Day 2: Middle Fork of the Willamette
Length: 52.6 km
Grunting Up: 489 M
Grinning Down: 1,562 M
Our second day in Oakridge started with a trip to the local mountain bike shuttle company, Oregon Adventures. We had big plans for the day: a long ride along the middle fork of the Willamette River… and rather than spending precious riding time on dusty logging roads, or limiting the amount of trail we could see by doing an out-and-back, we decided to lay down some dough and get a lift up in an old VW van.
The decision was a good one, if just for the fact that we got to meet Randy Dreiling. Randy owns Oregon Adventures and as we drove up to the start, he filled us with tonnes of local knowledge. He is also the organizer of Mountain Bike Oregon, “the ultimate mt. biker’s dream getaway and community party, complete with meals, shuttles, an expo of bike companies, demo bikes, contest and a free nightly beer garden” that is held on two separate weekends over the summer (one in July, one in August). Randy also happens to be Executive Director of the Oakridge Chamber of Commerce, and an Oakridge city councilor.
Anyway, on with the ride… Randy dropped us off at Timpanogas Lake and recommended we do a short out and back to Indigo Lake, before heading off down the middle fork trail: “The lake is nice, and the decent back down is fun as hell”. Good advice.
From Indigo Lake and continuing onto the middle fork trail, we dropped like a stone down 650 M in about 8 km (click on the map above to get the elevation profile). The first 4 km the trail was smooth and fast… the next 4 not so much as the trail twisted around tight switchbacks.
For the remainder of the ride we descended at an average of 16 M per kilometer, never leaving the side of the river for very long. The rolling decent was interrupted twice as the river and trail dropped into tight canyon sections which required some hike-a-bike down and back up some steep slopes.
Besides the canyon sections, the trail rolled through a massive diversity of different terrain — huge old growth Hemlock and Ponderosa Pine stands, a few open and dry meadows, and a section that burned in a forest fire last summer.
After 50 km of single track we needed beer desperately, and headed to the Brewers Union Local 180 for some food and delicious suds. Luckily, no one was on strike.