Adventures in Mountain Biking
This is my first attempt at a blog, and I guess the first entry should start by giving you a little background about myself. I am 39 years old and live in Oakridge, Oregon.
I grew up in Kansas until I was 12. We arrived at our new home in Cottage Grove, Oregon, on Friday the 13th of July, 1979. I guess you could say I started mountain biking right away, as the hill by our new house was bigger then most mountains in Kansas (the tallest point in Kansas is Mt. Sunflower at a whooping 1,200 feet).
My brother David and I immediately rode and pushed our bikes up the hill, while my little brothers Jeff and Tim were too tired. David and I rode down the hill, and it scared the hell out of us but excited us at the same time, so of course we did it over and over again, going higher and faster each time up. We could tell we were going faster because the speedometers on our bikes looked exactly like the ones you would find in an old car. We had contest to see who could lay the longest skid mark. I have now learned as an adult mountain biker, however, that skidding is a bad idea. But hey, we were on pavement. As we got faster, it got more painful, because we started to crash. Mom and dad were not too happy about their bloodied, skinned-up kids.
I rode my bike as a teenager and hung out with some pro BMX racers, but I was never into racing. I did end up spending a lot of time around bikes, though. I had a friend named Bruce Delong that opened a bike shop in Cottage Grove, so there were bikes around all the time. Another good friend of mine named Rick Jackson started working at Hutch’s Bike Shop in Springfield, and today he is part owner of the Hutch’s chain.
Now to my first real mountain bike ride. It can’t remember if it was the Summer of 1987 or 1988, but Rick let me use what at the time was one sweet ride: a chrome fully-rigid Schwinn 12-speed mountain bike. We rode Brice Creek trail outside Cottage Grove- it was a blast and I was immediately hooked. Well, I was hooked for a couple of years, and then came work and marriage, so I didn’t ride much between 1989 and 1992. I eventually started to get back into riding and even started racing cross country. I was having a lot of fun, then college and divorce happened and things were rough for a couple of years- years I should have been out riding and working out all my feelings.
During this same time I wrote a business plan to start a bike tour business in Oakridge, but my grants and loans were rejected. I hit the party bars for the next 3 years and hardly rode. In 1997 I decided to settle down and leave the party life, so I started riding again. I said I always wanted to promote races and run an adventure tour company. I hosted my first race on a commune outside Cottage Grove called Cougar Mountain in 1998. It was fun and I had about 50 people show. The races grew over the next two years, and we received a major sponsor: Red Bull. The races topped out at about 250 people for the weekend during its 3rd year, then the commune voted and decided mountain biking was bad for mother earth, so we had to find a new place to host races.
We moved to Shotgun Creek outside Marcolla, Oregon. Frankly, the place was a nightmare for racing, as it was a multi-use area where motorcyclists and 4x4ers loved to change the race arrow directions to make racers go the wrong way or chase them down and cut cookies around them. I was quoted in a local paper saying it was “a redneck world out there” and they could have the racing site.
I was still watching Oakridge, and their Fat Tire Festival had not been held in 2 years, so I took over the event and moved up to Oakridge. This time I did get grants and loans for my events and businesses, and the communities of Oakridge and Westfir have been very welcoming and supportive. I have expanded my businesses to include:
Oakridge Fat Tire Festival
Willamette Pass Downhill and Super D Series
12 and 24 Hours of Willamette Pass
Mt. Bike Oregon
Oregon Adventures offers guided mountain and road bike tours, plus offers a trailside shuttle service. I just started the shuttle service a couple summers ago and it is growing slowly but surely. The guided tour side is small but I would love to expand it.
I also work as Executive Director of the Oakridge/Westfir area Chamber of Commerce. I am also on the city council in Oakridge.
Oakridge, Oregon “The Center of Oregon Recreation”
Editor’s Note: Tune in on Friday to read more about the trails in Randy’s backyard. In the future he will write about some of his favorite rides.