The Pole Pedal Paddle in Bend, Oregon is an annual event, which includes plenty of locals, as well as people who travel to Central Oregon just to take part. Depending on your team, it can either be an easy jog or a strenuous workout! (that is mostly because you can do it by yourself or with a team) Here are our tips for participating in the Pole Pedal Paddle next year:
Click the links below to skip to any of the following sections:
The 2019 Pole Pedal Paddle will take place on May 18, 2019.
The Pole Pedal Paddle is a complex (but fun!) event, and so you probably have a lot of questions. Depending on your speed, the course generally ranges anywhere from an hour and 45 minutes, to four hours.
The person on the first leg will be given a transponder. Do not lose this, as you will need to pass it along to the next competitor. Your team time will be taken from this — if you lose it, you will not get a time AND you will have to pay for it.
The downhill skiing section of the Pole Pedal Paddle begins at the top of Mt. Bachelor’s Red Chair. Skiiers first have to run 200 feet uphill without their skis, put on their skis, and then ski down the Mount Bahelor LeeWay Run.
The LeeWay run is considered beginner to intermediate.
If you want to practice, the Alpine Course is only open only from 8 a.m. – 8:45 a.m.
Some things to know about the Alpine Skiing section of the Pole Pedal Paddle:
- Ski placement in the ski corrals are on a first-come, first-serve basis.
- Helmets are required for all skiers.
- You are allowed to snowboard this section.
- The last number of your bib number will correspond to your chute:
At the bottom of the hill, your cross-country skier will meet you in your assigned chute.
Cross Country Skiing
The cross-country skiing leg of the Pole Pedal Paddle is a nearly five mile (8 km) course. The course is skate ski, but you can also use traditional cross-country skis as well.
While this course is not difficult, it is pretty long, with many uphills and downhills. So if you are a first-timer, just be aware it will take you up to an hour to complete.
When you are finished, you will meet your bicyclist at the Nordic Lodge parking center, where they will take off for the Old Mill District of Bend.
Participants occasionally choose the bicycling leg of the Pole Pedal Paddle because much of it is downhill, but we can assure you, it is not easy.
The leg is a 22-mile ride into Bend along Century Drive, and it is pretty steep for a large amount of the time. There is also one big uphill stretch just after you pass the junction to Sunriver.
Some things to know about the Bicycling section of the Pole Pedal Paddle:
- There is no drafting allowed.
- A helmet is required.
- Bike check-in begins at 7:30 a.m. and ends at 11 a.m.
- You can read drafting rules in your Competitor Guide.
- Although not allowed the entire race, you will likely encounter cars. Just make sure you are aware they may be around you.
- Make sure your bib is always visible.
The finish for the bike leg of the event is right before the first roundabout on Century Drive — near the Athletic Club of Bend.
You must pick your bike up by 2 p.m.
Okay, so running is not pole, pedal, or paddle — but it’s still an integral part of the Pole Pedal Paddle. The first run leg is five miles, where you will be running alongside the beautiful Deschutes River.
You will meet your biker near the Athletic Club of Bend. From there, you will run through Mt. Bachelor Village and past Touchmark Senior Living. You will then continue down Reed Market to the Healy Bridge.
Kayaking or Canoeing
For the paddle leg of the Pole Pedal Paddle in Bend, you can choose to kayak, canoe, or stand-up paddle board (SUP). The course is 1.5 miles on the Deschutes River. Boaters will meet their runner at Riverbend Park.
From Riverbend Park, you will paddle upstream for one-half mile to the Healy Bridge, back downstream for three-quarters of a mile, and then upstream again for one-quarter of a mile.
Some things to know about the boating section of the Pole Pedal Paddle:
- According to the Pole Pedal Paddle’s instructions, “any float-worthy craft that does not have oarlocks is legal.”
- The river can be really cold in May. Make sure you dress appropriately.
- Flotation devices are required.
- Two-person kayaks are only allowed in the Open Teams, Tandem Pairs, Family Teams, or 12 and Under categories.
- You can use a two-person canoe in any category.
- The boat launch area and boat takeout area are in the same location.
Here are the directions from the PPP’s instructions on the course:
“The Canoe/Kayak/SUP leg will be a chute system based on your division.
The course is .8 km upstream to the turnaround buoy under the Healy Bridge, then downstream 1.2 km around the island (stay to your right of the island!), and back upstream to the Canoe/Kayak/SUP finish (~150 yards downstream of the put-in).
Tumalo Creek Kayaks will have rafts and guides to monitor the course and assist in an emergency.”
Be aware you must pick up your boats between 2 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.
After the paddle leg of the Pole Pedal Paddle, there is still one small leg left. This is a great leg if you have a team member (such as a child) who is not equipped to do any of the other legs. The sprint is a one-half mile run from the boating finish line to the Les Schwab Amphitheater.
Some things to know about the boating section of the Pole Pedal Paddle:
- You will begin at the Canoe/Kayak/SUP finish line.
- You will be running on a paved footpath.
- Go under the Columbia Street Bridge.
- The finish line will end at the Finish Arena of the Les Schwab Amphitheatre.
You can compete as an individual for the entire event. Only individual competitors can have a support crew, and each individual must have at least two support people.
Be aware that the support crew at Mt. Bachelor will have to drive the Sunriver detour, so it may take them more time to get down to Bend.
This is the only category with cash prizes, which are $1,000, $500, and $250.
This category will have one person per leg, with each member alternating. Because of this, the competitor who is not bicycling will be given a pass to drive down Century Drive, and will not need to take the Sunriver detour.
Your team can be all female, all male, or coed.
In the Pole Pedal Paddle, you can team up as a pair, but you will need to do some legs together. This includes using a tandem bike or a two-person kayak.
Each member must weigh a certain amount:
- Males must weight 200 lbs.
- Women must weight 160 lbs.
You will be weighed at the finish line.
12 and Under Individual/Teams/Pairs:
- Every member of your team needs to be 12 or under.
- Two-person kayaks are allowed.
The teams are the most popular option for the Pole Pedal Paddle.
Each team must include three to seven members (there are six legs, but you can have two people in a canoe, or one in a kayak).
- This category is more for locals (although there is no rule saying that has to happen).
- Each member of the team must be employed by that business.
Using a tandem bicycle or two-person canoe or kayak is allowed.
- At least three legs of the race must be completed by someone with a disability.
- For the boating section, one of the two people in a canoe or kayak with a disability counts as one of the three.
Members of these teams must work for a city, county or state agency.
High School Teams:
Not only do members of these teams have to be high school students, but they actually have to go to the same high school.
- Each competitor must be a member of the same family.
- The Pole Pedal Paddle will calculate the winners of these teams by numbers of team members plus age span, divided by the race team time.
Each member must weigh:
- 200 lbs. for men
- 160 lbs. for women
This Pole Pedal Paddle competitor guide is from 2019. If you are considering competing, this guide will give you a good idea of what to expect.
Visiting Bend, Oregon for the Pole Pedal Paddle
If you are up at Mount Bachelor for the skiing legs of the Pole Pedal Paddle, know that they do close the road at some point back down to Bend. You will be redirected through Sunriver. Expect it to take up to an hour to get to Old Mill (where the rest of the event takes place).
If you plan to go to Old Mill to watch, there is plenty for visitors to do, including beer, food, and people watching. Even if you are not participating, it’s so worth it to stop down at the finish line.
Places to stay in Bend, Oregon
Things to do in Bend
The Pole Pedal Paddle is a unique event that very few cities could pull off. With a mountain only minutes from town and a beautiful river, May is the perfect time to do both.
If you are planning to come to town for the event, book your hotel early and make sure you leave time to explore everything that Bend has to offer!