In the middle of the Oregon desert, with no cell service, and only an emergency GPS beacon is not where you want to figure out what could go wrong. Things likely will go wrong, but I want to find out what will obviously go wrong and solve it now, rather than in the desert. That’s why I camped in my living room and ran my travel cpap off a battery when sleeping in my own bed at home.
There’s a few unknowns that I really need sorted before I embark on 360 miles and 4 days.
- How heavy will my kit be?
- How will I be able to climb with a loaded bike?
- How far can we go in a day?
- How will I do bikepacking in general?
Some of these questions answer themselves. I will pack my bike after selecting all my kit and then see how heavy it is. Then I’ll do some climbing. I live on a big hill so the logistics of testing climbing won’t be very hard. Expect me to report back on that.
As for how far we can go in a day, there are two questions. First, my riding buddy and I have both ridden many metric and imperial centuries, so we’re pretty confident there. The question is how we fair loaded and that’s what I’m planning a few shakedown trips for. All of the routes have some gravel. Several of them go up in elevation from my house and will need to wait a little later in the season until they are camp-able as I’m not looking to test riding my loaded bike in snow. These mini trips are all places I can ride from my front door, so that will limit the time away from family just spent on testing.
Trip 1 will be to the Tolt-MacDonald campsite in Carnation, Washington. This site is about 15 miles each way from my house with about 10 of those being on a the mild 1-2% grade of the Snoqualmie Valley Trail. I picked this site first due to the close proximity to my house in case I require rescue, and because of it’s lower elevation which will have better weather and allow me to get testing sooner.
Trip 2 will be to the Middle Fork Campground on the middle fork of the Snoqualmie River, near North Bend, Washington. This site is a little more remote. It has no cell service and is about 22 miles each way from my house. It’ll be an opportunity to test the Garmin inReach Mini I have and push the distance a little more, while exploring a more remote location.
Trip 3 will take the Snoqualmie Valley Trail further east to connect with the Iron Horse Trail/John Wayne Trail/Palouse to Cascades Trail where I will stay at the Carter Creek Campground. This again will ratchet up the remoteness of my destination, and add more rail trail 2% grade climbing.
Trip 4. This will be the route that lets me know I’m really ready. Lake Easton State Pak. Right about 50 miles of gravel along the Snoqualmie Valley and Palouse to Cascades trail with a healthy 3,500′ of climbing on my loaded bike.
By the time I’ve done these trips, that’ll be 4 nights of bikepacking and about 250 miles of riding a loaded bike. I’ll have tested my gear and my legs and will know if I’m ready for the Oregon Outback.