When I had the opportunity to make a trip up to Portland, OR for a work trip, I jumped right at it. After living in Boulder, CO for almost 10 years, I had heard plenty about how great of a place it is. Having only flown into PDX and then promptly driving to the coast for a friend's wedding, I always wanted to spend some time checking out the town.
Fast forward to the trip itself, I had done some looking homework in an effort to find the best bang-for-your-buck riding since I was only going to have a small window to get a ride in. Through all of my hunting, I landed on Hood River, a great little town nestled on the south bank of the Colombia River, on the north side of the famous Mt. Hood. Since my trip included a multi-city stop, the idea of packing my bike was completely out of the question, so I had to locate a local option for a rental; enter Hood River Bicycles. A week before I arrived, I talked with Nathan at the shop, and he got me all set up with my rental, and 2016 Santa Cruz 5010c. Upon my arrival, they had the bike ready to go, but what I had failed to do was do proper research on trails in the area; I really wanted to just put it on them to see what they'd recommend for me. As luck would have it, Nathan took the time to map out a route based on what I was wanting to ride, and given that I had only 2 hours to get a ride in. Yes, 2 hours. I had to get the bike back to them since I would be sitting in a conference in Portland all day the next day and wouldn't be able to get the bike back to them in before they closed. Not only did he map out the route, he supplied the map for me, and suggested a great app that has a ton of trails nationwide available for download, for free; if you have yet to try out Trailforks, I highly suggest you do so.
Alright, I know, the riding… The Post Canyon trail system is where I headed. I parked down the road from the trailhead to get a little warm-up in before hitting the trail, so I had maybe a mile of dirt road and roughly 400 feet of climbing.
Having only been riding around twice a week the past month or so, I was wondering how I would feel on a sustained climb (there aren't very many long climbs in/around Austin). Luckily I felt great! I got to the trailhead, and was just in awe.
The super tall firs along with the copious amounts of ferns along the ground made this look and feel like what I imagined Pacific NW trails being. It's not until you're surrounded by a new environment that you truly experience all of it. The sights are one thing, but I couldn't help but smell the fresh, green scent of the lush forest. This may sound funny, but something I've always done when in a new place is to actually feel the surroundings; so yes, I had to reach out and feel the trees, plants, and dirt. The more you do it, you'll start to notice the subtle differences between locales.
Back to the ride. I headed up and was greeted with a butter smooth somewhat wide singletrack that meandered it's way along Flume Creek. After a half mile or so, the trail turned up a bit and the climbing got a bit steeper. There were some switchbacks thrown in there, with some fairly flat spots as well. Once I was on the “top” of the hill, everything flattened out a bit and I found myself in the middle of a fun park; elevated track was everywhere, with some small jumps thrown in for good measure.
This wasn't anything like what you see on the North Shore of Vancouver, BC, but more like what you'd cut your teeth on while sharpening your balance skills on narrow track. After tooling around on some of these, I kept moving and topped out and was now on the north side of the mountain.
Down the backside I went, for some super nice, well laid out XC style downhill. After some trail finding, and more up and down through the lush mountain side trails, I found myself back up at the top of Kleeway where I stumbled upon a couple of locals who were heading in the same direction I was. After a short conversation of what felt like they ‘felt me out' all I remember was one of them telling me, “you're going to love this!” Needless to say, I remember Nathan from the shop describing big-ass berms, and well-built table-tops, and that was exactly what I found.
I'm used to berms that are maybe 2-3 feet tall here in Austin, but these things were full on walls, in the 8-10' range. The 5010 handled this descent with ease; and I was quickly taken back to my DH days and just let the bike do its thing. As I settled in, I quit the speed checks, and hit the jumps and berms at speed and was able to clear some, not all of the tables, and was really able to load up in the berms. There was some fun twisted transitions from a left turn berm to a right turn, which was a total blast. Before I knew it, we were damn near the road, which meant there was just a little bit left. We took another trail that paralleled the road for a bit more descending with some fun hips and berms. After a couple of miles, we were done, and back on the road. After some high-fives, I thanked the guys for the guiding, and down we went.
After getting the bike back to the shop a few minutes after they were “officially” closed, Nathan and crew were more than welcoming. They uncorked a solid Trappist Tripel, and poured off some beers for us to enjoy. To say these guys were hospitable would be an understatement. I filled them in on my ride, and got some recommendations on my next stops; food and drink. They ended up giving me the pint glass that HAD the tripel, along with a hat, so I naturally had to pick up a shirt from them too. I made my way down the street to Double Mountain Brewery for some pizza and solid beer. If you happen to find yourself in the Portland area for any amount of time, definitely put Hood River on your must-see list. Visit the guys at Hood River Bicycles, and definitely check out the Post Canyon trail system. If you must eat some pizza and drink some beer, hit up Double Mountain Brewery (http://www.doublemountainbrewery.com/), and Logsdon Farmhouse Ales across the street (http://www.farmhousebeer.com/).Cheers!