Bend OR- Stop 3 Mountain Flyer content trip April 2012

so where were we…?  Middle of the desert.. check…    Riding bikes… check.   Eating delicious meals prepared in the middle of nowhere with friends… check.   No wait, we were putting down miles and getting to somewhere ELSE to ride bikes, right?

Yes, yes, of course…  We were loading back up and pulling out of SnowBowl just outside Elko, and marveling at the scenery, somehow magically devoid of tree’d-matter, when we incited yet another iPhone-powered search for yet ANOTHER burrito-experience.  

Thwarted by a botched-turn, a misinterpreted iPhone directive, and then a decision to go ‘grocery’ on our lunch-programme, we redirected towards a grocery store, where we proceeded to stuff coolers and my fridge with salad-matter, fruits and juices, ripped the vehicles apart in the parking lot, and prepared lunches on the spot and promptly sat down to enjoy.  

Gassed and gone shortly thereafter, we made Bend Oregon our evening target… setting a course upon the road less-traveled, and making our way North from hwy 225>205 straight up through southern Oregon.  Desolate-travel defines us. Interstate travel is best-suited for mini-vans-laden with tantrum-prone toddlers with a hasty-destination, piloted by unimaginative parents guided by needs dictated by frequent food and bathroom-stops.  

We on the other hand, are out to inhale scenic vistas.  To drink in the very essence of the country-side is our purpose.  Connecting on a deeper level with the primordial  scents of landscape, the gentle patina of light upon textures carved by the hands of time, observing life distilled to basics hues and gradients demarcating ingress and egress of day.  We took on the role of observers, punctuating our recreation with deliberate movements across the geographic foundation of our country; the space which defines our place in the world as ‘americans’, as it were. 

Southern Oregon passed as a great expanse of desert, eroding into high-desert punctuated by mountainous-features of which subsequently gave way to a lake-district about the time our daylight was to expire.  Another gas-stop and the final push on to Bend, with a dinner-meal passing in the form of snacks and bars taken-on at the helm,  headlights stabbing into another traffic-less evening across the lonely landscape. 

Bend came around midnight once again (slightly before this time, actually), the final approach entailed dropping down out of the darkness towards the twinkle of incandescent civilization.  Quick work was made of some brief urban navigation taking us to the south and west of town and straight to the trailhead whereupon we made our home for the evening. Phil’s trail was the subject of interest for the morning, and the cloak of darkness obscured what would provide an even greater source of interest than one single-trail could hope to provide. 

0600hrs came quickly, with the air being shredded by the barking of a startled and somewhat antagonistic dog having discovered Michael sleeping on the ground between his truck and mine.  I struggled with the urge to rise, prepare food, and explore immediate surroundings.  I attempted to will the dog away, and to my horror, i heard more and more vehicles making their approach, yet more dogs, and then heard footfalls of runners.  Runners?  Do they KNOW what time it is?  I remembered our proximity to Bend and connected the dots: Runners are obsessive and the fanatics tend to run early. We were close to a super-fit community.  Things weren’t going to get better. 

Indeed they weren’t.  The parking lot population swelled to critical mass, and by 0700 or so, it was time to succumb to the urge to rise. Or maybe it was 0800?

We were up and burning daylight already.   A quick poke about revealed that we had not one trail to explore, but about 8, all departing from the epicenter where we found ourselves parked. No wonder the place was reaching fever-pitch at such an early hour. 

The network of trails we’d ‘discovered’, connected what was a veritable spiderweb of a playground, connected by well-marked and immaculately maintained, seemingly endless singletrack.  

It was time for Brian to do some work on one of his bikes in the parking-area while the group fed on their assorted breakfasts’ of choice, and prepared for exploration. 

What began innocently enough as a quick pedal out of the parking lot, turned into a bit of a full-scale pump/rhythm-track session.  Immediately out of the gate, we’d discovered what’s probably the best-maintained pump-park, dirt-jump area, and slopestyle/slalom park, perhaps anywhere.   Antics ensued, and for a while, the mission was scrapped for the sake of some play; burning off the pent-up energy from logging tedious miles behind wheels of our mechanical carriages. 

With a ride-guide spot looking inevitable, our need to survey more than just the ‘slope-park’ was a given.  Singletrack abounded, yet we remained somewhat fixated on the siren-song of the ridiculously well-maintained slope-park and pump/DJ sections so invitingly-close to the parking-area.   

Having forgot to fire up Strava (our ride-logging GPS-mapping app), some further research will be required to map out exactly what went down after our departure from the ‘slalom-park’.  What we DID find was out of this world.  Serpentine loamy slices of heaven, connected by sections of stimulating yet minimal climbing, idyllically-spaced trees split with the passage of human-powered breezes that carried us through the conifer-forest, twisting and turning our way to bliss as we linked trails together in a way i’ve not been afforded opportunity to enjoy the like of elsewhere, perhaps ever. 

Comically, we’d not even scratched the surface of what was on-offer in the area. A revisit was immediately suggested for the return route to include a hit on the Mackenzie River Trail and perhaps another that was mentioned by some trail-runners we’d encountered on the trail).  

Sad to see vehicle roof-tops in the distance through the trees as we cranked between the last quarter-mile of perfectly-radius’d turns, we knew we’d return to explore more in the area within the next week.  Hi-5’s were given back in the parking lot, and stoke ran high as we realized we’d encountered yet another amazing destination along our route. 

Packed and ready to roll, we pulled out of Bend to address our last concerning chunk of mileage we needed to put behind us to see us into Port Angeles for the weekend.   Directing our attention to the North, we saw our entourage head across yet another Indian Reservation, across the foot Mt Hood shrouded in dense cloud, then down the other side towards PDX and back into non-rainy climes. We gathered for a re-fueling before addressing the tangle of Portland, where we also arrived at the conclusion that in order to properly celebrate our official arrival to the PNW, we needed to celebrate properly with the ingestion of some fish.  

We pushed thru PDX and across the border where the search off i-5 was intensified.  iPhones were out, and passengers in Michael’s vehicle were combing the internet for a suitable first-stop for local fish-sampling.  Just when desperation was setting in and i almost cracked into what surely would’ve been the Big100 bar to send me over the edge, we pulled off the hwy and through Ridgefield, where #Pacific Northwest Best Fish Company greeted us with open arms.  

THE B E S T.   SOOoooooOoO welcome!  Fish was embraced… we dined spectacularly outdoors upon the finest halibut, calamari steaks and whatever else we could source from the award-winning menu, taking in the cool moist Washington air, and reveling in the trillion shades of green that greeted our eyes everywhere we looked across the countryside.  We took in the essence of what was presented: fish, lush greenery, coastal-aire, and a serenity brought about by knowing that we were rapidly approaching our destination for the weekend.  

A scant few-remaining hours of car-time would see the crew arriving in Port Angeles and me in Seattle for meetings; going our separate ways for 24hours, but re-uniting after my quick run into the more-formal commercial/business-world. 

A weekend filled with race-reportage, more photo and video updates, blogging and tweeting and nights dining and sleeping under the stars with dear friends lays ahead. 

Perhaps we can include you on our journey?  More to follow in the coming days!

-AW

Elko Nevada… Stop 2. Mountain Flyer Content Trip- April 2012

This next segment was set up to be a ‘gimme’ and would be a bit of a stretch.  We’d departed Vernal Utah late due to a wiper-motor issue with Michael’s truck, and decided somehow that it was worth it to make the sprint across Utah and deep into Nevada to try to rid ourselves of one of the peskier-sections of tarmac that obstructed us from our crossover into the loamy-goodness of the Pacific NorthWest singletrack that awaited.  

The kindly Dodge folks installed the wiper-motor but were inexplicably lacking a plug/harness that was required to run power to the motor, yet they kindly made arrangements for us to retrieve said-part from another dealer in SLC (hidden in a garbage bag in the bushes for us, in front of the service dept of a dealership in Salt Lake). We departed Vernal and made the leap across the Wasatch on a gorgeous sun-drenched-afternoon/evening, steaming thru Heber City and Park City just as temps were cooling off and shadows were cast-long from behind the majestic snow-capped peaks and flung across the verdant green valleys below. Spring has indeed sprung.   We’d started to encounter a hint of traffic as we closed the gap on SLC, and tacked into the neighborhood of the dealership right around dinner-time with some daylight to spare. 

A thought towards my friends Stephan and Philip Drake from #DPS Skis had me firing off a text to Stephan; knowing he was back from AK, as it’d been several months since last we saw one another. A returned-text and and a quick exchange about some ethnic-food (aways either Thai or Indian) had us heading north towards town for a meet-up to savor some of the finer Thai food offerings in SLC, as well as an inaugural sipping of a Thai Iced Tea (my first). It was great to reconnect with Stephan and to hear about their dismal (but fun) last round in AK, as well as to see Philip, whom i haven’t seen in ages. 

We said our goodbyes as the sun chased the horizon and left us to the inky darkness of the desert, scattered with twinkling stars, and began our chore of making-work of the remainder of Utah and targeted the Nevada border. We drove in radio-silence to Wendover where a gas-stop and a quick group-meeting at midnight-ish determined that we’d push on to Elko where Brian had sourced a camping spot at the base of a ride he’d busied himself with investigating as he perched upon the navigators-seat in the tow-rig.  I steeled myself with gas-station coffee, a water-reload of the bottles and a commitment to sleep better than i had the previous night; having parked us far too close to 191 and all its noise.

We soldiered-on.  I cranked up the tunes and rolled-down the windows intermittently to keep my nerves on the boil and to stave-off the weariness that encroached. 

We rolled into Elko around 0200 or so, and promptly rallied up a dirt road into the middle of nowhere for several miles, ultimately headed up to SnowBowl Ski area (a lone double-chair graced the vast expanse of treeless grass-laden peaks).  The base area was devoid of any modern-structure, and was served by a single lift circa 1950 or so. Additional features dotting the parking-lot-scale consisted of a prefab-structure or two, and several other odds and ends, not particular to the location or necessarily any function that was readily discernable to us.   

No matter… we were there to shred, no?  We camped out in the parking-lot and upon awaking promptly set about surveying our surroundings in the morning. A few rideable-features were viewable from the base-area, with the most obvious being a large’ish teeter-totter and a drop that were easily seen from the parking area.  We set-about breakfast preparations and then packed-up camp, assembled photo gear in backpacks, and made our way up the closest road to the north of the area, proceeding to self-serve-indulge in some gravity craftsmanship, photo gear at the ready… 

The area is incredibly well-suited for some isolated self-serve gravity indulgence, with easy road-access and an intriguing network of scorching singletrack that spiderwebs in all directions from the central parking area.  Moderate to steep doubletrack uphills are comprised of service roads linking climbs to various descents criss-crossing the area. Descents range from standard alpine-style singletrack to bermed-out and moderately built-up free-ride’y terrain littered with the occasional huck/drop and/or flowy section. 

 A morning’s worth of hiking, riding, scouting and lighting revealed a gem in the Ruby Mountains of Nevada worthy of a visit should you be happening through the area. Combined with a few other hits in the vicinity, a loop could be constructed linking the trails in Winnemucca, Vernal and a few other choice areas to craft an ideal uncrowded riding-loop of epic-singletrack linked by dirt roads, iconic western-states scenery and burritos.  

What could be better?  Wait, don’t ask… we’re going to answer that for you… 

Next stop: Bend Oregon!  Stay tuned…

#MountainFlyerMagazine 23 April 2012 Update 1

Whew… finally on the road as of later in the day yesterday, after the Buell-rig needed some careful trailer-sorting/loading, and then a departure around 1800hrs from Carbondale. The first leg of the trip took us due west on i-70 to Rifle where we promptly decided we’d had our fill of Interstate and headed north on 13 to catch 64 to rte40 through Dinosaur to Vernal… our final destination for the evening. We’d read and heard about some epic riding (all singletrack, all the time) in Vernal, and decided that this was the ideal spot for our first documented stop, and subsequent documentation for our first ride-guide segment of our trip for #MountainFlyerMagazine. 

After a ridiculously scenic drive up through a desolate-stretch of large-ranch country  along the White River in Northern Colorado to reach the border, we’d decided that we weren’t in the mood for a ton of exploration for a super-ideal campsite, so we headed through Vernal straight to McCoy Flats Rd where a multitude of singletrack loops abound, and promptly pulled straight into a place we decided would suffice for the night… too close to 191 as it turned out… and delivering me about 3hrs of sleep, partitioned by passes of trucks engine-braking as they headed down the hill out of Vernal. As it turned-out, lack of sleep would be forgiven by some of the most epic and deserted singletrack probably anywhere. 

We awoke, fired up a speedy-breakfast, and headed down the road to a pavilion on McCoy Flats Road, where trails branch out like a spiderweb of heaven on both sides of the road. We opted to sample the goods starting on the East side of the road beginning with Cookies>Jackalope>Serpendipity>Jackalope and then ended up back at the parking area.  

At the end of the ride, we ran into Troy who owns #AltitudeCycle in Vernal, and who introduced himself as the guy who’s built the majority of the trails in the area.  We got some local-beta concerning the riding on the other side of the road (we didn’t ride the other side, but hope-to on our return-leg of our trip), and were advised to NOT miss the riding on the West-side. 

Dining-wise, we explored the finest messican Vernal had to offer within shotgun’s-blast-distance from the Dodge dealership, as Michael’s truck has a wiper-motor in need of replacement… so we ambled down a block to Taco el Gordo on the North side of the street and gorged ourselves on burritos, tacos and popsicles.  A quick tour through the Dinosaur museum just across the street, and then a walk back up to the dealership now has us sitting on plush RED naugahyde couches at the dealership, patiently awaiting wiper-motor replacement, to see us on our way down the road.  Destination this evening: Winnemucca NV, where we’ll resume blog-fest and photo-fest April 2012.  

Desert Production for ARB 2012

So, after several months of planning and coordination, we finally had another opportunity to get into a production-scenario for ARB usa. Moab and Fruita were the locations of choice with some very specific sub-locations and a shot-list built around ad-needs for the company. 

We also had an interest in shooting things with a mind towards building a piggyback-friendly environment for other companies to be added to the equation as we moved around. Shooting more PhotoJournalistic-style instead of the usual commercial-style (lack of budget and subsequent lack of staff forced this decision) we were able to move a bit faster from location to location, and got into a few more interesting places after the 3 ‘official’ days of production had run their course.  

In the spirit of ‘over-delivering’, an additional week+ was tacked onto the back of the trip for some further exploration and shooting some more personal-work since we were already in an amazing location, as well as some more complimentary content for ARB that will be made available as stock, should they have an interest. 

Many thanks to Lisa from ARB for believing in our production capabilities and for the trust in WilzFoto, as well as another opportunity to create some new content for ARB’s use in North America!

Looking forward to more opportunities down the line with you guys!

-AW