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Cyclists cruise downhill from Crater Lake to Roseburg

July 16, 2017 GMT

The hard part comes after lunch.

That’s what the cyclists participating in Saturday’s eighth annual Crater Lake Downhill Bike Ride agreed upon as they munched on blueberries, strawberries, cookies and sandwiches at Boulder Flat Campground near Toketee Falls.

Hours earlier, the group started their descent from Crater Lake to Roseburg, a 100-mile bike ride, organized by Ron Hilbert of the Umpqua Velo Club.

Ron and Joan Hilbert hosted breakfast for the eight participants at their home at 4:30 that morning before departing for Crater Lake. Their home on North Bank Road also serves as the finish.

Ron Hilbert has organized the event for eight years, and every year it coincides with his birthday. He started the annual event for his 65th birthday, and is about to turn 73, but it doesn’t seem like the adventures will stop anytime soon.

Many of this year’s riders had joined Ron Hilbert on the downhill trip before, but for Jeff Peterson it was a brand new experience.

“They tell me it’s about the mentality,” Peterson said at the halfway point. “It’s been pretty easy so far, but they tell me it’s going to get harder from here on.”

Peterson, who lives in the San Francisco area, started riding a road bike just a month ago.

He had known Ron Hilbert for years as a rafter, but was looking for a way to get more cardio. Ron Hilbert, a former bicycle shop owner, suggested Peterson try cycling and helped him select a bike.

The hills of San Francisco proved to be a great way for Peterson to build his cardio. The Crater Lake downhill ride is his first longer ride.

Joan Hilbert and Kenney Fouchek are there in case he needs any help.

Joan Hilbert has been providing support for the cyclists, making sure they have the gear and nourishment they need to complete the journey for all eight years. Kenney Fouchek, 13, joins her in the support and gear vehicle for the third consecutive year.

“I don’t really cycle, so this is how I can participate with him,” Joan Hilbert said. “My job is to help anyone who needs help with anything. We have extra tires, we have a first aid kit, we have lots of water to stay hydrated and we can always put them in the car if they get too tired and don’t feel like they can finish.”

Bill Howitt missed the turn to Boulder Flat Campground last year, but Joan Hilbert made sure to make him a sandwich and give it to him as she caught up with him.

“She’s our hero,” Dick Dolganos, the Umpqua Velo Club president, said.

Joan Hilbert makes sure she counts heads as she stops in 10-mile increments. “I just want to make sure no one has crashed, because there is some space between them,” she said.

This year, everyone stopped for lunch and besides a flat tire there were no major mishaps.

Carol Maynard, Ron Hilbert’s cousin and the lone female rider this year, has participated in every Crater Lake downhill ride.

“You feel like a little kid,” Maynard said. “You get right out there and you just feel like you did when you were a little kid ... the freedom.”