Sunday, September 30, 2007

Tire Mountain

My last ride in Oregon was up to Tire Mountain, sometimes referred to as Tired Mountain. To start I had the option of backtracking on the road or taking a singletrack shortcut. As is the tradition with shortcuts I think I would have been better off going the long way around. The trail started off going up, and continued going up for almost 2 kilometres. Then I hit an intersection, turned left and bombed back down for 2 kilometres to the road. The road followed the Willamette River for several kilometres before turning away and climbing up into the hills.

After few more kilometres on a logging road I reached the bottom of the Cloverpatch Trail. This was a pretty nice trail which climbed about 4 kilometres up to a ridge. It had several nice sharp switchbacks and was a bit loose in a few places, which lead to a bit of walking. At the top of the ridge the trail descended through an old clear cut, which wasn't so clear anymore. I got soaked from lots of wet leaves and cut-up by some nasty blackberry bushes. The trail eventually left the clear-cut and went back into the forest. From there it was a really nice descent to the junction with the Tire Mountain Trail.

The Tire Mountain Trial was beautiful. It is part of the Eugene to Crest Trail network. This is a system of trails which connect the town of Eugene with the Pacific Crest Trail. Unfortunately the trail led back up the ridge I had just descended. Just as the track finally gets back up near the ridge a short side-trail leads to the top of Tire Mountain. I left the bike and walked up the trail hoping to get some nice views,but that was not going to happen. There was a nice clear spot up at the top, but tress had grown up all around to block any views. I felt a little disappointed, but I was still pretty happy knowing that at least the rest of the ride should mostly down hill.

I got back down to the bike and took off again. The trail went up and over the top of the ridge and continued along the much drier, southern side. It is pretty amazing when the trail pops out of the trees into these clear areas with pretty funky rock formations.

After continuing along the ridge for another few kilometres I finally intersected the Alpine trail, which is best known for its inclusion in the Cascade Creampuff 100 mile race every year. From here I had about 10 kilometres of amazing singletrack ahead of me. Even better is the fact that there is almost 1000 metres of descent, as well. There is just something about flying down the side of ridge on a strip of dirt about 40-50 cm wide at speeds up to 40 kilometres per hour that just blows me away. It is such an incredible feeling.

I made safely back to the car in just under 4 hours after riding nearly 44 kilometres. The bike is now boxed and with UPS. I fly down to Phoenix on Monday, and will hopefully get the bike back on Wednesday.

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