When it comes to Mountain Bike Oregon (MBO), that three-day extravaganza every July and August in Oakridge, you can’t lose. Understandably, you might not have the time or money to attend, but if you can swing it, I can’t recommend it enough because, seriously, MBO is the honeymoon of mountain biking events. Correction, honeymoon suite, complete with breathtaking views, a decadent menu of riding options, all-inclusive guide service, and small-town Oregon hospitality. As they say, you’ll fall in love [with riding] all over again.
Randy Dreiling is MBO’s maître d'. Along with Porter Child, he started the event in 2005 with 34 participants. (The joke is that there were more guides than riders that year). It got such good word of mouth, though, that next year’s MBO sold out with 300 riders from 20 different states. Given the overwhelming response, they added a 2nd weekend in 2007, but because they are committed to keeping the event small and personable as well as keeping the impact on the environment to a minimum, they always cap the number of participants per session.
In 2010 Randy became the sole owner of MBO. Not bad for a local boy. As both a small business owner, (he runs a mountain biking shuttle and guide service for the area called Oregon Adventures, and an Oakridge City Council member, Randy is a product of the rural culture and it shows. If you want to find him at MBO, look for a wiry guy with a scraggly goat-tee dressed in Carharts and a trucker’s cap, ridding not a mountain bike around camp but a BMX bike. Not what I expected either, but it’s all part of MBO’s charm. It’s a local, community-based function. If you look around camp some more, you will start to notice there are quite a few other folks who are also seemingly out-of-place. The thing is, these are the people who make MBO happen. Paula, Randy’s wife, works the sign-in table and coordinates the general volunteers. The shuttle drivers are the town’s certified school bus drivers. GOATS members, (the Greater Oakridge Area Trail Stewards,
This warm and welcoming community is just one part of the MBO package, though. Below is a summary of its many other amenities.
Trails and Shuttles
MBO gives you access to some of the sweetest, sexiest, single tracks in the state. Oakridge is designated as a Silver Level Ride Center by IMBA, the International Mountain Biking Association. This means these trials are the perfect birthday or anniversary gift for your girlfriend. So sleek and shiny, she’ll cherish them always (I am using the letter “s,” by the way, as much as possible, because these trails are that curvy). The hitch, though, is that they are not all readable accessible, at least not for the average fitness rider. Because the town is situated in a valley, to access the majority of trails you need to climb, usually gravel roads, for several miles. For example, Tire Mountain Trail is one of the best descents in the state but it is also one its best kept secrets because to get there, you must climb 8-miles of gravel road, but more daunting, to get back you must climb 17 miles of gravel road. Granted, that puts you at the top of Alpine’s Jedi section, another sterling descent, but it’s not worth it for most of us. MBO sidesteps these problems by offering shuttles to as well as from trails.
The shuttling service also makes it easy to ride several trails in a day and session trails like Larrison Rock, a 3.2-mile gravity ride, which would be a 6-mile climb, except that MBO offers continuous afternoon service to the trail head via Cog Wild Tours based in Bend and Epic MTB Tours based in Hood River.
For all its awesomeness, one thing MBO does not accommodate is beginner riders, simply because the trails in Oakridge currently don’t accommodate beginner riders. There is, however, something for all other levels as long as you keep in mind, in Randy’s own words, “It is a FUN, non-competitive event… If your goal is to be the coolest, fastest dude down the trail, MBO is not for you. There is no attitude at MBO. It is about riding great trails and having fun.”
The Eugene-based mountain biking club DOD, or Disciples of Dirt, have been in charge of guide services at MBO since its inception. Started in 1987 by several members including DOD’s current chair, Dave Hallock, the group is a pillar of the Oregon biking community both for being a dedicated steward of the trails and for being a promoter of the sport.
Davey, (aka Davey Sprocket, King of the Wild Front Wheel), is the kind of guy who, I swear, looks younger every time I see him. If ever there was a poster boy for the positive effects of mountain biking on your health and your attitude, it’s Dave Hallock. His energy and enthusiasm are that infectious. He’s the guide volunteer coordinator for MBO along with Kraig Brockelman, DOD vice chair and guy I’d most like to have around if I am ever magically transported to the Middle Ages, because he’s got a chivalrous kind of quality about him, and Roland Vilett, DOD treasurer, America’s sweetheart and Dave’s housemate (I told you this was a community affair). These guys recruit all the guides (about 120 total between both events), train them on the trails, and organize their ride schedules at MBO all the while serving as guides themselves. Not surprisingly, they take a lot of pride in the service they provide, which is to make sure you don’t get lost, to give you a heads up about trail conditions ahead, to help fix your bike if it breaks, to help fix you if you break, and to keep good company. In short, MBO guides ensure your ride is both fun and safe and most excel at their job.
For all you lady riders out there, MBO offers women-only rides and skill clinics. Gracie’s Wrench, Tori Bortman’s bike education company based in Portland, offers a basic maintenance clinic in the evenings. In the mornings are cyclist-specific yoga sessions. In the afternoons, you can get a massage, although, you will have to pay for it (massages are the one thing mentioned in this article that are not included in the registration fee).
A slew of venders will be also be at MBO including Bike Gallery, which provides free bike maintenance (although it’s nice to tip the mechanics), as well as bike companies like Ibis, Trek, and Rocky Mountain, all of whom have demo bikes for you to try on the trails. Careful though, once you ride, say an Ibis full-carbon, full-suspension, super-light Mojo, it can be hard to go back to a more modest bike.
Camping, Food and Booze
Some folks choose to rent rooms in towns, but free camping is available at Greenwaters Park, situated on the east side of town next to the Middle Fork Willamette, a river great for swimming and relaxing. Showers are available at the high school with shuttle service to and from Greenwaters Park.
All the meals through Sunday lunch are provided as is beer and wine Friday and Saturday evenings. Good beer too. Nikiski brewing has been a sponsor for years as has the Oakridge Brewers Union 180 brewery and pub.
Dates and Pricing:
For 2012 there are still spots left for July’s MBO, (20th - 22nd), but August is sold out with a long waiting list.
Since it is after December 1st, the price of registration is $399.
All this information as well as the daily schedule of events (rides, meals, yoga sessions, etc) and vender list is available at the MBO website. This is also where you can register.
I have two corrections to make to last week’s Alpine article. First to get to the trail from Eugene you take Highway 58 not 55. Second, the Alpine entrance from FS road 1912 is called Kate’s Cut-in not Cutoff, and there is now a sign posted so you don’t miss it.