Editor’s Note: This post is courtesy of Travel Oregon.
Smith Rock will always be best known as the birthplace of American sport climbing. This enchanting landscape where towers of volcanic ash rise out of the sage and dust of Central Oregon’s high desert like the spires of a stone cathedral is a veritable Valhalla for rock climbers. Thousands of routes attract enthusiasts from around the world.
But climbing is just one of the area’s allures. Situated in a locale where the sun shines 300 days a year, Smith Rock is an outdoor adventurer’s playground — especially if you ride bikes. Mountain bikers can spend the day ripping around Phil’s Trail, while road cyclists can take their pick of five scenic bikeways such as Madras Mountain Views and Sisters to Smith Rock. One look around and it’s clear why the place is one of the 7 Wonders of Oregon.
For Wade Beauchamp of Vulture Cycles, riding the area’s singletrack trails was design inspiration for a very special bike. Beauchamp was one of seven builders tasked with creating bikes for Travel Oregon’s 7 Bikes for 7 Wonders scavenger hunt. To celebrate the 7 Wonders of Oregon, seven of the state’s best bike makers created custom hand-built bikes inspired by the state’s most amazing places to ride, including Smith Rock. This summer, those bikes will be hidden at their Wonders for anyone to find, own, and ride.
“The hard thing about riding at Smith Rock is there’s all this weird stuff to see, so you can’t just focus on the trail,” explained Beauchamp, who lives in nearby Bend and is the lone employee of Vulture Cycles. “There’s always different light and different views. You can see Madras from there sometimes, you can see Culver, you can see Prineville, you can see the Ochocos, you can see the Cascades, especially when you’re up at the top of Burma. And then you ride down to the Crooked River Trail and suddenly you’re riding right by a ton of great sport climbing. I’ve done 30-mile rides out there and not ridden all of it.”
Beauchamp has been making one-of-a-kind bikes for 19 years, his clients including everyone from everyday riders to cyclocross national champs. But this project was unique: design a bike for a Wonder.
“It was super challenging,” said Beauchamp of a process that resulted in a bike dubbed the Smith Rocket. “I usually build for people.”
Despite stepping outside his comfort zone, Beauchamp still managed to create a supreme piece of two-wheeled art that was made to mimic the vintage mountain bikes of the 1980s when Smith Rock was first emerging as an outdoor lover’s paradise. The fully rigid 29er with classic swoopy lines utilizes Shimano XT disc brakes and a smooth shifting 1×11 drivetrain. Portland-made Chris King parts adorn the frame throughout.
The bike is also visually stunning, matching the place it represents. The masterful paint job features multiple colors fading in and out to reflect a Central Oregon sunset. A blue line on the rims symbolizes the Crooked River, which winds around the base of Smith Rock. The frame’s tan powder coat embodies the rock itself.
To complete the connection between place and bike, there’s an attached leather binocular case for bird-watching and a rope bag for climbing. The bag also makes a great picnic basket, which would be a perfect way to spend an afternoon at Smith Rock.
“The place is so scenic,” said Beauchamp. “Both the rock and the views. I always love my time there.”
For some lucky person, that beautiful place will include a beautiful new bike to bring home.