We believe that at some level we are all genetically predisposed with a sense of adventure. The beauty of human individuality allows us each to create our own definition of what that is, and there are no right or wrong answers. Your inclinations do not need to be impulsive, dangerous, or lack consideration of consequence to be considered adventurous. This is your life and you get to write the script.
Discovering our backyard
Admittedly, we had been somewhat deprived of free time towards the end of summer and beginning of fall due to life getting in the way of our desire to ride our bikes, as it often does. Concurrently, we discussed the truths—however inaccurate—that great distances needed to be traveled to seek adventure (although we’re certainly not opposed to this). So with the restrained confines of time, we eagerly planned an escape to Mt. Hood, located only 50 miles east-southeast of Portland, our North American HQ.
With a destination of Lost Lake, but with no specifically planned route for our journey, we headed towards the mountain and the general vicinity of the lake. All roads pointed upwards, and we continued to climb, but without the urgency usually found on a typical road ride. Sometimes we ride hard, sometimes we ride easy, and sometimes we stop completely just to take a closer look.
It was hard to believe that we were just over an hour away from a city housing over 2 million people. After parking just outside Hood River, we'd seen almost no one since we left the main roads. Granted, it was a weekday, but the solitude we felt was pretty amazing, and once we hit the lesser-traveled forest service roads, we felt like we had the mountain to ourselves.
One is instilled with a certain sense of authority when adventure is defined as you pedal. Not authority over any other person or thing, per se, but a lack of mapping and planning, combined with a seemingly endless option of roads, trails, and opportunities for off-the-bike exploration really lent an energy and enthusiasm to our trip. Like kids exploring the final frontier, we gracefully ascended the slopes of Mount Hood, eager to see what we would discover along the way.
Great cycling adventures are a composite of occurrences along the way, both on and off the bike. Keeping your options open often brings surprises which most remind us of early childhood adventures. The sheer joy and freedom of riding a bicycle mixed with off-the-bike play along the way – playing at creek crossings, skipping rocks, etc. – are what make these adventures memorable. The fact that they are unplanned and spontaneous only adds to the element of play.
Another component we enjoy is learning a bit about the history of our surroundings. Understanding the regional geology, as well as the history of our ancestors, adds meaning to our trips and puts an interesting perspective on our visit and relationship with the area. We’re by no means geologists, petrologists, or anything remotely of that kind, but it’s hard to not wonder how things came to be when the landscapes contain so much beauty and so much variety. Similar to a 5-year old asking why?, we explored, continually attempting to answer the why of our surroundings. Volcano? Techtonic plate? Landslide? Glacier? All of the above?
Replenishing (sort of)
A good climb – along with any good ride – deserves a reward (that’s half of the reason we ride, right?) – so we decided to rest and enjoy some food and a dip in the water once we reached Lost Lake. Unfortunately, the single snack/grocery store left a little to be desired in terms of assortment and quality of food, but as they say, hunger is the best cook: our assortment of chips, cookies, Coke, and other non-substantive snack choices more than sated our non-discerning but ample appetites. At least enough to get us back home.
Prior to our descent back to Hood River, and while we enjoyed the culinary delicacies of hydrogenated oils and high fructose corn syrup, we talked about the beauty and expansiveness of the mountain in the distance. We talked about exploring new roads and new trails. We talked about skipping rocks and we talked about what we wanted to eat for ‘real dinner.’
Throughout the day we were reminded that adventure is everywhere. It can take many forms, and can often times be found much closer to home than expected. Sometimes all you need is an open mind and a willingness to look.