Every July since 2005, I've had the pleasure of riding with the kids, families and those who just want an easy ride at the annual Tour de Chutes. As a group we ride only seven miles and in that seven I'm reminded of what makes Bend still a great place to live.
It's the people. People like the four and five year olds doing what must seem like a marathon and the 91-year old gentleman who rode like someone half his age. They, along with countless others, make the Tour special.
The Tour's emphasis was, as always, on fun, on celebrating life and on giving back. Giving back in this case to raise funds for on-going cancer research.
As grim and omnipresent as cancer is, the Tour's organizers make sure that the sense of community and the joy of being able to partake in a life affirming event remain in the forefront of the day.
The Tour always has special moments. Last year I had a six-year old challenge me to a race as the ride wandered through Broken Top. He won. I hope he goes on to win a lot more races.
This year I rode with old friends, talked with cancer survivors and looked for another six or seven-year old to throw down a challenge.
It was a wonderful morning and hats off to the dozens of volunteers who give of their time to make the Tour de Chutes special.
Kudos to Gary Bonacker. The Tour's creator and guiding light, Gary has endured his long struggle with cancer with grace. He keeps up the fight daily and is the bravest person I know.