Monday, May 28, 2007

Oakridge: Middle Fork Ride

I gathered with 14 other riders for a ride setup by the Disciples of Dirt, which is Eugene's very active mtb group (which mostly amounts to a slew of folks on the same mailing list, who do a lot of riding, and a lot of trail maintenance!). Two of the folks, Andy and Megan, had driven down for the weekend from Seattle. Andy was probably one of the best riders of the group, and Megan hung just fine (and was a Daily Distraction to boot). This was a "Slow Boyz" ride as the DoD group has a few self-classified sub-groups (others include the "X-Men" who are the hardcore guys that are out to win the Creampuff (which makes the death ride look easy), 3 of which we came across going the other way, as they did the 50 mile variant of our ride, primarily on single speeds).

The ride was aptly named Slow Boyz. There were some good riders, but it was a bit of a party ride - each stop was a bit longer than at least I (and a few others) would like, but that's also par for the course with 15 people on a ride! The people were all very friendly and nice, and it was a nice mix, likely age range from about 30-50 (I know one guy was 50). The courtesy level was very high, and the DoD hosts were great about keeping everyone together and ensuring folks knew where to go, etc.

We rode the Middle Fork trail in Oakridge. This is a great trail. There was still snow at the top so we put in a bit lower (Chuckle Springs), but overall got in 22 miles of 100% singletrack! We were out riding for 5.5 hours. During that time I kid you not, we must have done 20 creek crossings, about half of which were not really rideable, and also went over these awesome log bridges (probably a half dozen of them - killer views of the river while walking across - wish I had my camera). The trail was primarily flat/rolling - even with 23 miles, we only did 1100' of climbing, and 2600' of descending.

Not as technical as I'm used to, but I got the impression that it was on the more technical side for the area(?), as there aren't a lot of rocky trails there (technical = rocky, for me). It sounds like the more technical or harder trails there tend to be super steep stuff. I plan to get out to "Heckletooth" and "Larikin" (sp?) soon. Also Tire Mountain and I think it was Black Bear or something. I've ordered up the super sweet laminated Tread maps of all this stuff. And then there's Willamette Pass, which is a small ski area, but does the lift-served stuff in the summer, and puts on a bunch of DH races, etc. I will be hitting this hopefully, as I hear it's quite good. There is also Oregon Adventures ( that does shuttle and guide service. Randy and his crew sported two vans to shuttle us up to yesterday's ride. This was very cool, and I plan to use that service again for sure (as well as possibly some guided rides, so I can learn the trails faster).

Anyway, the trail is a river trail, meaning we followed the river the whole time, crossing back and forth a few times. I rode my rigid Niner (to the disbelief of nearly everyone on the ride - there were a couple Nomads, a few other Santa Cruz's, a Turner, two Reigns, and then a couple hardtails, etc.). The Niner performed superbly! I am absolutely sold on the bigger wheels acting like a form of limited suspension. I won't say it was a plush, but the thing just charged that trail, and I love it. I am fairly beat today - my feet are sore, and my shoulder is sore from all the bike portages over creeks and bridges (I usually hang my saddle on my shoulder, which isn't overly comfy to begin with). I also ran out of water with over an hour of time to go.

After the ride, we hit the Trailhead Coffee Shop, for beers and dinner. The whole thing with at least the Slow Boyz is very social, and it was a fun time. Nice that folks are so welcoming and friendly. THC has got to be making a good half of it's revenue from mountain bikers, as 100% of the folks in there at dinner were post-ride, and we met there in the morning as well, where some folks were grabbing breakfast, we got coffee, etc. Anyway, finally drove home, and rolled in about 10pm. A pretty long day given that I'd met the carpool folks at 8:30am. All in all a lot of fun, and I'm psyched to see the various other trails. I definitely plan to ride with the Slow Boyz again (the Creampuff is not my idea of fun).

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