Mountain Bike: Bend — A New Guidebook by Katy Bryce
Available from Mountaineers Books, this new guidebook features route details and expert guidance for riding 46 single-track routes in and around Bend.
We had the chance to chat with Katy, and asked her to share a few thoughts and tips with us.
What is your favorite thing about riding in Bend?
I’d say for me, it’s the variety of terrain, ecology and trails. Within a two-hour drive from Bend, you can access high desert juniper and sage country or high elevation temperate forests. Just east of Bend, the desert stretches for miles and miles and you get huge desert views, blue skies and some technical, rocky trails. Then in the peak of summer, if you head southwest of Bend, you can access cool alpine lakes, big hemlock stands and ancient volcanic peaks with dreamy single-track. Oregon mountain biking is amazing because it is so diverse. I also love that we have an awesome mountain biking community in Bend. All the local shops and other businesses are just very involved and supportive here.
You’ve volunteered with the Central Oregon Trail Alliance on local projects. Which trails have you worked on, and what is it like to ride on a trail you’ve helped create?
I was very involved in COTA for about a decade or so in the early to late 2000s, before the Wanoga area trails were even built, and then again in 2012-2014. There are some sections of trails in the Phil’s Trail network that I helped build or reroute a long, long time ago. Now, every time I ride those, I think about how they were built. Trail work is dirty work. You’re out there in the dust, moving dirt or rocks and you think, “When are we ever going to be able to ride this?” But then, when a new trail eventually gets opened, it’s pretty exciting.
What does trail advocacy mean to you?
I, like many others, am concerned about the future of our public lands. I’ve been playing on the Deschutes National Forest for over 20 years, and I get a little possessive over it, like it’s “my forest.” But I think that’s how we need to start thinking — we need to get involved in caring for our public lands and our trails. The land management agencies, like the Forest Service and the BLM, work hard to collaborate with trail advocacy groups, but it’s up to all of us to show up. I encourage any mountain biker to learn about their local trails and get involved. I also encourage any beginner or seasoned rider to learn about trail etiquette, Leave No Trace and how to be a good trail steward. It’s up to all of us to make mountain biking an amazing experience.
Any thoughts on the intersection of trail advocacy and women in biking?
Fortunately in Bend, we have a very strong contingent of women riders that shred hard. But sometimes I feel that we still have a long way to go. Worldwide, mountain biking is still very much a male-dominated sport. Getting involved and taking ownership of the trails is a step in the right direction.
Can you share a personal favorite ride or two with us?
The shortest ride that I have in the book is the Lower 66 trail area in Prineville, with about 3 miles of single-track. The cool thing about this area is that it was a very community-driven trail network led by the Crook County chapter of COTA. Prineville wanted a nearby natural area with trails that could be used by mountain bikers, walkers and runners. The trails are purpose-built, so they flow nicely and have some skills features.
My favorite advanced route is the Olallie and O’Leary ride. If you do the whole route, with no shuttle, it’s a whopper of a ride, clocking in at 28 miles and 5,700 feet of elevation gain and loss. It’s a gorgeous ride up above the McKenzie River valley.
Where is your favorite place to relax and refuel in Bend post-ride?
Well, since I live here, my favorite place is my front porch with some chips and salsa and a cold beer with friends! But for visitors, hanging out playing lawn games at Good Life Brewing is a nice way to end the day. McMenamin’s Old St. Francis School is also a superb spot right downtown. They have a restaurant, several bars, a fire pit and a movie theater, and if the weather is chilly, you can soak in the Turkish bath-inspired soaking pool.