If someone asked you to close your eyes to imagine a place to ride your mountain bike, would you see flowing and speedy single track for miles on end, the kind that make you feel you’re the only soul in the world? Or would you see towering 300-year-old Western Hemlocks mixed with rolling high meadows of Bear Grass and wild flowers as big as your fist, mixed with lush green moss and ferns that rival the length of a grown man’s legs? All of this held together by the softest, darkest, tackiest dirt your wheels have ever rolled across?
If this imagery is your dream ride, it exists. In a place called Oakridge, Oregon. Not only is this one of the most off the radar mountain bike destination in the Western U.S., but it is also home to one of the country’s top ranked mountain bike festivals: Mountain Bike Oregon or MBO. This year, we sent our mountain biking correspondent to check it out. Here is what he discovered.
What it Is
The three-day festival, held in mid-July, kicks off early on a Friday morning at a bright red covered bridge, known as The Portal. Here riders check in and can make last minute changes regarding their rides. The accommodating volunteers know mountain biking and go to great lengths to answer all your questions and sure everyone gets to where they need and want to be. To cover all the trails in Oakridge would be an impossible feat, so MBO does the hard leg work for you. The rides they offer throughout the weekend all range in length and difficulty level, and by doing some research on the MBO homepage and maps, it is easy to find your fit.
What I rode
The rides I joined on were Alpine (Oakridge’s Flagship trail), offering up a manageable climb, views, exposure and flowing downhill sections. I also wanted some adrenaline, so I rode The Double on the second day, which includes Lawler and Hardesty, two trails that are both primarily downhill, fast, scenic and technical in spots, in their own rights. For Day 3, I did the big grind, ATCA. A combination of Alpine, Tire Mountain Trail, Cloverpatch Trail and finishing back on Alpine, which conveniently drops you right off, back in front of the admissions pavilion. It was an intense ride, and although I do highly recommend it, I suggest signing up for it on Day 1 rather than Day 3. For the final day, I would suggest something shorter, so you can spend the final afternoon enjoying the food truck coral and beer garden, serving up local eats and brews from Oregon.
After you are done riding, there’s more to do, including the above mentioned food trucks and beer garden. My favorite dish was the Fresca Chicken Wrap from Cowgirl Cookin’ and an Oakshire Watershed IPA. There are also a lot of vendors for MBO that were top notch, and many companies offered bike demos for the day (you just have to slap down a credit card for the “just-in-case” details, get fitted and you’re off). I stopped by Evil Bikes, based in Seattle WA, and put my trust in their Wreckoning, which was a real treat to ride.
Other tips for the festival, if you’re coming in from out of town or out of state, no worries I found it easiest to fly in from Colorado to Oregon through Eugene, which is an easy 40 mile drive from door-to-door. Also, I used Bike Flights to ship my ride, not only do they make it easy and stress free for you to ship your goods, but they also offer a box specifically designed for bike transport! Check out their website to see all the details and destinations they offer. If you’d rather not fly with your bike, you can reserve one at The Oakridge Bike shop-Willamette Mercantile LLC; you have to just stop by before you leave.
All in all the festival was amazing, MBO offers nothing but the best trails, shuttle and service for a mountain biker seeking adventure, a place to make new friends and just ride.
What it Costs
MBO costs $400, and that price includes, breakfast and lunch, all you can eat all three days, shuttles to all trails and return shuttle from some of the rides. A beer garden for 21+, access to top notch mountain bike industry companies offering up demos and product tests, bicycle service/maintenance from River City Bicycles out of Portland and of course a camp site with access to flowing rivers to wind down in or around in the afternoon and evenings.