The Robert Axle Project takes a product testing tour in Central Oregon with BOB Trailers
We are lucky enough to live Bend, Oregon, a place that has literally hundreds of miles of single track and dirt roads, right in our own backyard. So we decided to reinstate our annual “Motor Free Memorial Day Weekend”, by leaving the cars at home and jumping on the bikes for a casual weekend of backcountry bike touring.
Day 1: 35 Miles
Chris, CJ and I met for a brief recon the night before, looking over forest service fire maps and making a rough plan on who was bringing what, so we could share some camp supplies. This was CJ’s first go at bikepacking on his new Salsa El Mariachi, so it was a bit of a test run for him. And for us, it was another excuse to test our Robert Axles, thru-axles that we make right here in Bend. Chris took his carbon Trek Fuel 29er with an old BOB Yak Trailer and Katy on her carbon Trek Lush pulling the BOB Ibex.
We met at our house at a casual 10am. Our route roughly followed the Deschutes River, using as little pavement as possible, focusing on double track and single track. We jumped on the river trail at Lava Island, preparing ourselves for the holiday crowds, which actually weren’t too bad, other than the obligatory funny questions:
Hiker: “What’s IN there?”
Hiker: “Where are you camping?”
Me: “Everywhere and anywhere!”
And my favorite:
Hiker: “Are you training for something?”
Me: “Yeah, training for dinner!”
From Benham Falls, the upper end of the river trail, we hopped on the Black Rock Trail towards Lava Butte, with a few detours out into the lava beds. With a quick water stop at Lava Lands, we were stoked to get off the beaten path on the other side of the highway. Time to explore places we don’t often get to see.
Chris has the eye for singletrack and noticed a faint trail off to the side of the road we were steadily climbing. Sure enough, we scored a decent little motorcycle trail that took us where we wanted to go, up to a large lava flow with a powerline road running across it. The views of the Cascades were amazing We had hoped to find a place to camp up there, but no avail, so back in the trees we went for a good dinner and night of rest.
Day 2: 20 miles
We had to do some route finding to get back to Highway 97, but scored some more fun moto-trails heading in the right direction, then hopped across (under) the highway towards Sunriver Resort area. We navigated the crowds of families on cruiser bikes and bustling holiday traffic and enjoyed a luxurious lunch from the mini-mart deli case at the Sunriver Market.
The rest of the day was a leisurely, mellow mix of short stints of pavement in Sunriver, dirt roads, and single track. By now, we are totally comfortable with the BOB’s bumping along behind us. It only takes a day, or less even, to get used to the trailer riding behind you and with the stiffer rear thru-axle, its even a better ride than before.
We decided to ditch our gear for a quick lap on Tyler’s Traverse, one of Central Oregon’s sweet downhills, before settling in to camp! Woot! Camp consisted of a seasonal spring with ample water, a warming campfire, solitude, and of course, when you bike tour with us – appetizers of smoked salmon, cheese and crackers.
Day 3: 17 miles
Our last day was totally cruiser, hitting our local trails that we know so well, but found new joy riding them with our loaded bikes. Except for this minor mishap:
Chris really thought he’d get the BOB through those trees? I guess so. Fortunately, he wasn’t maimed doing this trick, but it did result in a good photo-op. That’s CJ cracking up behind him. We cruised across the Steve Larsen Trail, over to Tiddlywinks to Storm King, where we crossed the highway and climbed up Storm King a bit.
We entered the fray, passing riders every few minutes with the questions, “What is IN there?” and so on. A quick mix of double track and trails took us down Phil’s Canyon to the flaming chicken. All we can say is “thank god for one-way trails.”
To cap off the weekend, we headed straight to Pilot Butte Burger for lunch in Bend. The boys are happy!
It was good to remind ourselves how much we love BOB touring and getting out in the woods for a few days in a row to explore and camp with our bikes. The Robert Axles are completely bomber and we are stoked to share our adventures! #getoutthere