It's the early afternoon on the final day of a seven-day ride.
I am assembled with nearly 100 colleagues as we ride together into the park where the International Society of Arboriculture International Tree Climbing Championship and Arbor Fair is being held.
With more than 500 miles behind me, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel: a canopy of trees I am gradually approaching. The afternoon sun shines brightly through the green leaves as I inch my bike closer and closer to our final stop. There is a feeling of elation, as well as fatigue and soreness, as our band of riders enters the park to the applause and cheers of the crowd.
Aug. 5, the day our trek began, seems so long ago.
As a five-time participant in the Stihl Tour des Trees, I signed up somewhat aware of what to expect. I accomplished what I thought to be proper training exercises and I stocked up on new gear. However, as it turns out, Oregon's gorgeous views and greenery come with a price - steep hills and lots of climbing.
The natural beauty of the forests and ocean-side views I passed by energized me and offset the physical challenge I and the other riders endured as the miles added up. The research funded by our efforts tells us that people are healthier, wealthier and happier when they live among large trees and natural beauty.
As it turns out, forested views cushion a daily 100-mile bike ride as well. On hot days with lots of climbing, the beautiful trees and their cooling shade provided much needed relief against the heat of the afternoon sun.
|The seven-day, 585-mile Tour des Trees journey around Oregon. Photo: Stihl Tour des Trees/TREE Fund|
From Portland to Banks to Seaside and Grand Ronde to Wilsonville to a government camp to The Dalles and back to Portland - the 2012 STIHL Tour des Trees has come to an end.
For the 20th year, cyclists from across the U.S. and Canada trekked several hundred miles for the ultimate benefit of trees and communities. The thousands of dollars they raised, with the help of friends and family, will help the TREE Fund support tree care research projects and educational programs to give people better information to grow safe, healthy trees in their communities.
The Tour des Trees is more than a long bike ride and a fundraiser. As we make several stops along the way, us riders help plant trees in different communities to add to their canopies and benefits. It's fulfilling.
But the camaraderie is something else I value and look forward to every time I begin another tour. The long-lasting friends I've made in the industry motivate me to become involved time and time again.
|Davey is a platinum sponsor of the Tour des Trees.|
Since the original Tour des Trees occurred in 1992, the fundraiser has collected more than $5.5 million to help TREE Fund. The team that raises the most funds for the Tour des Trees has the opportunity to present the total check to the TREE Fund at the conclusion of the event. This year, Team Davey, including participants from colleagues at the Davey Resource Group and The Care of Trees, earned the top fundraising total. We presented the check to the president of the TREE Fund board on Saturday. Davey is also a Platinum Sponsor of the Tour des Trees.
Both research and personal experience suggest that spending a day or even the span of a few hours among trees can grant numerous body, mind and health benefits. But spending a week among Oregon's rural landscapes and dense forests - no matter the workout's intensity I had to endure to visit such sceneries - made my fifth Tour des Trees ride an experience to remember for life.