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Mt. Hood Memorial Day

The place to be this past Memorial Day weekend was the tiny outpost of Hood River, Oregon, at the toes of its namesake mountain.

At least, for us it was. And for the folks we met up with to ride mountain bikes. We had a packed itinerary, cramming three days of riding with the missions of three different crews on three different mountains. And somehow, through the cosmos of long holidays in little mountain-valley towns, things fell neatly into place. So it goes in enchanting Hood River.

Saturday:

The Diamondback Bicycles DF5 team was in town wrapping up a 10-day photo and film shoot with their 2013 fleet and because Billy’s a representative member, I linked up with them to cruise Post Canyon and experience one of Oregon’s most iconic ride spots.

Post Canyon is famous for good reason. The fact that it’s in Hood River is a start. The whole valley is magnificent. But as far as trails go, they are as fun as they are carved through electrifying beauty. Legit dirt craftsmen were responsible for our pure joy on two wheels—every berm perfectly sculpted before each strategically placed tabletop, before the left turn that snakes into the right that gives way to sidehill traverses with off-camber pitches that take you from the playground of features up top to the massive doubles down below.

Slowly through the early morning—when the light is just right—up through high noon, when the warm rays coming through the canopy throw lovely but unphotogenic shadows, they worked, then rode, and I watched then rode, falling into line.

Sunday:

With the DB team, their trucks, bikes, photographer and filmer gone by Saturday afternoon, Billy and I had two more days to look forward to. We found a nice nook in which to camp and Sunday morning met up with the crew of local mtb champion and professional trail steward Sam Pinner.

The walls of the Hood River valley afford ample acreage for epic all-mountain rides, with dramatic panoramic views, spring flowers and front-row exposure to Mt. Hood. Be sure to look to your left—not down!—when pedaling fiercely across the singletrack that traverses sheer slope: The great mountain is towering at your shoulder, watching your every pedal stroke.

On this day, we rode another HR hot spot, the Surveyor’s Ridge trail. It climbs along flowy singletrack for a couple hours with lookouts here and there to catch your breath… or lose it for the views. Then it drops into the Oakridge trail, defined by its hairpin switchbacks that test of the balance of even the most agile rider. A certain rhythm and flow works its way into your riding at this point, between letting the reins loose and reelin’ her in to make the corners.

We ended the evening back at Pinner’s house with a BBQ and fire beneath the sun and rolling storm clouds.

Monday:

Leaving the dry air behind in Oregon, we met up with some co-workers of mine who also happened to be in Hood, and 12 of their friends, in White Salmon and caravanned to Mt. Larch up a spell in southern Washington. Not a small group, we made one truck haul a mighty load. That’d be 14 bikes and 14 people in the Dodge you see there.

Then one by one, we dropped into the woods and tore up the trails, mud pits, kickers, straightaways and all. Mt. Larch takes navigating a tangled urban route and then some rough-and-tumble gravel fireroads up into the hills to get to. But the two trails there are worth it. Nothing technical, but both—an all-mountain and a dh line—deliver a rippin’ good time, especially with a big, stoked crew.

We shuttled all day. Till the eve crept up on us and reality started nipping at the fringes of our fun. A few brews, high-fives and see-you-at-the-bar’s later and we were wrapping up a killer vacation as one should: over a big heaping of food with friends, reminiscing about all the good times and great memories—of just a few hours before.

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