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Felix Burke Where the Trail Leads: Dust, burritos and rock climbing

From Smith Rock to Phil's trails, Bend delivers adventure

By Felix BurkeFelix Burke Where The Trail Leads

Located at the edge of the mountains and home to the last Blockbuster LLC store in the U.S., Bend, Ore. is the ideal place for big adventures and ancient history.

Felix Burke Where the Trail Leads

We set up at Tumalo state park and made friends with the neighbours right away. We are the only ones staying in a tent at this time of year and people seem to think we have a lot to talk about.

Felix Burke Where the Trail Leads

With our camp set up, it was time to explore the place we had heard so much about. Phil’s trail network is the main riding area in Bend and you could feel the community vibe as you rolled into the parking lot. Trucks, vans and the classic Subaru that mountain families always own were surrounded by riders of all looks and styles. People were either prepping for their ride or talking about how great it was. It is a special feeling to be surrounded by a community of people who are passionate about the same things.

The trail network extends far toward Mt-Bachelor, offering a lot of different possibilities. We decided to make the Upper and Lower ‘’Whoops’’ trail the focus of our ride and linked up some different options on the way there. The ‘’Whoops’’ trail is a fast and flowy trail that gives you just enough speed to clear all the jumps without pedaling and hit all the corners without braking. We were hooting and hollering the whole way down!

Felix Burke Where the Trail Leads

After a long day on the trails, the cruise down the final road to the car is pretty close to bliss. Memories of a great ride are fresh on your mind and the pedaling is done. You can sit on your bike, let the inertia of the wheels give you wings and watch the world fly by.

Back in the parking lot, we had a quick snack at the car. Mountain biking lets you quickly join in to these different communities of rider that, although unique in each place, are joined by a common passion from the ride. I’ve made some of my closest friends through riding, and it’s always great to meet new riders. The locals directed us to a Mexican place where big burritos brought us back to life.

The world of adventure sport is vast, from biking to surfing to skiing to climbing, there is a lot of inspiration to be taken from a variety of disciplines and athletes. Riding my bike has always been something extra special, but I have been attracted to this world of exploration and human achievement since the beginning. That is part of the reason why I was so excited to check out Smith Rocks state park just outside of Bend, an area known throughout the climbing world for its difficult sport climbing routes.

I am not very good at climbing, but after looking up at all the routes I could not help but try out a few boulders and had a ton of fun. We stayed out until dark exploring the cliffs of the park, hiking out by the light of our headlamps. I slept well that night, dreaming of all the adventures to be had.

Felix Burke Where the Trail Leads

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., Chapter 4: Dust and Burritos in Bend, Ore., Chapter 5: Bucketlist rides in Downieville, Cali, and Chapter 6: Wrong turns in San Francisco.