An estimated 300 cyclists are expected to take part in a very special century ride, 50 years in the making, starting in Canby this summer.
As organizer Doug Myers explains, century rides are so named for the distance, 100 miles, and not the amount of time it takes to ride one. A Canby-based century ride, dubbed the Pioneer Century, has been a tradition of the Portland Bicycling Club since 1973.
The club formed in 1971 as the “Portland Wheelmen Touring Club” and hosted its first 100-mile ride the following year — but that one did not start or end in Canby.
“That one was just on Sauvie Island,” Myers said with a chuckle. “And I think they went around Sauvie Island, like, 12 times. They decided it was pretty boring.”
The club headed down south the following year and, finding the scenic byways, views of Mount Hood and pastoral farmlands surrounding The Garden Spot to be much more to their liking, a new tradition was born.
The heritage event has continued pretty much every year since then, with the one notable exception being the Covid-19 pandemic.
“So, it hasn’t quite been 50 rides, but it’s been 50 years,” Myers said.
The ride is open to anyone, club and non-club members alike, and offers a couple of lighter options for those not ready to commit to a full day in the saddle. The Pioneer Metric (which covers 100 kilometers, or 63 miles) is a good middle option, as is the half-metric, which is a relatively flat, 33-mile loop.
All three courses are well-marked and include rest stops stocked with water, sports drinks and nutritious cycling foods.
As many as 500 have joined the club’s Century Pioneer events in the past, Myers said.
“A lot of it depends on the weather,” Myers admitted. “If it’s going to be pouring down rain, nobody really wants to go that far.”
The Pioneer Century’s original starting and ending point was at the Clackamas County Fairgrounds, but the event was moved to Columbia Distributing due to the emergence of the Oregon Renaissance Faire, which has been staged on the first two weekends in June.
Columbia was kind enough to donate water and sports drinks to the event last year.
While the event’s home base has been in Canby for five decades, its routes traditionally weave through other communities, including Mount Angel and Gervais. And, the event is a ride, Myers stressed, not a race.
“It’s just recreational,” he said. “It seems like there is always some who try to see how fast they can do it each year, which I think is a waste of a lot of beautiful scenery along the way.”
Those who plan on doing the full 100-mile route are encouraged to hit the pavement by 8 a.m., Meyers said. The fastest riders can complete the course in five hours or so, but most take their time.
The gates stays open for finishers till about 6 p.m. The 50th Pioneer Century ride will be held Saturday, June 3, starting at the Columbia Distributing parking lot, located at 2525 Southeast 1st Avenue in Canby.
Tickets are $40 for club members or $45 for non-members if you reserve your spot by April 30. Registration will be $50/$55 May 1 through May 27 and $60/$65 May 28 through June 3.
All proceeds benefit the Portland Bicycling Club, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to promoting cycling and cycling safety. For more information or to register, visit portlandbicyclingclub.com/pioneer.
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