bike touring, gravel grinding, Gravel Touring, hammock, Hammock camping, Hunqapillar, OC&E rail trail, Oregon Outback, rivendell, Surly Troll, touring, western backroads
I have a lot of photos from a recent adventure, so I’m going to break up this post into riding days. At the end, I’ll try to sum up several things that worked really well, and what it took to get ready for an offroad tour. Onward!
I haven’t been as excited for a trip in years. The Oregon Outback travels through a lot of area I’ve never seen. For good reason – there aren’t many roads that bisect it. I had an inkling of the terrain, but what it would really require or be like was still unknown.
With lingering doubts about knee pain, soft shoes with flat pedals, and lightweight tubeless tires, I set out for adventure. These sort of epic trips generally come with solid learning experiences. The first one happened when we arrived at the train station in Seattle with nicely packed bike boxes, carrying our bike baggage.
After we checked the bikes, we noticed there were four or five bikes that were being wheeled around the lobby with everything put together and be-bagged. Wow. I wanted to go back and un-check our boxes. That would have saved us an hour up front packing the bikes. Not to mention the re-build at the end of the journey…
The train ride out of Seattle was nice, going mostly alongside the Puget Sound and the Columbia River before moving more inland at Portland.
When we reached Klamath Falls, OR, we waited as 100+ ready-to-go bikes were handed down to their owners to be immediately ridden away. After carefully putting on the front rack, bags, and straightening the bars and stem in the dark railroad yard at 10pm, we rode over to the Olympic Inn for a short rest before the 7am start.
In the morning we double-checked our packing job, and then ate a good breakfast that included oatmeal, biscuits and gravy, and eggs. At a bit after 7am, we were off. The forecast was for rain and scattered thunderstorms.
The OC&E is a great trail. Nice and flat, but with a fair amount of cow deposits and cattle gates, the going was flat, messy, and interrupted. At this point in the ride, we were still seeing a fair amount of riders, but as the day wore on, we quickly spread out and found ourselves with lots of quiet time to think.
At one of the 40+ cattle gates, I noticed my rear tire was losing air. I stopped and pumped it up. The hole was obvious, losing some of the sealant (Stan’s), but it didn’t seem too bad, so I spun the tire, put the hole at the bottom, and pumped it up again. We rode on a few more gates, and it started holding air. After bringing it back up to 40psi, I never had to gas it again. Now that’s what I’m talkin’ bout!
One of the food highlights of the first day during a rare warm sun break was a brief stop in Beatty, about a mile off the trail. We had coconut helado ice bars. I was looking for them at every stop for the rest of the trip.
The OC&E steadily turned more remote, and less groomed. The trail was great, but more grass was on the trail as we got further north/east. After a good climb up an old railway switchback, we stopped for the view and some water. It was misting at this point.
We were entering ranch country. No towns were bigger than a few houses, and perhaps a post office. It was never-ending ranch lands with few roads or access. This is the real west!
We lasted about 7 hrs of moving time for about 72 miles. We both felt pretty good and set up camp in between showers right where we were hopping off the trail. There was a river nearby, so we knew we had water for the next part of the journey.
John said it poured on us at 2am, but I heard nothing. I never knew sleeping in the woods could be so comfortable. To be continued…