We are lucky enough to live in Bend, OR a place that has literally hundreds of miles of single track and dirt roads, right in our own backyard. So we decided to reinstate our annual “Motor Free Memorial Day Weekend”, by leaving the cars at home and jumping on the bikes with our BOB trailers for a casual weekend of backcountry bike touring.
Day 1: 35 Miles
Chris, CJ and I met for a brief recon the night before, looking over forest service/fire maps and making a rough plan on who was bringing what, so we could share some camp supplies. This was CJ’s first go at bikepacking on his new Salsa El Mariachi, so it was a bit of a test run for him. And for us it was another excuse to test our Robert Axles, thru-axles we make right here in Bend for pulling BOB trailers. Chris used his carbon Trek Fuel 29’er with an old BOB Yak trailer and Katy on her carbon Trek Lush pulling the BOB Ibex.
We met at our house at a casual 10am. Our route roughly followed the Deschutes River, using as little pavement as possible, focusing on double track and single track. We jumped on the Deschutes River Trail, preparing ourselves for the holiday crowds, which actually weren’t too bad, other than the obligatory funny questions:
Hiker: “What’s IN there?”
Hiker: “Where are you camping?”
Me: “Everywhere and anywhere!”
And my favorite:
Biker: “Are you training for something?”
Me: “Yeah, training for dinner!”
From Benham Falls, the upper end of the river trail, we hopped on the Black Rock Trail towards Lava Butte, with a few detours out into the lava beds. With a quick water stop at Lava Lands Visitor Center, we were stoked to get off the beaten path on the other side of the highway. Time to explore places we don’t often get to.
Chris has the eye for singletrack and noticed a faint trail off to the side of the road we were steadily climbing. Sure enough, we scored a decent little motorcycle trail that took us where we wanted to go, up to a large lava flow with a powerline road running across it. The view of the Cascade Mountains was amazing. We had hoped to find a place to camp up there, but no avail, so back in the trees we went for a good dinner and night of rest.
Day 2: 20 miles
We had to do some route finding to get back to Highway 97, but scored some more fun moto-trails heading in the right direction, then hopped across the road towards Sunriver Resort area. We navigated the crowds of families on cruiser bikes and bustling holiday traffic.
Sitting in the resort-goer hub of Sunriver grabbing a quick mini-mart lunch, already filthy from road dust, we realize that we prefer gravel roads and a tent to bike paths and fireplaces any day.
The rest of the day was a leisurely, mellow mix of short stints of pavement in Sunriver, dirt roads, and single track. By now, we are immediately comfortable with the BOB’s bumping along behind us. It only takes a day, or less even, to get used to the trailer riding behind you and with the stiffer rear thru-axle, it’s much better than riding our old bikes.
Camp consisted of a seasonal spring with ample water, solitude, and of course, when you bike tour with us – appetizers of smoked salmon, cheese and crackers.
Day 3: 17 miles
Our last day was totally cruiser, hitting our local trails that we know so well but found new joy riding them with our loaded bikes. Except for this minor mishap:
Did Chris really think he’d get the BOB through those trees? I guess so. Fortunately, he wasn’t maimed doing this trick, but it did result in a good photo-op. That’s CJ cracking up behind him.
We cruised across the Steve Larsen Trail, over to Tiddlywinks to Storm King, where we crossed the highway and climbed up Storm King a bit. We entered the fray, passing riders every few minutes with the questions, “What is IN there?” and so on. A quick mix of double track and trails took us down Phil’s Canyon and the flaming chicken. All we can say is “thank god for one-way trails.”
To cap off the fun weekend we headed straight to Pilot Butte Burger for lunch in Bend. The boys with burgers are happy!
It was good to remind ourselves how much we love BOB touring and getting out in the woods for a few days and night to explore and camp with our bikes. The Robert Axles provide the gateway to share the stoke of our adventures! #getoutthere
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