Travel Oregon, the state’s tourism agency, commissioned Oregon-based bike designers — including two from Bend — to build custom bicycles that would match each landmark.
Each bike will be hidden at its corresponding wonder, as Travel Oregon releases clues to help visitors find it, according to Linea Gagliano, manager of industry and public affairs for Travel Oregon. She added that whoever finds one of the bikes first will get to keep it.
“We wanted to showcase some of the best bike-makers not only in Oregon, but in the country,” Gagliano said.
The seven wonders are: Mount Hood, Smith Rock, the Painted Hills, the Wallowas, the Columbia River Gorge, the Oregon Coast and Crater Lake.
Ben Farver, owner of Argonaut Cycles in Bend, said he was approached by the advertising firm Wieden and Kennedy, working with Travel Oregon, in January to ask if he would build a bicycle designed for the Columbia Gorge.
“I’ve spent a lot of time there riding and just getting to know the area,” Farver said. “It’s fun to build a bike around an area I’m really familiar with.”
Farver described the bike as a road bicycle that could handle a variety of terrain, which he said would make it ideal for the Columbia Gorge. Along the same lines, he said the color scheme is a mix of deep green and beige, with a splash of blue.
“I wanted to make a bike that was fun to ride in a mix of terrains,” Farver said.
Wade Beauchamp, owner of Vulture Cycles, built a classic, rigid mountain bike for Smith Rock. He said it has 29-inch wheels, and metallic tan paint that reflects the way the sun shines on the rocks as you enter the park.
“It has kind of a classic look, with modern amenities,” Beauchamp said.
The releases will be staggered, with one bike being hidden each week. According to Travel Oregon’s website, Beauchamp’s bike will be hidden the week of June 22, while Farver’s will be hidden July 20.
For Oregon’s tourism agencies, the promotion is a chance to build on the state’s growing reputation as a hub for bicycle tourism. Oregon has 12 scenic bikeways traversing more than 800 miles combined.
Travel Oregon commissioned a study in 2012 to document the impact of bike-related tourism on Oregon’s economy. The study showed that Oregon received $400 million that year from tourists who biked during their travels in the state — 4.4 percent of the direct travel spending in the state that year.
“We have such an enormous state, with so many diverse activities,” said Alana Hughson, president and CEO of the Central Oregon Visitor’s Association. “Cycling is one of those activities that fits well all over the state.”
Gagliano added that the exposure also draws attention to local manufacturers who might not otherwise get exposure. She cited a study from 2011 that stated that 60 percent of visitors sought out Oregon products even after returning home.
“We wanted to make sure bikes were a little higher on that list,” Gagliano said.
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