Naomi and I recently returned from a week-long mountain bike trip to Oregon. We flew into Portland – land of brewpubs, excellent coffee, cyclocross, hipsters & hippies – rented a car, and headed into the Cascades with plans to hit trails around Oakridge, Bend, and McKenzie Bridge. Bottom line: Oregon is awesome – which includes both the people (Portland’s unofficial motto is “Keep Portland Weird” which easily applies to all the Oregonians we met) and the trails (Oakridge alone boasts over 320 miles of singletrack).
Day 1: Larison Rock Trail
Length: 20 KM
Grunting Up: 768 M
Grinning Down: 768 M
The morning started bright and early in Portland with a trip to Stumptown Coffee, Oregon’s flagship independent coffee roaster and winner of multiple awards for their delicious roasts, such as the “Hair-Bender” espresso. Adequately caffeinated, and with a supply of beans for the rest of our trip, we drove about 3 hours south to Oakridge.
Oakridge is a small town in the middle of the massive Willamette National Forest. There used to be small sawmill there – until the mill owners apparently decided to burn it down (this according to the current president of the local chamber of commerce). Now, the town is squarely focused on attracting mountain bikers and tourism by promoting the amazing network of trails through the surrounding mountains and old-growth forest.
After grabbing lunch at the Tailhead Coffeehouse, we decided to do the Larison Rock Trail as a warm-up due to its proximity to town (you ride right from the main park in town) and relative shortness. Well, warm-up was right because the sun was bright and hot and the trail started with a stiff 8 km climb up logging roads, which at times exceeded a 22% grade.
All that climbing was worth it (as Joe would say: “fun in the bank”) because once we turned off the logging roads, the single track pointed straight back down to town. This trail defines “buff single-track” with barely a root or rock to interrupt the perma-grin decent. The trail is super flowy and winds through beautiful old-growth forest.
The whole trails ends so quickly back on the road, that we were tempted to peddle back up and do it again. But then I realized how thirsty I was (dehydration is serious) and remembered the fact that Oregon is famous for its brew-pubs… and then how, yeah, it would be good to save some energy for tomorrow… so we called it a day.