All packed! Hope I'm not missing anything! Heading out, should hit the road by noon.


Everything, condensed


OREGON OUTBACK 2015 - Preface


Back at it again with my next (r)adventure! While I've done a lot of crazy stuff on a bike, this next trip, the Oregon Outback, will most likely take the cake. It's a barely-organized, unsupported, grueling gravel tour through 360+ miles of Central Oregon high desert / nothingness, basically from the California border to the Washington border... and I could not be more excited! I committed to doing this ride instantly after last year's photos hit the 'net and it's been on my mind since. Stats in brief:
Start: Klamath Falls, OR. Fri, May 22.
End: Deshutes River State Recreation Area near The Dalles, OR
Distance: 364 mi
Elevation gain: 14376 ft
Surface: 75% gravel, 25% paved
Time: 4 days? 5?


From the "organizers" at Velodirt:
"We're biased but we think this is the best bikepacking route in Oregon. Starting in Klamath Falls near the California border, you get to traverse the entire length of the state on lightly traveled roads including a slice of the route’s namesake area – the Oregon Outback – a dusty, remote portion of the state populated primarily by coyotes and rattlesnakes. Expect desolation, extremely limited water and services, and some of the most beautiful riding anywhere."
I've spent the last two weeks gearing up and modifying a bike - or rather, frankensteining two of them together - that will be best suited for the ride. Since my beloved Independent Fabrication touring frame cracked and I haven't had a chance to get it repaired, I decked out my cyclocross bike in "gravel tour mode". Coincidentally, this is the ride that, along with the desire to give 'cross a shot, inspired me to build up a gravel grinder. I wavered on it but eventually figured I'd go with the steel touring frame for a comfier ride (until it broke). So I was back to the original plan, but its carbon fork and comparatively meek 33c knobby tires wouldn't be enough for The Outback. I took the steel fork from my busted IF frame for resilience and to run a new Tubus low-rider front rack (major upgrade), beefed up the tires to new 700x37c Continental Travel Contacts, and swapped over my comfy Selle Anatomica leather saddle and a few other components from the IF. I'll be packing relatively light, running 2 Axiom front panniers, a new Revelate Viscacha seat pack, and possibly an Axiom handlebar bag if I need the space (the easy access to stuff would certainly be nice). No rear rack for handling and weight purposes. I want to stay as light as possible for this one, but still be equipped to carry enough supplies since there's a whooooole lot of nothing out there (including a 65 mile stretch with no water), stay warm during nights camping when temperatures drop into the 30s, and, in general, be prepared for whatever the hell this trip throws my way.

"Crankenstein", unloaded but looking almost ready! Apologies for the non-drive-side photo.

I'm riding this one with my Bikery friend, Wes, as featured in the last post - our disastrous weekend trip on the Iron Horse Trail. We're set to rent a car in Seattle, drive down to Klamath Falls on Thursday (9 hours ish), dump the rental car, ride 6 miles from the airport to a motel, sleep hard, and ride out at 7AM on Friday with the rest of the crew. There's really no way of knowing how many people will be on the ride, but last year's inaugural run was around 130, I believe. We're hoping to finish in 4 or 5 days - short enough to warrant waking up early and pushing hard for around 80 rough miles a day, but long enough to enjoy the scenery, take photos, and keep from dying in the middle of nowhere.

Stay tuned! I'm not sure how frequent my updates will be for this one since I'll be conserving battery at all costs and cell phone service might be extremely sparse. Also, I've spent plenty of time staring at a screen lately anyway and feel I now deserve to do so as little as possible. Either way, I've got multiple cameras and am prepared to bombard the internet with footage and a respectable write-up upon my return.

Gear list to follow.

Wish me luck!