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Pro cyclist Serena Gordon shares everything you need to know about biking in Bend

Serena Gordon 1600

Greetings, Bend friends! It’s longtime Visit Bend blogger Tawna, and this week we have a special treat for anyone itching to know more about biking in Bend.

Pro cyclist Serena Gordon races and rides bikes for Liv Global and the Giant Factory Off-road Team. She also works as a cycling coach and writer in Bend, where she lives with her husband, Ben, and their pup, Piper. She’s passionate about cycling, skiing, gardening, the outdoors, and of course, coffee.

This week I’ve asked her to talk about just one of those topics: BIKING! More specifically, what should everyone know before jumping aboard a bike in Bend. Here’s what she had to say…

Cyclist Serena Gordon is here with bike tips for cyclists of all skill levels. (Photo by Jeff Clark)

Riding Bikes in Bend is Fun; Here’s How to do it Right

There is nothing that makes me feel more free or more alive than riding my bike. And this privilege comes with responsibility. 

Whether in town, on the trails, or on the road, it is my responsibility to be kind, curious, and follow both the written and unwritten rules of cycling etiquette. 

I have been riding in and around Bend for more than a decade, and as the number of people utilizing the trails grow and with increased vehicular traffic moving through town, it is more important than ever to understand your responsibilities as a cyclist.

Here are a few simple tips that will keep you safe, allow you to avoid conflict, and let you have more fun!


On the trail

We have an amazing network on mountain bike trails in Bend, accessible to varying ability levels.

Be aware that not all riders have the same skill and comfort level on a bike. If you are overtaking another rider, be sure to let them know you are coming up behind them, verbally announcing yourself with a “Hi, How’s it going?” or “Right behind you.” Be patient as they work to find a place to pull aside, and say “thank you” as you pass. 

If you are the rider being overtaken, pull aside in a safe manner as quickly as possible. The rider behind you is faster than you. Don’t block their path, don’t try to go faster, and don’t be a jerk. We have a lot of very fast riders in Bend. You are going to get passed. It’s ok, the passing rider is probably an Olympian. 

Serena Gordon photo by Jeff Clark.

Be sure to pay attention to directional trails and DO NOT go the wrong way. 

Ben’s, Phil’s, Whoops, Funner, Tyler’s Traverse and North Fork are a few such trails. Going the wrong way on a one directional trail is VERY dangerous, for you and other riders. Just don’t do it. 


Uphill riders always have right of way. 

When yielding to the uphill rider, do not continue to ride off the trail, into the sagebrush. Either stop and step to the side, or slow down enough that the rider can pass you without issue. 

As the uphill rider, it is still your responsibility to pay attention. If you and another ride crash, it doesn’t really matter whose fault it was, if you are injured or your bike is damaged. 


Control your speed and keep your eyes up. 

If you are descending, be sure you are within your limits and know that there could be a hiker, runner, or cyclist coming up toward you. It is your responsibility to be able to control your stop and prevent a collision. 


Don’t ride the Deschutes River Trail or up South Fork on the weekends.  

No, these aren’t “rules” but believe me, you will be glad you listened to this advice.

Knowing your hand signals is a vital part of being a responsible cyclist. (Image courtesy of the National Highway Transportation Administration)


On the road and around town

When riding in town and on the road, making sure you are riding predictably is the key to your safety.

Use hand signals, obey traffic direction, make eye contact and remember, in a bike/car conflict, the bike is going to lose. Always. Be a defensive rider.


When you are on a bike, you are not a pedestrian. Don’t act like one. 

Sidewalks are for walking, not for riding. Please do not ride your bike on the sidewalk. Not only does it create user conflict with pedestrians, it can also cause dangerous situations with motorists at driveways, intersections and crosswalks. 

And speaking of crosswalks. Crosswalks are for walking. Do not ride your bike through a crosswalk, or expect cars to stop for you in a crosswalk if you are riding. Dismount and walk across the crosswalk, or better yet, don’t use a cross walk while you are on your bike. Remember, you are not a pedestrian if you are on your bike. 

Get comfortable taking the lane, especially when entering a roundabout. As the bike lane ends, signal that you will be moving left, check that it is safe, and move into the center of the lane as you enter. Move through the roundabout the way a car would move through, signaling your exit, and reentering the bike lane as you have exited. 


Wear a helmet. 

No excuses, even when you are just taking the AirBnB cruiser bike around the corner to the coffee shop.  I don’t care if it is going to mess up your hair. You can always fix your hair, you can’t fix your brain. Don’t have a helmet? Let me know, we’ll get you one. (I am serious).  


Serena Gordon photo by Leslie Kehmeier

A note about eBikes: 

If you are using an eBike around town, remember that you need to follow the same rules as you would on any other bicycle. 

If you want to take an eBike off-road, keep in mind that eBikes are not allowed on non-motorized trails, including Bend’s mountain bike trail network or any other trail on BLM land that does not specify it is open to motorized travel. That said, there are hundreds of miles of gravel roads and ATV trails that you can explore on an eBike. For suggestions on eBike routes, check out the six routes of the Cascade Gravel Scenic Bikeway or talk with one of Bend’s many local bike shops. 


A word to motorists.

As a cyclist, I am hyper vigilant about being predictable and cautious around vehicles. I do not want to get hit by a car.  As a motorist, it is also our responsibility to be predictable. If you see a cyclist at a 4-way stop, treat them as a car, proceeding through the intersection when it is your turn, not waving the cycling through, out of turn “to be nice.” In a roundabout, please do not stop in the middle to let a cyclist enter. The cyclist is not expecting this, and neither is the vehicle behind you. Treat a cyclist in a roundabout the same way you would a car. Do not stop for them, and do not try to pass them. Bikes travel through roundabout faster than cars anyway.  


Bend is a great place to ride bikes, and by practicing good cycling etiquette, it can be even better, for everyone! Keep your eyes up, your helmets on and your smiles big.
Mountain Bike trail map and conditions information can be found at Bend Trails.
Here are a few handy links to learn more about cycling in and around Bend:

Check Visit Bend’s cycling page for everything from maps to bike rental shops and more.

Gravel routes around the state can be found at Dirty Freehub

And Central Oregon’s best road rides can be found here.



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