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Columbia Century Challenge offers bike tour through county

Two routes offered for day-long bike ride

A 110-mile bike ride on Saturday, June 18, will take riders along the scenic Crown Zellerbach Trail through picturesque land in Columbia County.

PHOTO COURTESY OF BARLOW BIKES - Cyclists from Portland make their way along a trail near Scappoose-Vernonia Highway, while testing out routes for the Columbia Century Challenge bike ride. The ride is a day-long event that kicks off early Saturday morning, June 18 in St. Helens.This year marks the first ride, but organizers say they’d like to make it an annual event.

The challenge offers two different rides, one at 72 miles that spans St. Helens to Vernonia and back, and a longer, 110-mile loop that spans St. Helens to Clatskanie and back.

Cyclists will start out at Columbia View Park in St. Helens, near the waterfront, as early as 6 a.m. Those doing the longer, Century Plus route are advised to leave the start line no later than 7 a.m. Riders doing the shorter, Metric Century route should leave by 9 a.m. The finish line closes at 9 p.m. for both routes.

The ride will offer a challenging elevation, complete with paved roads and a 12-mile stretch of unpaved, hard-packed trail route along the CZ Trail.

Riders are offered free mechanical support, portable restrooms along the route and rest stops along the way with hydration stations and snacks.

Registration is $45, or $55 on the day of the event.

The Columbia Century Challenge is being organized by Paul Barlow from Barlow Bikes, and fellow bicycle enthusiasts.

Barlow said this year’s routes are geared more toward experienced riders, but future rides will likely offer a shorter route for beginning cyclists.

The proceeds from the event will be given to the city of St. Helens Bicycle and Pedestrian Commission, to fund bike improvement projects around the county.

Barlow said the Columbia Century Challenge ride spawned from efforts by Bill Blank, organizer of the Scappoose Farmers’ Market and director of Columbia County Habitat for Humanity. Blank sought ideas to unify the different communities of Columbia County.

“One of the goals early on was for local ownership along the route from all the communities,” Barlow explained. “We want this to be a ride/event that everyone can take pride in and in doing so will not just bring riders in this one time a year but throughout the year as well to further explore what all Columbia County has to offer.”

The event has been marketed in the Portland metro area. Barlow said he and other organizers hoped for about 100 to 150 participants. As of Tuesday, 22 riders were registered.

For more information, or to register, visit cyclecolumbiacounty.com