Yesterday, October 14th, was a special day for me and my mountain biking hobby. A friend of mine, Arthur, who is a VERY skilled cyclist took me on a trip to Oakridge to do some mountain biking. I've gone in the past to places like Goodman Creek and the McKenzie River National Recreation Trail (MRT), but I'd never rolled over the dirt in Oakridge until this trip. Billed as the "Mountain Bike Capital of the Northwest", I knew that Oakridge had a lot of trails to explore via two wheels but I had no idea at the quality of the riding until yesterday.
Arthur and I decided to take advantage of a great service when we got to town. A company there by the name of Oregon Adventures provides guided trips but also has a shuttle service that prevents the masochistic need to ride up the gravel road to begin each route. I had previously won a gift certificate for Oregon Adventures so it was obviously the route I wanted to use to get to the top of the mountain! The owner of the business, Randy, was one of the first enthusiasts to really get the Oakridge trail system going for mountain bikers and his enthusiasm for riding was obvious when I met him earlier this year at a conference. I felt while getting in the van to start our drive to the trail that there was more than one reason he was responsible for my mountain biking adventure that I was about to have.
The route that Arthur and I rode was the Alpine Trail, a 15 mile route that is the crown jewel of Oakridge-area mountain biking. This trail is fast, varied, and incredibly scenic to boot so I knew from the webpage that I would be in for a real treat. What I didn't know, though, was how much I would enjoy the ride with Arthur. I expected to have fun, but he was the perfect person to take me down this trail the first time, always bombing down a steep path in front of me providing ample motivation to follow. At other times he'd be calling out "switch" or "heads up" just in time for me to change gears or navigate a hairy turn. Arthur's patience was also incredibly forgiving, as I lost my chain multiple times and often had to walk up the steepest parts of the trail due to poor planning or lack of gumption.
The trail description from the previous paragraph's link can tell you all about the Alpine Trail's attributes but I got so much more out of the trip that I didn't expect. I was very nervous when we started due to the trail being a brief 1/4 mile uphill right off the bat. I remember thinking about how I should have prepared better by riding more before today's trip. Next, as we flew through the Jedi section of the ride I remember thinking, all I want to do when we get to the bottom of this ride is give Randy a huge hug (I think the adrenaline was doing funny things to my brain)! I was stoked at the wonderful views afforded from the trail and also at the fact that 90% of the trail was downhill...I was in mountain biking heaven for those two hours.
After finishing the Alpine Trail, we still had a four mile ride back to town where our car was parked, so we hopped on the pavement for a bit and connected to our next trail. The last section was very different from the Alpine Trail but still enjoyable. The terrain went from steep, conifer-lined dirt to a mostly flat and rocky, river-view path with lots of maple leaves on the ground. The difference was dramatic and provided yet another reason I love Oregon- diversity in nature. Arthur navigated our way back to Oakridge and we headed back down the mountain to Springfield, enjoying a well-earned beer and bite to eat at one of our local breweries. Perfect end to a perfect day? I'll say!
Check out our trip route and detailed summary here.