While there was still snow on the ground in Alaska, I boxed up my Fargo for our first big ride, heading to Oregon for the Oregon Outback route a week before the inaugural race. There wasn’t a moment that wasn’t a challenge, from the flight, to the riding, the camping, and even just getting to and from the start and finish of the route. All in all, I learned an immense amount about bike travel, trip logistics, and myself, and it was a great way to spend a week with friends before summer hit the northern latitudes, back home.
Full of coffee, water, and food for almost 400 miles of gravel riding on the Oregon Outback route.
Barely out of town and we meet the first gate. All the gates are signed to keep them closed, so each gate meant getting off the bikes. There were probably 50 gates the first day.
Between the gates, the riding was excellent – dirt and gravel with no pavement in sight.
Oregon has Big Sky Country, too. Lush, sweeping views were continuous and left our mouths agape with cameras in hand.
Glenn’s rig, lightly loaded. He was perfectly packed for the high, dry desert, having just finished a big ride through the mountains of Arizona.
These signs always bring me a level of joy to which words cannot do justice.
After an unexpectedly tough, long day, we camped short of our desired destination on night one. Also unexpected was waking up at 6 AM projectile vomiting out the face hole of my bivy sack. Shouldn’t have eaten that day-old breakfast sandwich with cream cheese on it right before bed. Keeping up with these two guys was going to be tough the next day.
Glenn makes appropriate use of a non-potable water source and cools down in the high desert heat. We felt lucky to be out here this early in the year.
Usually, cars slowed down, so as to not dust us, but sometimes they were completely oblivious to the cloud behind them.
Fortunately, the prairie winds cleared the air quickly, leaving us back to sweeping our heads side to side to take it all in.
Like two eloping lovebirds, our Fargos share a special moment, taking in the view of Fort Rock and the long, beautiful dirt road ahead.
Night two, camped at Cabin Lake Campground, brought a wicked hail-filled thunderstorm, cool temps, beautiful light, and lots of photos. It was a great taste of the diverse conditions this country can deliver.
Taking shelter from the wind, we quickly gorged on day-old fried chicken before the next storm wave hit.
Batten down the hatches and quickly get both hands back on the bars before the wind blows you over. This shot was a point-and-hope success, bravely and blindly sticking the camera into the wind and rain behind me as I rode and tried to keep the rubber down.
Glenn laughs at how far we haven’t come so far, a common theme throughout the five days.
The Crooked River canyon was one of the best stretches of pavement I’ve ever ridden. Usually, I turn my nose up at pavement, but riding through this deep gorge was a highlight of the trip. We were very disappointed when the mileage didn’t add up how it needed to in order to camp along the river that night.
Sometimes, when darkness falls, you end up where there is no legal camping, so you have to be creative… and sometimes you get punished for doing so by the sprinklers at 2 AM.
Everyone loves a good creek crossing, including the Fargo.
Climb, climb, climb out of Prineville, and then hit the best dirt descent on the route. Just when you thought life was grand, you realize it’s time to climb a grand.
Fortunately, that massive climb was well rewarded with a stunning sunset, gorgeous light, and incredible mountain views.
We arrive in the ghost town of Antelope at dusk and find ourselves in another no camping allowed situation, so we head to the sagebrush in the hills for more stealth camping practice. Fortunately, Glenn has become an expert at this in his 30,000 miles of human-powered travel.
The 24-hour forecast calls for a complete lack of shade and consuming every drop of water on board well before reaching our destination.
Even the always-cheery Glenn had to put in the earbuds to keep sanity through the endless agricultural hills. We all kept wondering how much further it could possibly be until we descended to the river and the end of the route. Simply paralleling the highway to the finish, the endless hills, rough and loose gravel, and high heat of the farmland was getting a little tiresome.
In proper fashion, we should have known we would have to climb to the top of the largest hill in sight before dropping intensely to the finish.
Downhill never felt so good. Almost at the bittersweet finish of the Oregon Outback route, but not before another climb.
The Oregon Outback was lightyears beyond the experience we expected in both beauty and challenge. The route is something I cannot recommend enough. It’s a beautiful ride, south to north, from border to border through the high desert of Oregon and a perfect ride for a Fargo Ti. The titanium frame and carbon fork smoothed out the rough gravel while providing a stable ride. It was the solidifying experience in my long love affair with the Fargo.
Go far on any road, anywhere, anytime.
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Josh Spice bought his first real bike in 2010. A month in, still green and lustful, he rode a 100-mile route along a snowy mountain trail, solo and self-supported, in just over 24 hours. Then he got a fatbike and found himself wide-eyed with a new sense of vision; the giant map of Alaska was his canvas, and his art the expression of adventure by bike. joshspice.com