'Flying down the trail, weaving in and out of the trees'

'Flying down the trail, weaving in and out of the trees' »Play Video
The riders finish the Larison Rock trail in one piece

OAKRIDGE, Ore. - The Larison Rock trail plummets 4 1/2 miles down a forested ridgeline above town, depositing riders just a short spin from town.

To get a taste of what mountain bikers mean by "technical" and "singletrack," KVAL News tagged along with Randy Dreiling from Oregon Adventures this fall.

Oakridge prides itself on being the "Mountain Bike Capital of the Northwest" - and nobody argues when visiting media slip up and call the town the "Mountain Bike Capital of the World."

"It's becoming one of the fastest growing destination spots in Oregon," Dreiling said. "Actually, I should say in the United States."

Nestled in the Cascade foothills between Eugene and Willamette Pass, Oakridge hosts Mountain Bike Oregon twice per summer, one the premeire, non-racing mountain biking events in the United States. Racers find their way here, too, for events like the Cascade Creampuff, a 100-mile off-road mountain bike race; and the Fat 55 race. The town bussed in children from Eugene to take part in a free take a kid mountain biking day earlier this fall.

"We have almost 500 miles of trails here," Dreiling said. "There's a lot of good places to ride."

Dreiling said that vast inventory of trails trends toward the intermediate and advanced category, drawing an international crowd of mountain bikers. More beginner-oriented trails are on the drawing board.

He said Canadians looking for something more fluid and flowy than the stunts and jumps of British Columbia's famed North Shore make Oakridge a "must ride" destination.

"They come here because we have so many different trails," Dreiling said. "You're just flying down the trail, weaving in and out of the trees.

"You can't explain it," he added. "You just got to see it, you got to be a part of it."

That is where the "Extreme Katie" project comes in. KVAL News reporter Katie Boer challenged herself to try - and report on - the adventures available to Northwest residents in their own backyard.

Dreiling advises people new to mountain biking to choose a beginner trail and rent a quality bike. The risk for injury posed by a trail beyond one's ability level aboard a bike designed to look like a mountain bike but not perform off-road is too great.

Catrina Davis at Willamette Mountain Mercantile set Boer up with an Ibis Mojo HD - meaning "heavy duty."

"This bike retails for about $5,000," Davis said. "It is all carbon, so it is a very light. It's pretty much the Porsche of the bike world."

Before hitting the trail, Davis set up the front and rear shocks for Boer and encouraged her to use the adjustible-height seatpost to lower the bike seat for better control going downhill.

"If you feel uncomfortable, don't be afraid to get off your bike," Davis said. "It's better to get off your bike than it is to break something and then have to be carried off."