MBO, AKA Mountain Bike Oregon is a three-day mountain bike vacation and festival based in the town of Westfir, its located 4 miles west of the town of Oakridge. The entire zone is surrounded by the Willamette National Forest’s network of trails, and Oakridge has become known as a mountain biking destination thanks to the hundreds of miles of singletrack.
The downside? You have to get to the top of the mountain in order to ride down. The climbs are all long, leg sapping stretches up logging roads. They’re possibly the most miserable climbs imaginable. They’re long, boring and steep at times, taking hours to complete and leaving you drained for the good parts. Shuttling is our preference in Oakridge; the downside is self shuttles take forever, which make a paid shuttle a better use of that precious vacation time. That’s where MBO comes in — registration for the mountain bike festival includes three days of morning and afternoon shuttles with guided rides, camping at the event site, coffee and breakfast each day as well as lunch fixings. Free mechanical support and bike demos are available onsite from a number of bike industry brands, which add to the value of the MTB vacation.
There’s also a free adult beverage garden where the drinks are flowing each evevning – just remember to hydrate along the way – you want to be able to ride the next day. There are also showers available offsite, though we never managed to get on the shuttle to them, instead electing to head down to the river to clean up.
MBO is basically a sleepaway camp for big kids.
I learned how to ride mountain bikes in Oakridge while in college, and as an experienced mountain bike coach and ride leader, it was just a matter of time before I joined the guide team to be a part of the event.
It’s my second year participating as a guide, so on Thursday I cut out of work early in order to run home, stuff gear and provisions into the van and head out.
Arriving in the nick of time for the guide meeting, the guide teams got up to speed on our assignments for the weekend. Then it was time to crack one open while we worked on dialing in radios, followed by driving into the camping zone to set up a base camp for the weekend.
A weekend packed with riding
After waking up and pedaling over to Nossa Coffee for what became a morning ritual all weekend, I helped myself to some breakfast, then gathered up my gear. Heading over to guide check in I prepared for my first ride of the weekend, which also happened to be a favorite: Dead Mountain.
Dead Mountain is a flowy bike-specific trail that starts from the summit of Dead Mountain. Formerly known as Flat Creek, the top section was machine built and is filled with berms and well-spaced rollers that are fun to gap at speed. The top was in great shape from a few wet days but as usual for this time of year, the lower section was filled with blown-out corners that love to pull your front wheel out from beneath you.
After heading back to the Westfir base camp, riders had the option of heading back up for a lower Alpine shuttle or runs down Larison rock. Both are fun, high speed options with just enough exposure to keep riders on their toes, lest they end up in the bushes.
We liked to end our days at the river, cooling off with a bit of swimming before preparing an evening meal. In the evening, riders gathered in the festival zone for happy hour the beverage garden, where the drinks were free and flowing.
MBO essentially ends each day with a five hour party session in the event zone. A wide range of food carts are available with a movie night on Friday, with a number of videos were shown along with commentary from the film makers.
Saturday is Aloha time in the beer garden with a mini bike crit taking place; it’s the big party night. Sunday tends to be a much more chill day as a result.
For MBO day three, I had the luxury of joining the ride of my choice. While I wanted to get a session in on the double – AKA Lawler/Hardesty, Inga’s group was headed up to ride Heckletooth, and it’s a good one too.
Heckletoon starts off with a bit of a climb to get to the summit. It’s worth it though, as it’s one of the best views in the area.
Fortunately for me, in my mind the climb is significantly longer, which made reality a breeze. I had my sights set on clearing the entire length but forgot about the final root tech section at the top, which requires trials skills and a good amount of energy. One of these days… (admittedly I say this every year)
You’re rewarded with one of the best views in the valley, as well as a rocky and steep descent with some technical switchback turns and a lot of exposure. Sadly you’re through it fast and back to the twisty single track in the woods.
After a full weekend of riding, we were wiped out. Next year, I’ll make sure to take some rest days in advance so I can run strong all weekend. You gotta love the riding in the Pacific Northwest.
More more info, check out MBO: the Mountain Bike Oregon Festival in Oakridge, Oregon at MTBOregon.com