Well, we’re here in Los Angeles, after four days of pedal to the metal driving down Highway 1 from Portland to Los Angeles. The Pacific Coast Highway is one of the nation’s most popular bicycle touring routes and unfortunately, that also means it’s one of the most popular RV / Camper / no-clue how to drive windy road tourist destinations.
Ok. Seriously. Now it’s a vacation. Nothing against hanging in cities but it’s damn stressful trying to get around and see all your best buddies. Well, a different kind of stress, especially when compared to driving with the windows down and music blasting down some rad gravel road with no one in sight. That’s stressful.
Lauren and I spent the day on a route I planned out to take us from Portland to the 101, without getting on any major highways. It ruled. Then, a wreck happened on the 101 and we had to take a 50 mile detour. That didn’t rule. Getting to eat at the Local Ocean in Newport, Oregon made up for it though.
I didn’t shoot a lot of digital today, because I’m shooting medium format, but I did get a little trigger happy at a nice little beach spot before we called it a night.
Check out some in the Gallery!
When Erik and I committed to riding the Oregon Outback, we didn’t want to absolutely kill ourselves, but we wanted it to be tough. On paper, 360 miles is totally doable in three days without crushing your spirit. Hell, I think we could have done it in two and we still would have been ok but that’s not the point.
I had a responsibility. One that I take seriously and that’s documenting this trip. Granted, most of the time, I didn’t want to stop to shoot a photo, or hop off my bike, I just wanted to keep going…
The second day of any big ride is usually the toughest. Your body just assumes it’s going to be on the defensive for an unknown amount of time and begins to push back. Usually, that is. For Erik and I, we awoke in the Silver Lake Community Park f-u-c-k-i-n-g freezing. The weather said it would drop to 45 degrees as the low, so he and I brought hammocks and 40 degree bags in the interest of space and weight.
At 4am, my phone said it was 28 degrees. A cold front had moved in.
I was shivering uncontrollably, had I known it was going to be that cold, I would have brought a sleeping pad and a tarp, both of which I’ve used to alleviate the loss of body heat that happens in hammocks at such low temperatures. But alas, you reap what you sew. We would be cold on this trip.
All our field guide said about mile 120-240 was that we’d be crossing altitude desert and would be without water for up to 80 miles. I brought an Arundel Looney Bin to hold a 48oz Nalgene, which, after making breakfast, I filled up. Along with my two large Purist bottles. We had to get moving. Fast… It was 6:30am.
Continue reading in the Gallery captions.
With the success and failure of Erik and my last AWOL ride on the Diablo range, we started looking for another mission to continue the story. This couldn’t be just any camping trip, it had to be hard. Like, really, really tough and big and stuff.
Then it dawned on Erik (I was too busy to actually look for anything) – we’d do Velo Dirt’s Oregon Outback. Erik contacted me in his Swedish voice “ok mannn, we’re going to do this really fucking tough ride, called the Oregon Outback, are you in?”. Me: “Of course!” – not wanting to sound like a sissy. At the time, I was probably traveling for something and I didn’t even know what the Outback was. I just assumed it was a chill weekend getaway…
Dissecting my Oregon Outback photos has taken two full days and rather than dumping everything into one huge gallery, I thought I’d break it up a bit into something that everyone can discuss separately: bikes.
People obsess over setups for rides like this. From frame material, to geometry and wheel size, I saw everything.
Erik and I were on stock, straight out of the box, AWOL Comps. Erik painted his to look all crazy. Mine was just black. I had bikepacking bags and my Swift Ozette rando bag, Erik used panniers and the new AWOL rack. Most people used Porcelain Rocket or Revelate bags on their flat bar MTB.
Personally, I felt like a drop bar bicycle offered more riding options and were inherently faster than a rigid or a hardtail MTB. That said, most of the field were on MTB rigs of some sort. There was one fatbike, a few 29+ but for the most part, the rigid 29r ‘adventure’ bike platform ruled all.
A lot of these bikes were built specifically for the Outback, which is insane!
As I began sorting through all of my photos, I realized that my favorite thing about this ride was getting to know complete strangers. Watching their struggles unfold and seeing how they coped with the incredible feat that was upon us.
These Bikes and Faces of the Oregon Outback will forever remain engrained in my riding psyche. The rest of the story will unfold shortly. Until then, enjoy this Gallery.
One day, I’d love to convince my father to do this with me. Except he’d do the fishing and I’d just get drunk and sunbathe in the river. Great vibes in this one, Russ!
So I haven’t made a big deal about this for a few reasons. First, I don’t want to jinx myself or my teammate on this ride and second, it’s part of a project that won’t see the light of day for a few months.
That said, I’m doing / racing / riding / surviving the Oregon Outback, a 360 miles MTB trek from Southern Oregon to Northern Oregon. Our plan is to do it in three days. Unsupported. That’s 120 miles a day on dirt.
I do rides like this often enough, maybe not to this degree, but essentially bikepacking or touring. So I thought I’d let you in on my packing list, via knolling. Check out a break-down below.
Flashback to July. I was in considerably good shape, coming off a lot of base miles in the early spring with China and Australia, back to back. After those two countries, I kept pushing myself to be a more fit cyclist. Why? Because I knew this Brovet was coming up and I had something to prove. Both to myself and my friends, who had heckled me incessantly since my bonking in Pittsburgh. Let’s just say, I was ready.
My equipment was dialed, my fitness was in-line and aside from a MTB wreck the week before, I was in tip top shape. The initial talks of the route had numbers like 250 miles and over 30,000′ of climbing. After we completed the route, it turned out to be around 235 miles and 18,000′. Still, no small feat.
Look, it was hot, tough and with around 10 people in our group, it was the largest Brovet ride yet. Was it fun? You bet your ass! It’s amazing how enjoyable rides like this can be when you’ve got the fitness. You’ve already read Yonder’s report, so here are my photos from the ride, in as accurate of an order as I can recall.