In a statement, Cycle Oregon Executive Director Steve Schulz says wildfires are to blame. He writes:
Forty-four percent of acres burning nationally are in Oregon. Fifty percent of individuals fighting fires nationally are in Oregon and Washington. Eight of the highest trained firefighting teams in the nation are working on the fires in Oregon. These fires are spread throughout the entire state, with the heaviest fires being in central and southern Oregon – encompassing our 2017 Classic route. Currently, fires are impacting five of our seven days with smoke and air quality levels ranging from unhealthy to hazardous. Previously designed alternate routes are now affected with fire and smoke from both new and existing fires.
He goes on to say that the decision came after discussions with several government organizations, including the Oregon Department of Forestry, the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the Oregon Department of Transportation.
"The one priority that we won't jeopardize is safety; we feel we cannot go forward without doing just that," Schulz writes.
The route is in the Cascade Range, going through La Pine, Bend, Rainbow, Oakridge, Crater Lake and Diamond Lake, among others. The route is in the midst of about 13 uncontained fires, including the McKay Fire near La Pine, and the Jones fire just east of Eugene.
The air quality in Bend and Sisters is currently labeled "unhealthy," with a score of 172 on the Air Quality Index. (For comparison, Beijing is at a level of 188.)
Cycle Oregon posted this map to explain where the route lies, and how it's affected by fires. It's very persuasive.
Cycle Oregon has posted an FAQ for additional questions.
Wondering about refunds? The page says that while some of the costs have already been incurred, it will take "a few days to determine how this will work." People who bought tickets should hear something by next Wednesday, Sept. 7.