Boy howdy. It’s been almost a week since I’ve returned from the Oregon Outback and my road rash and legs are still aching. I went on a short packraft on the Willamette to take it easy this weekend, and now my arms are sore because all I’ve been doing is training my legs to prepare for the Outback. Everything is just going to be sore for a while I guess. There’s no winning.
But enough whining. I’m actually blown away. Everyone who showed up for the Oregon Outback rode it faster, smarter, and in better spirits than I ever could have imagined. Y’alls are amazing. Knowing the route and my limits I challenged myself to 3.5 days and surprised myself by accomplishing it. I was even more surprised by everyone else’s goals. Ira Ryan: an astonishing 28 hours. Jan Heine: 30 hours with a broken hand, and then riding home to Seattle. Five or so more incredibly fast times under 40 hours. I’ll be honest, I didn’t think anyone could ride it straight through. I didn’t think anyone would be much faster than 50 hours. The gravel is too deep, too slow, too chunky, too washboardy. I was wrong, you are badasses.
I feel like a badass for my back-to-back 12 hours days. But I also feel like that wasn’t much fun. I like to arrive at camp when there’s still time to dip my feet in the river before dark. Or get a fishing line wet. Or talk shit around a campfire. Or have more than one cup of coffee in the morning. I don’t much like camping in church yards or municipal lots. I like Donnie and I’s seven day timeframe last year. For me bikepacking is about being out there, not finishing.
Bikepacking should be about stopping to check out that bobcat skeleton or setting up camp at 3pm, just because you know it’s going to be a kickass spot to watch the sunrise. But it is fun to step outside of your comfort zone, and I’m super glad I got to do so with a bunch of other inspiring people last weekend!
Check out my photo album below. Sadly I slid out on day 3 and busted my camera up pretty bad, so you only get half the trip documented here. Donnie has a nice aggregate of everyone’s trip reports and photos over on VeloDirt.