If you've known me long enough you have probably heard me say that we all ride bikes for a different reason (or in many cases: reasons). Normally I'm using that phrase to describe a different or foreign style of bike to somebody, but it applies at a deeper level too. I enjoy mountain biking for many of the same reasons that everybody else does, but there is a specific type of mountain biking that really makes me tick. My absolute favorite experience to have on a mountain bike is not to have the fastest time on a segment, to get my adrenaline fix or to "shred trails" (where did we get that term anyway? I don't want my trails "shredded").
My favorite type of mountain biking is spending the better part of the day, going at no particular pace, on a long, rewarding and challenging trail. This is what I did last Sunday when a long time customer and friend invited me to ride a section of the Fremont National Recreation Trail.
By no means the first time I've ridden out there (in fact I was up there with the Oregon Timber Trail Association just a couple of weeks ago), but this particular section of the 100+ mile trail was new to me. The Fremont National Recreation Trail (FNRT) is a lesser known, extremely remote and rugged trail, in Eastern Oregon. It sees little to no use in many areas and is open to several modes of travel, including equestrian. As a result it's barely passable in many placesand almost disappears in others. The bike becomes less of a "trail shredder" and more of a tool to cover ground.
All of that makes this trail very enticing for the flavor of mountain bike that I desire. No longer are we all that concerned with who has the fastest Strava segment (though I'd be lying if I said it didn't come up), who has the best bike or whether we "hit" that last feature or not. Instead, we're mentally and physically preparing for each upcoming challenge, captivated by the remote natural resources, and engrossed with the endless views,
It's hard not to mention the views. Normally when you look at pictures like the ones above, they are all from the same canned viewpoint. Often if you look hard enough you will find other people with the same photo because there are only so many ways you can shoot the same view. Every picture I took out there was from either on the trail or within a couple of feet. The view you get is not just at points of interest. You're getting spectacular views the entire time. Tired of the climb? Stop and take in the view. Hungry? Enjoy a Clif bar while taking in the view. You don't need to wait to do any of that. We deliberately skipped the dozen or so vista points that the signs pointed out. We just didn't need to see more.
All of that is not to say there wasn't fast and fun singletrack riding. There was enough of that to keep you interested. To sum up the ride in a few short words, imagine a challenging adventure with awe inspiring views broken up by sweet mountain biking. But I don't know if a few short words are good enough for this trail. It's something that needs to be experienced to really understand why this is my favorite type of mountain biking.
Thanks Charlie, Seth and Grant for the ride! For the GPS of the ride check our our Ride with GPS. For those of you wondering, we shuttled to Moss Pass and traveled north of the FNRT to the Chewacan river, about 19 miles of singletrack.