Changing business in response to a changing climate

A group of backcountry nordic skiers traverse an open snow field in Oregon

As the season is winds down in the fall our clients inevitably ask, “What does Cog Wild do in the winter?” Increasingly the answer is winter recreation as we adjust our business model to account for climate change. While we have had to shut down in Oakridge for heavy rain we are most impacted by fire and smoke shut downs during the traditional summer mountain biking season when tourism used to peak.

Implications of climate change on mountain biking in Oregon:

We’ve noticed that once riders see a fire in the state, they stop coming. Understandably, no one wants to vacation near a wildfire. Folks stop coming to visit during the year when a fire is burning. Folks who are already here tend to want to change their plans on short notice when smoke rolls in.

We’re not alone in noticing a change in mountain biking due to climate change. Protect our Winters UK, recently published Downhill from Here, a report on climate change and cycling. They point out three areas where climate change is impacting cycling; results that we can corroborate locally.

#1 Threats to access due to increasingly intense and frequent extreme weather

Cog Wild has definitely seen threats to access due to increasingly intense and frequent extreme weather. Each year we have more and more days when we can’t ride due to “atmospheric rivers”, active wildfires and subsequent smoke. Who remembers when we had to shut down Oakridge shuttles for four weekends in a row in the spring of 2022 due to historic rainfall?

Wildfire and smoke shutdowns were not a big deal when we bought Cog Wild in 2006. In the first decade that we owned the business there were 7 days when the AQI was unhealthy for sensitive groups or unhealthy. From 2017 to 2023, there have been 58 total days when AQI was unhealthy for sensitive groups or worse, 30 of which were hazardous AQI. For the past 6 years we’ve seen an average of 10 bad air days in Bend annually. The Bend Bulletin recently interviewed Cog Wild about the affect of smoke on our business, check it out. Last year we had more total smoke days than in the prior 5 years, although fewer of them were “purple air”.

Since we began operating in Oakridge in 2016, there have been only 2 years (2016 and 2019) when we were not impacted by smoke. In 2022, due to the Cedar Creek Fire, there were 37 days when the AQI was unhealthy for sensitive groups or worse. We got lucky this year when wet storms over Labor Day Weekend extinguished the Bedrock fire and allowed us two months of glorious fall mountain biking to close out the season.

Image from Oregon Wildfire Smoke Trends Report

#2 Threats to riders’ health and safety:

So many of us manage our mental health with outside recreation and still need & want to get out regardless of weather. However, riding in wildfire smoke and extreme heat is dangerous and not recommended!

The State of Oregon recently published the Wildfire Smoke Trends Report. In addition to information about methodology and the impact of AQI on health, it shows the number of days when air was unsafe for sensitive groups or greater for many cities and small towns in Oregon.

#3 Threats to experience and events:

Climate change will continue to affect the mountain bike experience Cog Wild can provide. Heavy rain can supersaturate the trails in Oakridge making the riding more stressful and dangerous. When we ride on muddy trails we leave ruts and degrade the trail quality, which has an additional negative affect on the experience for future riders. Trudging through the soft trails and over downfall after a forest fire is harder and way less fun than flowing down well compacted trail.

Last month the New York Times, put out an article called “Unpredictability in the System’, and other Travel Lessons from the Summer of ‘23 that offers some insight into how travelers can better navigate the changes. The big standouts for us were the reminder to be flexible and the increase of travel to cooler regions or in our case an increase in visitors during the spring and fall when the weather may be wet but when fire is less likely to impact the experience.

The takeaway:

So, what does this mean for Cog Wild?

With predictably unpredictable fire and smoke shutdowns each summer, we’re looking at how to stay viable and keep getting folks outside. To do so, we’ve extended the operations calendar and have added activities to the shoulder and off seasons.

In 2021 we added Cascadia Junior Cycling, a race and recreation program for ages 5 to 18. Spring and fall after school programs extend our operations calendar into April and November, giving our staff two more months of work. Anticipating weather shutdowns, we build in a week at the end of spring, summer and fall sessions for potential make up days due to smoke, fire, heavy rain or unseasonable snow. Last spring, we started after school cycling programs a week late due to snow in mid April.

In Bend we are permitted to mountain bike anytime the conditions are good, which can be any month of the year. During the winter, when conditions are less likely to be favorable for mountain biking, we shift to fat bike tours and shuttle service for the Three Sisters Backcountry Nordic Traverse.

In Oakridge we’re permitted to run shuttles earlier in April and later in November when the rain is light. This winter we’re excited to launch winter operations: guided bike rides on the low elevation roads & trails near town during the high pressure systems and even more exciting, we’re going to provide daily guided backcountry nordic ski and snowshoe tours from mid December through mid March. Come play in the snow with us!

Mountain Bike Skills Instruction for All Ages

A of mountain bikers poses for a group picture with a the cloudy sky in the background.

Cog Wild is the place for skills instruction in central Oregon: our level 1 and level 2 PMBIA certified coaches in both Bend and Oakridge are geared up to help you achieve your mountain bike goals. This fall there are are number of opportunities to join group clinics or take a private lesson with our talented coaches.

Bend Skills

Progression Sessions:

Two levels of our popular Progression Sessions for Central Oregon locals are on the schedule this fall. Join a cohort of like minded folks for three, two hour “after work” sessions to work on fundamentals in the Level 1 session in September or tackle trail features like drops, jumps and fast corners with the Level 2 session in October. Coach Lev Stryker will lead both sessions, he’s a PMBIA level 2 coach and coach certifier, Cascadia Junior Cycling’s head enduro coach and the owner of Cog Wild.

Jumping for Oldies

The early September session of  Jumping for Oldies class sold out quickly so we added a second session for late September. Coach Erika Schmid will get you jumping for sure: she’s a PMBIA air instructor and travels the country as an advanced skills coach with Ladies Allride and has guided with Cog Wild since the early 2000s!

Cascadia Junior Cycling

There are skills rides for the kids too: Cascadia Junior Cycling’s fall programs start the week of September 11th; join us for after school race or recreation focused rides for ages 5 though 18.  

Oakridge Skills

We’re excited to have Coach Kenny Stone guiding and coaching with Cog Wild in Oakridge again this year. He’s a level 2 PMBIA certified coach, pro downhill racer and travels the country to help with Soldiers on Singletrack rides. He’s available for private clinics daily and is coaching two group clinics in September. Dive into the nuances of riding with speed at the Downhill clinic on September 16 or get your flow on with the Flow clinic on September 30.

Skills sessions are available year round as the weather allows.

Mountain Biking During Wildfire Season

August 21, 2023

These days it feels like August and September have become wildfire season in the west. In mid July the Bedrock Fire ignited in a campground northwest of Oakridge and has been sending intermittent smoke across central Oregon.

We’ve been here before; each fire become a character in and of themselves that contribute to the year’s mountain bike season. Over the past few years we’ve learned a few things about operating when active fires are burning in the region and riding when or where the air is clear.

Read on for tips on how to maximize your ride time in clean air and for late summer adventure rides in the high country.

Think Regionally

Think about riding opportunities at a regional level. Since the fire started a week ago, we’ve seen days of clean air and periods of unhealthy AQI in both Bend, Oakridge and other towns in the region.

The US Interagency Wildland Fire Air Quality Response Program publishes smoke outlooks for regions near active fires a few days out so you can identify areas where the air will be clean and plan to ride there. We also use Open Snow’s new map overlays to predict smoke and find real time AQI. With that info we also ground truth it by looking at Mt. Bachelor’s webcams and Oregon Department of Transportation’s road cameras.

Be Flexible

Flexibility is key to ensuring good rides during wildfire season. Be willing to adjust your activity’s start time, we often suggest an earlier or later start for tours and skills sessions based on the smoke forecast. If you are visiting, build in a down day to allow outfitters like us to reschedule for another day.

The smoke tends to sit heavier in some areas than others. When this happens we can move tours and clinics to areas where the air is cleaner. Last week we moved a group ride for a bunch of teenagers to the Madras Trail System since the air was clear north of Bend.

Check Yourself

This time of year many of us are out camping and playing in the woods. Consider your self a risk factor and please be fire safe. Keep Oregon Green has tips for safe outdoor behavior including campfires (it’s a good idea to skip them for now), vehicles in the woods, firearms and smoking. Think Out Loud posted a podcast last week that included an interview with the Oregon State Fire Marshall about the recent fires and how to recreate responsibly during fire season.

Oakridge, Oregon is the place to be

Oakridge shines in summer. While we are all about mountain biking, we do appreciate the other fun events that make Oakridge awesome.

We’re excited about the Community Farmers Market on Friday’s from 3-6 PM, stock up on veggies and fresh baked goods for your visit.  Stroll Uptown Oakridge to see arts and crafts from local artisans at the next First Friday Art Walk on August 2nd. Like beer? The 15th Annual Oakridge Keg and Cask Festival is on tap for the afternoon of August 12.

Come play for a weekend or stay for a month; there’s so much fun to be had. The classic rides around town are great but there is so much more to discover in any direction.

Special Shuttles
Moon Point Hot Laps
Moon Point/ Young’s Rock Trail is so nice, we like to ride it twice. Meet the shuttle at our location in Uptown Oakridge, where we load up and carpool south of town for two laps on this remote downhill trail. The shuttle includes an optional drop on Larison Rock on the way back into town.  Pack a lunch; this is a full day of fun. The shuttle runs on Saturdays through October.
Middle Fork of the Willamette Shuttle
Word from the Oregon Timber Trail 300 racers is that the Middle Fork of the Willamette Trail is in great shape.  Shuttle out to Paddy’s Valley and ride at your own pace back to your vehicle at Sand Prairie Campground/ end of the trail. Interested in riding the Middle Fork down from Timpanogas Lake? Adventure rides to Timpanogas and other high country trails will be added to the calendar for August & September or join a late season multi day trip to Timpanogas and Upper Umpqua. This shuttle is scheduled by request for groups of 4 or more.
Heckletooth Trail
After being closed due to fire damage from the Kwis Fire in 2021, Heckletooth Trail is now open and running great. We love this trail for the challenging rocky top, big views and super fun descents. Plus, it ends at our location where food and drink are available from the Middle Fork Bistro. Heckletooth shuttle runs on Thursdays and Sundays at 12:30.

Book all Oakridge shuttles here.
Two mountain bikers take in the view of Oakridge from the Dead Mountain overlook.

Connect to place

It’s quiet around Cog Wild during the winter, quiet enough to hear the resident great horned owls calling to each other at our headquarters in Bend. We tend to get excited about owls and the other flora and fauna that make Oregon such an outstanding place to live or visit. While mountain biking is great, it’s even better when you are connected to the place where you ride. Whether you are a local or are planning to visit this year we invite you to learn more about the natural and cultural history of the region to deepen your connection to place.

The days are getting longer and the sun feels a bit warmer, which means mountain biking season is almost here. 

Multi-Day Adventures are Back!

Are you ready for adventure? We’re ready for adventure too.

After a few years of being on hold we are super stoked to bring back multi-day adventures on the backcountry trails across Oregon. These are the trips we live for: long days on the bike, concentrated time with a few quality people and total immersion in nature. 

These are the trips we live for: long days on the bike, concentrated time with a few quality people and total immersion in nature. These adventures take place on some quality back country tails from the northern to southern Oregon. Choose from  preset dates starting in late June through the end of September or collaborate with us to organize a custom trip for your private group.

  • Mt. Hood Region: become one with everything on confidence inspiring trails from Hood River to the flanks of Mt. Hood. 
  • McKenzie River & the Old Cascade Crest Region:  the MRT is on the itinerary along with other gems up in the Old Cascade Crest. You’ll love every minute of the pain. 
  • Adventures out of Bend: multiple days of riding on the amazing trails around Bend. Stay at LOGE Hotel for bike in bike out accommodations and a pool!
  • Oakridge Region: two sandwich epic rides and shuttle fests; Oakridge has it all including a lodging option!
  • Upper Umpqua & Timpanogas Region: get your fill of adventure with high country rides around Timpanogas Lake, deep river canyons and the best sections of the North Umpqua Trail.

Registration is open, commit to adventure.  

Learn More About Multi-day Adventures in Oregon

Winter Fat Bike Tours

Now that the trails are buried we can ride fat bikes!

Bundle up with us to experience the crisp, clean winter air and the beauty of the snow-covered Cascade Mountains on a fat bike. Routes are determined by the snow conditions so give us a call to talk about which areas are riding well for a tour.

November Update

What a beautiful November! One day we’re skinning to the top of Mt. Bachelor to ski powder and the next day we’re riding through golden fall foliage and foraging for chanterelles in Oakridge. Life is good.

Shoulder season tends to feel a bit awkward and there is so much to do besides riding bikes. How about live music at the Three Legged Crane Pub or First Friday Art Walks in Oakridge? It’s a little cold for mushroom foraging but go look anyway, you may get lucky like we did last week.

Bend is always a good time; try something besides outdoor sports and brew pubs. Maximize the long nights and take in the stars at Pine Mountain Observatory or the Oregon Observatory. There is plenty of dark sky around here, drive 15 miles east or west of town for an evening of star gazing. NASA puts out a fun little video about what’s up in the night sky each month, check it out then go outside and see if you can find what they are talking about.

This newsletter has information about shoulder season operations in Oakridge, fat biking in Bend and as always, an invitation to work on trails. Thanks for reading!

Operations Continue in Oakridge

We’re working with our USFS partners to extend operations into the winter and will be open during extended dry periods. Despite last week’s atmospheric river, the low elevation trails are still dry so we’re clear to operate. Guides and coaches are available for late season rides and clinics and shuttles will run on the low elevation trails close to town. Drivers are available for private group shuttles too.

The schedule below is open for booking one week at a time. We’ll add more days if the weather continues to be dry enough for us to ride with out damaging the trails.

10:30 AM Dead Mountain
12:30 PM Dead Mountain
2:30 PM Larison Rock

Cog Wild in the Community

Last weekend a motivated and talented crew of Cog Wild employees and OROR locals tackled some drainage projects on Alpine. It was fun to be in the beautiful fall light and to grill out in the woods.

Here’s another chance to work on trails and be a part of the Oakridge mountain bike community: Alpine Trail Crew Association, MBO and Disciples of Dirt are teaming up for an Alpine Dip and Drain Ride and Hike on Sunday, November 20, 2022. The more the merrier! Meet at the Office Covered Bridge/ Portal Park at 9AM. Please bring a pack with warm layers, GLOVES (bring extras if you have them), and water. It is going to be cold, and possibly wet – please wear synthetic or wool socks and water resistant/proof clothing. We also recommend leaving a set of dry clothes and shoes in your car for afterwards. Tools, hand warmers, hard hats and a post work hot meal will be provided.

October Update

The leaves are changing color, the air is crisp and winter is coming. As the season winds down we make time to get out of the office and onto the trail. This month we’re excited for more adventure rides, after school sessions with the juniors and progression sessions with adults who are committed to become better riders.

We’re going strong in Bend and cautiously optimistic that we’ll get a few good weeks in Oakridge as containment grows on the Cedar Creek Fire. The front country trails that we access for Oakridge shuttles are open and undamaged from the recent fire. We’ll run a limited daily shuttle schedule as the AQI permits, look for updates on our website.

Fall Adventures in Bend

The trails in the high country are absolutely beautiful right now, here’s some adventure options for high country rides with big views and long descents.

Dutchman to Sisters Shuttle: Drop a car in Sisters, take the shuttle to Dutchman Flat to ride Met Win, Trail 99 and the Peterson Ridge Trails into Sisters. Take in huge views of the Cascade Mountains and immerse yourself in fire ecology as you move through the remnants of the Pole Creek Burn. The shuttle runs on Fridays: October 7 and 14 and Saturday 10/15.

Newberry Caldera Shuttle has been a hit the past few weeks and folks have requested this shuttle on a weekend. Get after it on Saturday, October 8.

Dutchman Shuttles: our daily shuttle drops riders near the Cascade Crest to ride a variety of big routes back to Bend: circumnavigate Mt. Bachelor or take Flagline to Southfork or ride Met Win to Mrazek.

If you are traveling and need a place to stay here’s a lodging discount: Use the code COGWILD22 for 20% off the best available rate for accommodations at LOGE Bend. Offer valid on new reservations only and subject to availability.

Book an Adventure Shuttle

Invest in your self

Join a final round of skills sessions in Bend this month so you can practice your new skills over the winter and be ready to shred in the spring.

Jumping for Oldies, our popular two day jump sessions with Coach Erika, has a second fall run: October 5 and 12.

Ladies Progression Rides continue with this glorious fall weather, the final ride is this Thursday, October 6.

Progression Session is on for Saturday mornings October 8, 15 and 22. Join a cohort of like minded learners for three sessions designed to make you a more stable and confident rider.

Are you interested in getting certified to teach mountain biking? Lev is teaching two sessions of the Professional Mountain Bike Instructor Level 1 course in early October. Three spots left!

Join a fall skills session

Cog Wild in the Community

Empowering Women Through Adventure Lecture Series:

Please join SheJumps, AdventurUs Women, and Crow’s Feet for the first annual Bend Women’s Speaker Series – “Empowering Women Through Adventure” on the second Wednesday of each month at Embark Coworking Space.The lecture series begins this month and goes through April, when Cog Wild’s own Kirin Stryker will talk about life on two wheels. Come support the speakers, learn something new and connect with the outdoor community.

The series begins on October 12 with Dawn Rae Knoth, bikepacker extraordinaire, with “Bikepacking 101: How to Start + Love Adventuring by Bike”. Entry is free and complimentary beverages will be provided by Crow’s Feet, 10 Barrel Brewing and Montucky Cold Snacks. Sign up at!

Trail work opportunities:

Alpine Trail Crew Association is Putting Alpine to Bed this Saturday, October 8. Find out more and sign up via their Facebook Page.

Central Oregon Trail Alliance is celebrating their 30th Anniversary with a special Fall Trail Love work event on Saturday, October 15 and you are invited. RSVP here.

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