As the new new-media man at Kitsbow, I felt it was my moral obligation to take the Kitsbow van on an “Adventure”. What better excuse to visit my brother in Bend, Oregon, where we could tame the single track, ride the lifts, and shoot some photos…all while calling it work!
Bend is a small, clean, neatly landscaped utopia for outdoor-folk, nestled along the Deschutes river in the middle of Central Oregon. The breathtaking beauty and huge range of world-renowned outdoor activities attract a diverse population from pro athletes to outdoor aficionados. Whether scraping by or living large, all are in pursuit of adventure and being outside. And if this many twenty somethings and accomplished professionals all want to live in the same place it must be cool right? Adam Craig, Kirt Voreis, Chris Horner, and countless more high-power pro bikers make Bend their home, giving it a special cycling energy.
The landscape of the region slopes gradually towards a massive stratovolcano (Mt. Bachelor) and as you go higher, the dry high-desert gives way to lush coniferous forests. The mountain bike trailheads were crowded with cars and smiling mountain bikers as a series of unexpected storms had turned the summer dust into a rare and smooth tacky loam.
First things first, we had to hit the Bend XC staple, Tumalo Creek, maintained by the Central Oregon Trail Alliance. Having just come from Downieville, I was struck by how the two places felt similar with rocky & rooty technical sections broken up by fast, straight rippers. This trail is special – not just for the views of the river, but for linking up an amazing system of huts that are open year-round.
After a morning cross-country ride we headed up to Bachelor and took our all-mountain bikes through the bike park. Downhill lift service has only been at Bachelor for a few years but the resort is clearly serious, investing considerably in hiring Gravity Logic (the company that built the Whistler bike park) to add several top-to-bottom trails in the modern shaped style with huge manicured berms and jumps. The sculpted trail feels like a luge-track for bikes – propelling you through the turns and often through the air.
Although our 6 inch bikes survived the day, gravity-oriented suspension and geometry would have increased the fun factor. Bachelor’s trails felt challenging but accessible to those who like a bike park – just watch out for the volcanic rock which is known to be unfriendly to exposed skin. A full set of pads is recommended.
The presence of snow patches on the peaks of the 3 sisters combined with the ability to see (what feels like) forever, makes the experience of being near the top of the 9,000 ft peak breathtaking. As a skier, I associate this view more with being on boards, which must explain why I suddenly had to try riding my bike in the snow. My attempts ended in some sort of dramatic crash 100% of the time.
The bike park stays open until 7pm, allowing for amazing evening light and views from the top. Here’s a shot we got right before the sun crept behind the horizon.
To truly call this “work”, we conducted an informal cycling clothing demo session with a few of our friends. They tested the Kitsbow gear rigorously, with lots of sweaty and aggressive riding and a few good crashes thrown in for good measure. We are proud of how our clothing handles the abuse and insults of a good ride, while maintaining the style needed for hanging out by Sparks after a full day of riding.
During our three rides, I only touched upon a sliver of the available singletrack and hope to get back for more. The bike park at Bachelor is a blast and makes for a great experience if your legs are tired and you want to experience lots of air and views that keep you stopping at the edge of every berm to whip out your iPhone… as I did:
Thanks to all the local companies who enjoyed the Kitsbow style and perspective! Here are some reposts from our friends at Mt. Bachelor and Deschutes Brewing – good feeds to follow.
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