Park officials said they were concerned about rider safety from the ingestion of particulate matter during the 55- and 96-mile routes that follow the Cascade-Siskiyou route through the Greensprings and across Hyatt Prairie, one of Oregon’s 17 designated scenic bikeways.
The loop route leaves Ashland and travels up Highway 66 to the Greensprings, then across the Hyatt Access Road past Hyatt and Howard Prairie lakes, then down the Dead Indian Memorial Road back to town.
The 55-mile loop is one of five designated bikeways listed by the Oregon State Parks and Recreation Department under its “Extreme” category, set aside for what its website calls “epic rides” on which cyclists need to “climb like a mountain goat and go all day.”
This year’s event, which is the third annual, was to include a century ride that traverses the Cascade crest and follows portions of the Keno Access Road before returning to Ashland.
“Just in the 55-mile ride there’s a 5,000-foot elevation change in that ride, so it’s pretty hard to do on a good day,” county parks Manager Steve Lambert said. “It’s really hard if it’s smoky.”
The ride was on the brink of implosion earlier this month when smoke from the Klamathon fire shrouded the region, Lambert said.
But 2,000 lightning strikes Sunday that led to more than 100 wildfires here determined otherwise.
“After the Klamathon cleaned out, we thought we were in the clear,” Lambert said. “All of a sudden, those fires hit Sunday and smoked us out.”
The ride garners close to 100 riders and is a fundraiser for the Bear Creek Greenway. It is co-hosted by the Ashland Chamber of Commerce and the Siskiyou Velo cycling club, Lambert said.
The shorter ride cost $60 to register, while the longer ride had a $70 registration fee.
The 43 riders who were preregistered when the event was canceled Wednesday will receive refunds, Lambert said. It draws many out-of-area riders, he said.
Rescheduling the event was not a viable option because of the time and coordination it takes to get permits and line up close to 60 volunteers.
“There’s an eight-month planning process,” Lambert said. “You can’t just reschedule that many volunteers.
“We’ll give it a go next year,” he said.
State parks campfire ban
All open flames, including campfires and charcoal barbecues, are now banned in all Oregon state parks and open beaches after Gov. Kate Brown declared a statewide fire emergency.
The ban covers all flame sources that can’t be turned off with a valve, therefore allowing liquid fuel camp stoves, according to the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department.
Enacted at 10 a.m. Thursday, the ban will be in place for at least one week and will be evaluated on a weekly basis, parks officials said.
State parks manages all Oregon open beaches, so the ban also applies there, parks officials said.