ON THE ROAD IN THE POURING RAIN
I've gotta be upfront with you and put this out there early, I have never ridden Oakridge. Yes, I know, it's terrible. I'm 2.5 hours away, love riding my mountain bike and have never been. So, with winter fast approaching, I decided that I needed to get down there and experience the epicness of Oakridge. We had a large storm front coming through, with heavy winds and precipitation, but I was not to be deterred. I loaded up my newly acquired VW Vanagon and hit the dark, wet pavement!
By the time I got onto Hwy 58, my eyelids were starting to get heavy, so I took advantage of the #vanlife lifestyle and pulled into a dark, Diamond Peak viewpoint, just off the highway and right on Odell Lake. I snuggled into bed with my fur-child Kai and before I knew it, the morning (foggy) light was radiating in through the windows.
FIVE-STAR WATERFRONT ACCOMMODATIONS
We chowed on a quick breakfast and drove the remaining few miles into Oakridge where I stopped at the Willamette Mountain Mercantile, the local bike shop in town, for a map and trail suggestions. Olivia gave me the full run-down and had me on my way with perfect instructions to make sure I didn't get lost in the beautiful, mossy woods.
THE WILLAMETTE MOUNTAIN MERCANTILE IS STOCKED WITH BIKE AND CAMPING GEAR (BEHIND ME) IN OAKRIDGE
I chose to do the Alpine Trail descent via the North Fork Trail to Road 1912 Climb, which makes for quite an awesome loop! After parking at the end of the Alpine Trail, I got ready in the van to stay out of the rain and to my chagrin, realized I left my waterproof jacket at home, ooops! I took a gamble, layered up a little extra under my long sleeve jersey and hit the trail!
STOPPING ON THE NORTH FORK TRAIL TO TAKE IN THE VIEW
The North Fork Trail is awesome, meandering along the banks of the North Fork of the Willamette River for several miles before climbing up and away from the flowing river and intersecting Road 1912.
FALL COLORS WERE BURSTING AT THE BASE OF THE ROAD CLIMB
The climb is a fantastic grade, nothing too crazy so you can meander or hammer, depending on your mood. I definitely opted for a mixture of both, being distracted by the gorgeous fall colors early and then getting a bit motivated near the top when the rain began to come down hard and cold! Thankfully it was short lived and after a quick map check under the shelter of some trees, I was onto the Alpine Trail for a little bit of climbing before the sweet descent!
CLIMBING UP THE BEGINNING OF THE ALPINE TRAIL
I would say my tire choice was a tad lower profile than optimal, but in reality, it just made things more fun and interesting, getting to live on the edge and bomb down such a fantastic trail! The previous day's heavy winds had made their mark, leaving several downed trees on the trail. But aside from those few interruptions, it was a wicked-long, smile-inducing ride back to the van.
THE VIEWS ON THE DESCENT WERE AWE INDUCING, AND THEN ADDING THE EXCITEMENT OF SHREDDING SINGLETRACK.....OH YEAH!
At the bottom, I wasn't quite ready for it to be done, but my soaking wet kit made me choose to wisely fire up the JetBoil and make some warm Oregon Chai Tea and bask in the fun endorphins still coursing through my veins. Oakridge definitely left it's mark and I'll be back as soon as the weather permits!