2021 Hospice House Ultimate Memorial Ride: A Joyous Return to the Road
Maybe it was because everyone was especially happy to be out with other people after a year in lockdown. Maybe it was the specter of rain that kept the group numbers intimate. Or maybe it was just the pure, exhilarating joy of the open road.
Whatever the reason, Cascade Health hospice nurse and tour leader extraordinaire Zack Page reports that the 2021 Hospice House Ultimate Memorial Ride (HHUMR) was perhaps the best yet.
“At first I was really worried,” he said. “The forecast called for rain all weekend, and we had eight cancellations – four the night before the ride kicked off! But it ended up being an incredible ride with great, energetic people who were able to really get to know each other and enjoy the camaraderie of taking on a shared challenge.”
After Covid-19 restrictions shut down the 2020 ride, Zack said it was nice to see both new riders and familiar faces – including one supporter who has become such a fan, he went out of his way to participate. Zack recalled his back story with a laugh:
“To drum up support for the ride three years ago, I went on a recruitment mission at Ride the Rim at Crater Lake. I took a fistful of business cards and talked up the HHUMR with other riders, one of which was Gary. He recruited his friend Monica, and she recruited Claus, and the three of them haven’t missed a HHUMR since 2019!”
“This year, though, Claus was already in the middle of a cross-country ride when the HHUMR was scheduled,” continued Zack. “He had made it from Virginia to Colorado, then he took a plane from Denver, completed our ride, and returned to Colorado to finish out his trek to Portland. And that crazy itinerary didn’t slow him down or dampen his enthusiasm one bit!”
On Friday, the group gathered in Sisters, Ore. and after all received clear Covid-19 tests, they began their climb to the summit of Scenic Hwy. 242. The highway is closed to traffic this time of year, which gave the riders a chance to take in the volcanic rockscape without worrying about car traffic. They then continued in a cold rain to the lunch stop Paradise Campground. Most riders jumped in the SAG wagons for the last 30 miles to Cougar Crossing Campground, and for all, the chill was less than comfortable after the 56.7 mile day. Luckily, Cougar Hot Springs was just a hop and a skip away, and everyone warmed up nicely before turning in for the night.
The weather was kinder on Saturday and the group climbed Box Canyon before dropping into the Willamette River basin and following the North and Middle Forks to Tired Dog Ranch outside of Westfir. Everyone was in excellent spirits after a sunny 53.3 miles, and as always, thoroughly enjoyed the meal cooked by Zack’s wife, Amy.
On Sunday, the last – and longest – day of the ride, the weather held steady as the group pushed through the last 63.8 miles, over the Calapooya Mountains south of Oakridge, down to Bryce Creek and ending on the flat, smooth Row River Trail along Dorena Lake in Cottage Grove. The celebratory barbeque may have been missing the usual crowd due to Covid-19, but was still a fun finish to an amazing weekend…with just a few drops of rain at the very end to remind everyone that it is, after all, Oregon.
“It was a really pleasant, beautiful ride with friendly, interesting people,” said Zack. “I can’t think of a better way to spend a weekend while raising money for a great cause!”
Inspired by his work as a hospice RN, Zack conceived of the ride as a way to honor those we have lost by finding strength in challenging
ourselves to live each day to the fullest. This year, the ride raised more than $7,500 to benefit Cascade Health’s programs to improve the health and quality of life in our community, including hospice care and bereavement support for those facing the end of life and their families.
All of us at Cascade Health would like to congratulate Zack and the 2021 riders for their determination, and thank them for their support. We would also like to thank Amy for leading the tireless and always encouraging support crew, providing delicious snacks and meals at each rest stop along the way, and our sponsors and in-kind donors for making the ride possible: Ninkasi Brewing, Toby’s Family Foods, Pneu-Med, Managed Healthcare Pharmacy, and Sequential Refuel Station.
Thank you again to all, and we hope to see you on the road next year!