Tucker and I set out to see what all the fuss was about in Oregon. Both Bend and Eugene had been voted the top 5 cities in the country to live and ride in by Bike Magazine. We were not dissapointed. We accept no responsibility for drooling. Please get a tissue and cover your keyboard before you proceed.
Top ten reasons to move to Oregon:
The first day we hit Phils Loop which is accessible from town. We ran into Scott form Century Cycles and he showed us all the good stuff including The Whoops. A 4 mile gradual DH with whoop de doos all the way down. Quite possibly the most fun I have had on a Mountain bike. Nothing tough or technical, just fast and fun and lots of air. The trails that consist Phils Loop are a network of intersecting trails that you can easily get lost in. The soil there is desert style and drains wonderfully although they rarely get rain. The landscape is a cross between desert and forest. It is rather unique seeing Pines everywhere on that type of soil.
The second day we headed out to Smith Rock. This place resembles someplace you would find in the middle of Utah or Arizona. This had the most ungodly fire road climb ever. It was loose,steep, and long. Scioto trails was a walk in the park compared to this. Tucker forced me to climb this thing just so he could take pictures of the scenery. Not only did I have to put up with his snoring but now hes making me climb a monstrous fire road just for pictures and scenery! After getting to the top we hit some very sweet and treacherous singletrack. It was steep and loose. We eneded up on a hiking trail and had to lower our bikes down 15-20 ft drops. We were glad to fnally get to the bottom. If only Tucker new how to read a map!
Friday we decided to tackle the McKenzie River Trail. It is regarded as one of the best mountain bike trails in the U.S. so we were really stoked to check it out. The McKenzie is 27 miles one way so this is where Adventure Shuttle came in. We contacted Woody of Adventure Shuttle/Cogwild Bike Tours (www.cogwild.com ) to shuttle us and our gear to the trail head. He showed up right on time Wednesday morning in a cool VW bus and we did our best to follow him as he rocketed towards the mountains and up into the Willamette National Forest. After ditching our Blazer at the end point Woody dropped us at the trail head. He gave us a few pointers and made a few notations on our map then left us to start our ride in one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen. The trail was guidebook scenic with Ancient douglas firs and red cedar trees 6 feet + in diameter towering over the McKenzie River's raging whitewater.
The ground was covered with primeval ferns and moss, some even hanging from the trees. No briars and poison ivy here. We encountered some snow and fallen trees at first and the going was slow. We wondered what kind of nasty winter storm could topple one of these giant trees. After a mile or so the trail cleared and we got down to some serious riding. It was tough to keep our eyes on the trail the scenery was awesome. At one point we saw spray and mist shooting up by a switch back in the trail that turned out to be caused by Shalalie Falls. The switchback was on a cliff edge and one mistake here well the river is very fast and 36 degrees so go figure. A little further down the river disappears underground and partially reappears at a crystal blue pond. We found some more good scenery here in the form of five female hikers. They were real impressed that we were mountain bikers and said something about us blocking their view of the river whatever.
We rode on and got into some serious technical sections that ran through an ancient lava field. There were more cliff edge exposures here and lots of sharp rocks but we made it through with no problems and big smiles. We took a break for lunch here and I took the opportunity to hug a few trees. They seemed to enjoy it as much as I did (did I say that out loud?") The remainder of the trail was very fast and smooth but we were bonking. We straggled along the rest of the McKenzie River Trail, trail -weary and desperate for food. Our car was a welcome sight when we finally made it there. We decided to stop off at the Belknap Hot Springs on the way back to Bend to melt off some trail dust. It was an old time woodsy resort with a large cement-and-flagstone hot pool with its own waterfall and continuous hot (102 degrees) mineral water pouring into it then emptying into the McKenzie River with its class IV rapids a few steps away. Simon Belknap, who staked a claim to the hot springs in 1870, claimed that they "cured inflammations both internal and external and general debilities." I don't know about that but they sure felt great after a day in the saddle. Our skin grew wrinkled like prunes. An old river saying goes: "The McKenzie River---"once you've been here, you'll always want to come back to it. It gets a hold on you". I know I do.
We decided to check out the Pacific coast on Monday so Sunday was our last day to ride. The Shevelin Park Loop/Marazek Trail seemed as good a place as any to get lost for the day. After doing the park loop we found the Marazek Trail head with some directions from a local and headed up it towards Tumalo Falls. This was one of those trails that climbs very gradually and you know its going to super fast on the way back. It was all tight single-track as it climbed and weaved through a pine forest not as big as the ones on the McKenzie but still scenic. About halfway we caught up with three hot chicks on bikes... (guys did I mention that there are lots of hot chicks on bikes in Oregon?) They turned out to be from Indiana and Michigan originally. It seems like half the people we met out there were eastern transplants.
We all rode together out to the falls where we had some lunch and conversation. Tumalo Falls turned out to be just another one of those beautiful Oregon water falls on Tumalo Creek boring NOT! The girls showed us how it was done as we followed them back down the trail. We were all having a great time flying around the banked switch back turns and get a little air on the whoopdedoos. At the end we said our goodbyes and went separate ways. Turns out we should have stuck with the girls as we proceeded to get lost for an hour. We finally followed someone else's bike tracks back to civilization, dusty and hungry. The Westside Bakery was still open when we hit town so we made a pit stop in there for some of the best grub in Bend.
In all fairness I guess I should mention some of the negative things about the area since, after all, no place is perfect. First off the weather was mostly sunny and 70 the whole time we were there, the snow on the distant mountains is way too bright in the sunshine, there were bike lanes on all the city streets. Also, there were too many choices on the menu at the Deschutes Brewery, the steaks were way too thick and juicy and the waitress way too hot at the Tumalo Feedery, and worst of all the trees were just too damn big. I've been thinking of moving there to help straighten out some of these problems C YA!
All Pics and text courtesy of Moab, Tucker, and some hot chicks we met on the trail