Some 1,200 cyclists will be in area for weekend

Cycle Oregon is first group to ride Oregon's Scenic Bikeway

MONMOUTH/INDEPENDENCE -- The inaugural ride on Oregon's first Scenic Bikeway will wind through Monmouth and Independence this weekend.

More than 1,200 riders from Oregon and 18 other states are expected to take part in a 136-mile ride through the Willamette Valley June 25-26.

Participants in the Land at Eden's Gate ride, sponsored by Cycle Oregon, are tentatively expected to reach Independence by 1 p.m. June 25.

Riders will continue into Monmouth for a number of activities are being planned in conjunction with the event, including a beer garden in Main Street Park.

The ride will convene for the evening at Western Oregon University.

Oregon's scenic bike route begins in Champoeg State Park, continues south through Yamhill and Polk counties before finishing in Eugene.

In Polk County, the cyclists will pass through the Eola Hills Winery, southeast onto Greenwood Road, down Highway 51 and into Independence.

The establishment of the scenic route was coordinated by the Oregon Department of Parks and Recreation, bike advocacy groups and Gov. Kulongoski's office, in an effort to boost tourism.

"We're holding this event to call attention to the fact that this route is the first of its kind in the country, to be sponsored by the state," said Jerry Norquist, Cycle Oregon ride director.

The ride isn't a race, though the winners may end up being the host communities.

Proceeds from the event -- each cyclist paid $150 to take part -- goes to the Oregon Community Foundation, which in turn kick back money to the towns in the forms of grants, Norquist said

Goals for establishing the scenic route is to promote Oregon as a vacation destination for cyclist, as well as to boost economic development in the state's rural areas.

Hence, the placement of stops like Monmouth and Independence on the route.

"The riders will spend a fair amount of time in the communities, they'll use local bike shops, eat at local restaurants," he said. "It should have a substantial impact."

"In 2002, we had a ride that ran through Sisters," he also said. "In two days the economic impact to that town was about $100,000, we contracted for services with the community and left a certain amount of money behind."

Participants in the The Land at Eden's Gate ride are tentatively scheduled to arrive at Riverview Park in Independence between 1 and 3 p.m.

For those interested in volunteering for the event: Ingrid Nyland at 503-287-0405.

Live music, a community market and a beer garden will take place from noon throughout the day in Main Street Park in Monmouth throughout the day.


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