In the past few years there’s been a meteoric rise in the popularity of unpaved road riding — a.k.a. “gravel grinding”. In just five years we’ve gone from exploring “Bullshit” roads, to capturing the State of Oregon’s attention, to the rise and fall of the Oregon Outback.
The current state of this adventurous style of riding is the proliferation of groups that organize themselves online via social media and plan unsanctioned, unsupported rides on logging and forest roads in and around the Portland region.
One of the largest and most well-known of those groups is Our Mother the Mountain, and this weekend will be something of a coming-out party for all if its fans. Known simply as OMTM, the group is “led” by people whose knowledge of excellent backroad routes is as deep as their passion for riding them. These are the folks who inspired me to discover the dark side of Larch Mountain and the “hell of the North Plains.”
This weekend, Portland-based HiFi Wheels will team up with OMTM, Royale Brewing, and emerging apparel brand Biciclista for Show & Tell, a full weekend of riding and connecting with other unpaved enthusiasts.
There’s a bike show and two days of riding planned. Here’s how it’ll go:
On Saturday, riders will meet at 8:30 am at Chapman School in northwest. They’ll head north on a relaxed ride via one of two routes (18 or 26 miles) through Forest Park and north Portland that will end at Royale Brewing (two blocks east of Farragut Park). After the ride, riders’ bikes will be displayed, show-style, inside the brewery. With food and drinks flowing, the idea is to spur conversations about different bike set-ups so people can share experiences and insights with each other. Should be some next-level conversations and merriment.
Then on Sunday it’s time for the Falls Creek Hinterland ride which will depart from Carson General Store (in Washington) at 9:00 am. OMTM has put together four different routes through the Gifford Pinchot National Forest — from a 40-mile “mini” to a 94-mile “epic” — so that riders can find an adventure that suits them.
If you’re gravel-curious or want to meet and learn from fellow fans of unpaved riding, this is an event you won’t want to miss. Check out HiFi’s website for all the info.
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