Last year I incorporated into my bucket list at least doing one mountain biking or adventure trip on a yearly basis. The year was coming up to an end when while going through http://www.theclymb.com adventures I spotted the hut to hut Mt. Hood bikepacking trip. I immediately reached out to my riding buddies and all of them backed down expect for Alex. He had just started cycling 4 months ago, so I had my doubts regarding him being able to complete the trip, but since he had played competitive soccer during his college life, I figured that if he took the sport seriously for the upcoming three months he would be in good shape to complete the trip without slowing me down.
Neither of us had bikepacked before, so it was an unknown territory for us… Here is a list of our bike set up and what we think are essentials when bike packing.
Bike Set Up:
- Two (2) frame Bags. Amazing Japanese quality… Although they are a little bit more expensive than other brands and that it took longer than usual mail to ship because it was sent from Japan, the quality and space inside of them are just amazing. (http://fairweather.cc)
- Dakine Nomad 18L Backpack. Plenty of space for all my ridings tools and apparel
- Roockshox Sidi 100mm.
- 1×11 (10-42)
- XR1 Team Issue Bontrager
NOTE: we opted to sacrifice weight in our back instead of having a handle bar bag and a seat post bag because most of trip was riding single trails, so we thought that by adding weight to the handle bar and seat post our riding skills would be compromised
- Garmin Etrex 20 (GPS)
- Two spair Tubes + Repair tube kit
- Multi Tool (with chain breaker)
- Pocket pump
- Solar Charger
- Travel Diary
- Oakley Glasses and gloves
- Three Jerseys, two shorts, 3 pairs of socks
- Quicksilver carry on Jacket
- As many energy snacks as you can possible carry
NOTE: Camping tents, sleeping bags and cooking utensils were not included in the list because or trip was not meant to be self sustained. If this was the case we would recommend having the handle bar bags and seat post bags so you can share the weight with you riding partners.
Day #1: We woke up around 7:00am so we could start riding at 9:00am. Alex’s friend gave us a ride to Hood River in his stepfathers 250 Dodge ram, where we carefully threw our precious bikes in. From this moment on I knew the adventure was on. Just driving around Mt. Hood, seeing all this green mountains everywhere around us, was a dream come true. Since I started mountain biking, riding in Oregon has been in my bucket list.
We had one of the best shakes I’ve ever had at “Ground Coffee Shop” before starting pedaling. 28 miles was the initial distance we needed to cover for this day, but due to getting lost for around 2 hours we believe we ended up riding somewhere in between 30-32miles. Brutal climbs on day one let me tell you, and we manage to conquer them at a pretty decent pace. Beautiful sceneries since mile 1, riding the first couple miles aside the gorge/Columbia river was an amazing experience. Then one thing, which really called my attention, was the amount of deforestation in the route of day 1. At one point at the right side of the dirt road you could see all beautiful pine trees and green vegetation, and then on the left hand you had thousands of yards covered with deforestation, which in my eyes was very disappointing. I came up with this crazy analogy that the right green side was associated with Disney movies while the left deforested side was associated with some evil force of humans.
Also we brainstormed a business idea, which will hopefully become more than an idea to save trees, which was to create some kind of powerful tipex for entire sheet of papers so you could actually recycle them, and use them immediately instead of throwing them away and having somebody else recycle it for you. After riding about a little bit more than half way through the day route we pass by under some power lines which made of GPS stop working effectively. We got lost for two hours, ended up getting at our Hut at around 5:00pm, to find a crib packed with snacks, food and drinks. Indescribable feeling when we got to see our hut after a nonstop 8 hours of riding. We ended up cooking some pasta w/quinoa and having tons of snacks. – Played a little of Scramble and had long conversations regarding social media, the “necessity” of social drinking and the meaning of talking your body to the limit.
Day 2: If day one was tough, I don’t know what to say about today… Scenery again was astonishing, we woke up at around 7:00am and went to a viewpoint of Mt. Hood just a couple hundred meters away from our hut, where we got some cool shots of the mountain and on our returned to the hut we encounter a group of deers who were in front of our hut. Once we left the hut, the first single tracks of the trip began, which was incredibly fast on a steep hill, which made it kind of scary but did not stop the fun. We stopped every now and then to take some pictures, and spent quite a bite of time in a spot where we found a small bridge over a creek where we thought we could actually nail some dope pictures. Lastly we started our last descent climb of the day when it suddenly started snowing on us! But again, climbing was brutal, I believe hills were in between 10-12% steep, going for as long as 10 miles.When we had two miles missing to get to the top was when it started snowing, and then when we starting descending something in my hub/body (didn’t know at the time which one was it) was wrong… I couldn’t pedal without the back derailleur bending forwards. We ended up cutting the chain of my bicycle at the middle of the day, so I had to ride the remaining 20 miles without a chain.
Luckily most of it was downhill and Alex tried to push me in the flat parts. Alex, in the other hand (who has only been riding around one year) fond out today what was it like to meditate in top of your bike from exhaustion. As a personal opinion, I believe that the people who get to meditate either running or biking are privilege, because only then is when you know you have taken your body to its limits. We ended up arriving at our hut at around 7pm completely exhausted, cooked the same as the day before, talked a little bit about the importance of music and the relevance moving from place to place at early ages have in your life
Day 3: As usual, we woke up at 7:00am cooked breakfast, wash the dishes, packed what we had unpacked the day before and try leave as clean as possible the hut for the next group coming. By then, I thought our trip was over, since that the nearest bike shop was around 20 miles from the hut, almost all of it was uphill and there were no main roads to hitchhike for a ride. I told Alex that we should move back the way we came from (since that there was a road around 6 miles away the opposite way we should move to continue our loop). Alex didn’t agree with me right away, we has kind of winning about moving backwards, but I knew there was no way we were going to make it without hitchhiking, and our best bet was to go move towards the nearest road. Out of nowhere a red 92’ Toyota pickup appeared, it was a Native American guy, like those from the Twilight movie looking… He asked where were we going, and we said Governments Camp. He said he wasn’t going there but he would take us close. We jumped in the bike of the truck with our bikes and the guy started driving. He kept driving like for 40 minutes without stopping, when se suddenly saw our GPS we notice we were about 5 miles away from governments camp. It was freezing being in the back of the truck, but well worth it since he drove us all the way to Government’s Camp where the nearest bike shop was. We tried offering 20$ as gas money, but he didn’t take them, so a selfie did the job to thank him. It wasn’t a big deal what was wrong with my bike, just needed the right tool to take out the cassette and fix the o-ring in the hub/body. We had a Bacon Cheese Burger with some local Pale Ale to continue our trip. We deserved it! Just a couple miles from Governments camp the most fun trail of the entire trip started. WoW! Just like in the MTB Pro rider videos.
It was incredible; no words can describe the adrenaline rush we felt while ripping those trails. We also stopped to take some pictures and take some footage of ourselves for about half an hour. The only two falls of the trip came in this trail, while we were ripping a fast and long single-track section of about 4 miles long, which was just a few meters away from the highway. Just imagine being in the middle of some of the most beautiful single tracks of the world just a couple hundreds meters away from a huge highway and civilization. Once we finished riding the #$%%^ out of that trail we continued in paved road for almost the entire day. Again beautiful scenery (you cant imagine how beautiful it was, words can not describe what we saw) but the climbing was not over… The toughest day for Alex without a doubt, to the point where we even had to exchange bikes for the end of the climb (I had a 29er, while he had a 27.5). Again alex found out what is to meditate and to take your body to the limit, but once we reach the top of the hill, he became KOM!!!! There is no better felling than the once you can achieve in top of your bike. Finally we arrived at our last hut at around 6:30pm, but we weren’t alone… we arrived to see an old pick up parked next to our hut, which was kind of weird since the windows were open and no one was inside of the car, nor near it. After around 30 minutes while we were already inside of our hut cooking we heard the pick up doors shut, we ran outside to see how was here in the middle of nowhere with us and we found a young American couple who actually looked Chinese, with red eyes (if you know what I mean). We said hi and ask them for the trip prize which they had and agreed to celebrate with us for a while. You cant imagine how good that pasta tasted, after all those miles ridden, all the circumstances such as snow, rain, broken bike, hitchhiking, crashes.. that celebration was priceless! OH! And I forgot to mention that it was the closest we ever got to Mt. Hood top. This night we barely talked about why weed wasn’t legal and its benefits before going cant stopping falling to bed due to the celebration effects.
Day 4: Last day of our adventure on two wheels… While yesterday was Alex’s worse day, today was the worse day for me… actually not the worse day per say, but the worse couple hours. We couldn’t take the fun long route because Alex’s bicycle woke up with a flat tire, and it took us forever to fix it. Not because we didn’t know how too, but because Alex’s rim was bent and it kept on damaging every extra tube we changed. We ended fixing the initial flat tube the old school way with the patch and some cardboard to avoid direct contact with the bended rim. We weren’t able to leave the hut until noon, so as said above we had to take the short route, which was basically downhill and flat. It was fun, don’t take me wrong, but about an hour into riding the rain started… It was just way to cold for me, this made the couple hours that rained a living hell and I honestly wanted to stop, but couldn’t quit the last day after all that had happened.
Once it stopped raining and we stopped swallowing 2lts per minute of rainwater we arrived at a 10-mile flat road, which would take us all the way to Hood River, were we started to finish our loop. I was desperate to get to a warm place and dry off, here I told Alex to draft behind me (I am a current IM 70.3 athlete, so this last flat part push was actually fun for me), and so I could push hard one last time before arriving at our destination. We ended up celebrating for a second time in the trip at an oasis for us called “Dirty Fingers”, a concept restaurant/bike shop where cyclists from all types gather together after riding to share and talk about their most recent rides, as well as for brag about their bikes (as every biker does).
Day 5: We had disarmed our bikes the night before so we could take full advantage of Labor Day Monday and do some tourism sightseeing. Another item on my bucket list was to visit Oneonta Gorge… which was the second thing I can now scratch of my bucket list (being the first, MTB riding in Oregon single track trails). We woke up at 8am and headed to the airport to rent a car and check in our bike bags, so we didn’t have to carry them throughout the day. Once we had picked up the car we then drive to sports authority to get one of those ugly water walking shoes and some clean dry clothes for the late flight we will both taking later on the day. We then headed to Oneonta Gorge, first making a pit stop at a McDonalds and getting to double quarter pounders gave us enough energy for another active day off the bikes. Once we parked in the old highway, in front of the Oneonta Gorge national park sign, the fall is just 15 minutes away walking through freezing waters. They go up to your waist/chest depending on how tall you are, but you will get wet for sure. The freezing cold water and walk are definitely worth going through to see the astonishing views the gorge has to offer. One week after that encounter, today I cant still get over that place. Since we had the GoPro camera, we had to dive in and take some more footage for the final edition video for the trip… It was FREZING! Don’t know if it was worth it, but we just had to do it. Right after we left Oneonta Gorge we made a quick stop at Multnomah Falls for a quick picture with the bridge and headed up to Portland to check out some cool concept bike stores. We ended up in one of the coolest bike shop concepts there is in the world (in my opinion) “Velo Cult” where we had a couple beers and even thought about getting a Bike tattoo to remember the trip after getting a little tipsy. Before we got here we visited “The Portland Bike Studio”, your average bike store with a practical coffee shop incorporated, bike apparel bike store “The Athletic” and ended up window shopping at some fancy/snobby bike shop just a couple blocks away which name I don’t remember.
We ended up finding what we were looking for… Finding a moment away from all the busy lifestyle stressful life we are all living in big cities (Miami). We got to spend and know a little bit better Mother Nature, as well for admiring it a bit more. We got to work our Asses off while at the same time having tons of fun in top of two wheels. But the best part of all is that we wrote another experience chapter in our book of life. We highly recommend this Mt. Hood Loop to anyone willing to get out of your comfort zone and have a different adventure vacations.