Donuts and bags of CLIF Bloks later we finished the day with a celebratory beer then parted ways with the Yakima and Oregon Wild crews as our core group of 5 riders headed on to Sisters on the road.

Quote of the day: If you don’t try to control stuff, everything works out better anyway – Dan Austin, Hybrid.Pedal cinematographer.

Day 1 Crew

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Hybrid.Pedal Starts Tomorrow!

Hi All,

John Sterling from The Conservation Alliance here. Well, after many months of planning, the Hybrid.Pedal Bike Tour is finally upon us. And for those of us who will be riding from the KEEN offices in Portland to the flanks of Mount Hood tomorrow (65 miles and 4000 vertical feet gain), a few extra days of preparation might be in order!

I want to thank the folks at KEEN for conceiving of Hybrid.Pedal. The tour route will connect the dots of special wild places between Portland and Salt Lake that Conservation Alliance grantees are either working to protect, or have already protected. Places like: Mount Hood, Skyline Forest, and Steens Mountain in Oregon; the Payette River and the Boulder-White Clouds Wilderness in Idaho; and Logan Canyon in Utah. Hybrid.Pedal is a brilliant way to showcase these places, and the local organizations that are working to safeguard them for future generations.

It is easy to take our wildlands and rivers for granted. Threats to these places can arise quickly -- like when the North Fork Payette was slated for a new dam -- or they can prey slowly on a place -- as with the intrusion of motorized recreation in Southern Utah or Central Idaho -- gradually diminishing their wilderness qualities.

It is also easy to take for granted the organizations that work tirelessly to protect these wildlands. Seven of those organizations are partners in Hybrid.Pedal, and they deserve full recognition here: Oregon Wild; Deschutes Basin Land Trust; Oregon Natural Desert Association; Idaho Rivers United; Idaho Conservation League; Winter Wildlands Alliance; and Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. Each of these organizations represents thousands of people who care about protecting the special wild places in their back yard. These groups thrive on a passion and commitment to the land, and from a sense of responsibility to save special places for future generations. For that, we honor them.

So, tomorrow, an intrepid group of cyclists will leave Portland, and ride 60-70 miles per day for two weeks until they reach Salt Lake City. Along the way, they'll be joined by dozens of additional riders for a day or two. They'll see the places Conservation Alliance funding is helping to protect, and they'll meet the organizations behind those protection efforts. Fortunately, you can follow their exploits here each day. And, a film crew will capture the Hybrid.Pedal experience and distill it into a documentary to be released shortly after the ride ends.

On behalf of The Conservation Alliance, thank you to everyone who has helped make Hybrid.Pedal happen. And thanks especially to the riders. Enjoy the journey, and we'll see you in Salt Lake!

-John Sterling, Executive Director
The Conservation Alliance