An adventure in the woods. Rustic trail. Real fast. Part race, part revelry, part trail stewardship, the Trans Cascadia is all about uncovering ancient trails, creating a valuable resource for those who like to share good times amongst friends going self-powered through the woods on two wheels. Our own Adventure Team rider Spencer Paxson takes us inside a distinctive journey to the Old Cascades of central Oregon as part of the third annual Trans Cascadia, where he partook in four days of riding racing uncovered trail.
A long time ago, before any so-called mountain bikers roamed, a wide web of trail was built in these here hills…the Old Cascade Crest…in a land called now Oregon.
Trails once upon a time meant to move through the forests in order to skirt the flanks of fearsome mountains, to be with the land and to trade things like huckleberries. Later on, to move wagons and pack animals, or to spy forest fires. Eventually, trails just to have trails, to experience nature, and move through the forests.
Eventually the trails were lost, or forgotten. Signs marking the way had become one with the trees, and the path through the forest was no longer.
Until, one day, a party gathered in the woods to uncover these old trails and clear their way through the forest again.
“Mountain bikers”, they were called. These new trail stewards, those who value a certain way of going through the forest. Many came to rebuild, and then the rest came to ride the handiwork.
The goods are best when shared, yet kept secret enough. Undisclosed until the night before, queue cards are handed out in camp and studied under headlamp.
Like the operators of the old Santiam Wagon Road, the hosts treated their people very well and looked to every detail to make their stay comfortable. Much food is prepped for 100 people spending five nights in the forest. Special ingredients are added to stave off the inevitable loamatosis, which afflicts those who consume lush trail with such gluttony.
…and after dinner ceremony, neon dance revelry…
…and after neon dance revelry, neon sleep in the woods ritual…
…and come morning, the wheeled stables bring the steeds and their riders out the paved road and on to the primitive trailhead.
The ride begins along an old way through the forest. The trail is barely perceptible through the thick green moss. Walking.
A delicate balance across the creek to the next path. No pole vaulting required, just bike balancing.
Eventually out of the thick forest and up into the mid-alpine meadows, kept open long ago for living and hunting, the trail is barely perceptible through the golden grass. Old stone cairns mark the way, and clouds float.
Across misty, huckleberry-strewn ridge tops they go.
As the descent becomes ever closer, the excitement builds.
Dropping down through the fiery fall foliage.
Travelers were obliged by the swiftness of the trail to join in a train of shred. Unlike covered-wagon routes, these trails are as serpentine as possible.
The author foot out, flat out
A section of trail ripe with Loamatosis shredarensis
Airborne, peak sustained speeds in the section: 33.6 mph
Returning to covered-wagon speed, back uphill again, across the next section of the pass.
Trail snacks galore since 1873…
Along the Old Cascade Crest…
Really, it was like a dream. Repeat.
The author and his steed. Spencer ended up 7th overall aboard his 2017 Process 111, snagging a few 4th & 5th stage placings across 16 stages in four days, and over 25,000 ft of descending. Check out more of Spencer’s outings on his blog, or follow along his Instagram account @slaxsonMTB