Volunteers ready JoCo park for cyclists

    Dozens of workers and volunteers filled a Josephine County park Wednesday afternoon, preparing to transform it into a hub accommodating 1,850 bicyclists.

    Indian Mary Park is among seven stops along the 29th annual Cycle Oregon event, a 365-mile ride that began Sunday in Myrtle Creek, taking riders on a scenic route along Oregon's south coast before touching down in the Rogue Valley Thursday en route to the ride's conclusion in Myrtle Creek Saturday.

    Volunteer Michael Woiwode, who arrived from Gold Beach with about 10 other volunteers just after noon Wednesday, led one of the ride's two "site teams" in charge of setting up temporary shower, massage, toilet and food facilities along with signs and banners and about 700 optional reserved tents at the park in time for the mass arrival of cyclists.

    Nearly 200 volunteers are involved in the nonprofit ride, Woiwode said. Some are roadside monitors, others are involved in waste management and cleanup, while others, such as local high school athletes, carry riders' bags in exchange for tips.

    "There are quite a few others that you don't see at the site," Woiwode said.

    The ride isn't entirely staffed by volunteers, however. The tent and porter service, in which riders' bags await them in a numbered tent, is arranged by contractors who work with Cycle Oregon. Other contractors handle food preparation, portable showers and portable toilet services, according to Woiwode.

    Woiwode, a Coronado, Calif., city councilor, began participating in the annual ride two decades ago and has volunteered with the ride for the past 14 years.

    "It's so different from anything else I do," Woiwode said. "There's nothing like this in California."

    He said he enjoys observing people from cities interacting with and appreciating members of rural communities and watching them learn to appreciate each other's way of life. The nonprofit organization's core mission is to raise money for rural communities. 

    "That's gratifying for me," Woiwode said.

    — Reach reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MTCrimeBeat.

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