More than 13 years ago, Elliott and Daniella Crowder took a leap of faith and purchased a bicycle shop in Newport, which they named Bike Newport. As that shop grew in popularity and became a well known business on the Oregon coast, a second business emerged called Oregon Rides & Events.
And this year, Oregon Rides has taken over the management for Mountain Bike Oregon, the largest event of its kind in the state. This iconic, three-day mountain bike festival is celebrating its 15th year in Oakridge this summer, and the Crowders were able to bring on Cycle Oregon as the title sponsor for that event this year.
Daniella Crowder described how Oregon Rides & Events came to be. “We had been doing the logistical support, just as a bike shop, for the Arthritis Foundation ride for eight years,” she said. “We’d been doing just like the bike repair and mechanics for that event … and every year I’d think, ‘You know what, I think I could make this even better.’”
When the opportunity for running that entire Arthritis Foundation ride became available, the Crowders bid on it and were awarded the contract. “So we took that event over, a six-day bike event down the Oregon coast,” Daniella said. “We provided all the logistical support. And then we actually started moving that ride around the state, so that took a lot of planning, from catering, to Port-A-Potties, to every night the event would move. So that started us on the journey.”
When asked how the opportunity to manage this year’s Mountain Bike Oregon came about, Daniella said, “That is so exciting for us. Three years ago we started helping out with logistics on the event with our event company. They hired us to run their beer garden.” And as they got involved in that role, “we got on site, and I started again with the, ‘Wow, I could do so much to make this event better.’ So the second year we were there, we really started to do a lot more for the event. And after this past summer, they needed someone to take over the helm, so we stepped up and now we are running the show. We’re the full event managers for it.”
Mountain Bike Oregon is a three-day event based out of Westfir, near Oakridge. “That is the mecca of mountain biking,” said Daniella of the Oakridge area. “The trails are pre-determined, and we work with the U.S. Forest Service on that. It’s quite a huge undertaking. We have a permit from the U.S. Forest Service, we use their lands, and we have set routes that we do. We put people in vans and shuttle them to the top. We have guides that lead them the whole way.”
Some of the rides are a bit more on the technical side, “but this year with us at the helm, we’ve added a women’s clinic for women who are maybe just getting into riding or want to refresh their skills,” said Daniella. “We’ve added a clinic that is just for women to come and really gain some new skills. We will take them out on the trails that we feel are safe for them. We’ve got women trainers coming to do that, and it’s going to be a really empowering weekend for them.
“And then we’ve also added a youth clinic, which my son (also named Elliott, who is 14) will be helping to run,” she added. “It’s for 8 to 14-year-old kids. That way parents can go ride, and the kids can learn the skills.”
Daniella said when organizing something like this, “knowing how to run an event from front to back is really important. We do a lot of bike events ourselves. We travel all over to bike events, and so we know what makes a good event … that’s our passion and so that has really helped us.” From her own experience as a participant at various bike events, “I’ve got notebooks full of the areas I have targeted (for how it could be improved) and now I’ve been given that chance,” she said.
In addition to Mountain Bike Oregon on July 19-21, there are a number of other events that will be put on by Oregon Rides & Events. These include: Cannon Beach Fat Bike Festival (May 17-19); Coast Hills Classic Mountain Bike Race (June 9); Port Orford Fat Bike Festival (June 21-22); Barrel to Keg Relay (July 12-13); and Rogue/Bike Newport Fat Bike Festival (Sept. 27-28).
“I think that people hire us (to run these events) because we live in small coastal town, things are just different,” Daniella explained. “We run a little bit differently on the Oregon coast, and I think that people like that, and they know that about us. We’ve made a name for ourselves as being very community involved. Like Coast Hills Classic, that’s an event we do just for the love of the event. All the money from that goes back to kids in the community.
“So for us, it’s about going into these small towns and working with them and bringing people and shining the light on what they have to offer,” she added. “That’s where we do a really great job because we come from a great small town, so we know how to bring the best out.”
People who would like to know more about Mountain Bike Oregon can find the event online at mtboregon.com. Those who would like to know more about Oregon Rides & Events or Bike Newport can stop by the store at 150 NW Sixth St. or call 541-265-9917.