You only get three rides per year that qualify as epic. Which three are they?
The descent off Mt. St. Helens is more like bike surfing than bike riding.
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EPIC | ‘epik | – noun – A long film, book or other work portraying heroic deeds and adventures or covering an extended period of time.
In the mountain biking world, Epic is a word that gets tossed around more than a Hackey Sack at a Phish concert. It’s used as carelessly as “dude”, “like”, “awesome” and if you live in Southern California, “gnarly”. But guess what? The weekly Thursday night ride you do with five of your friends is not epic. The three-foot drop you’ve been scared to ride your whole life, but cleaned it for the first time last week is not epic.
Epic is a word that must be used sparingly. It’s been so browbeaten that its usage is now being extended to inanimate objects like a new bike, a hydration pack, an overpriced pair riding shorts or some post-ride fish tacos.
So in order to preserve the sanctity of the word epic, there should be a new rule in the circles of mountain biking that you only get to use the word three times in a year. That’s right. Only three rides a year that you do can qualify as epic. So which three are they?
Lewis River Trail in Washington features some of the most spectacular waterfalls you’ll ever see.
For me, this past week could have qualified as one giant extended epic episode, but one ride clearly stood out to me as a true epic. Four friends and I rode among the five greatest trails on the West Coast, and perhaps in the country. Day one was in Oakridge, Oregon, descending the famous and absolutely ripping Alpine Trail. Day two was Lewis River Trail in Washington, a punchy, flowy singletrack in deep forest that parallels the Lewis River and showcases some of the most spectacular waterfalls you’ll ever see in your life.
One of may log bridges on Lower McKenzie Trail.
We hit the McKenzie River Trail in Oregon on day four and five, riding both the lower section and the upper section to Clear Lake out and back. From a quality of trail perspective, McKenzie River Trail is my top three all-time trails.
The flow on the lower 14-mile section of McKenzie is unparalleled, making a three-hour out-and-back ride feel like five minutes. The gently winding, loamy singletrack along the river lulls you into a hypnotic trance, and all the skills you’ve ever learned in your life take over while your mind goes to another dimension.
You’re like Jack Handey, thinking deep thoughts. You don’t even realize you’re riding your bike. If you’ve never been high before, but want to feel the experience without smoking, just ride the lower McKenzie and you’ll begin to understand.
Clear Lake at the top of McKenzie River Trail is a fun and technical four mile loop around the lake.
The upper 12-mile section is completely different, changing from hypnotic flow to sharp, jagged volcanic rock that’s challenging and technical. It’s a full body and mind workout. Don’t go down here or the razor-sharp rocks will make you look like you had a tussle with a wildcat.