Tuesday, May 24, 2011


I feel sorry for the dude who, once again, wrongly predicted the end of the world for all non-believers. Not because he'll be ridiculed or because his followers think less of him, but because he wasn't at the Velodirt Rapture ride this weekend.

What is the Rapture ride? 70 miles of gravel. Over the Oregon coast mountain range, and back. 7,400+ feet of climbing. Perfect spring weather. 70 other people on bikes. Keg of beer at the end of the rainbow.

Cheever- party starter

I had the honor of riding everybody from the start at the Flying M Ranch through the first few turns. After that first mile, I let everyone go by. So I was officially in both 1st place and last place during the day.

After the first downhill, we hit the Weyerhauser gate. Looking at our GPS, we realized it took us a couple hours to go 12 miles.

Finally at the halfway point on the west side of the coast range, we stopped at Trask park for some lunch.

I can't help posting more photos of the Karate Monkey, I LOVE this bike. While most people opted for cyclocross bikes this day, the 29'er rocked the downhills and never flatted. I hit 39.9 MPH at one point. Ironic, since I'm almost 40 years old. Never underestimate the feeling you get from a high-speed two-wheel drift when you manage to keep things upright.

I rode with buddies Cheever and Jim all day, so it was fitting we finished together.

Ride profile here

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Portland to Tillamook in a day

On the last trip a few weeks ago, we rode from Portland to Tillamook via N. Trask Road in the Tillamook state forest. It took us up towards Barney Reservoir and topped out around 1,700 in elevation. We also did it in two days by camping overnight.

My buddy Erik had a free weekend to ride, so we decided to ride a similar route as a few weeks before, only hit the southern section of road that topped out around 3,000 feet. This was a gamble, because we had no idea if there was still snow pack up there. We had also planned on riding this entirely in one day, which we had also never done before.

Start of Mt. Richmond climb

Caterpillar or millipede?

Look closely at the elk herd in the upper left of the photo. We didn't even see this herd until they moved. As they ran away, there was always a big male at the back of the pack watching us. Their hooves clacked and clomped on the downed trees and made for a surreal experience.

No need to carry too much water up the hill when there is snow melt to drink on top

First sign of snow on the road, uh oh...

The snow was over 6 inches deep in spots, so we had to hike-a-bike on the side of the road.

The snowy section was about two city blocks long, with easy spots and some not-so-easy spots

Sweet, we made it through the snow with dry feet

Over the top and back down the west side of the coast range, we encountered some wicked fog. We were out of the gated Weyerhauser logging area now, so we saw motorcycle singletrack everywhere

Erik- bombing the gravel downhills

We eventually popped out of the woods onto pavement on Trask River road, and finished the 12 miles into Tillamook by pacing each other in. We were quite worked and hungry upon arrival, so we sat outside the grocery store eating whatever we craved (chicken salad, jojo potatoes, chocolate milk, cookies and bananas) until our ladies and dogs came to pick us up and take us home.

The ride to the coast had now been done in a day and we discovered some new routes. This ride also layed part of the course for the upcoming Rapture Ride.

Ride profile here

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Portland to the Coast- First Attempt Overnight

Winter is a perfect time for planning the things you want to do the rest of the year.

Donnie, Wes and I finally picked a spring weekend that seemed warm and dry enough to make the trek across the Oregon coast mountain range from Portland to Tillamook. We all chose 29'er bikes with frame bags, printed our maps, packed our food/shelter/clothes/toys and jumped on the ever convenient lightrail to take us beyond the anti-fun suburbs.

Photo essay from here on:

So many good trips start with cheating our way out of the suburbs. The end of the lightrail line is a convenient 15 or so miles from where the pavement meets the gravel.

Last call for minnows

Out in the country, we can still see snow in the distance

Where pavement meets gravel

The steep Mt. Richmond climb is a quick lesson on what the next 50 miles will be like. You quickly drop into the small chainring, stop to let some air out of the tires and unzip the layers. As if the forest is there to both welcome you and ask if you've kept yourself fit during the winter.

That's right, no motorized vehicles inside the gate

On top of Flora Mainline Road

Karate Monkey- loaded

Huge swath of tree farming

Down dog view of Barney Reservoir

Barney Reservoir

We almost ran over this little red dude

Sweet camping spot

While we only got a small fire started, it was a killer sunset

I knew it was cold during the night because I slept with all my clothes on, in a fetal position most of the night, with my hood covering all but my mouth and still shivered my ass off. No wonder, it had to be in the mid-upper 20's F overnight. My drom bag was 1/3 ice.

We took our time getting up, but had sun as soon as we started riding

We met a dude named Ron, who had motorcycle camped by the river. He showed us a couple cool spots on the map to check out next time. Ron was an awesome local, had tons of knowledge of the area, and was drinking a PBR at 11:30 in the morning. Hell yeah.

Back on pavement again, 12 miles to Tillamook through the Trask River valley

Mexican food and beer at the courthouse picnic table, right across from the Police station, hence the brown paper bag

Tillamook Wave bus. $10 back to Portland with our bikes.

We finally made it from Portland to the coast off-road. Well, close to the coast and mostly off-road, but it was still very satisfying after all the talk, planning, mapping research and waiting for good weather to melt the snow pack. As the sense of satisfaction set in on the bus, we couldn't help but think about where the next trip will be.

We could have ridden this in one day, but camping overnight was fun and it allowed us to test some new equipment before making a commitment to it during a longer trek. I just know I'm completely addicted to riding in the woods, be it singletrack or gravel roads.

Ride profile here