They call it “7 Bikes For 7 Wonders,” and it sounds like what would spawn if a mountain biker watched The Amazing Race after Charlie and the Chocolate Factory while consuming a post-ride Fred and Adam at Hair of the Dog. Confused yet? Hold on, I’ll feed you baby birds.
You see, instead of buying a Wonka Bar or bumming rides from foreigners, you explore Oregon’s great outdoors. And instead of winning a warped tour of some creepy hermit’s psychedelic funk factory or… whatever they give you for winning The Amazing Race, you win… a bike! Not just any bike–these bikes are the homegrown craft brews of the mountain bike industry.
According to Travel Oregon, the 7 Bikes For 7 Wonders event sponsor, Oregon got hosed. There are a total of 7 magnificently massive, gloriously grandiose, strikingly splendid wonders in the entire world yet none, and I mean zero, zip, zilch, are located in The Beaver State. Oh, the humanity! If Travel Oregon knows anything it’s… well, travel and… uh, Oregon, and they see the World’s Wonders, and submit 7 of their own.
Travel Oregon then asked 7 bike builders from around the state to design a complete setup, each inspired by one of the Oregon Wonders, that will be hidden and found (for keeps) by 7 lucky souls within the respective Wonder’s region during an epic bike scavenger hunt.
The Wonders and their Bikes
In no specific order, the following are Oregon’s 7 Wonders, according to Travel Oregon, and a peek* at what the select Oregon bike builders have come up with.
#1 Columbia River Gorge: “It’s not overbuilt for gravel so road riding isn’t fun, and it’s not too sketchy or unstable to take off the pavement,” says Ben Farver from Bend-based Argonaut Cycles. “It can take you to all the fantastic places in the Gorge, in a fast and fun way.” Sources close to me say the paint job is unbelievable and is sporting Shimano Dura-Ace Di2, Enve composites, and Chris King handling the details. And just so you know, Argonaut won 2014 Best In Show from the North American Handmande Bicycle Show for their Spacebike 2.0.
#2 Crater Lake: Mike Desalvo of Desalvo Custom Cycles in Ashland builds his bikes specific for each customer, but where would his imagination take him if Crater Lake wanted to hop on for a ride? “It’s not a ride to see how fast you can get around the lake. What’s been fun is that it allowed me to reflect on Crater Lake, and the things I’d want to do on a bike there,” says DeSalvo. So he’s chosen a Ti road bike equipped with disc brakes, “large” tires, and electronic shifting which, he explains, will inspire you to enjoy the scenery as much as the ride–one of the most amazing things about the ancient caldera.
#3 Wallowas: “This is like the old horse of the bike world–it gets you up the steep pitches and down the trail. It’s a rugged, faithful companion,” explains Ira Ryan and Tony Pereira from Breadwinner Cycles. The 29er mountain bike is a “go-anywhere bike,” says the Portland duo, “and reflects how most people ride in the Wallowas–big stretches of valleys and then rugged terrain surrounding.”
#4 Smith Rock: Wade Beauchamp from Vulture Cycles, Bend, calls his 29er creation “Smith Rocket,” and it represents Oregon’s famed rock climbing destination, Smith Rock. A custom paint job blends the frame with The Rock’s towering walls and the rope bag included with this find may convince you to get off the bike and beyond the trail… but I doubt it.
#5 Mt. Hood: Here’s where this author will be spending most of his time come hunt season. Yes, it is the Wonder closest to my house, but it’s also the only Wonder bike boasting some squish (a 6-inch RockShox Pike). “The core principal behind my designs has always been to make something that could do anything and everything,” says bike builder Fred Cuthbert of Wolfhound Cycles located in Talent. “Around Mt. Hood there’s lift-assist, freerides, full downhill… everything, even including all-day single-track rides through the wilderness. On a project like this, I get to answer all the questions myself, and let my artistic impression shine through.” Really, Talent, OR? No “wonder.”
#6 Painted Hills: As a former student of geology, it made perfect sense for bike builder Christopher Igleheart, of Igleheart Custom Frames and Forks in Portland, to connect the beauty of the Painted Hills landscape with a painting of his own about what a bike should look like in this vast territory. Igleheart calls it a straight-ahead touring bike and says, “In Oregon, bicycling is a whole other attitude than the rest of the country and, that’s a product of the diversity of terrain and riding here. I’ve always had a philosophy of any bike, anywhere.”
#7 Oregon Coast: “At the beach you’re really riding with no destination in mind–it’s the trip itself that is the draw,” explains builder Joseph Ahearne. Portland’s Ahearne Cycles has built a fat-tire beach cruiser ready to take on not only the sandy beaches of Oregon’s coast, but no less than two 6-packs and a flask thanks to some handy fork-mounted racking. I just hope once someone finds this rig, they can find their way back.
How It Works
Beginning June 15, Travel Oregon will hide one custom-built bike per week somewhere in the Wonder for which it was created, for eligible hunters to seek, claim, and keep. Mondays mark the beginning of each hunt and a video clue will be released that same day on one of Travel Oregon’s social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram). A second clue will be revealed Thursdays on Traveloregon.com and/or Rideoregonride.com, followed by a fourth clue given on Friday or Saturday. By 3pm on Saturday, if the Wonder bike still remains undiscovered, @traveloregon will tweet the final hint.
Now, if you’re 18 years of age or older (sorry lil’ riders), get out there and find them bikes!
- Sign up with Travel Oregon to receive email updates and clues for 7 Bikes for 7 Wonders.
- Follow the hunt on Twitter and Instagram, @traveloregon, #7bikes7wonders.
- Click here for official rules.
*some photos are from Travel Oregon’s 7 Bikes For 7 Wonders campaign launch and are not necessarily the bikes used (but most likely they are)… happy hunting!