The Catalyst Trip

Photo by Donnie Kolb

Photo by Donnie Kolb

This whole thing got its start on a Friday afternoon last November. I was gripping the steering wheel white-knuckled, driving/hydroplaning southbound through a torrential rainstorm. It was really dark, really windy, and I was really worried about what the heck I was going to say to the ten women I had invited to join me for the weekend if this weather didn't turn for the better.

As I turned off Highway 101 into camp, the rain miraculously stopped its onslaught against the windshield. A good omen! It didn't rain again during our two day adventure, riding fat bikes in the endlessly rolling dunes beside a very blue Pacific ocean. William M. Tugman State Park was basecamp for our weekend. Our group had rented a couple of yurts to stay in - super lux camping complete with electricity and hot showers in the nearby restrooms.

We were all here in thanks to Simona Bava, aka Bavabici, a friend visiting Oregon all the way from Sweden. Simona had emailed me in August and exclaimed that she intended to go on a bike adventure to the Dunes during her trip. She had seen some photos on VeloDirt.com and was inspired. I'd seen them too and didn't need any additional persuading to plan a trip. As we started to plan and settled on dates, I threw the invite out to a bunch of local bike riding ladies. For all the cycling that the greater Portland community does - there isn't much fat biking happening yet. I thought that this trip might be a cool way to get a big group of women out to try something new. 

dunes2

Nearly a dozen ladies were interested in joining the adventure! The challenge now was where were we going to find a fleet of fat bikes to use? We were lucky, and very grateful, to accept an unofficial sponsorship by FatBack bikes for the weekend - the trip couldn't have happened without the hook up! Our friends at On One Bikes threw in a few Fatty bikes and we were all outfit with rigs for the weekend.

I also reached out to Donnie Kolb - the voice of VeloDirt and Oregon Bikepacking - for help to plan the trip since he knew the place well. Donnie was interested in coming out to the coast to ride again, so he rallied a group of guys to join the ladies.

As friends arrived into camp on Friday night, we gathered into Yurt "D" to drink beers and get excited about bikes. It closed in on midnight and someone mentioned that they could see stars. Someone else whispered something about a night ride and ten minutes later we had gathered in the darkness outside of the yurt, adjust seat heights on the borrowed bikes and fitting lights to our handlebars.

dunes3

From camp, it's a quick 1 mile pedal down 101 to the entrance of the famous Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. We climbed through short forested section of singletrack which leads to the dunes and pedaled out into sand under the inky darkness of a new moon night.

Riding on the dunes in the daylight is a surreal enough experience. At night, I had no idea what to make of the alien environment but it was a blast to just pedal around and roll through the undulating surface of sand. 

It wasn't a long ride but it was enough to amp up the group for Saturday - we couldn't wait to be back with the sunshine tomorrow. We pedaled back to camp and passed the remaining hours of darkness inside our cozy yurt beds.

It was overcast and cool the next morning as we fueled up on oatmeal and coffee. We loaded up on extra layers as well as snacks and beers from the mini-mart between camp and the coast. Our anticipation grew as we followed our tire tracks from the night before, through a narrow strip of lush vegetation that lives on the edge of the dune area. This time, as we pulled up to the entrance of the sand, audible gasps were heard as we got our first real look at the landscape - it was staggering, beautiful.

Donnie shared a few smart rules (#1 and most important - always know where you are in relation to the trail out of the dunes) and the group took off exploring. As a mountain biker used to riding on singletrack, it was a totally different experience to be able to ride absolutely anywhere I wanted to on the dunes. The condition of the sand was amazing - turns out all that rain from the day before had set it up close to solid, making it super easy for the fat bike tires to float over the millions of little particles. We found forgiving routes up dunes then turned around and shredded the severely steeped sides down. We rode around in carved bowls and pedaled along narrow ridgelines above valleys. The dunes are not just one landscape but an ongoing spread of features that all somehow work together - it's undoubtedly one of the most unique places I've never had the chance to ride a bike. 

I wasn't the only one with a perma-smile on my face. It looked like everyone was having a blast! The hours passed by slowly - we witnessed the sun arch and then hustle toward the watery western horizon. Time to head back into the tiny town of Lakeside for food and brews at the Up The Creek Tavern. Our entourage of fat tires made a scene and we spent some time laughing with the friendly local crowd. 

It couldn't have been a better weekend. And it made me want more weekends (and weekdays!) like it. That's how the concept for the Komorebi Cycling Team came to be. Spending time with girlfriends, on our bikes, exploring new-to-us riding opportunities. We're here to have a good time, pass along some helpful information and hopefully inspire you to get out for a ride someplace new too. Thanks for being here to follow along!

Post by Jocelyn Gaudi.

The 2015 #Fatsgiving crew was: Simona Bava, Kim Danielson, Jenn Levo, Hazel Gross, Erika Miranda, Suzy Nelson, Sharon Sandoval, Kristin Valentine, Erin Playman, Donnie Kolb, Adam Newman, Matt Danielson, Howard Draper, Kevin Purcell, Gabriel Amadeus and myself. 

Jocelyn GaudiComment