Before we jump off into another weekend of great riding, how about some inspiration from the last one?
Last weekend I had the great fortune to do the Oregon Coast Gravel Epic. This event was the kickoff of the Oregon Triple Crown, a series organized by Mudslinger Events (a family-run business with decades of experience) of three races/rides throughout our state that challenge riders who want fully-supported, challenging routes and aren’t afraid of bumpy, gravel-strewn backroads.
The Epic, along with its sibling events the Sasquatch Duro in Oakridge May 18th and the Oregon Gran Fondo in Cottage Grove June 1st, tap into the skyrocketing popularity of mass-start rides with big courses where at least some of the miles are on unpaved roads. In case of the Coast Epic and the Duro, half the miles are dirt. One of the things that drew me to this series were the locations themselves. I love an excuse to spend time in these classic, small Oregon adventure towns defined by their jaw-droppingly beautiful natural features.
At the convivial start in the parking lot of the Waldport Community Center, I got a chance to check out some of the bikes people chose for the day’s course: either 37 or 60 miles with ample amounts of climbing. As you can see below, there was a wide range of bikes and riders. That’s what I love about the gravel scene: It draws everything from serious roadies to Sunday ramblers.
I opted for the big “Abomination” route which ended up being about 56 miles with over 7,000 feet of elevation gain. What a route! Even though none of the roads were closed, I think I only saw 2-3 drivers all day. It felt like we had the entire Siuslaw National Forest to ourselves. I was happy to not have any distractions because the terrain was tough. Beyond what felt like climbs that never ended, there was a section of timber had been freshly harvested. It left behind soft dirt and fresh, sharp gravel. It was hard to stay upright.
What I’ll remember most were the descents and bucolic scenes riding along the Alsea River.
Unlike last year when I did this ride with my brother and took a more chill approach, this time around I wanted to see how fast I could go. I was on a brand new bike (more on that later), so I was still “moving in” so-to-speak and didn’t feel 100% right. I also had a tubeless tire blowout (total mystery why it happened, maybe too much air pressure?). Thankfully I had a spare tube and threw it in without much hassle. In the end, I did fine; but I know I could do much better. Can’t wait to try again next year!
One of the perks of doing Triple Crown events is they are shot by a top-notch photographer. Harry Apelbaum of Apelbaum Studios does excellent work. I’ve shared just a selection of his images from the Epic in this post. See them all here.
If you’re curious about my new bike, you’ll be hearing more about it in the weeks and months to come. It’s a special, Oregon Triple Crown edition Co-Motion Klatch. Made in Eugene and outfitted with Rolf Prima Hyalite wheels (also made in Eugene!), this bike was designed with gravel racing in mind. We tried to make it a perfect blend of efficiency on the road and durability/fun off-road. We’re still in the early stages of our courtship; but so far, I feel like the relationship has serious potential.
Stay tuned for more coverage of gravel riding in Oregon. And thanks to Co-Motion, Rolf Prima Wheels, and Ride With GPS for helping me get out there.
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