2022 Northwest Tandem Rally- Eugene, Oregon

After two rallies were cancelled due to a global pandemic, the 2022 Northwest Tandem Rally found its way down Interstate 5 and settled into the heart of the Willamette Valley in Oregon’s Emerald City, Eugene. Coordinated in partnership with Swift Summit NW, LLC and Co-Motion Cycles, and taking place from Friday, July 2nd to Monday, July 4th, the 2022 rally featured two days of self-supported rides and two days of fully supported rides. The 2022 NWTR was a fundraiser for Free Bikes 4 Kidz Eugene Springfield. Free Bikes 4 Kidz is a local non-profit organization geared toward helping all kids ride into happier, healthier childhood by providing bikes to those in need.

The rally started and ended at Armitage Park, a Lane County maintained public park nestled against Oregon’s majestic McKenzie River. Dry camping was provided for tent campers about two miles from Armitage Park at Coburg Charter School, and RV/Trailer parking was provided at the Lane County Fairgrounds. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, dorm facilities were not available for 2022 as the University of Oregon was unwilling to allow people from outside their university operations onto campus during the pandemic. As well, Lane County Parks would not allow mass dry camping (or a mass rollout) to occur at Armitage Park in order to mitigate a mass exposure of the COVID-19 virus so the 2022 organizing committee was forced to find alternative dry camping locations which separated tent camping from RV/Trailer camping. The Saturday night banquet was hosted at the Lane County Fairground’s Wheeler Pavilion.

Participants who arrived to Eugene on Friday afternoon/evening were treated to a special self-supported “Industry Tour” route which used Eugene’s Fern Ridge Bike Path and showcased four hallmark cycling industry leaders that call Eugene their home. Riders could ride from business to business via the Fern Ridge Bike Path, and factory tours were offered by Co-Motion Cycles, Rolf Prima Wheels, Bike Friday, and Burley Trailers. The 21-mile route started and ended in downtown Eugene near Oregon Wine Lab, who was a presenting sponsor of the 2022 NWTR as well as the host venue for the Friday evening registration check-in and social. On site food was available for purchase that evening by local Da Nang Vietnamese Eatery.

Saturday and Sunday’s supported rides both featured well-known iconic routes north of Eugene that showcased the scenic, low-traveled country backroads of Lane and Linn County that meander in and out of the foothills of the Cascades Mountains, as well the historic Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway. Four distances were available for participants to choose from ranging from around twenty miles up to a full century. Climbing ranged from just between 500-1,000 feet of vert for the shorter routes, and up to 4500 feet of vert for the longer route on Sunday, which rolled over roads and through towns that sound like were pulled out of a John Steinbeck novel- Mohawk Valley to Mountain Home Road, and Brownsville and Sodaville and Diamond Hill Road.

Saturday evening’s banquet was attended by two hundred eighty-five rally participants, and was a catered dinner of Trip Tip Steak, Rosemary Chicken, or Vegetarian Ratatouille. The evening was emcee’d by 2022 organizer, Trevor Spangle, and thematically focused around the Icelandic National Motto, “Þetta Reddast;” which loosely translates to the idea that no matter what life may throw one’s way, everyone possesses within themselves- and within their communities-the internal skills, wisdom, and grit to transcend any difficulty. This seemed particularly fitting for the two years of trials everyone endured throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, hiccups that presented themselves throughout rally weekend, as well as an apt metaphor of the tandem bicycle itself and “pedaling together” with others. Banquet music was provided by Christian McKinnon & the Down Home Family Band, a three piece bluegrass band from Portland, Oregon, and a presentation was provided by Dwan Shepard and Jarl Berg from Free Bike 4 Kidz Eugene Springfield.

On Sunday, a post-ride BBQ was available for purchase, presented by Eugene’s Claim 52 Brewing. Claim 52 Brewing brewed an “NWTR Northwest Pale Ale” specially for the rally weekend, and also brought their “Handlebar Helles” which kicked back $1 of each sale to Free Bikes 4 Kidz Eugene Springfield. Oregon Wine Lab was also on site selling glasses and cases of their locally procured wines. Both Saturday and Sunday included an Expo Fair at Armitage Park after the ride and included the following industry partners:

• Tandem Diversity
• Rolf Prima Wheel Systems
• Cycle Oregon
• Steer Stopper
• ATOC Bike Racks
• Calfee Designs
• Evelyn Hill Cycling
• Co-Motion Cycles, and
• Bike Friday

The final participant count of the 2022 Northwest Talley Tandem was 487, of which 96% of the participants were over the age of 40; 1.8% were between 25-40; and 2.1% were 25 and younger. Of those under 25 years old, twelve were fifteen years old or younger. 55.8% of the participants were male, and the rest were female. In total, 87 of the total participants signed up to camp in either site over the weekend.

Post event feedback was gathered by the 2022 NWTR planning committee, and the number of responses from the participants was quite disappointing. Of the 487 rally participants, only 71 responded to the request for feedback. When asked to express their overall experience with the 2022 Northwest Tandem Rally, the feedback was as follows:
Incredible- 4%
Great – 39%
Good – 29%
Just Okay – 23%
Terrible – 7%

The greatest points of dissatisfaction in the survey focused around the structure of the rally being too spread out around Eugene, the food choices at aid stations, and the lack of activities for children and families.

Overall, the 2022 planning committee felt the event was a success given the last minute call-up to coordinate the rally after Spokane resigned their event, and the significant limitations in place towards the end of 2022 due to the lingering COVID-19 pandemic. Looking forward, it would be helpful if more participants were to provide post-event feedback while also reflecting on ways that event promotion has evolved over the last thirty years, the changing landscape of the cycling industry, and the declining membership of local cycling clubs and number of local bike shops that have typically carried a large weight of rally promotion, organization, and leadership in the past. Additionally, the planning committee of 2022’s rally believes that the NWTR community has a chance to breathe new life into these arenas and pave the way for future captains and stokers, young and old, to experience meaningful, inspiring, and culturally relevant tandem rallies which consider the evolving nature of cycling culture and the industry at large, all person’s needs and desires when selecting an event to participate in (especially ways which can attract new ridership), and the vast opportunities which exist to leave a legacy for those who have still yet to hop in a saddle; because, in short, we all need each other to keep riding together.

Be well. Be kind. And take good care of each other.

Tailwinds, Trevor Spangle, Coordinator
2022 NWTR Eugene