2019 marked my 10th year as a part of the Cycle Oregon Massage Team (including the year the event was cancelled due to wild fires in 2017.)
The first ride I worked in 2010 was during my final year of massage therapy school. I worked the front desk for the Cycle Oregon Massage Team scheduling and taking payments, I had no idea what I was getting myself into but it sounded like it could be fun. I remember being in awe as I witnessed the veterans in this field working therapeutically and efficiently to help ease the cyclists pain so they could continue on the ride. At the time it felt like a fun adventure, but the experience clearly influenced the direction of my whole career as a massage therapist, it ignited my passion to work with active people, and develop my skills as an LMT that resolved clients pain and help them move with more ease.
Let me set the scene as it’s quite a bit different from the cozy little treatment rooms you find yourself in during massages in town. There are 15 massage therapists all working together in a 20’ x 40’ tent amongst the elements of rain, wind, cold, and sun. Its an organized chaos and I often joke that its like a massage conveyer belt because each massage is 55 or 85 minutes in duration and sessions start on the hour, leaving us 5 minutes in between to change sheets, drink water or snack, say goodbye to our client and greet the next. We usually arrive at the site around 11am to begin setting up our massage station for the day. The location of the massage tent is always a bit of a surprise, we’ve worked in cow pastures, sticker patches, and perfectly manicured grassy golf greens (my favorite) We wait for the cyclists to complete their ride (anywhere from 50 -1 00 miles!) and the sessions usually begin around 1pm or 2pm and we work until 10pm averaging 8 hours of sports massage each day. There’s also the ‘layover’ day which is the only day we stay in the same location vs moving on to another site. We start working at 8am and finish at 10pm (I did 12 hours of massage that day during the week, although my record is 14 while working on another ride. )
You won’t hear flutes or Enya during this massage. One of the bodyworkers on the ride curates a lively mix of music that almost all my clients comment on: “who’s singing?” “Do you know the name of this artist?” “This isn’t normal massage music.” I love working to the variety of sounds coming through the speakers, it keeps everyones mood elevated and vibe energized during the long workdays. You can take a listen to the playlist on Spotify and let me know if you ever want to here something else during your massage in Portland!
It’s so much fun to work in an open room with massage therapists, since we are usually quite isolated working in our offices, its so refreshing to have the community and camaraderie of the massage team. We are all putting in crazy hours, working hard, and we all lift each other up and are there to help when needed. Being on the road there are a fair share of misadventures. I’ve been there to help when someone locks their keys in the car, when they need a jumpstart, when they bump their head and need help securing bandages, and the list goes on.
This year it rained heavily for the first three days of the ride. Setting up our tents in the dark, getting our stuff soaked was a real bummer. So when enough was enough I sprung for a hotel with my colleague and friend Samantha Hargrove. Best night of sleep I’ve ever had. And since we didnt have to be at the massage then until 11am then next morning we ventured to The Cottonwood Cafe in Sisters OR for brunch.. it was the best brunch ever.. I’m still thinking about it today. Do yourself a favor next time your in the area and try it out - We got the veggie hash and veggie B&G. You won’t be disappointed!
I’ve developed friendships with the riders over the last 10 years. I have repeat clients that I look forward to seeing every year. Some who live in Portland have come to see me at home. I treasure this experience and am so happy to be a part of the Cycle Oregon Massage Team and to help the cyclists enjoy their week on the ride.