Thursday, August 26th, 2010

Alpine Trail Complete near Oakridge

For $20 per person, we got a shuttle ride up for Alpine Trail from Oregon Adventures company. The trail is called the “Crown Jewel” of Oakridge riding. It was on a Thursday morning, but there were four other passengers in the shuttle too. During the half an hour drive, we made friends with one retired (but not old) couple, Shelly and Dave, who had stayed near Sonora California and are currently living out of their RV on the road mountain biking all over the place.

The shuttle drop off was not at the top of the Alpine Trail. Being a type A person, I had to do the top part to call it complete, so at Kate’s Cutoff, we said goodbye to all other fellow shuttlers and turned uphill while others started downhill. As it turned out, the top section (~3.5 miles of singletrack) was very much worth the extra climbing. Because it was less traveled than the rest of Alpine Trail (down from Kate’s Cutoff), it was more wild. There were sections that were a little overgrown that made riding more interesting. That extra 7 miles or so loop cost us about an hour and then we were on our way down the same path that other fellow riders had gone down.

We flew…

And Alpine Trail really allows riders to fly down. There were so many sections where one could just let off the brake and rip. There were also sections where a trail was tacky and straight, yet it was right above a steep cliff side. I tried hard to focus on the trail, not the void on the side, but I couldn’t help but remembering the words I read somewhere about the ride – “vertigo inducing.”

I was having so much fun ripping down the trail that despite that we had planned on doing an out and back on Tire Mountain Trail, I blew past the trailhead without seeing the turn off at all. After a long and fast downhill where the trail popped out on a forest road (near Buckhead Shelter), I pulled out my map and realized that I had missed the turn. Now the question was: where did Erik (he was riding behind me) go? Did he turn on to Tire Mountain just as planned or did he continued down Alpine Trail after me? I decided to ride back up to look for him. The fun descent was not so fun when climbing, but it was not too bad either.  After about 0.7 miles uphill before I reached the turn off, I saw Erik coming down. He did ride out on Tire Mtn Trail ways, but decided that there was no way I had kept going without having waited, so he turned around and continued down Alpine Trail. Indeed, we always regroup at every intersection … unless we don’t see it. Should we both ride up to the intersection and ride Tire Mtn as planned? Erik suggested against it because his bike was having shifting problem and he hoped to get down soon to get it fixed in preparation for our next day’s big ride.

From that point, it was all down hill, crazy downhill. Crazy not in the sense of it being technical, but in the sense of its speed. There would be a Super D race on the trail this coming Sunday. I can’t imagine how fast the locals would go, being familiar with the trails and being in the racing mode.

Okay, now I can see why the trail is called the Crown Jewel of Oakridge riding. I can’t wait to return to this trail and include Tire Mountain as well as North Fork Trail. That would make a very sweet singletrack combination.

For my GPS track of this complete Alpine Trail, click on View Details below.