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Travel Oregon adds gravel routes to bicycling portal website

Posted by on October 15th, 2014 at 11:23 am

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Now you have one less excuse to not explore Oregon’s excellent unpaved roads.

RideOregonRide.com, the awesome resource developed by Oregon’s tourism commission Travel Oregon, now includes a handful of the best gravel rides our state has to offer.

Treo Bike Ranch Day 4 - Hardman to Condon-8

(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

Nastassja Pace, a destination development specialist with Travel Oregon, shared the great news with us this morning. She explained that they’ve partnered with two locally-grown resources, OregonBikePacking.com and Ride With GPS, to vet the routes and display them on the site.

OregonBikePacking.com was founded by Donnie Kolb, the man who has stoked much of Oregon’s current fervor for unsanctioned, logging and gravel road riding (we profiled him back in July). Kolb worked with Travel Oregon to feature six of his favorite routes, all of which he has personally ridden, studied, and photographed.

The rides are:

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The routes vary in distance and toughness. The Old Dalles route — a 47-mile jaunt that begins in Hood River — is rated “moderate,” while the 241-mile Hart-Sheldon Hot Springs route is rated “extreme.” On the website, each route listing contains detailed information including: best times of years to ride it; recommended tire sizes; a detailed elevation chart; nearby lodging and services listings; a convenient link to GPS data via Ride With GPS, and more.

Travel Oregon launched RideOregonRide.com in 2009 in response to advocates’ requests to have an online tool to promote Oregon’s best road and mountain bike routes. The addition of gravel routes is a result of the agency’s new focus on this increasingly popular type of riding, which is a hybrid between mountain biking and traditional road biking on pavement. In November 2013, Travel Oregon convened a gravel road working group to create a database of the best routes and explore various policy and advocacy issues around them.

Check out the new gravel riding section at RideOregonRide and start planning your adventures!

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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Racer X
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Racer X

Great news! Though perhaps these routes should be signed at the start and on maps with a symbol similar as “black diamond” …a black wheel to classify the difficulty of the route.

[Though I wonder if this will induce bike traffic congestion at area waterholes/ coffee stops…and future radio reports of emergency helicopters having to rescue lost/ tired bike riders in these remoter areas, kinda like the all too frequent reports from Mt Hood of rescues for hikers/ climbers.]

Alex Reed
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Alex Reed

Yeah, adding some easier rides should be a priority. Great ones I know in NW oregon:
Leif Erikson
Close-in Wine Country near Newberg: Holly Hill Rd / Kings Grade Rd / Ribbon Ridge Rd/ Roads in the Dundee Hills
(Longer but at least flattish and not super remote): Rickreall Gravel Classic west of Salem

adventure!
Guest

Kings Grade? Well, much of it is an even grade of 4-8% grade (I’m guessing), except for that brutal last climb near the top. (Of course, if you’re going down, you need not worry! 😉

Alex Reed
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Alex Reed

Yeah, didn’t think about that part. Best ridden north to south. I’ve done a much-less-brutal but paved climb on the way back on Mountain Top

Charley
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Charley

There’s a whole network of low-auto-traffic, low-speed roads out there, and it turns out that these are some of the most scenic roads in the state! You just have to go with fatter tires and a patch kit. I’m glad that this is getting more and more press.

Dan
Guest
Dan

Would like to do some of the ones Jonathan has written about, but worried I would get lost in the woods, with such limited signage out there.

Sarah B
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Sarah B

This is wonderful news. I’ve been pushing the Sisters Trail Alliance to add routes around Sisters and Camp Sherman, as well as routes between Sisters and Bend. The gravel roads is this area are overlooked.

Jocey
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Jocey

Thanks and big props to Travel Oregon, Donnie Kolb, and Ride with GPS! I personally can’t wait to make it out to ride the Steens Mountain route!

KRhea
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KRhea

Very glad Travel OR is getting the word out about this type of riding, however, it seems a bit premature to list rides of this length and difficulty without thinking about the majority of riders who may want to dabble in riding gravel. The shortest route, 48miles, has over 6,000′ feet of climbing! The others are multi-day rides. How about a decent “overview” of what’s available to newbies as well as folks who don’t have time or the desire for “epic” multi-day journeys into the wilderness on their bikes. Why niche all already niche type of riding even more. Where’s the CZ Trail mentioned or mapped, Columbia Forest Rd, Pittsburgh Rd heck even Otto Miller is a good place try gravel and it’s just a few miles from Portland. The Klickatat Trail in Lyle, the roads around Mt Adams, great gravel/dirt roads out past Hagg Lake/Gaston and on and on. Jonathan has written about a few “mixed” surface rides as well which are doable by almost anyone and everyone up in Columbia county. It’s really cool and you get to use everyone’s fav word “epic” on the routes listed but what percentage of Oregon riders will ever try those routes…a very small percentage. How ’bout you come outta the gate with rides the majority of riders can try, get a feel for, enjoy, not worry about getting lost, having a mechanical in the middle of nowhere or having to kill themselves to finish. Pop some 28s on your road bike and give the CZ Trail a try, you’ll love it, small investment in both time, effort and equipment. There are tons of less “epic” gravel to ride in our area and throughout our state and my hope is the Travel OR gang brings gravel riding to a larger audience and not perpetuate the “myth” that every ride on gravel has to be “epic”. Riding gravel is just plain fun…even if it’s only for 15 or 20miles. FYI, I’m a gravel rider, have been since before it was “cool”. Lived in Boulder for awhile and you’re almost forced to ride dirt and gravel if you want to ride the good loops/routes. Also lived in western Michigan which is full of dirt and gravel roads. Curently I/we ride gravel once or twice a week for 2-4hrs, have a great time and can’t wait to get back out there when we’re done. We slow down, take in the sights, smell the air, laugh and it almost becomes like a bunch of adults “playing” instead of riding our bikes. We don’t have computers on the bikes and rarely a GPS. We’re not worried about power numbers or how fast we’re going, except for the downhills which we bomb like little kids screaming in delight as well as terror. It’s become our fav ride(s) of the week. Everyone should give it a try and not be intimidated by monster long rides with “Everest” type climbing figures and worries about getting lost and having a “Bear Grylls” experience by eating grubs to survive. Travel OR, think about the majority of riders in our state, not the minority and I think you’ll see a lot of folks “ridin’ the rocks” in the next few years.

Rob Chapman
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Rob Chapman

Donnie and the crew at Oregon Bike Packing do a fantastic job at describing their routes in detail. In fact I feel like they are rather conservative about cautioning people about route difficulty. At no time have I ever felt that they have put me in any sort of bind.

I literally rode the Outback off the couch and it’s one of the most wonderful things I have ever done on or off a bike and I can’t recommend it enough. You don’t need to be superhuman about it, just take your time. If I can do it, so can you. Make it a 6 day “staycation” and save a pile of that money you would have spent flying somewhere for a fancy vacation. You’ll see places/people in Oregon that will make you feel lucky to live here, I promise.

I’m glad to see these routes getting out to a wider audience without being watered down into the lowest common denominator like so many other things in our modern age. We could all use some backbone and self-sufficiency.

KRhea
Guest
KRhea

Rob Chapman
Donnie and the crew at Oregon Bike Packing do a fantastic job at describing their routes in detail. We could all use some backbone and self-sufficiency.
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I agree, Donnie and his crew are “THE” reason why this type of riding has taken off and trust me, I’m happy it has and Donnie does an amazing job of providing information, ride details etc. Really an incredible amount of work he puts in and it’s obvious it’s a labor of love and passion. However, like most things, the “glamour/notoriety/cool-factor” goes to the huge accomplishments when for some, dare I say most, the actual “fun” comes from the simplicity of trying something new and bit more challenging AND being able to find the info needed to accomplish that, ie info on less challenging gravel routes. While backbone and self-sufficiency are admirable qualities, most cyclists didn’t start off riding centuries just as most runners didn’t begin by running marathons. Most, not all, and obviously this statement doesn’t pertain you, who jumped off the couch and rode across the Oregon outback, kudos by the way, but most got their “feet wet” first and then advanced further into the sport or activity. I love the longer the rides/adventures as much as I enjoy actual backpacking adventures, however, I’d take my friends up to Mt Hood forest for a weekend overnight before I’d say hey, let’s go be 100% self-sufficient and grow you guys some backbones by backpacking 500miles of the PCT as our first trip!

Rob Chapman
Guest
Rob Chapman

I get what you are saying but Ride Oregon specifically states that they are showcasing some of the best gravel rides, not the easiest.

It isn’t very difficult to read between the lines on the featured routes and put together easy variations for beginners. For people that need more pampering there are plenty of supported ride options out there, I believe some of them advertise on this site (I wouldn’t turn down a Cycle Oregon trip).

As to your PCT comment, if years as an Airborne Infantryman hadn’t cured me of backpacking I’d say why not go for it? You only live once and you will never be prepared for everything. The reason things like gravel riding are so compelling is because the possibility of failure is always over your shoulder. Most adults never put their egos in danger and I find that incredibly sad.

VeloDirt
Guest

Thanks all for the kind words, it means a lot to hear them.

Travel Oregon and Ride With GPS did a great job showcasing some of the better gravel routes around the state – big kudos to them on this.

I fully acknowledge that these aren’t exactly beginner routes and that there is a dearth of high quality “easier” routes on the site. You can find some easier routes on the VeloDirt site, and I know a lot more that will eventually make their way onto the internet. It’s just a matter of finding the time to put them together – I work a full time(+) job and generally prioritize riding over website work. Once winter sets in, I promise we’ll showcase more of the “easier” routes for those who aren’t ready to ride the Outback off the couch. Thanks!

Donnie
velodirt.com
OregonBikepacking.com