Dropbar

Development Route / by Captain ‘O’

A ride that strings together some of the best drop-bar-gravel-riding mountain bike trails in the area. The Mrazek section is a “frickin” fabulous flowy downhill.

Recommended spring through late fall. This route is not subject to extreme moon dust like some of other mountain bike trails in the dead of summer.

Once we have a chance to document the route with pictures, it will be listed as a 5 Star Route. Currently, we have it listed as a Training Route. We have ridden this route several times.

Photo credit to Jesse Blough of Northwest Competitive Adventures.

Adventure / Gravel Route

– Loop: 29 miles / 1900 ft gain
– Surface: ~ 47.5% gravel, 38% single tack, 2 % paved bike path, 12.5% paved
eBike Friendly: No
– Location: Bend, Oregon
– Published: August 2019

Difficulty

Moderate. Due to ~ 12 miles of single track.

The Start

Roundabout at Mt. Washington and Skyliners Road
Lat / Long: 44.053684, -121.354937


Downloads

Cue Sheet / GPX file / TCX file

Legend

Red = paved road
Brown = gravel / dirt road
Blue = single track
Purple = paved bike path / roubaix

For help with GPS files, the RideWithGPs mapping app and to learn how to download our routes for free, see the “Using Our Rides” page.

  • Mark Hutchinson says:

    I also did it on Aug 1 and loved it! A bit technical but was first a mtn biker. Rode on 38s with file tread.

  • Phil says:

    I rode this route earlier today. Thanks to Captain O for suggesting the route! It was very pleasant early in the morning and the scenery was top notch. I have a few thoughts that may be helpful to others in deciding whether to ride this route, having ridden a number of your other routes.

    1. This is a moderately challenging route technically. Harder than Oktoberfest, In Plain View or Billy’s Playground. The rocky technical sections are one issue, but I kissed mother Earth twice after hitting the moondust (beach) sand when I deviated more than a few inches off the safe center of the track. That wouldn’t have happened on my MTB tires.
    2. I rode with 700x38mm knobby GravelKing SK+ tires and would strongly recommend 45+mm at this time of summer, when the moondust is becoming more plentiful. Better yet, take your MTB. This route would be pretty different in May or in October I expect.
    3. I might switch the route to go up Tumalo Falls Road (gravel) and down Tumalo Creek Trail. I think that might be more fun.

    The bigger issue though, is that to me, this is primarily a smooth and fast MTB trail with some road and gravel sections thrown in to get from one single-track to another. I think there’s a certain sweet spot for a good gravel route – where it requires more than a typical 25mm slick road tire can handle, but would be slowed down by a 2″ MTB knobby tire. The terrain should also be smooth enough that suspension forks are overkill (let alone rear suspension) and so it’s faster to ride on a gravel bike than a MTB. The right tool for the right job. If you’re riding a gravel bike, you want a route where a gravel bike is THE BEST tool for the job. Could I ride most MTB trails on a gravel bike? Probably, but it wouldn’t be very much fun. Could I ride most road rides on a gravel bike? Sure, but I’d prefer to use a road bike for that. So there’s a sweet spot we’re trying to hit. I feel like this route, fun as it was, missed the mark. It’s a MTB route, and best ridden on a hardtail with 2″ knobbies. My Salsa warbird gravel bike was not quite enough “bike” for this route IMHO. Others who are more skilled than I may disagree.

    Anyway, thanks for putting it together! Keep up the good work!

    • Kevin / Co-Founder @ Dirty Freehub says:

      Phil – Thanks for the feedback! Really like the idea of giving others an idea of what to expect.

      You are absolutely right when you say “others may disagree”. When we added this route, it was based on request by several people that the single track in Bend (the easier and some of the moderate stuff) is more fun to ride on a gravel bike than mountain bike. (The Our Mother the Mountain guys up in Portland think all Bend single track is gravel bike stuff and that we don’t have mountain bike stuff! Hmmm??) Thus, we have put some routes like this into the database and we do classify routes with the amount of gravel / dirt road, single track, bike path, etc.

      The other thing that you bring up, which seems to be very relevant right now is the amount of moon dust and the accidents it is causing. We have heard of 4 other crashes in the last 10 days due to moon dust. Gravel riding is a lot like snow skiing – the conditions always change, hour to hour, day to day.

      And not all gravel bikes are the same. For instance, I have 3. (1) A single speed, steel frame, with rim brakes and 35 mm tires with file tread. (2) Salsa Warbird, 2X with, 40 mm tires, low profile knob and (3) Salsa Cutthroat with 2.1″ tires. All are tubeless with CushCore. The Cutthroat is my go to bike in Oregon. The Warbird only comes out now when the route has 50% or more pavement. Same with the single speed. The route we just posted, Wagons & Raptors, is a route doable on 40 mm tires (Gravel Girl did it with those), but is so much more fun with the 50+ mm.

      Again, thanks for the comments and insight. Comments like this really help make a better site.

      Ride dirty and smile!

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