Team Today and the Oregon Ramble Ride
I’ve changed as a cyclist. Even last year, I had no real interest in touring or bikepacking. I held those who went out on multi day trips in high regard, but wasn’t personally interested in spending long and slow days on the bike with what seemed like complicated and highly specific gear. But one day, my mindset shifted. I was talking with a friend and seemingly of out of the blue I really wanted to join her on a semi-supported trip that she was helping to plan in Oregon. That friend was Jocelyn Quarell and that ride was the Oregon Ramble Ride.
In the week leading up to the ride, it became clear that the weather was going to be a potential issue and that we should prepare for some cold and wet days both on the bike and at camp. I was bummed, Annalisa was bummed, and we made a pact that we’d turn around after the first day if it really wound up being nasty. With the caveat about bailing in the back of our minds, we drove from Portland to Prineville (in a downpour) with our friend Sharon Sandoval who, relative to our rookie status, is a bikepacking expert. Upon arrival, we met up with Jocey and introduced ourselves to the crew of 40 or so that we’d be riding with for the next three days.
The route on day one was a fairly easy 27 miles out to a campsite where food and beer awaited. Upon finishing the ride and getting our brand new bivys setup, it promptly started to downpour. Annalisa dove into her bivy while Sharon and I ran for cover under a popup tent. Things continued like this over the course of the evening, rain would turn hail and then calm down for a period. It wasn’t great, and we were far from excited about sleeping in our bivys in the rain. We called it a night pretty early, but some stayed round the campfire and enjoyed more of the free beer and good company. Overnight, we lucked out and it stayed dry. As a result, we proceeded to pack up and head out on day two’s ride without any discussion of the aforementioned plan to turn around after day one. We were in.
At just about 70 miles and over 5,000’ of climbing on a loaded bike in gravel, day two was the longest of the Ramble Ride. With this in mind, we set off on our bikes with Jocey and Sharon with a fair degree of both excitement and trepidation about what lay ahead. We were prepared for a variety of weather and knew that the ride kicked off with numerous water crossings. We survived those, started climbing, and got a little goofy. Have you ever wondered what Beyonce would sleep in if she were bikepacking? Well, we asked everyone we saw as though it was the most pertinent question in the world, and at the time, it was. For the record, answers ranged from teepee to hammock to a moroccan style tent, but all seemed to agree that it would be very gold. We kept chipping away at the miles and the scenery kept getting more beautiful. When we started the descent towards the John Day River, the scenery really became overwhelmingly gorgeous. The whole weekend was worth it for for these 10 odd miles if nothing else. It was that good and we were all feeling pretty high off the experience as we rolled into the Painted Hills. When we got there, Sharon asked someone if they could take a photo of the four of us by saying “can you take a photo of Team Today?” Something about the expression just felt so right, we had been a team and we’d been riding in the present with each other all day. It was truly a great team on a great day. We got into Mitchell where we found we had bunk beds to sleep in and a warm shower at the charming Spoke’n Hostel (Beyonce would have approved). We went to bed warm, clean(ish) and happy.
Personally, I underestimated the 59 miles on day three. I thought that the worst of the weather was behind us and it looked like a long but gradual climb followed by a long descent into Prineville. I was confident as we setout to climb some 20 odd miles to the lunch stop which would mark the top of our climb, and the beginning of the descent. The first 15 or so miles ticked by and then we made a turn onto a rougher road/trail and the tone of the day changed quite drastically. First it started to hail, hard, and as we climbed higher, the hail turned to snow. We kept climbing, and despite the conditions we were all riding so strong. I was so happy in those moments, weather and all, but knew that it could all change quickly if someone had a mechanical or we had any small thing go wrong. Eventually we reached the lunch stop, whose location had been modified due a recently downed tree. We hurried through some snacks, put on all available clothing, and started to work our way down through the mountains. The downed tree had also complicated things for the Ramble Ride organizers, preventing them from being able to mark a portion of the route. We fumbled through, made some wrong turns, figured it out and picked up a handful of riders along the way. After the majority of descending was behind us, we still had about 20 flat miles on pavement to go, it was raining and we were riding into a pretty stiff headwind. Our group of ladies knew a thing or two about riding on the road, so we organized our crew of bike packers into a paceline and knocked out those final miles in just about an hour. It was rad, and hilarious. The four of us rotated through, but stayed on the front. My aerodynamics were compromised by many things, but namely the hood on my jacket. I tucked the hood into my bandana, got back on the front and took my turn pulling this happy and bedraggled bunch of bike packers back into Prineville where we had a few more beers and enjoyed more delicious food.
At the end of the trip we were left with just one question - when’s the next trip?
Additional coverage of Ramble Ride can be found on previous episodes of We Got To Hang Out, The Radavist and Path Less Pedaled. Stay tuned in to our podcast for upcoming episodes recorded along the way! We’ll have at least three episodes coming your way that highlight our experience and some characters we met along while on the road.
Ladies and Gentlemen... Walton Brush! Check out episode 19 of the pod.
RAMBLE RIDE IS RAAAAAAD!
Look for the podcast in a couple weeks -- meanwhile scroll through these photos of our adventure. And sign up for the Ramble in Steamboat!
Why cartwheels? Well, why not! But really, this whole thing goes back a few years to a Trek photoshoot in Solvang, CA that Emily Bremer and I were on together. During some free time it came to light that despite being athletic individuals neither of us could really do a cartwheel and she convinced me to celebrate this by driving to Malibu in an attempt to improve our skills on the beach. Oddly enough, we originally set out drive all the way to LA that day to meet up with Julie Krasniak and Jen Abercrombie, neither of whom Emily knew at that point, but we called it quits in Malibu after our cartwheels were beyond sub par (we were hungover and sand is tricky) and we witness a truly memorable sunset (if you know, you know). We sent the laughable videos out to some friends and it just sort of snowballed into what it is today. When I ask someone if they can do a cartwheel, it’s always with Emily and our ridiculous day in Malibu in mind. Given that, it only made sense to ask her some questions over Google Chat about the current state of her cartwheeling, her thoughts on a re-do and whose skills impressed her most.
Abby: do you ever feel like you need a re-do of the now infamous Malibu cartwheel?
Emily: I really wish that I could re-attempt it. I've made some progress in the private comfort of my home and feel like I could really make a better name for myself.
Abby: Do you think you need a re-do in Malibu specifically?
Emily: Yes. I think a cartwheel in my backyard is relatively uncomplicated. Returning to Malibu is the only way I can make amends and prove to my friends what I'm capable of.
Abby: Do you get sweaty palms thinking about all the pressure of doing a cartwheel on the beach?
Emily: I do. I get really clammy and start sweating in general when I'm nervous about something, but this is worse than usual.
Abby: Whose cartwheel impressed you the most?
Emily: Honestly, Annalisa's. I've seen some terrible attempts by her in the past, and her most recent one, believe it or not, is leaps and bounds better than what I've witnessed before.