For serious cyclists in the know, Oregon has always had Tour de France-level rides – sleepy wine-country lanes, Cascade Mountain passes, remote ranching roads. But a recent partnership between the state’s park and tourism agencies has created a game-changing system of specially designated routes well worth the plane ticket. State employees canvassed local cyclists for a master list of rides linked to picturesque small towns. Then cycling teams rode and ranked each one by criteria including difficulty, road quality, and pure beauty. The nine routes that made the resulting short list – from afternoon thigh-burners to long-haul camping tours – were upgraded with bike lanes and “Scenic Bikeway” signage. (Several more routes are slated for approval by summer’s end.) While the concept is simple, the net effect is a kind of turnkey bike tourism that allows out-of-staters to drop easily into epic, open-road journeys through jaw-dropping landscapes. As for where to begin: Fly into Bend, which offers world-class whitewater and rock climbing, excellent shops where you can rent a set of wheels, the highest per capita concentration of breweries in Oregon, and easy access to our three favorite rides from the new list.
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