The Oregon Outback - not quite a bikepack trip, more than a gravel ride, and as much an Instagram meet as an "organized" ride. The route is 360+ miles of beautiful and often punishing riding from Klamath Falls to The Columbia River though the semi-wilds of East-central Oregon. It's a hard ride; though, and put me through the wringer last year. I had to abandon after 300 miles when my ankle, hands and ass told me I was done.
This year I set out with Danny and a couple other stalwart companions for a spirited take on a 3-day ride. It would require stamina, teamwork and fortitude. I possess none of these qualities; but was hoping the strength of the group would bestow them upon me. I've ridden with Howard, Danny and Brendan before but never as a group.
After a long afternoon's drive to Klamath Falls, and sorting out our whiskey situation, we dined at The Creamery brewpub, located next to the Maverick motel , our digs for the night. Friday dawned cool and drizzly, and we set off.
So to recap-
Day 1: Rain, Drizzle and a sprinkling. Rode with Danny and Brendan for 60 miles, then jumped up to catch Howard and Scott from Seattle. Made it 115 miles to the Dinner Tree by 6:20 and ate heartily, then warmed up by the fire. It was cold and drizzling again as we left. We rolled to the store in Silverlake and passed up the offer of a dry place to sleep in a barn in favor of another push in the dark to Fort Rock.
Day 2: Didn't make it to Fort Rock the night before, bush camped by some junipers on a sandy hilltop. Rolled to Ft. Rock state park and had breakfast with Howard and Scott. Headed out into the Deschutes forest for 20 miles of surprisingly fast red cinders. Howard dropped behind with knee problems but i caught up with the Eugene bunch from Rolf Prima and Co-Motion. Pacelines abounded in the afternoon and into Prineville and a tasty burger + Coke for dinner. After refueling we rode about 12 miles up into the Ochocos to camp. Had a little fire and drank some whiskey to chase the ibuprofen.
Day 3: Woke up at 5:15 to make a 6am rollout. The goal was to beat the headwinds of Wasco county, but I got a slow start as the cold temps didn't agree with my aching knees. The descent to Trout Creek was cold as well, and I didn't really warm up 'till around 10. Then it got hot as we hit the significant climb to Divide Road / Divide Ridge. Awesome views up there as the ridge rolls along then descends to Antelope, where I refilled a bottle in the park and headed out on the pavement for the looping climb to Shaniko. In Shaniko I ate a double-dip ice cream cone and then rolled out on a paved descent toward Grass Valley on Hwy 97. One bumpkin mooned me from his f350 - super deluxe crew cab diesel as he rolled by but not a minute later an old cowboy in his truck tipped his hat to me as we passed. The Eugene crew caught up and we tackled the remaining 40 or so miles together, which was good as it was nearing 4:30 and the headwinds were picking up. It was tough going, and we were all pretty spent by the time we summited Gordon Ridge. I blasted a descending roller a bit too fast and caught a flat on my tubeless tire (first of the trip) 10 miles from the end of the ride. Everyone was kind enough to wait, and we rode into the Deschutes River State Park around 8:20 pm after three 120 miles / 14 hour days in a row. Now that I know I can do the whole thing in 3 days, I think if (when) I next attempt it I'll roll with more stuff and take more time. There's a lot of beautiful country out there and it is a bit of a shame not to drink it all in slowly.