This post comes from our Operations Specialist Carlie Mock who traveled to Oregon recently with Mapping Manager Leslie Kehmeier.
After weeks of planning, the day finally came when I flew off to the PNW to assist with Mapping Manager Leslie Kehmeier on her latest round of field work. I was certain that we would hit the ground pedaling, advocating and mapping like the wind! Or so I thought…
As soon as we landed at PDX, our first planned stop was not for lunch or a ride, two things Leslie’s other travel companions had raved about. Instead, I was navigating to the nearest mall in search of hair products. What have I gotten myself into? No one told me Leslie would be such high maintenance. And....have you seen her hair?!
Two coffee shops and a bike shop later, she completely redeemed herself when we arrived in Hood River. Before I knew it, I was pedaling through giant, drippy green trees up the Dog River trail starting the week of documenting important Oregon singletrack on National Forest lands.
After a cozy night taking lead as the big spoon (you’re welcome Leslie), Day 2 dawned with visions of riding in Mt Hood National Forest. After a delicious breakfast at Alabama Joe’s cafe, we stocked up on the world’s largest rice crispy treats for what would turn out to be a very long ride.
Our mission was to generate the map, story and photos for this particular part of the forest to be added into the MTB Project website. Although I’m very familiar with this resource, this was the first time I was actually helping collect information in the field. Standing and looking over Boulder Lake, in all of its pristine glory, I can see why MTB Project is such a valuable tool for recording all the places that are important to mountain bikers.
No rest for the weary - it was onward to the car for a quick change and a warm journey south to Oakridge. Leslie had gushed about this place and when we found ourselves being greeted at the local pub by the nicest people and the tastiest cask beer ever, I thought Oakridge was quickly becoming my favorite small town in ‘Merika.
Day 3 - More food and coffee which I now had come to understand were requirements for another round of hitting the trails hard, followed by quick visit to the Willamette Mercantile to get me set up on a very capable bike for the area, an Ibis Mojo HD3. With IMBA’s Associate Region Director, Matt Weintraub in tow, we managed to document our way up to and then down the Middle Fork trail. The upper 5 mile stretch is in the latest Crater Lake Wilderness proposal. The trail is a very popular long-distance route that serves as access to a much larger network of trails for exploration deep in the heart of the high Cascades.
The day ended as it does sometimes for many our dedicated network of IMBA chapters and members, with meetings to discuss strategies for protecting trails and access. In this area the Greater Oakridge Trail Stewards and the Disciples of Dirt are key players for mountain biking and trails.
Day 4 was amazing. We donned our superhero suits for what was about to be the best ride of my life. Yup, I said it. Bold statement, I know, and I still stand behind it. I personally considered this day as My Day. I had the best of all worlds; 2 rad riders with me, an amazing cloud show, the best conditions - the smoothest, most flowy, and overall delectable trail of all time, and the world’s best bike to experience it all on. I was like a fat kid in a free candy shop. I jumped, I flowed, I giggled and I definitely snorted my way down that entire trail, slowing down only to share my enjoyment before I unleashed my inner innocence. This was only to be capped with a sing-a-long (at the top of our lungs) to Taylor Swift’s 1989 album blasting out of the car windows, scaring (and perhaps scarring) the deer and hunters alike, as we completed the vehicle shuttle. Did I mention amazing?
Our final full day in Oregon began like all the rest, eat-then-ride on awesome Oregon singletrack. This time we were in Bend where you can find some of the most amazingly fun, flowy trails.
Afterward, we took part in the Oregon Bicycle Tourism workshop where Leslie regaled the crowd with the inner workings of MTB Project. Thankfully, she had procured that hair product early in the week because she was looking her best! The workshop was followed with an evening that consisted of camaraderie amongst mountain bikers and others who support the cause. There were spirited discussions for sure (yes, that means whiskey).
On the sobering walk home (it was just supposed to be a few blocks, but ended up being about 5 miles), I replayed the week’s events in my mind, taking stock of all the important things I’d learned. Getting into the field and operating at the grassroots level had been invaluable.
A few days later, as I unpacked my bags from Oregon and sifted through the stinky laundry and memories of loamy singletrack, I made note of the things lost and gained from my travels:
LOST: 3 socks, 1 triangle tool, 1 glove, 1 stuff-sack, 1 pair of aviators.
GAINED: Spare house keys from a rental house in Bend, memories to last a lifetime, and also, the hair product.