By Felix Burke
It’s 8 AM, the bikes are leaning on a nearby tree as oatmeal is being cooked and Trailforks is being examined. We are camping by Sandy River at the base of Mt. Hood in northern Oregon. The area is known to skiers and climbers for the mountain, but the trail network that weaves its way across the lower slopes is why we are here.
Our trip from Port Angeles took us down the Washington coast quickly. We had both spent some time in that area and were looking forward to exploring something new. Stopping only in LaPush and Cape Disappointment to check out the surf and shake out the legs, we made it to the Oregon border in no time.
We could not resist stopping in Portland to hunt for coffee shops by bike. We stayed to check out the Japanese Gardens and catch the NBA opener between the Portland Trailblazers and the Los Angeles Lakers. Trailblazers won.
Back at Sandy Ridge, our stomachs were full, sun was shining through the leaves and it was time to put wheels to dirt. The morning was spent exploring the Sandy Ridge trails where we rode “Hide and Seek’’ to “TNT,” a very flowy combination that finishes with some bigger jumps, putting a grin on your face and giving you the energy to keep going.
In the afternoon we rode Ski-Bowl, the local Mt. Hood bike-park. The lifts and a lot of the trails were closed for maintenance, but a conversation with the trail-builder gave us special access to one of the trails that was still clear.
To finish off the ride we took the Pioneer Bridle trail, a 12 km section of single-track that will take a rider back to the lower slopes of Mt. Hood. It was the perfect way to finish the ride. The sound of our freehubs was all that we could hear as we rolled back to camp, the sun setting on a great day of riding.
With many adventures waiting for us down the trail, it was time to move on. Next stop: Bend, Oregon.
Felix Burke is cross country racer from Mont-Tremblant, Que., training in Victoria, B.C. while studying at the University of Victoria. In 2018, Burke achieved his goal of winning the Canada Cup XCO series overall, racing for Rocky Mountain Bicycles. When returning to studies and training in September didn’t feel right, Burke decided to find answers on the trail. Where the Trail Leads is Burke’s story of the journey that follows. Chapter 1: New Season New Plan. Chapter 2: Planning. Chapter 3: Mt. Hood, Ore.