Following up on my last post, I’ve been musing on the culture of Cycle Oregon, a new experience — and tribe — for me. As far as I can tell, Cycle Oregon as an organization is exemplary: they donate tens of thousands of dollars annually to the rural Oregon places they tour, they employ locals wherever possible (and with 2000 riders and a massive entourage there’s a lot to be done), they religiously compost tableware, etc.
And the people who do Cycle Oregon are fascinating too, as I’ve garnered from conversations at dinner, while waiting to take a shower, and during on-tour snack breaks. Most come with others — siblings, loved ones, partners, fellow alums — and while their demographics are relatively predictable (to start with, you must be able to take a week off in September and pay a small sum for the event), their stories are respectably diverse, many downright inspiring.
But there is this prevalent idea of the outdoors as, well, among other things a really fun playground. Now, this particular tribe plays outdoors in their own way — here the talk is about gear ratios and frame materials and chamois butter formulas — but this mode of practice whereby one knows nature as playground does something to us, culturally and economically and certainly politically. It’s a force Cycle Oregon has quite effectively channeled. It’s a force that southwestern Oregon — certainly Gold Beach, where we are on layover today — for the most part appreciates given the economic attention it briefly receives (that image at top is of a small fraction of our tents, parked between Gold Beach High School and the ocean). But it’s a force that shapes us and shapes nature in particular ways.
The day before Cycle Oregon’s tour, at least some participants were busy at work in their law offices or enjoying a few final moments with loved ones. What I did that day before involved a tractor and chain saw on my land in southern Oregon. All these practices shape ourselves and the world in incremental and patchwork fashion, and I’m not here to judge, other than to suggest that a mixed up melange of practices, say, whereby the outdoors is far more than a playground, is probably a good and eye-opening thing.