Thursday, June 19, 2014

Shred Oregon Day 8: Oakridge Day 2: The Force in the Forest

Our 8th day of vacation was what we had really, really been waiting for and the main reason we chose the southern Cascades as our vacation destination. As I said in day 7’s post, Drew had done the Cascade Creampuff 100 mile mountain bike race here in the summer of 2004, just a few months B.L.  Specifically, that race was run on the Alpine Trail, the same we would ride today.  It was memory lane for Drew, so I was happy enough to tag along, but then I read this article.

in this magazine.

The article talked about how the town was hit hard by the end of logging and how the residents were trying to rebuild as the “mountain bike capital of the Northwest”.  The trail descriptions sounded good and the pictures were enticing, so I had to see for myself. 

The day started out with some downtime.  Relaxing and wandering for Drew


And blogging over the park’s good WiFi for me.


Then into town. We went to the Willamette Mountain Mercantile, which is the local bike shop and general mercantile at once, for a map and advice. We knew where to find the shop by the picture in the article.
Yup, same store.

The bike shop guy and gal were super helpful.  They warned of where the poison oak would be and didn’t try to get us to shuttle, as it seems most shredders do in these parts.

To prepare for another big day on the bikes we went to Dairy Queen, where they make real, not fast-food type breakfast (even DQ has to diversify in this town).

Then to the Office Covered Bridge in the nearby lumber-company owned town of Westfir to start the ride, but 50 feet into the ride I realized my pedal, which had felt funny on the decent yesterday was broken beyond repair. Oh no!  I use Crank Brothers Egg Beaters, a relatively common pedal in Utah, but probably not as common in the big northwest.  Would the shop have a replacement?  Back to town to inquire and sure enough he one used pair he sold me for $25.  Whew. 

Alpine Trail, woot woot.

OK, so getting on 1 PM now, we finally got underway on our big day.  We only made it a couple of miles before we had to stop and watch an expert pilot moving logs by helicopter.  The helicopter was unlike any I had seen in that it had no tail rotor and had two top rotors, each rotating in different directions.  Very cool.


Here is a video of the helicopter picking up 3 or 4 logs and transporting them a few hundred yards to a transfer point.  You should watch it ‘cause it is cool.
Helicopter logging near Oakridge, Oregon.

We could put off the nasty business of the fire road climb no longer.  From Hwy 19 we rode up FS 1912. It looks like this and steeper.

4500 feet of climbing over 15.6 miles of 95% fire road.  Please shoot me for not shuttling.

One downside to big thick forest riding is the paucity of clear views of the scenery. There were only a couple of spots for views on our 15 mile climb.

At Kate’s Cut-in we finally found skinny trail which joins to the Alpine Trail.  A bit more climbing and then at the top is a nice open meadow.

And then the 12 mile downhill commences.

My favorite part of the trail is called the Jedi Forest because you are zooming through super tall trees with little undergrowth so you feel like Luke Skywalker (or Leia in my case) on a speeder bike being chased by Imperial Stormtroopers through the forest like in the chase scene in Return of the Jedi.

Another special place on the trail came unexpectedly through the thick forest. 

What a view!
IMG_1537 Stitch

We also saw fauna

and flora.

Lots of tall flora!

Our hands hurt from all the breaking and Drew was starting to wonder if he had boiled his hydraulic break fluid by the time the red Office Covered Bridge came into view again.

And a few minutes later we were taking the post-ride photo at the bridge where we started. The bridge was built in 1944 by a lumber company to replace one that had previously washed out. It is the only covered bridge west of the Mississippi that has a separate pedestrian walkway. Nice bridge.


So IMO, the Alpine Trail lived up to its reputation.  It’s a great trail – even worth three hours of climbing on fire road. Here's the Garmin file for the ride. You can pan around and change to satellite background for more fun.

5+ hours, 27.5 miles and 4700+ feet of vertical.  Time for some R and R after that!

A Good Night

Back at the RV park, the idyllic river confluence scene beckoned us and our refreshment beverages. 

After a long chat with the park owners and a quick shower, we drove back into Oakridge to check out the only brewhouse in town, Brewers Union Local 180


Who needs more than one brewery in town if the one you have is an authentic English public house and brewery with excellent atmosphere and food!

In this small town on a weekday 800 miles from home, who would expect that the only other couple dining on the patio would be a couple that had just moved to Portland from Salt Lake City.  And what cosmic coincidence is it that the female half of that couple was a one-time participant on a women’s only group ride that I led a few years ago, whose contact info I regretted never getting so that I could recruit her for our race team.  Maybe The Force Was With Me that evening.


Whatever the case, we had a great day in Oakridge!!

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