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First-ever Oregon Bicycle Adventure Summit set for January 21st

Posted by on January 7th, 2014 at 11:02 am

Oregon has a lot of backroads and more and
more people are setting out on bikes to discover them.
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)

In the latest sign of surging interest in endurance, gravel, and adventure riding, a new event dubbed the Oregon Bicycle Adventure Summit will take place in Eugene later this month.

The event is the brainchild of Eugene resident and co-owner of Co-Motion Cycles Dwan Shepard. Shepard, a veteran of Oregon’s bike industry who has been active as a sponsor and participant in rides and races throughout the state for many years, felt it was time to organize the enthusiasm for “gravel grinders“, gran fondos, and rides like the Oregon Outback.

Adventure-minded bike riders are increasingly looking beyond the standard fare to find new challenges and discover new places. This summit is more evidence that event promoters, the bike industry, and other organizations are beginning to cater to this exciting new market. As we shared back in November, even Oregon’s statewide tourism development agency, Travel Oregon, is devoting resources to collect, map, and promote Oregon’s best undiscovered logging and gravel road routes.

Event organizer Dwan Shepard at the
Tour of Aufderheide in Oakridge.

At the Bicycle Adventure Summit later this month, Shepard says he’s lined up a series of presenters and will have an expo area where attendees can learn about how to prepare for the upcoming season of rides. “It will be a special event that gets people excited about the year ahead,” wrote Shepard in an email to supporters and volunteers, “We’d like people to find out what kinds of adventure they can get involved in, how to prepare and train for the events, what to expect, and so on.”

Among the presenters will be promoter Donnie Kolb of VeloDirt. Kolb has been promoting unsanctioned and unsupported adventure rides in Oregon for several years. What started as a simple website to catalog new gravel road routes in eastern Oregon has blossomed into a popular brand with hundreds of eager followers. The Oregon Outback event — a 360-mile mostly off-road ride through central Oregon coming in May attracted hundreds of would-be participants is his most ambitious undertaking yet. Another presenter will be Steve Cash of Dark30 Sports, the promoter that put on the first annual Tour of Aufderheide back in August.

Other presenters include

The event is free to attend and organizers will accept voluntary donations of canned food for Food for Lane County.

Here are the details:

    Oregon Bicycle Adventure Summit
    January 21st from 5:00 – 9:00 pm
    Cozmic Pizza (199 SW 8th Ave, Eugene)
    Facebook event page

See you there!

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  • GlowBoy January 7, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    This is great to hear. I’ve had a ton of fun riding and touring on unpaved roads over the years, and I’m glad to know it’s finally catching on.

    I can contribute some fantastic routes from the real Oregon Outback (which lies mostly east of the somewhat misnamed but still awesome “Oregon Outback” VeloDirt route). Oregon’s Great Basin and Owyhee regions — little visited, aside from Steens Mountain and a few other spots — hold thousands of miles of quiet dirt roads offering fantastic scenery, wildlife and solitude, overwhelmingly on vast tracts of wide-open public BLM land. Basically like Nevada without all the mining scars.

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  • Nick January 7, 2014 at 12:24 pm

    For those of you interested in adventure touring, 21st Avenue Bicycles and VeloDirt are planning a BikePacking seminar / show and tell session here in Portland in late February. More information to come when we firm up our location.

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  • TVCB January 7, 2014 at 8:28 pm

    For those still interested in the “Orgeon Outback”, it is not sold out, nor was it ever available for sale. What is being organized is a route and time suggestion, it is unsanctioned and unsupported.
    Everyone is encouraged to ride whenever they feel the discretion to do so.
    For more details you can visit http://velodirt.com/a-healthy-rant/

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  • GlowBoy January 7, 2014 at 10:16 pm

    I would also like to add my Big Idea suggestion: a mixed gravel/pavement touring route the length of the Cascade Mountains in Oregon and Washington. Not unlike the Great Divide Route along the Rockies. Like the GDR, this route would cross over the crest a number of times but mostly not be on the actual crest. It would spend a lot of time in beautiful areas of the actual mountains, and some time in the less-spectacular but still pleasant foothills. Also as with the GDR, there would still be significant pavement stretches, unavoidable due to Wilderness Areas, Indian Reservations and other off-limits areas, but it should still be a lot more dirt than pavement.

    Given those parameters I think it’s doable, and probably 1100-1200 miles in total from the California border to the Canadian border. A route starting from somewhere near Ashland could pass by Lake of the Woods, skirt the foothills on West Side road and enter Crater Lake NP through the “secret” “mountain bike” entrance, work its way up towards the Cascade Lakes area, continuing up Road 370 and then Santiam Wagon Road to the upper MRT trailhead, continue up to Detroit, then up paved Breitenbush Road to Olallie Lake, along Skyline, Old Barlow and Gunsight Ridge areas down to the Dalles, crossing into Washington on the Dalles Bridge.

    In WA, you’d go up the Klickitat Trail, over the Conboy Refuge towards Trout Lake and Mount Adams/Goat Rocks country, back down into Packwood, then do the worst pavement stretch on US 12 to White Pass and around back of the lake, then over Bethel and Manastash Ridges down into Cle Elum, Thorp or Ellensburg, back over Taneum and Mission Ridges to Leavenworth, over more ridges to Chelan, up into a lot of Chelan Mountains high country on the way to Winthrop, and more Pasayten-ish high country on the way up towards the Canadian Border north of Loomis.

    This is just a rough sketch. Realization of this dream would require a lot more research and wheels on the ground, but I think it can be done. For the most part you’d have ample campgrounds along the route, a few larger and mostly nice towns (Ashland, Sisters, The Dalles, Packwood, Cle Elum or Ellensburg, Leavenworth (public pool!!), Chelan, Winthrop) along the way to provide periodic breaks from the trail, and enough additional general stores near the route to allow for resupply without having to carry numerous days’ food with you.

    Backpackers have the PCT (and I admit to being inspired to do more backpacking AND bikepacking after recently reading Wild – twice), and I think we cyclists could also have a Cascades touring route, rivaling the Great Divide in quality, if there’s enough interest.

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    • Amanda Lipsey January 8, 2014 at 9:23 am

      Glowboy, you should check out Adventure Cycling’s Sierra Cascades Route. I’m not sure it’s exactly what you’re looking for, but it might fit the bill. http://www.adventurecycling.org/routes-and-maps/adventure-cycling-route-network/sierra-cascades/.

      On another note, totally stoked to see Dwan leading this effort in Portland and all the Oregon agencies getting together to promote bicycle adventures. Right on!

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      • GlowBoy January 8, 2014 at 4:07 pm

        Thanks, but the Sierra Cascades Route sounds like road touring to me. This whole dirt-adventure-riding/touring thing is an alternative to that.

        My dream is of a Cascades-parallel route that, like the GDR, is focused on dirt and gravel riding, using busy paved roads only where no reasonable unpaved alternative exists (White Pass being an example). This is in stark contrast to most ACA routes, including the above SCR, which all too often follow busy highways for long distances, sometimes with narrow shoulders, where I and many others don’t particularly enjoy riding.

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  • Dwan Shepard January 9, 2014 at 3:46 pm

    Thanks for the write-up, Jonathan, it will be an honor to have you here for the event! As word catches on, this thing is taking on a life of its own. We have more presentations coming, including the folks who bring you the Oregon Bicycle Ride, (OBR) who are also planning a 3-day gravel ride this year.
    I think this is going to be a fun thing to come and participate in, whether you’re presenting of just checking out what’s happening. My main goal is to get people thinking about what they’re going to do on their bikes this year, and get them psyched up EARLY in the year, so they have time to train, get their gear ready and get their spots reserved for the events that they want to do with their friends.

    Dwan Shepard
    Co-Motion Cycles

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