Last year around this time, Tom and I started feeling the call for longer self supported rides. We wanted to go into more remote places carrying everything that we would need for a trip. This would be different than our prior experiences riding long distances all at once, without sleep. We wanted to sleep, we wanted to ride dirt, and we wanted to see as much scenery as we could in a short, bike shop owner, amount of time. When we heard about the Oregon Outback, we thought it would be a good place to start because the route had been ridden and there would be less unknowns. We decided to do it! With little to no bikepacking experience Tom started researching equipment and I started planning routes to prepare us for the ride. One of the places that interested me was Monongahela National Forest which is an easy 5-hour drive from Cincinnati. I had heard that you could ride dirt roads and mountain bike trails for days in Monongahela so I constructed a route along gravel roads and trails that included some of the most scenic features the forest had to offer.
It sounded rugged and like the perfect trip to test ourselves and our equipment. Unfortunately, time was running short. The Oregon Outback was at the end of May and the only time we had free was at the beginning of March. Arctic weather was occurring and we were not prepared to brave the sub 10 degree elements, so our trip was postponed. We finally made it happen this weekend. We had the option of going to the Single Speed World Championships or to try this route. We spent three days riding this route, which we cut short, twice! Just for a comparison, the Oregon Outback traversed 365 miles of dirt roads with roughly 14,000 ft of climbing. Our final revised route traversed 190 miles of dirt roads with roughly 17,000 ft of climbing. Was it hard? Yes. Could we have done it in less than three days? Probably not while maintaining a healthy fun-times attitude. Would we do it again with you all? Hell yes!
Route: Click here.
Photos: Click here.