We’ve been making and shipping a lot of axles, so we haven’t had much time off to get out in the woods and enjoy our own bikes. But every year we try to carve out the three-day Memorial Day weekend as our annual “Motor-Free Memorial Day” and get out for some bike touring and camping in our local mountains.
Getting a slow start on Saturday, we headed out to Prineville after stopping for a taco lunch at “La Virtud” in Redmond. You see, if there is anything you need to know about us is that we eat a lot of tacos. And what is better than starting a bike tour than with a delicious plate of tacos? Nothing.
The Ochoco National Forest is situated just east of the Central Oregon berg of Prineville. Prineville isn’t super well known for it’s biking, but there is some awesome riding and superb backcountry. There is a recent surge of interest in two-wheeled travel. The Good Bicycle Company, is one sign of times, providing goods and services to locals as well as bike tourists on the Trans-America Route. It was a busy weekend for them as Oregon Outback riders were passing through.
Parking at the Ochoco Ranger Station, we packed up our BOBs and headed up dirt roads through green, grassy forests and meadows, wildflowers and old growth Ponderosa pines. After finding water at a cattle spring, we settled in for a night’s rest at the top of a hill, with a view of Round Mountain in the distance, our destination for the next day.
This is the heart of Central Oregon country. And by that, I include motos, four-wheelers, motor homes, guns, ammo, beer and a whole lotta freedom on this Memorial Day weekend. Everyone in Central and Eastern Oregon was enjoying his or her form of recreation and we were in the midst of it. We embraced rural Oregon at its finest, even while gunshots rang through the dark of night.
The next morning took us back around on dirt roads to the paved highway then up to Walton Lake, and on to Round Mountain Trail, a grueling climb through mixed forests and open meadows. It is a grunt of a hill that called for some bike pushing. Knowing we could not make the last pitch of single track to the top—it is a very steep hike-a-bike even without a BOB Trailer—we hit a dirt road to get to the top. Climbing through false hellebore, wild iris, and Indian paintbrush, we reached the intersection of trail and road, had lunch and got ready to descend back on singletrack.
I think every time I’ve ridden off the top of Round Mountain, somebody in the group crashes hard, hitting the rocky section with too much (or maybe not enough?) enthusiasm. Today, we make it, riding the rolly singletrack down to the bottom of Round Mountain before starting up Lookout Mountain. As we pass the Lookout Mountain Trailhead, bird watching and wildflower identifying hikers gawk at us. A woman in zippies—pants that become shorts by zipping off the legs—loudly asks, “What’s IN there?” pointing to my orange BOB Trailer bag.
We are tired, hauling our gear up steep trails in granny gear. Chris has a mild cold and I’m straight up tired from the last few busy weeks. But we find a perfect place to camp at the bottom of a series of meadows, among the wildflowers. Our home for the night and tonight it is quiet. No motors, guns, or generators up here off the singletrack, just the gurgle of Brush Creek nearby.
Day three took us to the wide plateau summit of Lookout Mountain, what I’d classify as Big Sky Country. This is a popular mountain bike ride, with a super gnarly descent off the top with tight switchbacks, technical rocks, narrow trails with steep terrain below and no room for error. And it is a blast with the BOB Trailers bumping behind us, following our every move down the hill. We push around a few of the unrideable switchbacks, but make most of the downhill, gripped and grinning.
This is why we do what we do. Grind up steep singletrack, pushing and pulling each gear as if our lives depended on it. Ride rowdy terrain with a BOB Trailer. Scarf dubious, yet delicious, boxed macaroni and cheese for dinner. Spend nights in the woods, huddled in toasty sleeping bags, reading by headlamp. Because we can. We are fortunate to have this as our backyard.
Even the smallest adventures can help us push the “pause” button, and then – wait for it – the “reset” button. Whether it’s a trip to the park with your little one, or an expedition around the world, just be sure to get out there on your own adventures. #microadventures
— Katy and Chris