“Road, Gravel, Small Town Goodness”. These are the words that Ramon Martinez, founder of Bike Indy Oregon, uses to sum up what Bike Indy Oregon is about. There are few activities held closer to the hearts of Oregonians than cycling, so in honor of upcoming national cycling month (May), we sat down with Ramon to highlight his program trough the City of Independence that provides opportunities for locals and tourists alike to get out and about in our community, one pedal stroke at a time.
Ramon started as a runner. He loved the adrenaline and speed of racing but found himself craving something different. He had biked as a means of commuting to work, but it wasn’t until he moved to the Midwest while volunteering for AmeriCorps that he saw the potential for biking to be so much more. He embarked on longer rides and bike camping, then he had the opportunity to ride across the country with the affordable housing organization, Bike & Build, and again when he moved out to Oregon from Wisconsin by bike. Ultimately, a whole new world opened to him. “Biking took me places I never thought I’d go,” he said. And he hasn’t looked back since.
Ramon on McColloch Peak outside Corvallis.
Bike Indy Oregon began as a website to get people outside experiencing the incredible vistas that this state has to offer. It offers routes for all experience levels and creates events where people can motivate themselves with the goal of getting back on their bikes. Even as the pandemic shut down a lot of the world, there were still safe ways to explore, move, and challenge oneself with a bicycle. Ramon then had the idea to pair the website with the online platform Strava, adding a creative low-stress competition where people could challenge friends, other riders, or just themselves. “It’s a competition, but not really,” Ramon said. “People can do whatever routes they’re comfortable with, but also add ‘Strava segments’ to help motivate riders to give certain stretches their all. (Bonus: Strava is completely free!) “It grew from there,” Ramon added.
The Bike Indy Oregon site has a route library – and you can send the routes to your personl devices!
Ramon is beyond excited to share the region he has come to know and love. “In Oregon,” he said, “we have a lot of great places to ride. We are pretty spoiled with the outdoor biking scene, whether you want road biking, gravel, or mountains.” And after ten years of living here, Ramon had the perfect connections to start a community initiative. “I have a lot of friends in the area,” he told us, “And I know which areas are fun to bike. So when I started Bike Indy with the help of colleagues Shawn Irvine and Courtney Williams, the thought was simply, ‘OK. let’s get more people out, riding in Independence.” Now, the question is, how does one do that?
For starters the Bike Indy Pass was created to motivate cyclists to enter through the doors of local businesses. The program has picked up more traction with a strong following on social media. Ramon’s hope is that Independence becomes a location people flock to when planning a cycling trip. “We are a smaller community,” he said, “but we want to provide a fun experience for everyone, regardless of ability or length of ride.” Ramon is the first to admit though that such a goal can’t be achieved without the support of his community. “What strengthened the program was connecting with Matt and his crew at The Independence Hotel. It brought this idea full circle. And it’s been so fun teaming up with them to help make Independence a destination for great biking.”
Drop the Hammer events also feature a family/kid-friendly 3-mile route on Independence’s off-street paved, multiuse path along the scenic Willamette River.
Eager cyclists down from Portland for a ride!
The support doesn’t stop there. In fact, if there’s anything Ramon is more excited about than biking, it’s spreading the word of those who has helped him and Bike Indy along the way. “Prior to the launch of Bike Indy,” Ramon said, “I had some established connections with vendors. I want to make sure to give shout outs to OBRA (Oregon Bicycle Racing Association), Cycle Oregon, Bike Peddler in Salem, and Scott’s Cycle and Fitness, also in Salem. They really helped spread the word about what we’re doing. Also, shout out to Trevor at Swift Summit Northwest. He is doing great work there. Mudslinger Events too!” Ramon’s love for his community is contagious, and you can’t help but want to be a part of such a shared initiative, which helps all parties included. “It works out in their favor too,” Ramon added. “We’re helping to promote each other because we are a community. It’s a win-win. We are all excited to share about everything happening with bikes (and more) in the area.”
We think these two know which way to go!
Of all the uncertainties that come with starting the program, Ramon says he was the most surprised by the reactions he has received from participants. “We are casual,” he says, “we are not a full-on race. […] But it has surprised me how many people have reached out who haven’t been on a bike in years. Now Bike Indy is giving them a goal and helping them get back outside. […] We even hear from bike shops that some people have come in and bought brand new bikes. People are trying new things.”
Cycling in an ageless sport! People young and old with any level of experience are encouraged to check out the events!
When I asked Ramon to name a myth he’d like to debunk about cycling, he told me, “You don’t need all the fancy gear. You don’t need carbon wheels or carbon frames. You don’t have to go all in right at the beginning. There’s a bike for everyone, and there are a lot of great resources out there to help you get what you need. Strava is a great service and it’s free. Our website also has information on what that platform is about.” Point is, go out and explore!
If you’re new to the area though, exploring doesn’t have to mean being on your own. Once a season Bike Indy Oregon hosts a “Drop the Hammer Weekend,” where they showcase the routes that are best for that particular season, ensuring those attempting to try something new can still bike safely and with confidence. Currently, Ramon’s favorite routes include heading from Independence towards Amity, and with his bone conducting headphones, he can listen to music without tuning out what’s around him. “They don’t go right into your ear canal,” he says. But what is he listening to?? “I love Latin music,” he told us, but he also likes to mix it up with some oldies thrown in every now and again. “Anything with a beat,” he added. “A little bit of everything.”
Ramon has successfully built a community out of Drop the Hammer and other cycling events.
The delight Ramon takes in what he does is clear!
The open road calls!
The Drop the Hammer events focus on the best routes for each season!
To learn more about Bike Indy Oregon, follow it on Facebook and Instagram, and sign up for the newsletter on the website: BikeIndyOregon.com. Ramon is ready and excited to share with you the best that Oregon cycling has to offer!
Check out Bike Indy Oregon yourself, by booking the Indy Cycling Experience Package with us, it includes two Bike Indy Passes for exclusive discounts at downtown businesses year round and $50 to spend at Territory for lunch, dinner or drinks.