Have you ever wanted to play basketball in sandals? How about race at Cottage Grove Speedway in a minivan? Have you ever had the desire to ride a simply-designed rideshare bike over 100 miles? No? Well, on the last point, Sam McCamant can’t relate.
On Sunday, Aug. 4 at the 21st annual Greater Eugene Area Riders (GEARs) Blackberry bRamble, GEARs member and software developer Sam McCamant, 28, hopped on a PeaceHealth Rides shared-use bicycle and completed the longest of the courses available at the cycling event, the 102.5-mile Wolf Creek classic century.
“Earlier this year [GEARs] asked at one of their meetings if anyone was interested in riding a PeaceHealth bike in the Blackberry bRamble, so I decided that sounded interesting and volunteered,” said McCamant.
As bicycle rideshare programs have popped up around the country, PeaceHealth Rides is Eugene’s own local version that began on April 19, 2018. In total, the service provides a network of 300 bikes available in over 40 stations for local residents to rent for recreation or, most commonly, short-term, point-to-point commutes.
The average commute on a PeaceHealth bike is around 1.6 miles, a far cry from the 100-plus miles McCamant rode.
The primary mission of GEARs is to promote riding bicycles; whether the promotion is for transportation, fitness, or recreation. In a time where the cost of some bicycles - particularly the types of road bikes used on very long rides - approaches that of a decent used car, McCamant’s ride provided an illustrative example of GEARs’ stated goal.
“A lot of people feel that you need a light, high-performance bike in order to do things like go on a 100-mile bike ride and I disagree somewhat. So it was sort of an opportunity to demonstrate that you can do this with a heavier bike. It might take a bit more work, but it’s doable,” said McCamant.
For Lindsey Hayward, General Manager of PeaceHealth Rides, McCamant’s goal of challenging himself on this particular type of bike was perfect for an organization that’s always looking for new ways to promote their service.
“It’s definitely one of those things that’s outside the scope of what bikeshare is typically used for … but one of the goals of PeaceHealth Rides is to really have it integrated in the community and bike culture,” said Hayward. “Sam came up and was really excited about the potential and just the concept to be able to challenge himself and show people what they can do with something as simple as a bike. So it was great to have him be interested.”
The Wolf Creek Classic Century Route that McCamant followed began near Amazon park in South Eugene, traveled West through downtown before reaching almost as far North as Junction City, West out to Noti around the entirety of Fern Ridge Reservoir, and as far South as Lorane before heading northbound back to the starting point.
Luckily for most people, 100-mile bike rides are a rare if non-existent occurrence throughout a lifetime. But, for those who were reticent to make use of the PeaceHealth Rides bikes in Eugene, McCamant’s accomplishment should erase most doubts. After all, the 1.6-mile average trip is slightly less daunting than 100.
“You maybe want to avoid some of the steeper hills because of limitations with the brakes in going down, but you can go quite reasonable distances with them and the ergonomics on them are actually pretty nice. Before I’d ridden on one I thought maybe I’d need to swap out the seat, but it was actually pretty reasonable,” he said.
McCamant next plans to take on a 250-mile plus ride from Pacific City to Brookings, Oregon, but worry not, Sam plans to be back on his own bike for that even more daunting journey.