What makes the annual Tour des Chutes unique among local organized road bike rides is that it’s a ride with several purposes. One is to raise money for cancer research. The second is to honor those who have passed on because of the disease and, three, to honor those who have survived it. Then, there’s the added plus of it serving as a venue where you see and ride with old friends, some of whom you may not have seen for years.
Such was the case of my running into one of Bend’s original mountain bikers (there were a dozen of us back in the day) who had left town for employment and now 25 years later has returned. He was riding for a friend going through cancer treatments.
And that is really the heart and soul of the Tour de Chutes: honoring those friends and loved ones. There are numerous mileage options for Tour riders yet I’ve spent the past six Tours riding the 7.5 miler with kids, parents, grandparents and people who simply want a quick spin around Bend’s Westside.
There’s something special about this part of the Tour which and this year it featured riders ranging in age from 2 to 82. When asked a three and a half year old girl let it be known that when she grows up, she wants to be a fireman. Cool.
A four year old astride a tag-a-long bike attached to his mom’s bike yells “yea” and pumps a fist in triumph as he and his mom pass me. The entire Tour goes off without a hitch and the 7.5 mile riders blend in with those coming in from longer rides, all getting a cowbell augmented cheering section welcome at the finish line.
Then there’s the burrito fest, music and catching up with people time.
But what’s this, riding in to join the celebration is top U.S. pro cyclist, and local, Chris Horner, whose unfortunate accident in the Tour de France has him back home and on the mend.
“I can’t remember the accident, being transported to the hospital, in fact that whole week,” Horner said regarding the concussion suffered in the accident.
Other than being a bit dingy in the head, Horner pointed out the limited damage to the rest of his body.
“The reason there were so many accidents during the first week of race,” he continued, “is because the routes were over narrow roadways and the crosswinds were tricky. Usually, the Tour spends one day in Normandy and gets away from the bad winds. This year it didn’t.”
Surrounded by well-wishers, Horner’s appearance added yet another special touch to an already special day. As did the appearance of up-and-coming young international rider and Bend local, Ian Boswell. Like Horner, he serves as an inspiration to kids.
Another year, another Tour des Chutes once again leaving the lasting impression that Bend’s cycling community is a caring community.