Railroad Spikes and Shotgun Shells: AWOL on the Oregon Outback – Day 01

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…

Little did I know it was a route that started at the California / Oregon border and went straight up to the Oregon / Washington border. 360 miles, over 15,000′ elevation and 80-90% dirt trails, tracks and roads. I knew there would be a lot of headwind – trade winds go south to north – we were going into it the whole way.

Initially, I was planning on doing the ride on a hardtail MTB, with bikepacking bags, but ended up scoring a stock AWOL Comp. Erik painted up a Outback-themed AWOL Comp and we made our gear selections. Coming off the ATOC, I had done some big rides. I was 185 pounds, lean, fit and ready.

Erik just completed the Brevet series in SF and came fresh off a 600k. If anyone was capable of tackling this ride in three days, it was us. That’s three big days. Fully loaded. Pfffft. We got this! Team AWOL was ready. I flew into SF, got my bike, packed up and headed out the door.

After a 10-hour train ride from Oakland to Klamath Falls, we checked into a hotel and got some rest… It was going to be a big, bad, day. Neither of us were prepared for what awaited in the morning.

Finish reading in the Gallery captions!