Front the Bend Bulletin, June 8, 2012

Editor’s note: Mountain Bike Trail Guide, by Bulletin outdoors writer Mark Morical, features various trails in Central Oregon and beyond. The trail guide appears in Adventure Sports on alternating Fridays through the riding season.

Bob Gilbert barreled down a steep, rock-strewn section of singletrack, then glanced back at the challenging section of trail he had just descended. The trail included a long, flat, smooth piece of lava rock.

To the trail builders in the Radlands — a network of mountain biking trails currently being built east of Redmond — this sort of rock is called “beautiful slab.”

“When we’re designing the trail, we always go on the hunt for some beautiful slab,” says Gilbert, one of the main volunteer trail designers of the Radlands. “We try to flag it so it will be smooth. A lot of those climbing/descending areas are that sort of rock. It’s fun stuff, that’s what we live for.”

The Radlands — officially called the Northeast Redmond Trail Complex, but that will never stick — calls for about 30 miles of trails to be built east of Redmond. About five miles of singletrack exist, starting from a trailhead at the High Desert Sports Complex on Maple Avenue, home to the Smith Rock BMX racetrack. That marks the north end of the trail system that is planned to reach as far south as state Highway 126 in years to come.

The Radlands project is a collaborative effort of the Central Oregon Trail Alliance, the Redmond Area Parks and Recreation District, and corporate sponsors Trinity Bikes, REI and altrec.com.

Tom Holt, a financial planner for the outdoor gear company altrec.com in Redmond, has spearheaded the project for about two years since he began looking for mountain bike trails to ride near Redmond.

“You would think it (the area east of Redmond) would be a flat experience,” Holt says. “But there are a number of elevation changes, and inherent in the area is the rock. We were deliberate in incorporating the rocks into the trail. In the rock-intensive places, the building was slow and challenging.”

The Radlands — intended for cyclists, runners and hikers — currently includes two loops that will make up the upper-left quadrant of the future 30-mile complex. One loop is considered easy, and the other is intermediate. An experts-only trail is also in the works. Signs will eventually be posted to note the difficulty of the trails, according to Gilbert.

On Wednesday, I rode both loops with Gilbert and Eric Helie, owner of Trinity Bikes in Redmond and a trail-building volunteer. Recent significant rainfall put the trail in nice, tacky shape. (In mid-summer, the Radlands could become extremely dusty.)

The first thing that struck me as I pedaled along the trail were the dramatic views: the Cascade Range to the west and Smith Rock State Park to the north. Twisty old juniper trees dotted the barren landscape.

The lava rock comes into play quickly on the intermediate loop. Some rock sections are particularly tricky, with the rocks jutting up sharply for several feet at a time, similar to the Horse Ridge trails east of Bend. But other rocky sections in the Radlands incorporate the “beautiful slab,” which looks somewhat terrifying but is actually a joy to ride on a full-suspension mountain bike.

Several well-placed turns give a flow to a trail that is not inherently so because of the lava rock. The shorter, easier loop features fewer rocky, technical sections than the intermediate loop.

“When you build a trail you find the small rocks that would be intrusive,” Gilbert says. “There’s a lot of work. You pull out one rock and there’s 10 more underneath it. You just have to leave some. A lot of this area is lava residue. It creates for hard trail-building in some spots, but the valleys with more dirt makes for really fast trail-building.”

The current five miles of trail in the Radlands are the fruits of several volunteer trail-work parties staged since last fall.

Helie calls the existing trails “the tip of the iceberg.”

Plans call for a trail to lead bikers right into “Shredmond,” a cleverly named dirt-jump park located near the Radlands trailhead which features rival the Lair free-ride park west of Bend.

Helie says that many folks in Redmond, including himself, thought that the area east of town was “just desolate BLM land.” But add some creative trail builders and some hard work, and it becomes so much more — it becomes a place that Redmond mountain bikers have never really had.

“It’s great for Redmond,” Helie says. “Even though we’re in this mega-cycling area, we’re kind of … it’s its own little bubble here. There’s a lot of people who ride but it’s not like the masses like Bend is. I think having stuff like this will definitely get people more into cycling, which is great.”

The current trails are located on Deschutes County land, where the western portion of the Radlands will be built. The eastern half of the trail system is planned for BLM land.

Holt says the project so far has exceeded his expectations in how quickly the existing five miles of trail have been designed and built.

“We are talking about a years-long project,” Holt says. “One of the things I like is that these trails are going to be here forever.”

And those trails are no doubt going to be rad.

— Reporter: 541-383-0318, mmorical@bendbulletin.com

 

Breaking down the trail: The Radlands

DIRECTIONS

From Bend, take U.S. Highway 97 north to Redmond. Turn right on state Highway 126/Evergeeen Avenue. Turn left on Ninth Street. Turn right on Negus Way. Stay straight to go onto Maple Avenue. The High Desert Sports Complex and the Radlands trailhead is on the left.

RATING

Technically intermediate to advanced; aerobically easy to intermediate.

TRAIL FEATURES

The planned 30-mile system currently includes about five miles of trails in two loops. One loop is easy and the other is intermediate. Many of the trails include technical riding over lava rock. Views include the Cascade Range and Smith Rock State Park.
Breaking down the trail: The Radlands

DIRECTIONS

From Bend, take U.S. Highway 97 north to Redmond. Turn right on state Highway126/Evergeeen Avenue. Turn left on Ninth Street. Turn right on Negus Way. Stay straight to go onto Maple Avenue. The High Desert Sports Complex and the Radlands trailhead is on the left.

RATING

Technically intermediate to advanced; aerobically easy to intermediate.

TRAIL FEATURES

The planned 30-mile system currently includes about five miles of trails in two loops. One loop is easy and the other is intermediate. Much of the trails include technical riding over lava rock. Views include the Cascade Range and Smith Rock State Park.

Do you love Yoga and Mountain Biking? Join Ryan Leech to work on being a better mountain biker – through yoga.

Join Cog Wild & Ryan Leech for his amazing Ride & Reach program. Happening in Bend June 15 and 16, each day will focus on different aspects of mountain biking. Each day will include a 3-hour morning yoga session, lunch from Nancy P’s, shuttled ride with Ryan Leech and an outdoors cool down yoga session to end the day.

Ryan’s Ride & Reach is program designed to optimize the connection between mountain biking and yoga. Ryan’s morning yoga clinics will be open to the public, while the full day event is limited to 15 participants.

Contact Cog Wild to register for one or both days:
Friday, June 15th 8:30AM – 11:30AM: focus on building flow on the trail and yoga mat.
Saturday, June 16th 8:30AM – 11:30AM: focus on overcoming technical obstacles on the trail and yoga mat.

Morning only yoga through Back Bend Yoga: $25
The full day clinic through Cog Wild: $99

Bend Bike Demo with Cog Wild and all your local bike shops
June 15 & 16 at Phil’s Trailhead from 11am-6pm.

Sagebrush Cycles with the Rocky Mountain demo truck
Hutches with the Giant demo truck
Pine Mountain Sports with the Santa Cruz demo truck
Trinity Bike Shop with the Marin demo truck
Ellsworth bikes
Web Cyclery will be bringing Scott, Niner and Salsa
Sunnyside will be bringing Ibis and Yeti.

The Cog Wild shuttle will take place from the bike demo!! We will be shuttling to 300 Rd, the bottom of Whoops Trail.

Bike demos are free but will require leaving your driver’s license or ID to take a bike. Shuttles are $10 for a full day pass or $20 for the weekend. Cog Wild will be donating $3 per shuttle pass to COTA.

No need to RSVP – just show up ready to ride!!

Bike shops who will be participating:
Hutch’s
Pine Mountain Sports
Sagebrush Cycles
Sunnyside Sports
Trinity Bikes
Webcyclery

The basics
What: Cog Wild Mountain Bike Tours & Shuttles
Employees: 18, seasonally
Where: 255 S.W. Century Drive, Suite 201
Phone: 541-385-7002
Website: http://cogwild.com
Local email list: email us at info@cogwild.com to be added to our local shuttle and event list.

Cog Wild offers Central Oregon cycling tours

Lev Stryker and Melanie Fisher saw the chance to add a new twist to Bend’s bike-crazy culture, and they took it.

Cog Wild had been operating since 1999 as a trail touring company, offering locals and tourists the chance to hop on a mountain bike and take in Central Oregon’s mammoth network of scenic trails.

But the owner of the business, Woody Starr, was looking for a change. In 2006, he sold Cog Wild to Stryker and Fisher, both biking enthusiasts.

In six years of ownership, the pair has grown Cog Wild from a four-person, experimental guide business to a seasoned member of the region’s tour-guide industry. The company seasonally employs 15 guides, who take riders of all skill levels on hundreds of miles of trails throughout Central Oregon and other parts of the state.

The pair has decades of cycling experience, both on trails and in road races: Stryker worked as a guide for Starr when he was running the business. Stryker is also a veteran of the renowned Cascade Cycling Classic.

Fisher has experience mountain biking in India, New Zealand, Japan, Thailand and elsewhere.

A shared love of mountain biking and the outdoors brought Stryker and Fisher together as business partners, with Fisher handling much of the bookkeeping, and Stryker as the point man for setting up guided trips.

Growing the business hasn’t come without challenges, Stryker said. He explained the process of recruiting new tour guides and exploring new trails, determining which would be suitable for beginner, intermediate and advanced riders.

The process has included plenty of trial and error, running each of the trails to figure out which they should incorporate into their tours and which were best left alone.

They’ve also built up a fleet of rental bikes over the years.

“We want to work a lot, to do quite a few more tours this summer” than in the past, Stryker said. Those tours vary from half-day, local trips for $60, all the way up to multi-day treks across different parts of the state, with $625 covering food, beer and lodging.

Steadily expanding the business over the last six years has given Cog Wild the benefit of a built-up reputation, especially with out-of-towners who swing through Bend in the summer.

“We have a lot of guides, and as soon as we’re really going this summer, they’ll work as much as possible,” Stryker said.

Q: How did you and Melanie Fisher first get involved with Cog Wild?

A: The former owner was interested in getting out. So we kind of pooled our backgrounds. Mel was very familiar with the booking and all the front-office stuff. And I’d guided for Cog Wild before. … The business was definitely much smaller at first. We’ve grown a lot since we started. We’ve adjusted our tours based on what’s been selling, doing more single- and half-day tours, which are great for people visiting town, people who aren’t necessarily mountain bike junkies.

Q: What type of riders does the business accommodate?

A: Basically, we take everyone, from a total beginner, a first-timer on a bike. We basically do a mountain bike clinic, at the same time showing people great trails, teaching them how to shift and brake. Those trips are fun; you get to really show them why we love the sport. But then we go all the way through with intermediate riders to experts, really fast riders who hire us because they want to be shown the best trails right away.

Q: What type of riding packages are you trying to promote?

A: We’re getting more into mountain bike vacations. Those are three-day, and sometimes longer, vacations. We either put the clients up in a hotel, or we have guides that are well-trained in making camps, who can make the experience really easy for clients. Those are great; you go for a ride, make camp, hang out by the fire and have a beer. We do it up, with full-course meals. There are great opportunities for that, either on the Cascade Lakes Highway, down the Umpqua River (or) near Mount Hood. Our huge trail system allows us to adjust the ride based on the group.

Q: How important is the local trail system to your business?

A: We’re blessed with this amazing trail system, with the (Deschutes) National Forest right outside of Bend. Maintaining them has been a collaborative effort with the Central Oregon Trail Alliance. Cog Wild has been involved from the beginning in helping with trail work, suggesting routes for new trails, being involved as a liaison with the Forest Service. The trails are obviously a big part of our success. They’re our bread and butter.

By Elon Glucklich / The Bend Bulletin
Published: May 08. 2012
eglucklich@bendbulletin.com

Spring can be a hard time to be a local in Central Oregon. We all want to ride the trails, but the trails might not be ready for us. When the trails are soft with mud, ruts are created when we ride and these ruts stay around all summer long.

COTA (Central Oregon Trail Alliance) has a great article on the etiquette of riding in Spring. We invite you to check it out and make sure you ride the right places this time of year:

Potentially muddy trails are well signed, but not closed. COTA does not have the authority to “close” trails, but we do appreciate those who heed the mud warnings. Below are some pictures of the kind of impact caused by riding in soft, muddy conditions. These ruts will last throughout the summer. When the trails dry out later in the year, the ruts will set up like pavement. There is no way to fix this hard rutted condition except PREVENTION!

Thanks as always for your cooperation, please spread the (gospel) word of mud etiquette in Central Oregon. For further reading, please consult this article:

The Etiquette of Mud in Central Oregon.