Sunday, August 11, 2013

17000 Vertical in a Day - Oakridge at it's Best

Oregon Adventures offers the best way to see Oakridge and ride some of the best trails around.  It is called 17000 Vertical in a Day and that is just what you get, 46 miles of riding, about 4300 feet of climb and about 40 miles of downhill fun, flowing and challenging single track. Here is what I got to experience with Wayne and his single speed:

First, our timing was perfect, it rained the day before which knocked down all the dust and made the trails perfect.  We left at 5:30 a.m. and arrived at 7:00 in Oakridge (great time in Wayne’s BMW) which was about 1/2 before they wanted us to be there.  As with any adventure when you first pull up, you wonder how professional things are going to be and OA runs a great program. 

At 7:30 a.m. we were making our lunch and you could have as much as you wanted.  BPJ or various meats all on Dave’s Killer Bread.  They had chips, apples, fruit bars, etc. At 8:00 a.m. we were on the bus and our bikes (there were 19 of us) in a van.  They did all the loading and unloading and wrapped each bike in a moving blanket before rolling out.  They also carried our lunches in a cooler and two large water jugs.  We had two drivers and three guides. 
Our first ride was Alpine were we climbed about 1900 feet and the ride was about 16 miles long (at least 14 downhill). Then we did Lowler which is 10 miles and 1000 feet of climb. This ride finished in Westfir and they had a little park with a pump track. The third ride was called “Hardesty.” I think it was this ride that we dove back down into the fog and completed the last of our real climbing.

The way the rides would go is that one guide would take off and then about in the middle of the pack would be another guide and then a sweeper who would never get in front of the last person.  But there are times that we would do a One in One Out process.  If there was a key juncture, you would wait until the next guy came to make sure they took the right turn.

It was also on this third ride that I started to feel the effects of always going down hill at a fast pace.  You know you are having fun when you are looking for a little uphill to rest your body (and hands) or you want to stop going downhill for a rest. This ride was 7.5 miles and about 1500 feet of climbing. We also switched to two 15 passenger vans at the end of this ride.  I should point out that almost all the climbing is at the start of the ride, then it is pretty much downhill.

At this point you are done climbing and only have downhill left for the last three rides.  The next ride was a short one called Larison Rock which was 3 miles of of flow and switch backs!  About the 4th switch back down as I chased Wayne I yelled out “Hey Wayne?” “Yeah?” “Wipe that grin off your face!” We popped out across from Lookout Reservoir and got picked up for the ride back to and through Oakridge to the Flat Creek and Aubrey Mountain rides.  Each about 5 miles long and very fast and flowy and very very fun! We popped out at the end of town and peddled back to the shop arriving about 7:30 pm. for some final refreshments.

In summary none of the riding we did was as technical as the North Rim trail on Mary’s Peak and all of it was like riding the East Rim, North Rim or McKenzie. Narrow hillside and old forest runs with great views that flew by.  We road and shuttled for almost 12 hours and yet it seemed to go by super fast because of the intensity of the riding and the thrill of being totally in the moment (everything was new). In the end we climbed more than I expected (both fire road and single track) about 4300 feet and 46 miles total, 40 of that wonderful downhill single track (Strava from my iPhone).  It would take you a number of trips and effort to do what we did in one day.  I would say that from a pure riding experience it is better than MBO in that you don’t have to camp out for three days and juggle with everyone for shuttles and trails (don't get me wrong, the signatures in the bus prove what a great event MBO is, first class - See Outside Magazine or talk to anyone, it is a great celebration of Mountain Biking).

We had 3 flats (me a perfect snake bite pinch flat and Wayne a burb on his tubeless and maybe another pinch flat on the replacement tube) so bring tubes, etc, but the guides are helpful, carry radios and have some equipment with repairs.  I brought a change of jersey, socks and gloves which was perfect for an all day event.

Cost was $149 and I would suggest a tip of at least $20 per rider that goes to the drivers and guides. These are scheduled several times a year, but with a at least 5 people you can schedule your own day. So start saving your pop cans and pennies and do it!
Here are some shots of the day:
Wipe that grin off your face!

The Limos

Above the fog

Stop to see the views, don't do it while riding!

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