Being a native west coaster, I may have a bias, but the rest of the country is going to have to be pretty spectacular if it's going to compare to this region. It's only been 5 days, but already I've lost count of the times I've felt an overwhelming sense of joy simply from looking at the spaces around me. Whether in the car or on the bike, the left coast scenery delivers.
My first two stops were in Oregon. I got into Portland a little too late to go for a good ride that day, so I headed to a mountain-oriented bike shop to ask for a recommendation on where to ride the next day. A very helpful person at Fat Tire Farm pointed me to Sandy Ridge, near Mt. Hood, so I headed east and set up for the night.
It's early in the trip, but my day at Sandy Ridge will be really difficult to top. Weather was perfect. Dirt was perfect. The trails wind through a dense, picturesque forest, complete with moss, ferns, and a babbling brook (or stream or whatever).
Trails at Sandy were on par with the scenery. A mellow climb up a paved access road leaves you with several excellent options, and I was able to link up with some folks who showed me a fun route down. It would be hard to be bored here - one trail we took was windy and flowy, and the next was loose and REALLY fast (almost got into trouble on that one). Had to much fun we had to do it twice.
Just want to reiterate how gorgeous it was here. 10/10 would ride again, but after 3+ hours, I was smoked and needed to head out. This was also the point where I used my camp shower in the parking lot - got a lot fewer looks than I expected. Keep Portland weird, I guess.
After inhaling a stellar BBQ sandwich from a place nearby, I headed for Bend. After driving a few hours, I found a good camping area near Sunriver, parked, and slept in the company of nothing but a bunch of pine trees.
The next morning, after getting packed up, I went into town to repeat my system of a) finding a bike shop, b) endearing myself to the natives, and c) getting a suggestion for where to ride. I did not realize what an experience I was in for.
The shop I chose to visit, which was picked over several in the area for no particular reason, was called Bend Cyclery, and it is hands-down the best bike shop I've ever been to. It was early in the day on a weekday, so the place was empty save for the employees. I walked in and was greeted immediately, so I explained what I was doing and was shown a map, offered a few options for where to ride, and then invited to come back afterward for a shower (what???) and a beer (sold).
The trail network I chose wasn't far from the shop. I opted for a short-ish ride, since I was definitely feeling it in my legs from the day before. This part of the state is considerably drier than further north, which made for a dustier environment and that distinct smell in the air you get from dry pine cones and needles. The trail itself was tame on the ride in, and I thought I might be in for a disappointing day, but not to worry - things got fun shortly thereafter. For that reason, the only photo I have from the day is the one above.
One of the downsides (for me) of a densely forested bike trail, if you've never been there before, is that a fun feature can be easy to miss because you don't see it soon enough. This was not an issue here. I could see far, far ahead, and thus was able to find tons of fun bonus lines that made the fast, loose downhill section an absolute treat. The increased visibility also allowed me to just plain go faster, and all was well in my universe. Again, had too much fun to stop and take pictures.
When it was all over, it was back to Bend Cyclery for me. And yes, they really did have a shower, and a beer tap that somehow poured out of the frame of an old Stumpjumper. So I sat and relaxed, watching a replay of the Cairns DH race and chatting with the shop employees about how old we were when we were first exposed to Primus. Bend Cyclery is the best.
Regrettably, I did have to get up and get on my way, which means this is the end of the Oregon post. I'll leave it with one more photo, because the west coast rules and nobody can convince me otherwise.
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the organization I'm trying to support - the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. If you feel so inclined, a contribution can be made by clicking here. Thank you, and keep an eye open for Part 2, which will be all about Santa Cruz.