Off-Road Exploration Guide Vol. V : Deluxe Cyclo-Cross @ Northern Oregon

There is no argument why at least one of your pals or loved ones has taken off to start over in Portland or anywhere in the Pacific Northwest, for that matter. No, I'm not talking about Uncle Karlmichael bent on escaping your posi-sunshine attitude to write his dissertation in a coffee shop. Let's get some facts out of the way: Portland has the most breweries of any city in the world, the only directly elected metropolitan planning organization in the country (which means land use and public transportation rules), one of the most enthusiastic coffee drinking communities, over ten thousand acres of public parks, and oh yeah, Voodoo Donuts. It was actually a cyclist you were deeply close with that passed on to a better life in bike heaven. Peace be with.

We're jealous, alright, and needed to have a taste of sweet utopia in the final edition of our Off-Road Exploration Guide. We like all types, especially you dirty ones, but you might want a rain jacket and at the bare minimum, some pre-mud meditation. I learned the rain dance from JTT in the cult classic Man of the House to bring on the mud. You're welcome.

We're gonna start on Leif Erickson here; a 5 mile trail that gains all access to Forest Park. Leif Erikson was an Icelandic Viking badass that landed first on North America and didn't get credit for Christopher Columbus' legacy. No offense man, but he got here almost 500 years before you did. Much respect though and thanks for the federal holiday. We assume the trail is named after him and we respectfully chose the Thunderbird, our prided steed for lightness, agility, and stopping power; similar to the effect that paint job and Russ Lafleur's legs have on your heart.

Go into the light.

Photo Spoiler: As the sun rose, I got just a couple minutes of hard light in between those two trees and this test photo below was my favorite from the short run. April fools; shutter speed's at 1/69000s and Russ keeps his eyes on the prize through a roosty skid.


Leif Erickson also connects to Wildwood Trail, which if you're ambitious enough is a 28 mile marathon. Shed some layers, yee haw!

We love how these Johnny Hsu graphics pierce through the landscape. Save your camo for the club.

That tapered head tube isn't just a pretty face – it functionally promotes stiffness and predictability during cornering & general shredding. Cantilevers might shudder but the disc brakes obey. The Radavist also likes it as much as we do :)

We stopped at Velo Cult for a few things. There aren't enough words...literally can't right now.

I'ma let you finish what you know about bike shops, but let me drop knowledge. Velo Cult is Portland's 5th ranked craft beer bar, a five thousand square-foot live music, comedy, and pretty much any performance venue, including hosting the Radavist photo show.

Those are partners Sky and Anthony on the right amidst a small bicycle collection.

Shout out to bike buddha and OG State Bicycle customer, Adam.

Resident chihuahua and Russ' son, Kashi pictured here. Not pictured on right-hand side: authentic Canterbury Castle drawbridge that folds down as live performance stage.

Velo Cult also hosts the annual Filmed by Bike festival as well as corporate business meetings for Nike, Adidas, and Columbia in their basement. Yes, that is a small movie theater. 

Only a limited issue VC token grants access to this swanky tequila bar, 68 total VIPs to be exact. I was really hoping to be #69 but had to snap this photo behind the love beads instead. What's a guy gotta do? Yo, let me in Kashi!

Time for that wheel swap. Reynolds Stratus Pro Disc it is! Drawbridge pictured in background.

Nothing like dialed brake pistons and a 23mm rotor to melt Russ' heart.

Fun fact about this mural covering the parking lot-facing facade: artist Andy Phillips painted it pro bono publico in protest to the city's mural size law. The previously largest piece in the city displaying the words "WELCOME TO AMERICA'S BICYCLE CAPITAL" was painted over last year. Come at me, bro.

We set out to Cathedral Park and I was anxious to shoot in some fog. The beautiful and massive Georgetown Bridge makes for a crushing landscape. Shoot your epic wedding photos here too.

Photo spoiler: no luck with fog here but the wedding party BBQ was a solid assist. Throw some mo burgs on the grill and keep it smokey.

We chased light and swerved up Newberry to Skyline Road and as swiftly as Russ got us up there, we had to call it a night. and I had to puke.

It was a beautiful twilight barfing.

Pro tip: Rapha Friday lunch ride on this very road: rain or shine. I'll skip the car sickness and ride next time, dummy.

Good morning! We're headed to Larch Mountain; an extinct volcano that sits atop the Columbia River Gorge. Get your rain gear and don't forget a camera!

Finally some fog! These roads are absolutely gorgeous, no pun intended. Larch Mountain is named after the noble firs that cover the land. Lumberjacks called them "larches" because of an early bias against true firs.

Noble fir (also known as "red fir" or "larch") is indeed noble and tallest of the true fir genus. David Douglas, who first collected the noble fir in 1825, in the high mountains near the cascades of the Columbia River bestowed this name on his discovery.

The Oregon State champion grows in the Willamette National Forest and is 205 feet tall / 6 feet in diameter!

Christmas trees for days!

Sorry about all the fog porn, Russ. So wet and hot right now. Let's mosey.

The roads around Guy Talbot Park do not disappoint.

Photo spoiler: I had about the easiest time ever shooting bike profiles at this long 180-degree curve. Stand at the inside focal point and use a telephoto length.

Don't forget the drive-side! Did we mention this thing is derailleur compatible? Ready to throw on some gears? Those legs ain't complaining; just throwing it out there! 

The trip isn't complete without a stop at Multnomah Falls, the tallest waterfall in Oregon. The 542 foot upper falls photographed below are accessed by a footbridge that was built in 1914 in response to injury and death from visitors attempting to climb up the 69 foot lower cascade. Be safe, ya dummy! Let's head back to the city.

We've got one more stop in Forest Park. Not only does Portland's climate encourage off-road cycling and coffee drinking but it's perfect for growing roses. Nearby is the International Rose Test Garden which was constructed in 1917 to preserve species of European roses that may have been destroyed in the bombings of World War I and is now the oldest continuously operated public rose test garden in the country. "City of Roses" sounds about proper!

Climb you beautiful pink rose!

The over 7000 rose bushes bloom April to October and peak in June. Russ also told me about the Cherry Blossom festival, Sakura Sunday, and that there is some deep symbolism in the extreme beauty and quick death of the flower, much like fallen soldiers on a battlefield. I present to you, Sakura.

Photo spoiler: this image was used as a monthly wallpaper, I think because of the ambiguous, remote jungle setting, but it's actually a pretty busy public park with walkers almost constantly on the trail in the bottom right-hand corner of the frame. Be patient and opportunity presents itself!

One more time, Russ. Be the blossom.

Fall gracefully you dazzling flower! 


Thanks for sticking with us, and stay dirty, friends!