The Oregon Outback bicycle ride is no more.
The popular 364-mile unsupported bikepacking race/ride that started in Klamath Falls and ended at the confluence of the Deschutes and Columbia rivers has been killed by its founders after reports of cyclists leaving trash and human feces along the route.
“I’m sad and disgusted and angry, and I don’t see any other way to make this right short of shutting (the Outback) down so this never happens again,” wrote Outback co-founder Donnie Kolb on his website, OregonBikepacking.com. “I’m sorry folks, but the Oregon Outback is dead.”
In 2013, Kolb and Gabriel Amadeus, both Portland cyclists, mapped out the route that would become the Outback, a mix of gravel and dirt roads that takes riders through remote rural communities such as Sprague River, Beatty, Silver Lake, Fort Rock and Shaniko. Prineville is by far the largest town on the route once riders leave Klamath Falls, and only 25 percent of the ride is pavement.
Last year more than 100 cyclists completed the ride over Memorial Day weekend. The beauty and ruggedness of the route drew nationwide attention, and last month close to 300 bikepackers attempted to complete the ride, which was again staged over the three-day holiday weekend.
According to Kolb, riders this year were less than gracious guests, leaving garbage throughout the route. Some of the most outrageous offenses were reports of riders not properly disposing of human waste, leaving toilet paper and feces in impromptu campsites. Cyclists also reportedly left trash in a barn that a Silver Lake resident opened up for riders the first night of the event. To top it off, Kolb said someone pooped in the yard of the Silver Lake family that had graciously given them shelter the night before.
“If you can’t follow Leave No Trace ethics, if you can’t literally take care of your own s--- properly, if you can’t show respect to the folks who live on this route, and you can’t respect the wild nature you ride through, then stay home,” Kolb wrote. “Oregon is closed. We don’t need you and we most definitely don’t want you.
“You ruined something super awesome,” he added, “something I was immensely proud of.”
Tom Roark, a Lake County sheriff’s deputy who lives in Silver Lake, said there was enough trash left at Silver Lake’s community park the first night of the ride, a local resident was able to fill up her entire garbage bin with the debris.
“It’s disappointing,” said Roark, himself a cyclist. He noted the group that camped the second night was more respectful, but that he did have to ask a support vehicle to get off the park’s lawn. “That park is maintained by volunteers. Cutting the grass, water, that’s all done by volunteers. … It was all just a little disrespectful.”
For now, Kolb has left the route coordinates for the Outback up on OregonBikepacking.com, but he said there is no chance he would ever consider organizing another large group event.
“I’m chock-full of four-letter words and offended on so many levels,” Kolb wrote. “Any form of an annual ride is done forever. Kaput.”
— Reporter: 541-617-7829,