The Epic Chronicles of Southern Oregon’s Mountain Bike Program

September 2013 marked the beginning of the Southern Oregon University Outdoor Program’s newest component – mountain biking trips. With a fleet of racing quality mountain bikes and a full compliment of pedals, helmets and pads, the OP is now capable of running high quality, low cost mountain biking trips for students, by students. This new program works towards a few major goals. First and foremost, it is geared towards getting new mountain bikers out on the trails in a supportive, instructional environment that will help them gain the skills they need to continue riding on their own. In order to make this opportunity a reality for as many students as possible, we have kept the cost of these trips as low as we can, making the mountain biking experience available to a wider range of students. By introducing more SOU students to the sport and lifestyle of mountain biking, we hope to contribute towards the continued progression of the local mountain biking community. This program also offers veteran riders an opportunity to pass on the knowledge they’ve gained through their own experience, while themselves gaining valuable leadership skills. This program has been highly active so far, and promises to continue offering exceptional, accessible mountain bike trips to the students of SOU.

A year ago the SOU Outdoor Program presented it’s budget to a committee of dedicated students, including a special request to purchase a fleet of mountain bikes. This proposal moved from committee to committee as we at the OP waited anxiously. Finally, in the late Spring of 2013, we got word that our budget had passed and that we would be funded to purchase a full fleet of mountain bikes and safety gear, as well as pay a Mountain Bike Program Manager and a Fleet Mechanic.

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Outdoor Program staff presenting the OP budget proposal. Huge thanks to all of the students who came out to support us and to the committee for hearing us.

Once we had secured the funding, the task of actually acquiring all of the bikes and gear that we needed before our first trip in September became very real very quickly. We began by reaching out to all of the local shops for competing bids, and also began talking directly to bike manufacturers. The breakthrough moment was when Matt Wittler, a Southern Oregon alumnus, skilled mountain biker, and good friend introduced me to Tsering Alleyne of Marin Bikes at the post-race festivities of the Ashland Mountain Challenge in June.

The post-race festivities at the Ashland Mountain Challenge

The post-race festivities at the Ashland Mountain Challenge

Tsering was excited about what we were hoping to accomplish with our mountain bike program, and so after working out the logistics, we began building a fleet. Tsering and his colleague Tim Tebbe helped us to get the largest number of high quality Marin Bikes that our budget would allow, and were a pleasure to work with throughout the entire process. Our fleet of Marins have proven to be extremely capable, light, and smooth-riding bikes that have been the foundation of the six mountain bike trips that we have run so far.

Click the image to see what Marin Bikes has to offer!

Click the image to see what Marin Bikes has to offer!

After we had secured a fleet, we began working with Bill and Sue Roussel of Ashland Mountain Adventures, long time friends and advisors to SOU’s mountain biking enthusiasts, who helped us source our full line-up of Kali Protectives Chakra and Amara helmets and G-Form knee pads. Ashland Mountain Adventures has played a major role in the creation of this new mountain bike program by freely offering insight and advice at every step in the process of building this new program.  At Bill’s recommendation we took our first overnight trip to the Applegate Lake, which was a huge success. Sue came out to our women’s specific trip as a guest instructor and did an excellent job of coaching our nine female participants during their first Ashland mountain biking experience.

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The group from our women’s specific trip in front of the Ashland Mountain Adventures van. Thanks for your support AMA!

Kali Protectives helmets looking sharp!

Deity Components, a rider owned and operated company out of Boulder Colorado was another company that was great to work with.  Sadie of Deity helped get us set up with a full set of their lightweight, colorful, grippy and sturdy Compound pedals. These pedals have served us extremely well – keeping riders firmly planted on their bikes so that they can focus on riding instead of concentrating on keeping their feet in place.

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Our Deity Compound pedals. Click the image to see the other high end components available from Deity

Once we had collected all of this equipment we were finally ready to put tires to the dirt and get folks mountain biking! Our very first trip was a staff outing that served to familiarize the Outdoor Program family with our new fleet, and also gave our instructor team an opportunity to fine tune their teaching points and trip layout.

OP Staff taking the bikes out for the first time!

OP Staff taking the bikes out for the first time!

Shortly after this training trip, we took a group of eight incoming freshmen out for a four day, three night trip to the Applegate Lake. The smooth, flowing trails at the Applegate were ideal for first timers and experienced riders alike, and the Collings Mountain trail (which included a full-sized Bigfoot trap) was a great challenge once riders had learned the basics. Especially on some of the longer rides like the Collings Mountain epic, we were very glad to have the support of Clif Bar and GU Energy, two of the industry’s most widely respected nutritional experts. At every break, riders shared Clif bars, passed around Bloks, and devoured GUs to keep their energy levels up and their bodies functioning to their full potential.

The Applegate Lake

The Applegate Lake

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Inside the Bigfoot trap!

For the final day of this Raider Wilderness Experience freshmen orientation trip, we decided it would be prudent to show these new students what the riding would be like right in their back yard, so Ashland Mountain Adventures gave us a lift up to the top of the mountain, which turned out to be a little on the chilly side. The riders were up for it, so we decided to brave the snow and show them the mountain!

Our team up at the Mount Ashland Lodge

Our team up at the Mount Ashland Lodge, sporting G-Form knee pads

Fortunately, the G-Form pads that Ashland Mountain Adventures helped us acquire double as knee warmers when conditions are cooler. These pads held up through a full four days of beginner riders trying to destroy them by running their knees into the occasional rock, root, or hard patch of dirt. Not only did the pads stay in great shape, they also turned these knee/earth encounters into short blips in otherwise smooth rides instead of trip-ending injuries. The pads harden on impact, protecting the knees when necessary, while still allowing plenty of mobility for hours of cross country pedaling. See these knee pads and others by clicking the image above.

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Snowy conditions like these also made us especially glad to have Pro Gold Lubricants as a supporter. Their cleaning products helped Kurt, our master mechanic and ride leader, get the bikes looking like new in no time and the Pro Gold Xtreme chain lube has kept them running smoothly for months.

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We ran a second staff trip shortly after this four day epic. It was another great opportunity for OP staff to get acquainted with the bikes, and was sponsored by Ruby’s Neighborhood Restaurant of Ashland, who provided  their famous breakfast burritos in place of our standard OP wraps.

Ruby's Restaurant on North Pioneer Street in Downtown Ashland (Image courtesy of triposo.com)

Ruby’s Restaurant on North Pioneer Street in Downtown Ashland (Image courtesy of triposo.com)

Next we put on a women’s specific trip with the help of Sue Roussel and Ashland Mountain Adventures, who was our guest instructor for the trip. Sue’s riding expertise and smooth teaching style helped make the trip a huge success. The atmosphere of the trip was highly supportive and encouraging, and led to a great day of mountain biking. Mountain biking has traditionally been (or at least been viewed as) a male-dominated sport, but we at the OP are pretty fired up about making our programs accessible to everyone and want our mountain biking program to be as inclusive as possible. Working to get more women out on the trails is one of the major focuses of our programming, and will continue to be as long as our wheels are rolling.

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Sue and the gals!

Sue and the gals!

The day after Halloween we put on a costumed, beginner-oriented trip back in the Ashland Watershed. We were accompanied by a group of SOU students working on a film project about mountain bikers as an important trail-user group for SOPTV. These students filmed lessons, interviews, trail segments and even lunch. That same weekend, this film crew accompanied several Outdoor Program employees on a trail work day hosted by Ashland Mountain Adventures. Over thirty riders came out to do their part towards the maintenance and improvement of our trail network here in Ashland.

32 riders out to give back to their community and trail network!

32 riders out to give back to their community and trail network!

Our final trip was another overnighter out to the Applegate Lake! A clavicle injury on day two sent us back to Ashland early but we had a great time regardless and our injured rider is doing great! Several of the riders had been participants on our very first trip out to the Applegate, and it was inspiring to see how far they had progressed since the beginning of the first trip.

Luisa charging

Luisa charging

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Our setup at the Jackson Campground on the Applegate River. Great site!

In the new year we are looking forward to putting on a staff training trip in order to increase our staff pool and keep the program rolling strong into the future. We’ll be running a second women’s specific trip and another beginner-oriented trip right in the Ashland watershed. We’ll also be putting on a mountain bike movie night and a biker breakfast in partnership with ECOS, the environmental club on campus. The Outdoor Program is excited to offer these inexpensive, beginner-oriented trips in an effort to give more students the opportunity to experience the wonders of mountain biking and potentially begin the lifelong pursuit of that special kind of happiness that only a good stretch of single track can inspire. 

- Nathan

Weekly Gear Highlight- Snowboard boots

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A properly fitting snowboard boot can make or break your day on the mountain.

Pro Tip: If putting your foot into the boot hurts, the pain will not go away once you start snowboarding.

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Once you find a boot that is the proper size, the next task is to lace the boot up. There are several different systems for boot laces. The majority of the boots we have at the outdoor program lace up just like a shoe. There is one small difference and that is that there are two sets of laces.

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Make sure to tighten the laces on the inside first. This inside set of laces helps to hold your heel down in the boot.

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The laces on the outside of the boot are next.

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Once both sets of laces are tightened you are ready to get your board and hit the slopes!

Pro Tip: Ski or snowboard socks are helpful, they are thick and will keep your feet warm as well as providing cushion. A good pair of wool socks works just fine.

First person to answer the following quiz question gets a free shuttle to Mt. Ashland through the Outdoor Program. Asnwers are to be submitted to the Outdoor Program Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/sououtdoorprogram

Quiz Question: What event occurs this weekend and could help you with your ski fashion dreams?

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Weekly Gear Highlight- Snowshoes!

If you have woken up to snowy weather, or even just want to go play in it, good news the Outdoor Program rents snowshoes!

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We have snowshoes, as well as the extenders for them. If you are planning to carry a backpack with you, we suggest you take the extenders, just ask us for them when you rent snowshoes!

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To put the snowshoes on, you will want to set them up facing forward with all of the straps loosened. Notice the heel strap is fully undone.

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Next you will step into the snowshoe. To tighten the straps pull them as tight as you can, this will lock the strap onto the metal hook.

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Continue to tighten the straps until all of them are tight. Don’t forget the heel strap!

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If you are using extenders you will need to attach them to the snowshoe before placing the snowshoe onto your foot. The first step is to align the bolts and the holes that they fit into.

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From here you will push the extender onto the snowshoe until the bolts lock, you can then tighten the screw down.

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Snowshoe on!

Guess what gear we are highlighting next week for a free rental of it! See picture below, first person to post on our facebook page with the correct answer gets a free rental. https://www.facebook.com/sououtdoorprogram

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Weekly Gear Highlight- Bike Pump!

As the days get colder bike tires become something of a possessed item, going from fully inflated on the morning ride to school, to a flat un-functional mess by noon. Fear not bicycle enthusiasts! We have a bike pump at the Outdoor Program!

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Here we see one bicycle enthusiast making a futile attempt to inflate his tire.

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Realizing there is an easier way he gets the bike pump from the Outdoor Program at Southern Oregon University.

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A Presta valve uses the grey side of the pump.

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Schrader uses the black side.

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Once you place the pump nozzle over the valve, make sure to twist the yellow lever to the opposing side. This will allow air to go into your tire!

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Check your bike tire to see how much air you should put into it.

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Undo the latch that holds the pump handle down, watch the gauge and pump away!

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If you got over zealous with your pumping, see the face of a crazed tire inflator above, fear not! Disclaimer: You can actually overinflate your tire and have it explode… Please avoid this unless you have safety glasses and a controlled experiment site.

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There is a handy pressure release button on the pump!

Once you finish pumping up both of your tires have a lovely ride!

Next weeks Gear Highlight will feature the following piece of gear. First person to guess on our Facebook page receives five dollars off the rental of it. https://www.facebook.com/sououtdoorprogram

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Redwoods Trip Fall 2013

We were rewarded for our early start by arriving at the trailhead for the Damnation Creek trail before noon. We hiked two miles through redwoods to a small beach with spectacular views of the ocean.

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The trail down to the beach.

 

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The view from the beach.

We had lunch at the beach and spent a while exploring.

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There were two bridges on the trail that were neat, however the climb back up the hill was certainly slower than the trip down, but well worth having visited the beach.

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Group photo from the beach.

That evening we camped at the Jedediah Smith Campground, we were lucky and got a campground on the river. A few of us took the chance to go down to the river and skip stones, we also got a pretty view from the river.

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Morning time at camp, eating eggs, potatoes, veggies and sriracha.

We then drove to Stout Grove were we hiked the Boy Scout Tree Trail to fern falls. We saw many types of fungus on the trail.

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When we got back to the van we had lunch and loaded up for the ride home.

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Everyone was very tired on the drive home.

Overall the trip was very fun, we hope to see more new faces on future trips, come sign up! Sometimes we even bring a dog with us.

Tree of Heaven Whitewater Trip 10/27/13

The weather chose to cooperate with us for a rafting and inflatable kayaking trip on the Tree of Heaven section of the Klamath river. We started at the Tree of Heaven campground, named for Chinese immigrants that had imported a tree commonly called, Tree of Heaven, that reminded them of their home.

Our launch site

Our launch site

 

Some of our group was feeling more adventurous and opted to paddle inflatable kayaks, which allowed them to explore the river under their own guidance ( although we did have instructors in the water with them).

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They also got a chance to test their balance, and show of their best gondola guide impression.

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After lunch we stopped at school house rapid to try surfing for a while.

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Overall the trip was awesome, and the fall colors certainly helped!

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We hope to see you on our next trip! Also just incase you need more incentive to come have fun with us, you get to wear sweet outfits!

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Trail Maintenance October 12th and 13th.

The outdoor program teamed up with the Siskiyou Mountain club, a non-profit hat coordinates stewardship projects, publishes field guides and outdoor literature, and leads active outdoor adventures for the public, to do trail work on the Lone Pilot trail in the Soda Mountain Wilderness Area. Seven of us went out and cleared the trail of two downed trees, installed a sign post at an unmarked junction and cut some bush back that was on the trail. The trip was a lot of fun and Gabe Howe, our SMC instructor, taught us how to use crosscut saws!

Gabe from SMC teaching the art of Crosscutting

Gabe from SMC teaching the art of Crosscutting

Gabe from SMC teaching the art of Crosscutting

Gabe from SMC teaching the art of Crosscutting

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The hole for the sign post

Crosscutting

Backpacking Staff Training – Memorial Day Weekend 2013

By- Topher Timzen

We had a great time in the Red Buttes Wilderness area this Memorial day weekend! It rained pretty much the whole trip, but no one’s spirits were low. We hiked approximately 13 miles (A lot of off-trail travel and slow moving hiking due to downed trees and poor trail conditions). We tossed backpacks over downed trees, crawled under them and put our packs back on only to have to do it again 30 feet later!

Every night we ate delicious food including Pesto Pasta, Quinoa with Red Sauce and Grilled Cheese!

Everyone had a blast and we all learned a lot about map reading, how gear works and about ourselves.

Day 1: We arrived at the trailhead and camped. We went over how to read a map, how to take a bearing, how to use backcountry stoves (WhisperLite , Pocket rocket and Alcohol burners) and went over what everyone had in their backpacks.

Day 2: We hiked from the trail head to Echo Lake and then to Lilly pad Lake. This evening was the first rain fall we encountered and it started just as we went to bed. We went over water treatment and how to handle a group in the backcountry.

Day 3: We decided the 24 mile trail was too long and did some off-trail travel. We descended down a slope at Desolation Peak and Rattlesnake Point and trudged towards the river. We bushwhacked through wet bushes, walked along a stream and crossed a river! To end the day, we hiked straight up a steep slope to our campsite.

Day 4: Another day full of rain! It rained all day! The trail conditions were poor on our last section and we had to evade fallen trees in any way possible. We would go up and over trees, over trees and under trees! Every time we thought we were out of the ruff, another tree was fallen on the trail and we had to crawl under or go over it! Everyone was exhausted by the time we arrived back to the van, but everyone wished we could have had an extra day in the forest.  ImageImageImageImage