Happily Bent

Lets start on a sad note. I left Seattle and headed south. I crossed the OR border for the first time in my life and was excited to stop and check out this progressive, hipster, hop filled, cycling city they call Portland on my way to Bend. I wanted to walk around downtown Portland and get a feel for the place, but those plans quickly changed when I decided to pull into a parking garage.

KSAHFI$#T* HEGUQ#$(T(UERAGI N*Y)Q)*YU*Y)(*$#)T(!@($*^*%7124871(2$(UA!$#@IHGA!!

That’s the sound of my bikes atop my car roof hitting a concrete slab as a pulled into a low clearance garage. My roof rack was torn off my car. The dropouts on my road bike fork broke, officially turned my road bike into a bug catcher atop my roof for the remainder of the road trip. Luckily, my mountain bike came out on top with a tweeked stem… steel is real baby.

I gathered my flustered self, resituated my rack and bikes (luckily the road bike still mounted roof top), and got the hell out of Portland. I was excited to get to Bend. It was described as a smaller, lower key Boulder. So far, I would have to agree, besides the college seen, which I could live without now that I am a graduate (tear).

I got a “central Oregon” trail map, and headed out of town to find a place to pitch my tent.

The “Bend trails” were pretty sweet. I weaved around for a few hours. Up to 6,500 ft or so where there was still quite a bit of snow. It was an enjoyable and scenic ride. I followed my enjoyable ride with some enjoyable time walking around downtown and some locally brewed Kombucha which I have missed dearly (do to FDA issues involving the commercially marketed kombucha brands).

Lets talk about McKenzie. I decided to head to “America’s Best MTB trail” about an hour or so NW of Bend over McKenzie pass.

I found another sahweeet place to camp along the McKenzie River, about 25 miles south of the famous McKenzie River trailhead.

I was told that this was a trail to “shuttle,” meaning to leave a car at the bottom and ride down (or pay a ridiculous amount to have someone else do it for ya). The word shuttle makes me cringe. The only time I would even consider using a shuttle would be to the airport. With luggage.

I rode up the hwy to the trailhead and hit the trail below Clear Lake where I climbed the rest of the way on single track.

This trail got a lot of hype. Usually, when things are hyped up, they don’t live up to it. This was different. It was awesome. The awesomest, bestest, epicest, stretch of earth that my bicycle has touched in its short life.

Right when I would get bored of the fast, smooth, flowing single track, there would be some gnarly, jarring, technical portions. Right when I would think, “geez this is a little too much, I wish it would let up a bit” sure enough it did. The perfect mixture. OKAY, whatever… there are plenty of trails that have a good mixture like this. BUT, none of them traverse beautiful land, around crystal clear lakes, through lava fields, winding through ancient Jurassic Park-like forests, along raging rivers, and by roaring waterfalls for 26.5 miles. Though this trail had a net elevation loss of around 1,800 ft, it wasn’t aerobically easy. There were enough ups and downs and technicality to make you work.

Looking back, I would have been content without the 20 or so miles of road climbing and to do what I never thought I’d want to and “shuttle” this trail.

Despite breaking my chain TWICE, this was still the best MTB ride of my life. That says a lot.

The moral of the story is… IF you are in central OR, go here. Whether on wheels or heels, check it out.

BA – bent

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