Editor’s Note: This post is courtesy of Travel Oregon.
If you ever thought about exploring Oregon by bicycle, this summer is the time to do it. In recognition — and celebration — of the state’s supreme natural beauty, Travel Oregon is inviting cyclists to take part in a statewide “7 Bikes for 7 Wonders” scavenger hunt that could net you a one-of-a-kind bicycle.
To celebrate the 7 Wonders of Oregon, seven of the state’s best bike builders were tasked with creating seven custom hand-built bikes inspired by the state’s most amazing places to ride: The Coast, Crater Lake, the Columbia River Gorge, the Wallowas, Painted Hills, Smith Rock, and Mt. Hood.
This summer, those bikes will be hidden at their Wonders for anyone to find, own, and ride. That’s right, if you find the bike it’s yours to keep because the folks at Travel Oregon believe the state’s 7 Wonders are not just for looking at. You have to explore them and feel them beneath your wheels to get the full experience.
Starting the week of June 15, Travel Oregon will begin posting clues to each bike’s exact whereabouts on TravelOregon.com/7bikes7wonders, and on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter using the hashtag #7bikes7wonders. Clues will focus on a new Wonder each week. The first clue will be shared on Mondays, with the second clue revealed mid-week, and maybe even a final clue awaiting adventure-seekers at the Wonder itself. The scavenger hunt runs through August 8, and will take a week off for the July 4 holiday.
“Cyclists have long been drawn to Oregon’s diverse geography, breathtaking scenery and varied terrain” said Governor Kate Brown at a gala launch event in Portland. “The nexus between Oregon’s 7 Wonders and some of the best bike makers in the country will further highlight Oregon as a leader in outdoor recreation.”
These seven bikes were designed both to represent and be ridden at their respective Wonder. For inspiration each builder looked to their Wonder’s environment, local community, folklore, and ride experience. Utilizing custom specifications and components, one-of-a-kind paint jobs, and road/trail-appropriate accessories, each bike is a true reflection of its Wonder and its unique place in the natural world.
The bikes themselves are as varied and beautiful as the places they represent. Portland’s Ahearne Cycles created a fat bike that could be ridden on the trail or beaches of the Oregon Coast. Argonaut Cycles fabricated a do-it-all drop bar bike that’s equally comfortable on the pavement or gravel roads that crisscross the Columbia River Gorge. Breadwinner Cycles opted for an utilitarian 29er mountain bike capable of shredding singletrack or venturing out on a multi-day backcountry bikepacking adventure in the Wallowas.
Igleheart Custom Frames and Forks created a touring bike that can carry all the gear you need for an extended exploration of the Painted Hills. DeSalvo Custom Cycles built a lightweight roadster perfect for the strenuous, but stunning loop road around Crater Lake. Vulture Cycles built a hardtail 29er with classic lines ideal for exploring the serpentine singletrack of Smith Rock. And Wolfhound Cycles fashioned a jack-of-all-trades mountain bike that’s equally at home on remote singletrack or lift-accessed bike park trails.
With so many amazing bike builders and places to ride bikes, it’s no wonder Oregon is considered among the innovators in bicycle tourism in the U.S. In 2010, a collaboration between Travel Oregon, Cycle Oregon, and Oregon Parks and Recreation Department produced the nation’s first Scenic Bikeways program. Beginning with the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway, the program now boasts 12 bike-friendly routes throughout the state. More are in the works.
Four years later, Travel Oregon developed the Oregon Bike Friendly Business program geared toward travelers. The program provides local businesses with tips and tools on how to be bike-friendly and cater to the growing contingent of cycling tourists from in and out of state.
The 7 Bikes for 7 Wonders scavenger hunt is part of the wider 7 Wonders of Oregon campaign that re-launched this spring. In 2014, the campaign contributed to nearly 10 percent growth in statewide lodging revenue over 2013. And Travel Oregon’s social fan base grew by more than 120,000, with TravelOregon.com experiencing a record number of unique visitors. More than 36,000 photos were tagged with the #traveloregon hashtag.
But in the end it’s the 7 Wonders and the rides they avail that are Oregon’s true cycling attraction. Each provides an incomparable experience that must be on every cyclist’s bucket list. And now you could find a free bike, too.