It’s only May, but it’s starting to feel like summer here in Central Oregon. Restaurants are opening up their patios. Fun seekers throughout the area are unearthing their paddleboards, mountain bikes, and fly rods from the depths of their garages. We’ve already spotted a few brave souls floating the river! Ski season may be winding down, but we’re not ready to put away the winter gear yet. Especially because this weekend marks the 37th birthday of Bend’s signature event—The Pole Pedal Paddle.
Almost 3,000 racers competed in the event last year. It is comprised of six stages, for a total course distance of about 34 miles from Mt. Bachelor to the Les Schwab Amphitheater in Bend. It starts with an alpine leg to the exchange point at West Village Lodge. Then skate and classic skiers hit the Nordic trails for an 8-kilometer dash to the cycling exchange, where racers enjoy a scenic 22-mile ride down Century Drive into Bend. The next leg is a 5-mile run along the Deschutes River Trail to a 1.5-mile canoe/kayak leg at Farewell Bend Park in the Old Mill District. As if this weren’t enough, the race ends with a .5-mile sprint along the grassy banks of the river to the finish line. Pheew! Did I forget anything? They don’t have a skydiving leg. But they might as well add one while they’re at it.
The PPP is the ultimate relay race that attracts anyone and everyone, including Olympians, 5-year-olds, Oregon Adaptive Sports participants, women in tutus, men in military suits, and that one team in the Jamaican bobsled outfits. One of our favorite parts is seeing our Struble Orthodontics kids’ smiles as they cross the finish line at the Kid’s Mini PPP. If you don’t compete, head down to Farewell Bend to cheer the racers on and to enjoy the booths, live music, awesome food (and beer, of course).
While taking advantage of the great outdoor activities we are blessed to have in our town, the PPP also demonstrates the strong sense of community we have built. That’s why the event is the epitome of every good thing that Bend has to offer. And to make it even better, all the proceeds generated from the US Bank PPP support the programs of the Mt. Bachelor Sports Education Foundation (MBSEF). We hope to see you out there on May 18 for poling, pedaling, paddling and cheering!