Words by Maxx Chance:
Growing up in Colorado, I have always been close to the mountains. Close enough to be through my neighbors backyard and they have always been a central part of my life. Recently as I have started exploring more on skis and on the bike, my eyes have been opened to all of the different terrain, ranges, and opportunities afforded to me. In particular, the volcanoes of the PNW have a prominence that was totally unfamiliar to me as a Colorado kid. As skiing has become a bigger part of my life in recent years, I have discovered that my draw to explore and travel is really strong. And no where has the kind of pull like spring volcano skiing in the PNW.
While planning this trip, it looked like it could be the perfect multisport adventure. Go out and ski some rad peaks, and connect it all by bike – a multisport dream. This of course has been done by a few people in the past and after watching some of their videos and reading trip reports, I was hooked. On a bike, I feel that I am able to more deeply experience the area and land in a way that I cannot experience on foot or by car. Near the volcanoes you truly get a sense of the extreme prominence of these peaks. Going from the high desert of Bend to the top of a 14,000 ft peak all in one go and then camping and spending a fun week with one of my best friends, I could not ask for more in a trip.
Originally, our plan was to include a peak in Washington, but due to weather concerns and time constraints (I planned to race the 350 mile Unbound XL race only 9 days after the trip concluded) we ended up deciding on Mt Hood and then Mt Shasta as our start and finish mountains.
As with all well laid plans and adventures, it started out by us driving to the base of Hood and straight into a full-on winter storm. Needing to organize and pack our gear, and no desire to sleep in a blizzard in mid May, we drove down to camp a thousand feet lower at Government Camp in Oregon. Getting our bags packed at 10 pm for a 4 am start the next day really set the tone for the trip. It was a good reminder that we were there to have fun and have an experience. We had a deadline, but with a loose timeline and a mindset of improvisation. For me, the thought of possibly having to do some really big days on the bike is always exciting.
We were able to ski Mt Hood on a gorgeous day and were actually the first ones up on the summit that day. The view was insane, and left me wishing that we could make this into a month long trip and explore all the volcanoes. But, I was also excited to get to Shasta.
I had mapped out a loose route on Strava, but using heat maps as a guide obviously has some flaws. Like the fact that the roads I was using to get to Bend were under 3 feet of snow still. It happens. We adapted and came up with an alternative plan, but it was a LOT of highway riding to get to Bend. And a proper headwind. The low point of the trip was probably that day. It was long and hot with cars buzzing me rather frequently. But the promise of skiing and gravel roads and trails in my future kept me going.
We ran into some issues with a broken bike (Micah’s) that prevented us from doing the south sister outside of Bend, but that just means we’ll get to go back for that one.
I was really enjoying being out in the empty roads south of Bend and even though one of the days was 150 miles mostly on dirt, I was having the time of my life. And when Shasta finally came into view on the last day of riding, that was special. Knowing that I’m going to try and be on top of the mountain the next day really gets me excited. I can’t totally explain it, but the feeling of pointing to something and thinking “I was on top of that” is just cool.
The weather on Shasta was less than ideal, but we made the best of it. It was wicked windy at the summit and for most of the climb. We got to the top and were rewarded with knowing that we had accomplished our goal and that we had a 6,000 ft ski down. So good!
To cap off my PNW trip, I also raced the Grinduro race two days after the trip. The legs were HEAVY (surprise, surprise) but I managed to rally and win the single track stage and have a ton of fun riding around with friends, new and old.
Micah was really the glue that help my scattered plans and half baked route ideas come together. He was always there at the end of the day with a cold beer, some good laughs, and a delicious meal. Its easy to keep pushing and riding when your support system is dialed and all you have to do is get from point A to B. I cant really thank him enough. Sharing the adventure with a best bud was the true highlight of the trip.
Until next time. Maxx.