Cyclists, volunteers make annual race a success

2011-06-23T13:00:00Z Cyclists, volunteers make annual race a success Kathi Downing Corvallis Gazette Times
June 23, 2011 1:00 pm  • 

The Test of Endurance race in Blodgett drew 195 cycling enthusiasts from all over the Northwest. Dressed to race and riding hardy, expensive racing bikes, they rallied in the early morning hours at the Starker Forest Tour Facility down Tum Tum Road.

Mike Ripley of Corvallis, a high-energy guy, has been organizing bike races and obstacle courses for years. He started at the age of 10 in his back yard in west Eugene and took on the bigger races when he moved to Corvallis in 1990. It wasn’t until 2006, however, that he started staging them in Blodgett. With the cooperation of the Philomath School District, Benton County Public Works, the Benton County Sheriff’s Department and especially Starker Forests, Mike was able to set up two races a year out here.

Held every year on Fathers’ Day, the Test of Endurance is a 50-mile course with 8,500 feet of incline in the combined laps allowing bikers to climb and careen through the dense woods. The Mudslinger race is held earlier in the spring, when there is more chance for soggy conditions and lots of mud. Over the years, these races have become increasingly popular, as cyclists appreciate the magnificent Coast Range setting and challenging course.

In order to run these events, Mike relies on many local volunteers. Summit Grange master Nori Nettleton rounded the usual suspects for this year’s crew: Mary and Steve Eldridge, Barbara Gast, Karen Randall and Bertie Stringer, all of Summit, along with Hugh Cochrane of Eddyville, Debbie Boyd of Blodgett and Ken Ramage of Nashville. These community members help with first aid, parking, registration and food service, generally making the day’s activities run more smoothly.

To relieve the burden on the Summit Grange, Mike decided to “share the love” this year and recruited some extra volunteers from the Pastega House in Corvallis.

Usually the races are staged at the Blodgett Elementary School, but due to remodeling efforts there, the stage was set up at a new site, over a mile down the road, deep in the forest. The effect was dramatic. With the excitement in the air, the rainbow of colorful biking attire and occasional tunes wafting through the woods, there was almost an Oregon Country Fair atmosphere.

The only glitch was that the race was scheduled the same day as the Blodgett Community Church picnic at nearby Thompson Lake, causing some congestion along the stretch of the gravel road where cyclists had to park. One car reportedly went over a small embankment and had to be towed out.

Even with the confusion of a new location and a somewhat-difficult parking scenario, cyclists and volunteers alike agreed that it was a well-run event.

Volunteers help Bible school

Volunteers are also a huge part of the annual Vacation Bible School at the Blodgett Community Church. A dedicated group is getting ready for a week of providing songs, crafts, snacks, games and Bible teaching to children from preschool through sixth grade.

Most of the staff members are veteran volunteers, including a group from Washington led by former Blodgett resident Dwayne Weaver. This year a special guest speaker from Starfish Ministries will be on hand to share pictures and stories of her work in the Philippines. Lots of fun activities are planned, such as Family Night and the popular coin competition. Last year’s VBS was a huge success, attracting 77 children from the area.

SonSurf Beach Bash is the theme for the 2011 session. The program runs from 9 a.m. until noon next week, June 27 to July 1, at the Blodgett Community Church. Everyone is welcome! For more information, call Angie Minter at 541-453-4455.

Nashville resident Kathi Downing can be contacted at ramdown@peak.org or 456-4252.

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