Sherry Sisson, Corvallis, OR, age 74.
What’s your BRNW history?
I started riding in 1992. My son, Mark, had taken up collegiate bike racing and told me I would like cycling. I also worked with a group of avid cyclists who annually took a week off to go on Cycle Oregon. I went on my first Cycle Oregon in 1994. That work group also had great comments about Oregon Bicycle Ride, so I decided to give that a try in 1997. I became hooked on Oregon Bicycle Ride (BRNW) and have only missed two years since then.
Why do you ride a bike?
Besides giving me a workout, riding gives me time to reflect on whatever currently is at the top of my mind. Exercise for me is a great stress reliever. Riding gives me the opportunity to see great scenery and meet and make new friends.
How many bikes do you own, and is this a problem?
I own three bikes. I can always use one more.
What is the most unusual or challenging place you’ve ever ridden?
My most challenging climb was “The Wall’ on the Tour of the Unknown Coast century, a one-mile climb at an 18-percent-plus grade.
What interesting thing do most people not know about you?
I am a pilot and frequently fly to BRNW rides. Flying, like cycling, is a great way to see a place from a different perspective. In 2015 I flew by Alpe d’Huez in a Cessna and was rewarded with a great view of the Tour de France climb. When my sister and I flew to Blackfoot, Idaho for a BRNW ride, we used a retired Blackfoot city police car to haul our gear to the camp site – generating a few comments from the support staff.
I joined my first OBR ride on a Sunday in Adel, OR. My late husband, Bill, flew me to Adel, but we could not land there because there were cows on the runway. Bill dropped me off in Lakeview, and I rode my bike to Adel. I got caught in a thunderstorm, and was just hoping I would not get struck by lightning on the way to the bike ride. I made it and had a great ride to the coast via Crater Lake.
Why do you keep coming back?
The overall BNRW support, the great scenery, to catch up with cycling friends I see only on these rides, and a chance to visit rural areas I would likely never see if not on these rides.
Many times other members of my extended family come on the ride, and it’s a chance to spend some time with them. My sister, Nancy, does these rides almost every year. When she comes, she makes “Team Smith” jerseys, shirts or hats with a design for the ride on them.
What did you see on a BRNW ride that you never thought you’d see?
It has to be the fire that was descending to our campground just as we were about to have a salmon dinner. I had never seen firefighters work a brush fire. The caterers and staff did a great job of feeding hungry riders with snacks, and preserving and serving dinner.
What advice would you give a first-time BRNW rider?
Ride year round, especially if you are older, even if it’s on a trainer or in a spin class. Doing so will keep you fit enough to enjoy the ride. And take your time on the ride to enjoy the scenery.