Dirt Roads and Rushing Rivers: Oregon Microadventures

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Last weekend Kevin and I drove out to north eastern Oregon (to the mouth of the Deschutes then down to Maupin) for an absolutely wonderful 240km loop which gave us back our sense of freedom and simplicity. The second we hopped back onto our loaded bikes everything except the empty country roads ahead seemed to drift away, and we were truly able to feel that blissful sense of exploration and wanderlust once again. Our last few weeks adjusting to life in Oregon have been busy (more about how that’s been in a few days), and Kevin I really needed this small escape back back to a life of eat, pedal, sleep; a life without appointments to keep, people to meet, or apartments to find. We had so missed our bikes and the lifestyle that comes along with them, and this weekend trip did wonders to recharge our happiness batteries.

Panniers packed and ready to go!

Panniers packed and ready to go!

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Best cycling shoes on the world.

Best cycling shoes on the world.


Our first camping spot - right at the mouth of the Deschutes river - the night before we headed out cycling.

Our first camping spot – right at the mouth of the Deschutes river – the night before we headed out cycling.


Kevin in his element: fly fishing as sunset.

Kevin in his element: fly fishing as sunset.

This section was interesting because it shows what much of Oregon looks like – dry desert like nothingness – in contrast to what most people, including myself think of; green trees in lush rainy valleys. Very few people live in the huge eastern section of Oregon because nearly everyone lives in the valley or on the coast. It was also wonderful because we were able to do almost all of our kilomters on small backroads; our favorites!

The Colombia river. I can see this river from our window just before it flows into the ocean.

The Colombia river. I can see this river from our window just before it flows into the ocean.


We were so excited to find a whole network of gravel country roads wherever we went.

We were so excited to find a whole network of gravel country roads wherever we went.


Setting off at sunrise to enjoy the whole day.

Setting off at sunrise to enjoy the whole day.


We spend half the time on gravel, and the other half on amazingly smooth country roads where a car only passed every hour or so. Talk about the best of both worlds; paved and empty!

We spend half the time on gravel, and the other half on amazingly smooth country roads where a car only passed every hour or so. Talk about the best of both worlds; paved and empty!


Eastern Oregon.

Eastern Oregon.


There were quite a few old buildings which were fun to explore and photograph.

There were quite a few old buildings which were fun to explore and photograph.

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Rolling hills of hay.

Rolling hills of hay.

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The Deschutes river.

The Deschutes river.


Best friends for life!

Best friends for life!


It was really windy on Saturday and we passed many flattened or sideways tents as we were cycling passed campgrounds.

It was really windy on Saturday and we passed many flattened or sideways tents as we were cycling passed campgrounds.


The Deschutes river. Next time we come back it will be with kayakas or a raft (and our bikes for a shuttle). This is the most popular river to float in Oregon because there are many 2-3 level rapids all in a row.

The Deschutes river. Next time we come back it will be with kayakas or a raft (and our bikes for a shuttle). This is the most popular river to float in Oregon because there are many 2-3 level rapids all in a row.


We passed through a Native American reservation where we saw this guy fishing with a net (which they are allowed to do). We saw him catch a huge salmon which was neat!

We passed through a Native American reservation where we saw this guy fishing with a net (which they are allowed to do). We saw him catch a huge salmon which was neat!

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There were windmills for as far as the eye could see on every ridge during our last dozen kilomters. This region is known for being extremely windy.

There were windmills for as far as the eye could see on every ridge during our last dozen kilomters. This region is known for being extremely windy.

Though it wasn’t like the opened ended completely unscheduled cycle touring we are use to, this weekend cycle tour was still an amazing experience and we look forward to exploring our beautiful state of Oregon through weekend/week-long trips as often as we can. We were happily surprised to find kilometer after kilometer of empty gravel country roads, as well as beautiful paved ones with no one in sight. We were also happily surprised by how friendly everyone was; near the end of our first day a couple from Portland pulled over to offer us plums before inviting us to camp with them and their three month old baby (who is already on her third camping trip!). We happily accepted and found ourselves camped right next to the Deschutes with them and their friends for the night which reminded us how much cycle touring is a gateway for friendships with like-minded folks.

For those of you interested in touring throughout Oregon, there are two great resources I can suggest if you needs maps or route ideas. The first is Ride Oregon which allows you to search routes by region/length/difficulty. They have everything from small paved bike paths through the city, to traversing Oregon by gravel road. The next is Oregon Bike Packing which provides great descriptions and route details for a huge variety of mountain bike/gravel road cycle touring options.

For a photo of the day and other updates follow me on facebook here, and for some awkwardly cropped photos from our journey, follow us on Instagram @awanderingphoto!

8 thoughts on “Dirt Roads and Rushing Rivers: Oregon Microadventures

  1. Thank you for the wonderful post! This small escapade not only provided a much needed break to both of you but also gave a break to my long stressful day.
    I have few questions: did you bike the entire 240 miles? Wasn’t it hard to bike on gravel roads? Are you able to carry camping gears like tent/air mattress etc in those pannier bags? Pictures that you post are a literally a visual delight ! I love the picture of you and Kevin in front of the old building. Visiting North-Western states have been on my plan for a long time now.
    Regards!

  2. Great post, thank you. Good to hear some more about your travels. Loved the pic of the windmills. It’s encouraging to see clean energy generation happening. Here in Australia we are struggling to keep up with renewable energy trends as we have a government that is in denial over climate change and actively encouraging the burning of fossil fuels ahead of clean power. Well done Oregon!!

  3. The road will never release ur soul my friend! I just finished a 500 mile loop ride in Southern Colorado and I can’t wait to get back to the freedom the road brings me!

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