Grand Targhee Resort Pt. 2

I awoke on day two anxious to see more of Grand Targhee. We met for breakfast at Snorkels. Instead of my usual oatmeal and eggs I got oatmeal and a breakfast burrito to go. Employing a bikepackers strategy – the one for here, one to go concept. Which turned out to be overkill of course, but it helps me to know I have delicious calories in my bag and I get sick of just eating ride food. The weather was even more perfect than the previous day. Not too hot and not a cloud in the sky. I was stoked because we had a nice, big ride planned and we were going to pedal from the resort and get a ride back, so basically we were doing a luxury shuttle that would allow us to check out a bike shop and a couple of the better food spots in Driggs.

For those of you interested in doing this ride, you should just grab my track and follow it. Seriously. It’s that good. The views alone are worth it and if you like meadows and switchbacks and Teton views, this ride is for you. We started in the woods on “Andy’s” (yes, named after trailbuilder extraordinaire, Andy Williams) and climbed steadily over to “Peaked.” Right where the trail meets Peaked is an epic wildflower-studded view of the Teton valley. But the epic view is at the end of all the switchback climbing of Peaked – and ”Ain’t life Grand,” which we skipped, just to make everything flow better for our group. Actually we did a little OAB on Teton Canyon Overlook Trail for the epic view. Alex pointed off in the distance and said his mom just did Table Mountain yesterday. Apparently she’s an ultra athlete of some kind, so NBD for her. We were impressed. It looked fairly serious from our vantage point. I ate some of my breakfast burrito and prepared myself – I thought I was prepared, but there is no way to prep for “38 Special.”  I thought maybe 38 was the number of perfect switchbacks we would do, but as I count now, there are about 50. Turns out trail names are whatever Andy was listening to at the time. I can’t help think about trail work and just this summer I’ve been learning about how to make a proper rideable switchback – and this is a study in well made and very rideable switchbacks. Also, I’ve been wanting to work on my switchback turns, so this is it – massive switchback practice. Again, my only regret on this ride is that the riding was so much fun and you really got into a groove, that I didn’t stop enough to take photos. And once we got into the Mills Creek section and the trail got a bit more technical, and we started to share the trail with other hikers and riders, I got focused on the riding and keeping up with the group. Don’t get me wrong – the trail was an absolute blast and I had a hell of a time. This is just my internal struggle. We got to the Mills Creek trailhead at the bottom and had two vehicles waiting for us, ready to take us to a fabulous lunch.

We had delicious burrata burgers at Forage. Forage is Lisa and Christian Hanley. Christian making burrata burgers happen and Lisa making sure everyone is happy and fed and watered. I’m grateful for trips like this where I get to sample some of the nicer places to eat. Thankful that Grand Targhee wants to show us a good time. Note for the future: Forage has a brewery called Citizen 33 slated to open in November – so keep an eye out for that. That’s one more reason to look them up. It’s clearly a family affair and I love places like this where you can tell it’s their life. They care about what they do.


Dustin was excited to share one of this favorite rides close to Driggs. I think it’s his chill after work ride that has good views of the Tetons from across the valley. The ride starts at Idaho Canyon just off of Old Horseshoe Road. I’m happy to do this ride because I learned on our last roadtrip that the Big Holes range has some amazing riding, right out of town from both Driggs and Victor. Victor is close to the south end trails and Driggs is near the north side trails. I’ve only done two small rides in the Big Holes so far, but from what I’ve ridden it’s all been good. The more southern section was way steeper and more dense with trees and brush. But this ride is the perfect capper to the day, nothing epic, just a nice spin in beautiful place – a relaxed climb up and some fun trails in the woods. I love the feel of this area – the openness, the grasslands, the vistas…At some point I remark that the wooded section reminds me of riding in the Midwest – tight trees, not too steep. It’s a pretty big contrast to the stuff we’ve been riding here. We finish up with a fast, ripping descent and finish with beers at the car.

After a little cool down and hang out, our sprinter returns and whisks us away to Habitat for some more hang out time. I’m restless and feeling like I don’t have much time left to explore Driggs, so I go take a walk in downtown Driggs. It’s a charming little town, and a nice contrast to the sheer density of tourists in Jackson Hole. I guess it’s still far enough away from the ski resorts? On my ramble I find an old fashioned drug store across the street that has a soda fountain. They’ve been in business since 1906! I love old timey places like this – especially the small down general store feel, where they have a pharmacy and toys for kids and misc. things to buy. I guess it’s that in a time when online sales are taking over, it’s cool to see locally owned businesses still doing it their way – and the place was packed. I strolled down main street and found a snow cone shop in a horse trailer! I enjoy poking around back alleys too. I love checking out all the historic buildings, the cars folks leave sitting around in empty lots all the beautiful decay. Driggs is still real enough to be interesting. I’m grateful for places like this. OK, I’ve wandered off the grid enough. I’m pretty sure our group has gone off to dinner by now. Sure enough everyone is up at Tatanka Tavern working on local beers and chatting it up. Tatanka is a sweet place upstairs from Habitat and they make delicious wood fired pizza. I was stoked that they invited Andy for dinner. I wanted to ask him more about his trail building work. I wanted to take his portrait, but I hesitated, since I didn’t want to put him on the spot. In hindsight I wish I had. He has a face with character!

This trip has been sweet and I don’t want it to end. Since I live in a city, I don’t get enough time in places like this. I’ve done a bunch of camping for trail work this summer and it’s been fantastic to spend time in the woods, but this feels special some how – maybe because I’m staying so close to world class singletrack and it feels like vacation – a work vacation, but still very special. It’s been great to experience Grand Targhee and learn a bit about Idaho trails. It’s been on my list, but I guess this was the year to start exploring. Notice I said start, since I plan to come back as much as I can. I still need to check out Grand Targhee fatbiking trails in the winter.

They have 13 miles of groomed trail (4 miles of singletrack and 9 miles of Nordic trails) that they plan to expand even further. A day of fatbiking followed by a day of snowboarding sounds incredible to me. I love festival atmosphere at Grand Targhee. They do a Wydaho Rendevous Teton Mountain Bike Fest that went down Aug. 31 – Sept. 3 this year. The festival features skills clinics,  group rides and guest speakers It will happen Labor Day weekend next year, so if that’s interesting put that on your calendars.


The only thing left to do was pack up my bike, but besides that being a chore, I thought how often do I have sweet singletrack out my door? I could sneak in one more quick ride before heading to the airport. I set my alarm an hour and a half earlier that I would have normally and snuck out the door towards Rick’s Basin. The sun was just creeping over the hills and through the aspens and I had it all to myself and it was sweet. Those perfect turns on Permagrin, those morning views! I made it back in time for a cappuccino and a breakfast at Snorkels. I could get used to this mountain living. Life is good at Grand Targhee. I’m already planning my next trip.

 Also, check out my ride buddies’ sites from the trip:

Rich Dillen does Team Dicky Find out about east coast MTB and Rich is hilarious.

Dave Tolnai does Learn more about mountain biking in Canada. It’s a smart site if you’re not already familiar.

Thank you Grand Targhee Resort! I'll be back







Grand Targhee Resort Pt. 1

I remember my first time taking a special trip to a Ski Resort to mountain bike. In 1988, All my skate crew in KC had just bought our first ever mountain bikes and we decided the only thing to do was load up a car and head out to Winter Park for their fat tire festival. We just thought the whole thing was so damn cool – the bikes, the racers, the trails – and it was – and it is. Bike trails have evolved a bit since then – the bikes a lot squishier, trails a lot more sculpted and the concept of berms and flow has taken hold.

I just recently got the opportunity to go ride for a couple days at Grand Targhee Resort and was that a treat! First, it was my first time to take my bike on a chairlift. It seems like cheating and it is. We were lucky enough to have Dustin from Grand Targhee show us around and start us out on the Green DH trails and take us on gradually more technical trails. I was a bit nervous to do the DH runs. When I saw our schedule for the day, I even excused myself for the DH portion of the day’s riding, since I imagine myself to be an endurance or XC rider – I guess by today’s standards I’m an intermediate trail rider. For the most part I’m a wheels-on-trail kind of guy, meaning I’m over 40 and I don’t pop off of every trail feature and I don’t really “send” much.  Not to worry – Grand Targhee’s DH runs are what I’d call accessible and mostly really buff. You don’t have to hit every double and can easily roll them without being bucked hard. Drop your seat and let ‘er rip. There are only two lifts in the summer, so start easy on the Shoshone Lift, and once you have your flow, head over to the Dreamcatcher lift. We hit Grand Traverse, which gives insane views of the classic snowcapped Tetons as you head into some mildly more technical riding on Buffalo Drop and then into Bullwinkle. I really enjoyed this section. Everything was strangely more buff than I expected. The track itself was smooth, with intermittent rock embedded in trail and the occasional rock garden to keep you awake.


It’s worth mentioning that any good bike park is a work in progress – trails should be worked on and improved and updated. Grand Targhee is no exception. Our guide Dustin seemed eager to pack in as many runs as possible and show us every inch of the resort. Being mildly superstitious, I always get nervous when someone yells “one more run?” because there is no way you can say no – and our trajectory of increasing technicality. Do I really want to ride your hardest terrain when I’m gassed? But that’s the thing about lift riding – the runs themselves are long enough that you want to rest your hands and arms mid-run and you’re never really gassed since you’re not pedaling uphill, mostly just squatting and pumping – but strangely it still takes it out of you and you find yourself looking for more air. I definitely felt the altitude – you’re at just above 8,000 feet, which coming from Portland is notable. We banged out another run and felt satisfied that we did what we could to squeeze the most out of our morning lift party.



We hit the Trap bar for lunch – half of us had burgers, half of us went for gigantic plates of nachos. I pretended I was out bikepacking all morning and went for the half pound burger and a beer. You know – max calories all the time. Our crew was an interesting mix - Sarah and Alex from Thorpe Marketing (Boulder), Dustin from the resort (formerly Hood River, now WY) and Dave from NSMB (Vancouver BC) and Rich from TeamDicky (North Carolina) I knew Sarah from cyclocross in China, but the rest of us were just getting to know each other, but a couple days on the bike were just the thing.


I was excited to explore the XC side of things at Grand Targhee. Truth be told – that’s my jam. Few people like to claim XC these days as their home turf. It’s just not cool right now. Enduro? Yeah brah! Trail? Hells yeah! Backcountry? I’m all about it! Seriously though, all these terms are kinda BS and in the end it’s just mountain biking. You ride uphill. You ride down hills. Get as jumpy and poppy as you want, but it’s just riding a bike – and that’s what I like about XC. I guess the negative connotation is racing, but with the Trap burger in my belly, there would be no racing. I guess the part that makes me XC at heart, is that I enjoy arriving at the top under my own power. Lifts are cool, shuttles are lovely and help you get the most descent out of a day, but I just love the honesty of earning your downhills. Dustin wouldn’t admit it, but he likes climbing – like in the slightly competitive sense where you see if you can put a gap between yourself and whoever is following you. Since I know Sarah from the competitive cross scene, I know she’s got some XC in her– though she’s claiming “retired”  Alex too - he’s riding a big bike, but I can tell he’s XC at heart. He seems to enjoy his climbs, but he’s the kid of the bunch, so he's got boundless energy. With me whining about elevation and overeating at lunch and Dave nursing a bad calf muscle. Rich had some overuse injury from trying to run a bunch without working up to it. We all had our excuses, which we promptly forgot, because the scenery was spectacular, and the trails are ridiculously buttery and flowing.


Our afternoon ride was based in the XC area known as Rick’s Basin. Green and blue trails like Tall Cool One, More Cowbell and Permagrin left me gasping in delight. What is it about the aspens? They still feel exotic to me – we don’t really have them in Oregon. They remind me of my first excitement on my first mountain biking trips to Colorado. It’s the sound of the leaves shimmering in the breeze. Alex noted the sound is hypnotic – you could easily fall asleep the sound. I need an aspen app. Some folks would choose crashing waves, I’d choose aspen breeze. Wildflowers were everywhere too. I thought Dave was doing a wildflower calendar. Every chance he got he was crouching low, getting some new flower closeup. Check out his write up. He sounds salty, but I can tell he’s a nature lover and he’s pretty darn skilled on a bike. My only issue is that I was enjoying  the ride so much, I didn’t stop for photos enough. I’m always afraid of holding up the group and being selfish with my own needs. I gotta get over that. Reminder: photos first, ride second. People like being part of a photo shoot. It’s fun!

After soaking up more spectacular Teton views and speculating about how many bears are over there on Decoster Trail, we hit the Quakie Ridge section. Quakie Ridge was half aspens and half meadow and all spectacular. It’s probably a good time to mention that all the trails are the handiwork of Andy Williams and Harlan Hottenstein. Andy’s been building at Grand Targhee Resort for the last 12 years and 6 for Harlan. Andy’s resume is impressive and includes building the trails at Vail in 1993 (including the 94 Mountain Bike World Championships and the 98 World Mountain Bike Championships in Mt. St. Anne, Canada and the 2001 Olympic Games in Atlanta) Andy is old school and I appreciate that. It explains why the XC trails are some impeccable.

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Harlan designed and built most of the trails on Teton Pass and has been building the DH and flow trails for the last 6 years at Grand Targhee. Their mastery is without a doubt one of the reasons you should come ride Grand Targhee – the trails are world class. You feel it when you’re riding – the turns are the right shape, you can hold your speed. There aren’t brake bumps everywhere. It’s just…well…perfect.

The whole second half of the ride, Dustin kept talking about sloshies at the Trap. My only guess is that they’re slushies with booze (you know…getting’ sloshed) So that became the refrain. Let’s finish this up and get sloshies. We weren’t tired yet, really, but we might have been dragging a bit. We quickly wrapped up our delightful XC loop and headed back to the Trap for sloshies. What? Out of Sloshies! OK. I don’t need hard liquor anyway, so beer it is. Glorious pitchers of beer magically arrived on the deck. Life is good in the Tetons. Melvin by the way. Melvin is good. Their Hubert MPA is pretty special, but if you want that mexi lager post-ride beer, it’s Heyzeus all the way.  I also like that they have a Spotify playlist dedicated to that lager. Well played Melvin, well played. That’s it. Cheers! Day one done and dusted. Oh wait. We had an excellent dinner at the Branding Iron -  I had the trout. It was excellent. I love trout. OK. Off to bed. We have a big day tomorrow. Sigh…I could get used to this mountain living.





High school MTB comes to Oregon!

Oregon League Leaders Summit. April 14-15

Five years ago, I got a photo assignment with Privateer magazine: a month-long California roadtrip. You’ll be forgiven if you don’t remember Privateer. It was a British mountain bike magazine – the dirtbag sibling of the road racing “Rouleur” magazine. It was a dream job of sorts – visit some companies like WTB, Santa Cruz, Kitsbow, Paul components, hang out with originators of the sport – Charlie Kelly, Gary Fisher, Jacquie Phelan, the Laguna Rads. Everyone would want to share their best/hardest trails. It was a miracle we survived the trip, but we did. But the point of me telling you all of this, is that I first became aware of NICA on this trip. If you’re not familiar with NICA, it stands for National Interscholastic Cycling Association. One of the highlights of the trip was to visit a NICA race at Boggs Mountain. Needless to say, it was an eye-opening experience. First, attendance is strong and secondly the energy is great.


Personally, I had experience with team sports – I played soccer for 8 years until I hit the roadblock that was the structure of school team sports. I lost interest. Enter skateboarding and mountain biking. Both activities were always solo, or done with a small group of friends. We never had coaching – it was all very DIY, which maybe was part of the appeal. But to see this kind of organization and support around cross country racing, for kids no less, was amazing! Teams from all over convene for weekend racing, complete with multiple team tents and mechanics. Parents prepare mountains of food, grills are fired up, feed zones are full of cheering friends and family with sport drinks and gels. The atmosphere is electric.

OK, that’s a lot of background just to tell you that I had my first experience with NICA on that Cali trip and it was extremely positive. I said to myself - what so many folks who come in contact with NICA say - which is: “I wish we had this when I was a kid.” California, which of course is where mountain biking began…well all of those founders had kids, and now those kids are in junior and high school.

NICA began in Northern California in 2001. Well, all the Oregonians that complain about the invasion of Californians forget that we reap the benefit of that exodus – meaning some rad people who got fed up with the difficulties and expense of daily life in Cali, move north and bring with them cool stuff like NICA. Our friends Heather and Kurt Wolfgang are two of those people. Both of these extremely positive, energetic people have coached with NICA in San Fran, and now Heather heads up the Oregon League.

Yes! Oregon just became the 23rd state to have an Interscholastic Mountain biking league. We’re not always early adopters, but we are enthusiastic about cycling and encouraging kids to get outside and play. Heather and Kurt, after a post-honeymoon mountain biking/camping roadtrip spent the summer touring Oregon and recruiting coaches and league teams. This past weekend I had the pleasure of joining the Leaders Summit and I too am now a certified NICA coach! The NICA program is solid – they focus heavily on risk management and creating a fun, safe environment for kids to learn and eventually race mountain bikes. For all the kids that don't fit into the team sports mold, but still want the camaraderie and benefits of a support group. NICA likes to say - there are no bench warmers in high school mountain biking - everyone plays. 

Personally, I’m thrilled that this exists and is just more support and structure to get more kids on bikes. If you believe the stories of how NICA has grown over the years, teams of 15 kids the first year become teams of 70 kids a couple years down the road. Think of that! So…cross country racing is not dead, and for anyone wanting to have a way to help shape the future of mountain biking in our state, you now have support and a structure in place to make school teams happen for kids. If you want to see what’s it all about, you can follow them on Facebook and on Instagram or you can even shoot me a note and I’ll put you in touch with the right people.


Gear Care

If you're like me, you've spent a good deal of time and money to select the right warm layers and outerwear for your daily commutes and bikepacking adventures. But buying the gear and using it is just the first step. The next part often gets neglected and then we complain that our gear isn't working well like it did when it was new. So, it's time to learn how to take care of your gear investment. Winter has been good for commuting and testing outerwear, but some of our pieces start to show some wear, or get a bit smelly from hard efforts. That's the hard part of PNW riding - the temps stay pretty warm, so as soon as you layer up with outerwear to stay dry, it's easy to overheat and sweat inside. Not a big deal for riding comfort, it just means that sweating in outerwear can clog the pores of the fabric and over time your rainwear will become less effective. But don't go shopping for new outerwear just yet - the first step is to wash and retreat your rain jacket and shell pants. Look for a specialty detergent like Granger's Performance Wash. Standard laundry detergent is not suited to washing outerwear, since it will clog the pores. Wash on Cold, tumble dry on low- or if you need to improve the garment's beading performance, use a product like Granger's Performance Repel, just spray onto the damp garment and put in the dryer on low.


This is also a good time of year to take care of those down pieces you'll be taking bikepacking in the spring - did you know they make special detergent to wash your down puffy jackets and sleeping bags? Wash on Cold once or twice per season with a product like Granger's Down Wash - The Down Kit is a great deal, since you get the balls that you throw in the dryer to prevent the down clumping. I've dried my pieces without, and trust me - you want the dryer balls. Yes, you can just use tennis balls, but the green spiky balls are cool looking and they really work! As the video below says - clean down works better.

Finally, if you're like me you've got a closet full of merino base layers, and drawers full of merino underwear, and socks. Sure, you can wash them in standard detergent, but that will damage the fibers. If you want to treat your merino garments right and remove the smell and dirt, use Granger's Merino Wash in Warm water and hang or tumble dry on Low. The Merino Wash works well for wool/synthetic blends as well - some of my favorite base layers are merino blended with nylon. 

Do The Work

If you’ve been following along, you may know that this year we’ve been putting a lot of work towards getting the Oregon Timber Trail up and running. If you’re not familiar, spend some time on their site

Beyond that we can tell you that it’s a new concept based on connecting old, and sometimes hardly used trails in the backcountry of Oregon. Approximately 670 miles worth! Much of the route is remote and to be traveled at any decent speed, requires quite a bit of clearing and maintenance. For those familiar with bikepacking, dealing with blowdown and finding your way through the backcountry is part of the game, but this route is being advertised by Travel Oregon and the theory is to make a route accessible to all. Not everyone will do the entirety of the trail. Many folks will only have time or the desire to do small loops in one or two particular areas. So, while the Timber Trail will still be a wild backcountry experience, we would like it to be accessible to more than just the hardened endurance racer.Along those lines, Oregon Timber Trail organized Trail Party weekends. So far, we’ve attended the two they’ve held. Party #1 was in the Fremont National Forest. While the 6 hour (one way) drive was a bit daunting, the company and the gorgeous scenery made us glad we made the trip. Several trail crews split up and worked 3 hard days to eventually clear 27 miles of trail. We camped at the Chewaucan River – riders heading South to North will climb from the river up to Winter Ridge. I was only able to do one day of this trail party, but was amazed what our crew, led by Alan Grubb, was able to accomplish in a day. It was all beetle kill lodge pole pine, that just lay in every direction across the trail. It was slow progress, but the feeling of accomplishment was real when we hiked out and saw what we had done.

If you’re interested in heading out to the Fremont National Forest (you should!) and doing a ride to sample our handiwork and get a tast of the Timber Trail, this is their recommendation: -  a 16.8 mile ride from Winter Rim to Bear Creek.

The Bunchgrass trail work party was an epic. 30 fantastic volunteers materialized at camp and hour outside of Oakridge, perhaps closer to Waldo lake than Oakridge proper. Over 3 days we used our sawyer skills to cut out blowdown, wielded Mcleods to reestablish trail was barely there and improved tread in the bowl. There is never enough time to do everything that needs to be done, but I was blown away by how much our group was able to do over three days. Sunday we rode from camp and got to sample our work. It's still rough - there is no way to compare this rugged trail to the trails you ride every weekend, but it's jaw-droppingly beautiful and wild and should be experienced!

If you’d like to ride Bunchgrass post-trailwork, Here is the suggested route: Bunchgrass is as good as it’s been in years. Don’t worry though, it’s still rugged, it’s still just over 3000 feet of climbing (but over 7000 feet of descending) It’s an all day sucker and you’ve got to figure out a shuttle, but it should be an unforgettable ride. Interesting note: Timber Trail riders going South to North will do the route in reverse, so a pretty big uphill slog. But I can tell you that the views are well worth it.


Bike Update

My Timber Trail bike has been riding great. It climbs like a champ and descends with confidence. Our practice rides have been going well. Highlights include Tarbell Trail in Washington, 15Mile Trail + 5Mile Butte, Surveyor’s Ridge + Dog River, Waucoma Ridge and a section of Bunchgrass Trail after our trail work.

I’ve got the bike all loaded up with bags now. Revelate provided the custom frame bag, which has been brilliant to help get pack weight off my back. I have all my flat fixing tools, Orange Seal sealant, and spare tube in a “Jerrycan” My food for the day goes in a “Mag-Tank” which sits on the top tube and straps to the stem. That bag has been brilliant. I’m loving the one-handed operation! It’s a big improvement over the Gas Tank. So far, I’ve just been keeping a single 24 ounce bottle with hydration mix in a Mountain Feedbag. I’ve been using the SteriPen Pure+ to fill up from streams and that has worked perfectly. I realize I’ll need to carry more than 24 ounces for certain stretches of the Timber Trail, so for those sections I’ll probably put extra water in a backpack – most likely the Osprey Escapist 20, which has become my go-to riding pack. If the weather turns cold or rainy, my thinking is that I can carry a warm layer and outerwear in my pika seatbag. I’ve been using the Wolf Tooth Valais 25 on my dropper post, and while you lose some capacity on the dropper it’s still plenty of drop to get the seat out of the way on more technical descents.  

The XT Di2 has been shifting flawlessly. The only issue we’ve had is the rear derailleur cable being pulled out of its socket by a particularly overgrown section on our Waucoma Ridge ride. So, our solution will be to reinforce that cable with some heat shrink tubing and to make sure it’s tucked up against the rear triangle as much as possible.

The Knight Trail wheels have been flawless as well. They’re much more supple than the Enve AM wheels I was riding on my last bike. We love that Knight is based in Bend, OR - definitely check out their manufacturing story. Also keep an eye on their 29 Enduro wheel that is being released on July 15. For larger riders, or those running larger tires (they can handle a 2.5” tire) this would be a great wheelset that will be able to handle a huge variety of terrain. The big story with the Knight wheels is their use of EPS molding – “As the sole rim manufacturer implementing this cutting edge technique within our manufacturing process, combined with our aerospace-grade Toray carbon fiber, used in Boeing’s 777 aircraft and many others; Knight Wheels can offer a lighter weight, stronger, more reliable and precisely constructed rim.” If you’re in the market for upgrade wheels, give Knight a look. They’re awesome.

I’ve been happy with my tire choice so far. I’ve been running a Maxxis Minion DHF 2.3 on front and a Forekaster 2.3 on back. They’ve been grippy and plenty fast. Trails are drying out quickly, so I’ll swap the rear tire out to an Ikon for the big ride. The big ride – we’re setting out on July 22 for two weeks and the goal is to ride the Southern sections and get to Sisters by August 6th. We’re not racing it. We’re riding, taking notes, taking photos and experiencing the trail. Our Fremont and Bunchgrass trail work parties have already shown us how intense and demanding the trail will be in parts.


Chill Out

It’s officially summer and we’ve been busy with trail work and adventures! This past weekend we joined The Oregon Timber Trail’s Swift Campout on Waucoma Ridge. A group 6-strong assembled at Upper Green Point Reservoir, which is about 45 minutes Southwest of Hood River. With temps in Portland forecasted to be in the high 90s, the idea of pedaling a short trail to camp at a lake at 4000 feet seemed like a fine idea.

We rolled out past weekenders on motorcycles and families car camping at the Reservoir on Larch Mountain Road, which took us to Rainy Lake Trail - an overgrown old trail that follows the Wahtum Aqueduct. We took our time on trail, getting whipped by new growth and flowering bushes, we stopped to filter water, we cheered each other on at the one good stream crossing. Eventually we found ourselves at Rainy Lake, but decided to descend and camp at Black Lake. After a nice fellow hiker who had already scouted the scene showed us a nice site with a dense canopy of trees overhead. We set up tents, snacked and prepared camp. We had no agenda for the day, so we settled in, chatted, took naps, and made food. I don’t regret to tell you we didn’t do much else. It’s not that the trip to the campground took all that much effort, I think we had all been doing a lot in the weeks leading up to this campout, so we were all happy to have some chill out time. Russ, who had car troubles and was unable to roll out with us rolled into camp later in the afternoon.

The next day we woke early and planned our ride along Waucoma Ridge towards Wahtum Lake. None of us knew what to expect. This area had been under snow until recently. We rolled out at 9:45 on the gravel road from Black Lake to Rainy Lake. We stashed our camping gear at Rainy Lake and started our trek uphill on Wahtum Lake Road. It wasn’t long before the trail narrowed, got rockier and steeper. At one point the trail became a streambed and we did our best navigating the wet rocks. The trail didn’t seem like it had been cleared recently and we had to deal with a good deal of blow-down, every time dismounting and finding a way over the trees blocking our ascent. We soon realized how much time and effort downed trees add to a trip. Even though we had stashed camping gear, we still had bikes loaded with food and water. Eventually we topped out, made our way past more downed trees, rolled over several small patches of snow and started the descent to Wahtum. At some point, though we realized we were making slow progress and if we were going to make our meet up time, we needed to flip it, knowing how technical the climb had been, knowing how many downed trees we’d have to climb over on the return of our out-and-back route. We weren’t sad not reaching Wahtum. We had enjoyed the process, we had helped each other on a challenging trail. Russ had gotten to ride his fat bike over snow. We vowed to return with chainsaws. We had a range of experience on this ride, but everyone taught each other. We returned to Rainy Lake where we swam, ate lunch and waited for Gabe and Hannah to roll up from Black Lake. Eventually our group reconvened and we decided to take the gravel road back instead of redoing the overgrown trail. We figured we already knew what that experience was like. It wasn't long before the sound of motos reminded us that we were returning to the reservoir and the land of SUV's stuffed with coolers. One more dip in the lake (with excellent views of the Cloudcap side of Hood) before heading back down into the heat. I learned I need to bring more food and how to chill out a bit. Next time, I’ll bring the chocolate. Promise. Read more about what conservation group BARK has in mind (partnering with recreation groups like NWTA, Oregon Timber Trail, Mazamas to create an bikepacking friendly trail network) for the Waucoma Ridge.

Laying the Foundation


Oh man! Time for an update! Don’t worry…we haven’t been snoozing, there is a ton going on. I’d call this part of the year “laying the foundation” for an amazing Spring and Summer. No, we’re not building an actual house, we’re getting ready for coming adventures. One big push this year and exciting new initiative, is the Oregon Timber Trail. We got excited about it as soon as we first heard about it. But we knew there would be a lot of work involved and that things like this require some new skills and some volunteer work. We want to ride it this summer, and we realize it’s been a crazy winter in terms of record snowfall and winter storms, and we know that the Timber Trail is 670 miles long and 55% of that is fairly remote singletrack. (That’s about 375 miles of singletrack) We realize there is a good amount of trail work to be done to get the trail ready for prime time. There of course is no way to know how many people will attempt the trail this year, but if the attendance (and enthusiasm) at the kickoff event at Base Camp Brewing is any indication, it could be wildly popular…or maybe we’ve just been sick of rain, Netflix, and we like a good pint among friends. Ok, maybe a bit of both.

So, Gabe Tiller (Limberlost) who has been a major player in the birth of the Trail mentioned in passing that it would be cool to learn how to run a chainsaw. Sometimes when an idea is ripe, that’s all it takes…the wheels started turning and before you know it a group of 25 found ourselves assembled at Horse Creek Lodge, (really amazing place to stay for any rafting or MTB trips) near McKenzie River for a 3-day weekend dedicated to a day of First Aid followed by two days learning how to safely run a chainsaw and properly clear trail. Now, I’m not a motorhead and frankly chainsaws scare me a bit. They’re just potentially really dangerous…and the class went to great lengths to remind us of that. I wouldn’t say it was all DMV scare tactic, but if the photos of an arborist with a 20-inch bar planted in his clavicle weren’t enough to remind you of the dangers of kick back, nothing would. In all seriousness, though we were lucky to have instructors from the USFS, Kevin Rowell, who is the Trails Program Manager - he's been working with the Forest Service since 2004. Huge thanks to Horse Creek Lodge, Base Camp Brewing, Stumptown Coffee, The USFS, and the new crew of sawyers ready to clear trail!

The following weekend, I took REI’s Wilderness First Aid course. It’s really quite a good value at $235 for REI members and $265 for non-members. Wilderness First Responder is a great next step, but it’s normally costs from $750 to $1000 and the course is 7-10 days long or about 80 hours of training. The course definitely pushed me in terms of developing my communication skills and working with strangers. Throughout the two long days, you must examine and give care in dramatized scenarios. In one situation the person you’re helping is unresponsive, so you have to examine them looking for clues without any feedback from the victim.  The biggest thing for me, is that with this knowledge in the future, I’ll be one less person that stands by passive in an emergency situation not knowing what to do. It's definitely a necessary step before heading into the backcountry. 

Last weekend Trans-Cascadia invited me out for their first work party of the year in Oakridge. If you're unfamiliar, these guys just finished their second ever event last year and are pioneering backcountry racing and working hard to rehab some hidden gems in Oregon and are doing great things in the trail community. Westfir Lodge made for a very central and comfortable home base (highly recommended if you're looking for a place to stay in the Oakridge area) A good crew of guys from Santa Cruz bikes drove all the way up to take part. Nick, Tommy, and Alex from Trans-Cascadia  are all hard chargers and everyone rode and worked hard all weekend. They cleared 10 miles of trail on Middle Fork, 3 miles of Cloverpatch, and did some great work on the lower part of Alpine. As far as I know, none of these are actual Trans-Cascadia routes, but the crew was just doing what trail work that could be done while the more backcountry trails are still under snow. Speaking of still under snow, we got a shuttle up to Windy Pass for an A-T-C ride and let's just say the upper part is still snow covered, but it made for an adventure ride and some hike-a-bike and snow riding skills practice. Luckily the lower 2/3 was clear and the dirt was perfection. It's still a bit early for proper Oakridge shredding, but the lower parts of Middle Fork and Alpine were in great shape. North Fork didn't drain nearly as well, and it was muddy.

This past Wednesday, The Mountain Shop hosted an evening with Portland Mountain Rescue called “How Not to Get Lost” It was brief, but informative. If you run into trouble on Mt. Hood or in the gorge, most likely the Sheriff will call the volunteers at PMR. The big takeaway from the evening was preparation - number one is always leave a detailed itinerary of your trip with someone, bring the right gear, know the weather conditions, and have a good backup plan. They emphasized what will kill you the fastest in the backcountry is exposure to the elements – so bring backup clothing, extra layers, a spare beanie, spare socks, a bivy or space blanket and a means to keep yourself dry – extra outerwear or a trash bag will do the trick. Two more big takeaways were: Navigation – get your map and compass skills honed, and learning and practicing fire starting skills in wet weather. And of course, always throw an extra headlamp in your bag. The bottom line, was being practiced with navigation and having a few extra key items in your bag in case your day hike/bike ride turns into an unplanned overnighter. Of course, extra water (and/or a means to filter) and extra food are always a good idea. Sometimes backtracking to that point where you knew the trail is better than forging ahead into unknown terrain, and when in doubt, stay put and stay calm.

Hopefully these events and courses will help us safely gain confidence as we venture into the backcountry. Courses are a great way to gain knowledge, but remember that there is no substitute for experience and practice. Push your comfort zone a bit, but be honest about your limits and what you’re able to tackle when choosing your adventures.

We’ve been doing lots of training rides to have some kind of fitness for mountain bike season. Here is a short video edit I did recently on one of my favorite routes – Bull Run…with Jeremy (from The Athletic), Joe Reynolds, Oliver Cousins (from MAAP), and Jeff Curtes. I shot this hand-held from the bike with the GoPro Hero 5 Session. Full review of that camera to follow shortly. Also keep an eye out for our Spring Gear Guide. We have lots of great gear to share with you!

Packing for the Brevet

Our friends at Rapha USA have a cool brevet ride planned next weekend. On Saturday we're riding from Portland to Pacific City, staying overnight in hotels and riding back to Portland on Sunday. 210 miles and about 10,000 feet of climbing over two days. Cynics will say “Oh Rapha is doing bikepacking” but they're not. They've always been inspired by randonneuring, and frame bags have been adopted by long distance riders like those racing the Trans Am Bike Race or the Transcontinental Race from London to Istanbul. I love both road riding and bikepacking, so with this format I can enjoy both. I'm less interested in putting a label on my riding and more interested in creative days on the bike. Honestly most of my riding is road, because I believe in riding door to door. That's the real challenge. Go ride your bike without driving your car. Take the train or bus and come home under your own power or vice versa. In the meantime, enjoy some snaps from our recon of the route below. It really is beautiful.

I'm excited about this ride because it's a cool chance to play with minimal packing, essentially credit card touring- and that's new for me! I'm shooting the ride, so my challenge will be to ride the 210 miles with camera gear and stay fresh enough to take photos of the ride. The ride goes through Carlton, OR at mile 50, so folks can have lunch there before the real climbing and remoteness begins. It's not all that remote in the bikepacking or hiking sense of being out in the wilderness for days, but there are no services until Beaver at mile 92. The ride is challenging. We did it as a recon ride last Monday and Tuesday. I think we all felt relatively fit going into the ride, but Tim decided to backcountry ski to the top of St. Helens a day or two before our ride, so he may have handicapped himself slightly. Jeffrey forgot to charge his Di2 battery, so he was stuck in one (easy) gear for the majority of the ride back to Portland. I broke a rear wheel spoke on my rear wheel as soon as we hit Cornelius, so I had fun riding a wobbler back to town. Also, our weather has been great, so any amount of rain could make the ride much harder, and as we learned anything can happen in 210 miles.

And now for the Knolling Let's take a look at what I'm bringing. First is my overnight kit, then my on-bike kit

Overnight kit

Montbell EX Light Down Anorak

Icebreaker Merino underwear

Icebreaker Long Sleeve Anatomica shirt

Rapha Merino Leg Warmers

7Mesh Glidepath Shorts

The Athletic Socks

Chamois Butter packet (for day2)

Toiletries - toothbrush, toothpaste, sunscreen, ibuprofen, arnica tablets, contact case, earplugs

Homemade oatmeal packet

Homemade espresso+cocoa packet

OSMO protein packet (recovery for end of day 1)

Nike Free running shoes

PDW Aether Demon blinky light

2 spare spokes - 1 driveside, 1 non-driveside

Apidura saddle pack (compact)

On-bike Kit

2 Revelate Mountain feedbags

Oakley Jawbreaker Sunglasses

Giro Aeon helmet

Icebreaker Merino beanie

Rapha Pro Team Softshell gloves

Rapha Cap

Garmin 500

Iphone 6 with Gaia for Navigation

Tool kit (ZPacks Phablet zip pouch) - spare tube, Topeak mini tool, Pedros lever, Park super patch kit

Canon 5D Mark iii with 35 and 50 mm lens

4 homemade “Flax your muscles” bars

1 Lara AltProtein Bar 1 Bear Naked Peanut Butter bar (super deal at Grocery Outlet)

1 Trail butter Expedition Espresso packet

6 Osmo Hydration packets

Haribo Gummi bears

Homemade Salmon Jerky

Gift Guide 2015

These are a few of our favorite things…with a focus on Portland-based companies, such as Mississippi Records, Trail Butter, The Athletic, Gerber Knives, Heart Coffee Roasters, LED Lenser (Leatherman), Rapha. All things we've used and loved this year.

What's a Grinduro?

Before making the 8 hour drive to Quincy, Grinduro was just soundbytes, the color purple, poster art by Geoff Mcfetridge. The event site billed it as “Gravel Road Race + Mountain Bike-Style Enduro = one long loop of pavement and dirt” When you factor in the chance to ride new dirt roads and camping and live music, well now you’ve got yourself a new-fangled-old-school mountain bike festival. DiMinno is doing the food. OK Now we’re talking. Chris Diminno is the super talented chef masterminding the food at the Chris King Gourmet Centuries. That in itself is almost enough to drive to Quincy, CA. Where exactly is Quincy? According to Plumas County website,  “Quincy is the Plumas County seat, nestled against the western slope of the Sierra Nevada range and tucked at the edge of the lush American Valley. It's a cool, small town in the Sierra Nevadas with historic buildings and recreation opportunities galore.

My buddy Goo asked if I wanted to join him for the ride down. We left early Friday and we spent the day heading South in his trusty surf Toyota pickup. In Klamath Falls we made coffee in the Fred Meyer parking lot. We stopped at the general store in Adin, making our way past stuffed bear and deer to use the restroom, then at a view spot, only to realize it was a firing range, and a guy was practicing his quick-draw. We made a hasty retreat. All the gunplay was strange and timely, since Obama was visiting Roseburg on this very day.

Camping at the Quincy fairgrounds we couldn’t help but notice the low hum of trees being turned into lumber as plumes of steam rose skyward. Sierra Pacific Industries mill is located right across the street, which is the largest producer of lumber in California and the third largest nationally behind Weyerhauser and Georgia-Pacific. As you would imagine, Sierra Pacific has its critics.

However, the timber industry today is not quite what it was and Quincy lost one of its lumber mills in 2009. This story of a timber town turning to recreation and tourism reminds me a lot of Oakridge, Oregon, which now hosts Mountain Bike Oregon every year in July and August. From this article it seems the town is torn in much the same way. On one hand the town needs jobs and revenue, on the other the housing market is not endless, nor are the natural resources. So, like Oakridge, Quincy needs to reinvent itself and find new sources of revenue.

Maybe events like Grinduro can help put Quincy on the map for its natural beauty and small town charm. 400 or so people showed up to enjoy a weekend of riding bikes on dirt roads. I like that Quincy is a bit off the beaten track, maybe not an obvious destination yet. But events like Grinduro can help put a town on the map, like Downieville, with its beloved Downieville Classic and seemingly endless trails and swimming holes. You can’t mention Downieville without talking about the incredible Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship. If you haven’t heard of this hardworking crew, go have a look at their impressive list of completed projects

From Sierra Buttes, it was Greg Williams, founder of the Downieville Classic and Mike Ferrentino that brought Quincy to the table as an event location. Giro, with help from Joe Parkin came up with the event concept, but it was Sierra Buttes that did the heavy lifting when it came time to actually make the event happen. Hats off to Giro for giving the proceeds of Grinduro to Sierra Buttes.

Another cool aspect of Grinduro was the “Meet Your Maker” pavilion. If you’re not up on your NorCal custom builders scene, MYM is a collection of the finest builders. The list includes Black Cat, Blue Collar, Bruce Gordon, Caletti,  Calfee, Falconer Frances, Hunter, MAP, Paragon Machine Works, Pass & Stow, Paul Components, Rebolledo,  Retrotec/Inglis, Rex, Rock Lobster, Soulcraft, Sycip, and White Industries. Many of these builders had Grinduro-worthy bikes on hand, mostly cross/gravel bikes that pushed the limits of tire clearance.  The folks at Giro are friends and frequent ride buddies with these builders, so it made sense to include them in the event and to give them greater visibility.

Enough preamble, What about the big day? We woke around 6:00 or 6:30, made coffee, and stumbled over for a Diminno breakfast burritos and little quiches. I was surprised to see pro riders Chris Jones and Barry Wicks. I’m always amazed how quickly time flies on event day. I suited up and made my way over for the 7:45 rider meeting. We stood in the sunshine to warm up while Dain from Giro gave us the format: 4 timed sections. He suggested we chill out and enjoy the non-timed sections, and to go hard on the timed sections.

We rolled out at 8:00, past the stacks of wet timber at Sierra Pacific Industries. Nothing prepares you for the feeling of riding in such a large group. I do so much solo riding, that a group like this feels special. For me, it’s the whole reason to do a ride like this. The group takes your mind off the cold, and it distracts you when the road deteriorates to rutted gravel - and ramps up steeper than you’d like. We rode out of town, -through the valley, past a trio of running horses.

It didn’t take long to warm up, since the first climb seemed to be an hour long. The first timed section came at about the 45 minute mark. I couldn’t be bothered with sprinting at this point. I tried slightly harder just because I felt guilty not pushing it a bit as a few people flew by, obviously redlining it, because: racing. Being a reformed racer, I felt conflicted-- like I should rise to the occasion because I’m being timed, and at the end of the day we’re going to gather around the fire and compare times. But I feel good about the efforts I’ve done this summer, and I’ve been riding plenty. My new rule as I do more longer events is pacing myself to go as hard as I can for 8 hours, which is more like an 85 percent effort, and it doesn’t allow for any massive sprint efforts. You basically find your endurance zone and stick with it.

The routes were well marked, and just like a pro race there were signs indicating “segment ends 500 meters” At the end of a segment, riders would collapse, regroup, cheer their friends as they crossed the line, grab a bar and fill up on water before they continued on. It occurred to me that Grinduro was very much a modern event, as many of us track rides and post on Strava. Every ride is an individual time trial where there are no bunch sprints, only rider against the clock. After the first segment, we pushed on with a decent tempo. The climb had mellowed this point and we had climbed sufficiently to earn good views of the surrounding peaks and the valley below. We hit an extended stretch of loose gravel and I was again thankful that I had chosen my hardtail Seven with 2.1 mountain bike tires. I’ve ridden roads like these on road bikes and cross bikes, and it can be white knuckle and miserable.

Before long we came to segment number two. People were fueling up on water and catching a breath. I was amazed at the number of volunteers on hand. I wasn’t sure what they were there to do, since riders had a timing chip on their number plates. Sure, the equipment had to be set up for timing at each stage, but I wasn’t sure what everyone was doing , aside from cheering. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good cheer before I drop into a gravel road descent. This track was standard dirt road, but there were good sized rocks embedded which meant you had to choose the right line on your cross bike if you didn’t want to flat. And OH! How they flatted on the top of this descent! There must have been three people on each side of the road fixing flats. There was even a tub filled with spare tubes and a floor pump. Again, I patted myself on the back for my bike/tire selection. I feel that if I have one strength, it’s bombing dirt road descents. Sure, there’s always someone faster, but I can put my head down and get down pretty well. So, I found my 90 percent effort, picked my lines and kept it upright. Damn! That was fun! I kept thinking during the day how perfect all the events I’ve done this year prepared me for Grinduro. Oregon Outback, Dirty Sellwood, The Stampede. Mentally, I figured if I can do 120 miles loaded, and then ride two more days after, I certainly can do 62 miles with 8500 feet of climbing. Shortly after section two ended, we arrived at the first aid station. This aid station was in full party mode complete with disco ball, sasquatch costumes, sake, and of course clouds of weed smoke. I grabbed a couple bites of PB&J, some banana, took a gulp of sake and kept on. I was happy to ride with Scott Nichol, the main man at Ibis. Scott rides all the time and was just finishing a roadtrip in Colorado and Utah. I hadn’t ridden with Scott since we visited him at his home in Santa Rosa two years ago. It was one of those rides where we talked about going out for 2.5 to 3 hours and it ended up being more like 4. Probably due to my pokey pace and lots of stopping for photo ops. Best part was gourmet food afterwards, much like today. Scott had accidentally left his seat bag open, so he was without tools. I was happy to help loan him a multi tool and a pump to keep things rolling.  

Next we found ourselves at a little town and the start of the timed road section. Folks stopped and filled tires up for faster road performance. At the rider meeting I seem to remember Dain telling us it might be in our best interest to form a group for this section, since it’s usually windy. I found a group that looked pretty fast and we set off. It was a pretty sloppy paceline, and it felt slow to me, so before I took my first pull, I went wide and gave it my all trying to get away from the group, chasing the next rider down the road. I guess I imagined myself to be a real time trial specialist. I made a decent gap from the group, but wasn’t able to make it stick. I was working way harder solo than I would have been in the group, and I wasn’t really gaining anything, so before too long I quietly found my place back in the group and took some turns to try and earn my keep. Man! That headwind made it hard! As soon as we crossed the line of this timed section, lunch was waiting just under some trees off to the side of the road. I was starting to get the hang of this ride hard and then chill out style of riding. Food was welcome and we put our legs up and feasted on Lentils and kale salad and potato salad. Rumors of a wicked climb after lunch circulated, so I made sure not to eat too much and gave myself a minute to digest.

I rolled out with Junker, Nichol, Dan Cheever and a handful of others. We hung a quick left just after the quaint town of Taylorsville and we began the 6-mile climb. The Grinduro signage continued, this time it said “This climb sucks SORRY” Those that knew the route said to take it as easy as possible on this climb, since the final singletrack section was supposed to be the hardest bit. Honestly though, with sections at 12 and 13 percent grade, the only way to chill out was to walk your bike, and that makes it take forever and isn’t that much fun. My legs were feeling good, so I just shifted down to my 36 and found a rhythm. I tell myself I love climbing and when my legs feel good like this I actually do love climbing. But that much steepness and that long of a climb have a way of stealing any good vibes and just make you grateful to be done. By the time we reached the final aid station my left knee was hurting a bit and wasn’t totally looking forward to the final timed singletrack section. Scott Nichol said it might be a good idea to drop your saddle a bit for the last section, since it was essentially newly built mountain bike trail. I popped some peanut M&Ms in my mouth and pedaled on. I was torn. I had come this far and had been riding well and enjoying myself, but the climb had worn me down and my knee and back had me just riding to survive, hardly ripping the singletrack. Some folks rode hardtails with suspension forks and they were loving this section. I got passed like I was standing still by a couple of folks. It’s demoralizing when it happens, but it reminded me that I wasn’t just here to race, but to capture the experience on film. The trail kept opening up to reveal views of the valley below and it was spectacular. I felt like riding at breakneck pace was a waste after that seemingly endless climb. Maybe I wouldn’t feel that way if I was Mr. DH ripper, but since I’m pretty conservative these days, I just did my thing and kept it rubber side down. A 500 meters sign appeared and I gave it one last sprint to the line.

A quick portage over railroad tracks and it was time for post-ride beers and high fives. We did it! We finished a challenging course in pretty good time and had a blast doing it. It felt great to sit on the rocks behind the tracks, crack open a beer and toast each other. That feeling of shared accomplishment is a good one. We cheered as folks finished up, some riding in so hard that they barely stopped before coming to the tracks. Adam Craig rode a flat to the finish line and proceeded to show off his ruined Zipp wheel. Adam had tried to double up on a jump and came up short. That’s what happens when you put a rowdy enduro dude on a cross bike on a mountain bike track. There’s gonna be damage. Another rider had done the same on his carbon wheels. I started asking him what happened and I could tell he was super bummed about it, so I quickly changed the subject. Sorry dude. For the most part, everyone just had a blast and was ready to relax around camp. Just a quick road ride, full of ear-to-ear grins and we were back at the fairgrounds. Dain came in with three good skids just to stoke out the crowd. We hit the showers and went for recovery beer.

The grand finale was another excellent Diminno meal, swapping stories about the day, and Ray Barbee and Mike Watt in concert. I don’t think I had seen Mike Watt since he was flying the flannel in 1990. What a cool way to finish the day! Giro thought long and hard about what they wanted to see in this event and came up with a festival for anyone that loves riding off road that incorporated delicious food and music. I asked Dain how Grinduro was for him and he summed it up by saying “the Grinduro format really suits me. My wife was joking that the segments weren’t long enough for me to blow up as hard as usual! To me, this format really represents how my friends and I ride on the weekends. We absolutely hammer each other into the ground — on climbs and descents — but then regroup and laugh about it. It’s great to share that style of riding with nearly 400 new friends.” It really was a celebration of the creativity in the bike world and it felt good to contribute to Sierra Buttes efforts. So many people that showed up for this first event are friends of friends of Giro. I’m sure people will hear how great an event it was and it will be even bigger next year. There is already talk of taking Grinduro international next year. Since this turned out to be one of my best weekends of the year, I’m sure I’ll be back next year.

We enjoyed the ride home and split the driving into two days, camping at Skull Hollow – just down the road from Smith Rock. We hit Gray Butte for a 10 mile wakeup ride. It was more of a dirt road ride that started and ended with some fun flowy singletrack, but it was perfect.

A big thank you to the whole crew at Giro, to Chris Diminno for the excellent food, to the town of Quincy for having us, to Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship and to Goo for driving and making it a great road trip!



1. The bike

The Seven Sola SL 29er with the Enve MTB 29er fork was the perfect bike. Sketchy descents were no problem and I could haul as fast as my legs would take me. I think after we get over our obsession with cross/gravel bikes the lightweight hardtail mountain bike will be the next big thing. It’s just so much more forgiving and less sketchy.

I rode 2.1 Schwalbe Thunder Burt Tires on the rear and a Racing Ralph up front. I think it was my favorite dirt/gravel road tire combo so far. It would be an ideal combination for Oregon Outback as well.

I kept my Revelate frame bag on. Since the day started cold and I knew I’d want to stash clothing and bring my own selection of ride food, the bag made sense.

The only thing I would have done differently was to be more careful about tire pressure on the last stage. I got lazy and left my tires over-inflated. If I had run them at my normal mountain biking pressure of 23 rear 17 front it would have given me more confidence and been less harsh. Especially with the rigid fork, your tires are your suspension, so the right pressure is key.

2. Clothing

I wore 7Mesh bib shorts, the Santini Car4 base layer. (this was a bit warm overall for the day, but I never got soaked with sweat. I’m still amazed by this piece) a Rapha Lightweight jersey, arm screens, full finger gloves, Giro Aeon helmet with a Rapha cap to keep the sun off.

I started the day in the 7Mesh Resistance jacket and Rapha merino knee warmers, but those came off 15 minutes into the first climb. I was definitely glad I had them to start.

For shoes I wore the Shimano XC90. I went for more stiffness over greater hikeability. It turned out to be a good choice. I think they give extra power on those hard climbs.

My only clothing critique is for the lightweight jersey – and some might even just call it user error. That middle zipper pocket. What’s it for? I kept leaving it open and probably lost a couple rolls of film over the course of the day. I’d much prefer a third jersey pocket to the vertical zipper, but otherwise a great versatile jersey and I love the warm red color.

3. Camping

Since it was just car camping, I took my Big Sky International Evolution 2P tent. I used a Thermarest Deluxe pad, which is huge and way too big to take bikepacking, but lets me sleep well the night before and after an event like this. I really makes a big difference. For a sleeping bag, I used the Montbell Down Hugger 900. It’s rated at 25 degrees and is comfortable down to 35. I never overheated and as the night got cooler, I just pulled the mummy collar up higher over my head. The unique aspect of the Down Hugger bag is the quilted stitching and elasticity that lets me wiggle without feeling restricted. (Full review to follow)

For cooking, Goo had his Coleman propane stove and I pulled out the Snowpeak Giga Power stove and used the aero press for coffee. I brought lentils and sausage leftovers and my traditional steel cut oatmeal and eggs for breakfasts.

Dirty Sellwood - Preparation, Improvisation and Group Dynamics

This past Sunday we gathered at Dirty Fingers bike shop in Hood River for the Dirty Sellwood, which was to be a sort of casual group ride, albeit a big bite of a ride around Mount Hood. OK, it was supposed to be a bit of an epic…a friendly, grassroots sufferfest. The past two years the ride had been just a shop ride from Dirty Fingers to Sellwood cycle. This year they opened the ride up to the public and capped the ride group at 100 riders. My friend JBucky heard about this ride and thought it would be good preparation for the Stampede ride the following weekend.

When Mitchell, who was organizing the ride, called me to make sure I hadn’t stumbled into this ride blind just asked. “Do you like pain?” He was joking of course, but there’s something there. We don’t ride for the sake of pain. Real pain, emotional or physical is never a reason to ride. We do it because it’s challenging and we like to do things that are difficult, to rise to the occasion and do something big - and it can be fun to do it with company. It’s not just fun to ride in a group, but we gain boldness and strength when we ride together. We’re able to go further faster and do that hard thing more easily in a group situation.

But there is a downside to this boldness – a potential pitfall. It happens when rather than plan properly (like we would when we set out to ride in the mountains for 8 or 9 hours solo) we rely on the ride organizer. We look around at our riding companions to see how they’re dressed and just decide to go with that. It’s this strange phenomenon I call “group mind.” If you’re the only one wearing a jacket and knee warmers, group mind is going to make you second guess your choice to wear a jacket and knee warmers. You think, well the locals must know what the weather is like here, so if they’re not wearing x, I don’t need to wear x.

This is where I feel like my bikepacking experience has helped me a lot. I'll maintain that I’m not an expert in much, but between training rides and road rides I have a fair amount of experience choosing my kit. For clothing, you choose what will keep you comfortable in the range of temperatures that you might encounter. My rule of thumb is that if there is any chance of rain, bring a reliable rain jacket. Temps below 50 degrees call for knee warmers that go on and stay on. I’m in the habit of wearing arm protectors (lightweight arm screens that keep the sun off). They’re actually the perfect weight for this time of year, especially with slightly cooler mornings and act as lightweight arm warmers as well. Choosing a good base layer is key too, one that will wick sweat and is thermal or not depending on the temps.

This ride started in Hood River, (elevation: 499 feet) which usually means windy and sunny in the summer. It’s September, which traditionally means a continuation of the nice warm weather we’ve been experiencing all summer, but recently there have been some storms over the Pacific that have brought some much needed rain and cooler temperatures that feel more like October and November. The high point of our ride was to be Bennett Pass (elevation 4650 feet).

For my planning, I did what I do for bikepacking and that’s to look at the forecast for each town I’m passing through. I saw 30 percent chance of rain in Government Camp, so I brought the 7Mesh Resistance jacket, which is really more of a windbreaker, but is also rain resistant. I had been looking for a jacket that was super-packable and bridged the gap between windbreakers and dedicated rain jackets. The Resistance turned out to be the one.

The difficult part about layering for cycling is that you’re working hard. If you’re doing a route with lots of climbing, you’re going to be sweating. Excess moisture is the enemy when you’re in the mountains. If you sweat too hard or get soaked from rain, the result is the same: you won’t want to linger at the summit and you’ll suffer on the descent. The risk is hypothermia and it doesn’t just happen in freezing conditions. Heat loss from your body is much faster if your clothes are wet, as when you're caught out in the rain.

Looking back on the ride data I can see that at mile 38 as we’re approaching Bennett Pass, the temperature was 61 degrees. In 5 miles and in just a half an hour, the temperature dropped to 46 degrees. That’s when things got real. Rain was coming down hard enough to soak us, so the riders that had decided to leave their jackets in the car were hating life.

The Resistance Jacket kept me dry in some pretty crazy conditions. I was extremely thankful that I still had on knee warmers, and a jacket that kept me dry. The combination of the Santini Car 4 base layer and the Rapha Pro Team jersey kept me warm enough and I never felt soaked with sweat, despite the fact that we climbed almost 7000 feet in 40 miles. This kind of situation is exactly what 7Mesh had in mind for their Resistance Jacket. I was also glad I brought my surgical gloves because they kept my hands functional.

We made it to Government Camp without too much suffering and tucked into a booth at the Huckleberry Inn for hot chocolate, bad coffee, and tea. Bernardo, our new riding buddy for the day who we met on Surveyors Ridge Road, had skipped the jacket in favor of just a gilet. He made up for preparation with resourcefulness and asked the kitchen for a trash bag and latex gloves. That was enough to get him down to Zig Zag, a warm fire, and eventually vans that would take us back to Hood River.

It was interesting for me in the group situation to see how people fared. We had been riding with Dan on the climb up to Bennett Pass. Dan is a strong rider, but he’s 115 pounds and didn’t have a jacket. I lost track of Dan on the climb, he faded off the back of our group, but later folks related stories of how they had helped to get him to Government Camp where they found him a big down jacket at a gas station and eventually a ride home.

The positive aspect of the group mind is that people rallied to help those that were suffering more and we collectively made the decision to get rides back home, rather than push through Lolo Pass in the rain. Which, for a ride in these conditions is absolutely the right call.

Some hearty souls pushed on. Bravo and kudos to them. This is a great route and someday I’ll finish it when the weather is right. I have high praise for Mitchell for leading a challenging group ride and for being wise enough to know when to call it a day.

We returned to pints of beer at Dirty Fingers and pulled pork and slaw at 10-speed and talked about what we learned and had a minute to be thankful for an epic day, even though we left it half finished. We did it together and we got home safely. We were able to appreciate the day for what it was: rad. Thanks to Sellwood Cycle and Dirty Fingers for putting on a great ride. Thanks to Rapha, Santini and 7Mesh for making clothing that kept me comfortable when the storm hit. Thanks to CJ for the ride back to Hood River.

What worked:

I rode my Ira Ryan steel bike with 52-36 up front and 11-28 in back. A compact would have been slightly better, but can two teeth really make that much difference? Clothing was the biggest issue of the day. I wore Rapha ProTeam bib shorts and the Santini Car4 base layer under a Rapha Pro Team jersey. The Pro Team bib shorts are always comfortable and work in a large variety of temps. I don’t even have to think about them. The Santini base layer is new in the mix for me. It really impressed me during the Outback and felt exceptionally comfortable on cool days where I was working hard. Santini uses “Resistex Carbon fabric” and says that it’s highly wicking, breathable, and antibacterial. I wore it for 3 days straight with no stink.

Comp Cyclist site says: “Accordingly, this keeps your body temperature regulated as moisture is transferred away from your skin through the fabric's differentiated micro-hole structure. This means that you stay dry and fresh, regardless of how much sweat your body produces.” Having used this base layer for many months now, I’d have to agree. It just works. I can’t recommend it enough and it should be a great choice for fall riding and cross season too. The Rapha Pro Team is good on slightly cool days and is an obvious choice for long rides due to the stretch of the jersey and its expansive pockets. I chose the hot pink number so I’d be visible to cars on highway 35 and 26.

Emergency Kit

The other key aspect of kit for the day is what I’d call the emergency items – the things that make a difference when the weather takes a turn for the worse. The key for emergency items is that they are light and pack small, so you don’t feel burdened by bringing them. They fit easily in a jersey pocket, right next to your food.

The first essential item was the 7Mesh Resistance Jacket. This jacket is a real breakthrough! I’m extremely impressed with this jacket. I had been looking for a jacket that was somewhere between a micro-packable wind jacket and my Rapha Rain Jacket. The Rapha jacket has been my choice for most Pacific Northwest winter weather, but it gets too hot for extended climbing and in the end it lacks breathability. The 7Mesh packs up fist-sized, weights only 4 ounces and kept me dry when the weather turned to shit. It’s cut for cycling and has impressive breathability. The aesthetics are dialed as well. It’s a beautiful shade of blue and the styling is reminiscent of a bomber jacket. The jacket is considered top to bottom, from the placement of reflective tabs to the way the jacket is cut to the body. I can’t recommend this jacket enough. While many jackets claim to be waterproof and breathable, I feel that this jacket is truly both. I will bring it on long road rides and now that I’ve tested it in the rain, I’d be confident to bring it on a multi-day bikepacking trip as well. If you’re not familiar with 7Mesh, check them out. They’re former Arc’teryx folks based in Squamish BC, so they know foul weather and I’m confident they’ll keep making clothes that excel in the Pacific Northwest.

I brought a light merino Icebreaker beanie that I put on over my Rapha cap. The Rapha merino knee warmers are fantastic, since they pack up small, are warm, but also very breathable. I was surprised that they stayed warm even when wet. I wore them the whole ride and didn’t feel like I was overheating. The last emergency item was surgical gloves. Again, super lightweight, pack small and provide another layer of warmth for those icy 10 mile descents. No reason to not bring those. They go in a Ziploc with the merino beanie, so they’re dry for when I need them.

 Emergency Kit - 7Mesh Resistance Jacket, Rapha Cap, Rapha Merino knee warmers, Icebreaker merino beanie, latex gloves

Emergency Kit - 7Mesh Resistance Jacket, Rapha Cap, Rapha Merino knee warmers, Icebreaker merino beanie, latex gloves




Let's get minimal (some ideas for your Outback)

A few ideas and products that could help you on your Oregon Outback or next bikepacking trip…

1. Picky Bars - As the bars say “It's freaking science, dude.” These bars are made by (Bend, OR) pro athletes Lauren Fleshman, Jesse Thomas, and Steph Bruce. These three top athletes set out to make real food bars that work for training and racing. The science part is this: 4:1 Carb to protein ratio. 200 calories per bar. Real ingredients like dates, nuts, almond butter, rice protein. News Flash: they just introduced a new flavor called “Ah, Fudge Nuts” that has locally sourced, high quality cacao. Picky Bars are basically packaged versions of my DIY bars. Love 'em! 3 for $9 or 10 for $27.50 and you can buy right on their website. 

2. Montbell Tachyon Jacket - I was looking for the most minimal and most packable windbreaker and found it in this jacket. It weighs a mere 1.6 ounces and packs down smaller than, well…a Picky Bar. I've been layering this over an Ibex 150 Woolies Crew long sleeve and it's been the perfect system for spring. As the Montbell copy says The Ballistic Airlight nylon utilized here is a wispy 7 denier fabric capable of trapping hard earned body heat next to your skin, while shielding you from all but the strongest of winds.” $99

3. Montbell O.D. Compact Dripper 2 - Again, the most minimal coffee dripper I could find and it folds up ingeniously like a light reflector. It's not as cool an object as the Snowpeak Collapsible Dripper, but it weighs about 4.8 ounces less. No brainer. A word of caution: keep it away from open flames. I learned this the hard way. If you want it to perch atop your mug, cut a straw and loop it through the two loops. Forgot your straws? whittle some twigs. Works like a charm. $17

4. OSMO Preload Hydration - This is secret weapon stuff folks. Take it the evening before and the morning of your long, hot ride. Consider it an insurance policy against dehydration. It's all about increasing plasma volume. I'll let Stacy Sims explain it in detail, since she's the science behind this amazing product. I'm just going to drink it down every morning. They also have a formula specifically for the ladies! Highly recommended. $25 for 9.2 oz. - (20 servings per container)

5. Travel size toothpaste - Not much to say here. Toms $2 for 1 oz. tube from Fred Meyer. 

6. Cut down toothbrush - This brush went from 15g to 8g ! Packed size is better too. Every gram counts

7. Paceline Kit Wash - Bring a second chamois. Wash it every evening. Love these convenient packets from our friends at Paceline Products. Designed for hand-washing technical clothing, which is exactly what I'll be doing. Light fragrance, cleans gently and rinses out easily. Bonus: Made in USA. $10 for a 10-pack

8. Paceline Chamois Butt'r - The classic. No fancy smells, just packets of the OG product that saves your ass. One packet per ride day. I love these travel size packets !  Also available in Eurostyle (think tingling sensations) and Butt'R Her' for ladies. Such a simple way to avoid saddle sores. $10 for a 10-pack.

9. Gerber Dime - Stainless steel pliers, wire cutter, a fine edge blade, spring loaded scissors, flathead screwdriver, crosshead driver, tweezers and file. All of this in an awesome little 2.2 oz. package. This is a great little keychain multitool. Someone in your group should have one. $25

10. SolRX SPF 30 lip balmJust recently at Sea Otter I learned the hard way how uncomfortable sunburnt lips are. Get a lip balm with sun protection and use it throughout the day. Protects against windburn as well. Basic, but easy to forget. 

11. SolRX SPF 35 Waterblock Sunscreen - I was looking for a water resistant sunscreen that didn't disappear as soon as I start sweating. SolRX is designed for athletes and lifeguards. In theory you're supposed to reapply every 80 minutes. I'm betting I'll be on the every 2-hour program, which is still way better than nothing. Sunburn saps your energy at the end of the day. $13 for 3 oz. 

12. Asiana Airlines slippers - I saved these from my last flight to Korea. I plan on wearing pretty stiff XC shoes for riding, so I'm going to want to have something more comfortable for camp at the end of the day. These pack super small and weigh only 30g (1.1 oz)

13. Platypus 2 L “Platy Bottle” - Folds up super small and weighs only 42g (1.5oz) Taste-free and BPA-free for clean drinking. For that dreaded 80-mile section with no water. Camel up and then fill this up! Compatible with Sawyer Mini water filters. $13

14. Nitrile exam gloves  - Three good reasons to bring these: They pack up to nothing, you can put these on to deal with chain issues and not have chain oil all over your hands for the rest of the day, and as a layer against cold or wet. If the weather turns and you need extra warmth, you'll be surprised how much these help. Finally, they should be in your first aid kit anyway, right? Totally essential! $9 for a box of 100 gloves.

15. Plastic spoon - While I love my fancy Snopeak ti spork (and that purple ano is cool as…) it weighs 15 grams, my fast food plastic spoon is 4 grams. I'll be leaving the spork at home on this trip. Besides, I'm doing my usual oatmeal breakfast and dehydrated chili for dinner, so a spoon is all I need. 

16. Chain lube blister packs - WD-40 dry lube. Grabbed these at Sea Otter. (Ask your LBS) One per day of riding. A clean chain is a fast chain. Don't forget a small piece of t-shirt to wipe down your dirty chain and relube. It's surprising how much it helps to have a silent drivetrain. 

Just some thoughts about shaving some weight, but don't forget the stuff you need! See you out there!



April 15, 2015. Only Blick could have pulled this together. The Oakley Legends Ride.

Ned Overend, Thomas “Frischi” Frischknecht, Todd Wells, Brian Lopes, and newcomer Jenny Rissveds. There were two common points that brought all of these athletes together on April 15 in Montery, CA. The first being that they’re Oakley sponsored athletes. Oakley put this ride together. The second is that they love to ride their bikes. Oakley was launching it’s new model called the “Jawbreaker” The Jawbreaker is one part revamped Eyeshade, one part oversized Jawbone - err - Racing Jacket.

We met up at Peet’s coffee. Blick loves Peets. Ned showed up first, followed by Frischi and Jenny and then Lopes and Wells. Lopes and Wells used to be friends and teammates at GT, so they got to catch up.

Overend, Frischi, and Lopes are multiple world champions. Todd Wells has won Leadville twice. It would be a pointless exercise for me to list their palmares. These guys have all been dominant in mountain bike racing since it was a thing. Overend and Frischi used to battle it out in the 90's. The crazy thing about many of these guys is that they were legends in the 90's but that they still compete today. Ned just won the first ever US Fat Bike Championship this year. Frischi stopped competing 10 years ago, but is very active with the Scott Odlo team grooming the next generation of champions. Jenny is a perfect example of that. She came along and pushed the pace. We got to see her win the Short Track race on Friday and finish 3rd in the XC race on Saturday. Frischi’s son Andri is a Swiss U23 champ and could be dominant as well. Lopes was crushing in the Dual Slalom at Sea Otter this year (He finished 10th in the end) and has a nice feature in Scott Secco's new film, “Builder”


The route was to be 17-mile Drive in Monterey. It’s a nice, scenic winding road that skirts the ocean before climbing into the trees. I expected the pace to be social, which it was, but of course a bunch of still-competitive old dudes are going to give what they’ve got and Jenny was training, so of course the throttle just kept twisting further - almost imperceptibly. At some point Blick attacked on a climb, but didn’t make it stick. Hill kept going, Blick faded back. All in good fun.

The thing that struck me, and that I see looking back at their faces in the photos. (I was doing my best to keep the pace while not get killed by an oncoming car and not crashing out a group of world champs.) The thing that struck me with this bunch of guys – and one girl - was just the sheer joy of riding their bikes. This was just a sunny day with a bunch of like-minded folks who may or may not have battled it out 25 years ago. We rolled back into Monterey as a group, Wells called up a buddy to find the ‘good’ coffee in town. Nothing against Peets, Blick! I took portraits of everyone and then we just sat in the courtyard of East Village Coffee and chatted. Really no different from your neighborhood group ride on a nice sunny day, catching up with a bunch of world champs that happened to be in town for the day. OK. It was special. Very special, but somehow completely normal because we were all just doing what we do. For me it was an honor just to spend the morning with this crew and to document the proceedings. Thank you all champs, and thank you Steve and AG for pulling this together! #LiveYours