BlogApparently people still blog. People like us.
The Oregon Outback – Guest Post by Jason
We’re doing a series of guest posts by riders planning to tackle the Oregon Outback. Look for new posts as long as we keep getting them.
The Outback is just about a month away and I’m feeling pretty calm about the whole thing, even though I keep forgetting what weekend it’s supposed to take place. The initial interest was huge and it kinda freaked me out; would 300 people really show up in Klamath Falls? I guess we won’t really know until the morning of, but I’m really excited to see what happens, and to be a part of it.
I started bike touring about 6 or 7 years ago when my wife and I moved to Portland. I didn’t know very many mountain bikers at the time, and my road bike was much easier pick up and get lost on. I have always enjoyed camping, and I soon realized how accessible the woods were. Touring became a big thing in my life pretty quickly. Before too long I was looking for smaller roads and better views. In 2010 I rode the Stampede and something really clicked. I had unlocked a door to a style of riding that was completely my own and all I had to do was keep pedaling. On longer rides, I find my mind wandering and floating along. I look forward to routes where I don’t quite know what lies ahead, but I am always excited to get over the next hill; who knows what might be there (hint: it’s usually more sagebrush). I’m looking forward to the Outback for the ride as well as the preparation leading up to it. The planning and packing before a big trip is something that occupies multiple days before departing and I enjoy putting the puzzle together.
At one point I had planned on trying to finish the route in three days, but now four days seems like a good mix of all day riding and heavy sleeping. Gabe and I have 7:30pm dinner reservations at the Cowboy Dinner Tree for Friday night. If we can make it 115 miles in 12.5 hours, I’ll be pretty impressed. After our recent trip to Hart Mountain, I expect to have a very long day in the saddle. From what I have gleaned, the first 60-70 miles of the Outback are flat and kinda loose. If we can make it in time for dinner, the rest of the trip can unfold however it pleases. After that I’m just along for the ride.
The Outback has also been a good excuse to build a new bike and complete my camping / touring kit as well. I’m not a huge gear nerd, but I do appreciate well made adventure equipment. Over the last couple of years I’ve put together a camping kit that really works well for me. I’ve had some really terrible nights in the cold, shivering in my bag with an empty stomach, but for the most part those days are over. I’m going to carry a stove so that I can enjoy coffee in the morning and heat up some food after each long day. If I’ve learned one thing about myself, hot food is a sure fire mood elevator after a long day. I also carry a couple of playtpus (platypi?) for extra water and one full of whiskey.
As far as my bike goes, I got my hands on a 2014 Kona Unit and swapped out the singlespeed cranks and wheels for a complete SLX drivetrain. The frame only had one bottle mount, so I had my friend Matt Mahoney modify the fork with three braze-ons for each leg so that I can carry two Salsa Anything Cages. I’m hoping to carry only those two bags along with a frame and seatbag. A pair of WTB Nano’s came on the used wheelset I bought, which was pretty lucky. They happen to be excellent for gravel and dirt roads.
Even though the route passes through some pretty remote areas, there seems to be a good amount of stops for refueling along the way so I won’t need to carry a whole lot of food. That should allow me to carry minimal baggage. The only part of my kit that is up in the air is my shelter. If the weather is nice I will probably leave the tent body at home, which reduces packed weight and space by quite a bit. I love these kinds of details.
As far as training goes, Gabe and I have a plan to ride four more centuries before the 23rd. Our shakedown rides have been successful and four days of unsupported touring isn’t entirely uncharted territory. We’re going to have a great time goofing off, riding slowly (except for Friday), and enjoying the scenery.
See you in K Falls!