Mt. Bachelor Bike Park

Directions: From Bend, drive 20 miles southwest on Century Drive to Mt. Bachelor’s West Village Lodge parking lot. Pine Marten Express and Sunshine chairlifts serve downhill mountain bikers.

Distance: Trails and routes range from about 1 to 4 miles.

Elevation gain: -1,360 feet.

Trail features: Several different routes of varying difficulty, including excavated trails and hand-built singletrack. Easier trails will be accessible via the Sunshine lift.

Rating: Aerobically easy (no climbing!) and technically intermediate, advanced or expert, depending on the trail. Trail signage is posted.

Season: Summer through early fall.

Schedule: Open Mondays through Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Fridays through Sundays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. After Sept. 3, schedule will be Fridays through Sundays through early October.

Daily lift tickets: $42 for adults from 11 a.m. to close; $24 from 3 p.m. to close on Fridays through Sundays. (Season pass is $279.)

Gear: Riders are required to wear a helmet and closed-toe shoes, and mountain bikes must have functional brakes. Bikers are encouraged to ride full-suspension bikes with a minimum of 5 inches of travel and wear a full-face helmet with additional body armor, including kneepads and elbow pads. (Bikes are available for rent at Bachelor, from full-on downhill bikes to lighter enduro bikes.)

For more Mountain Bike Trail Guides, see bendbulletin.com/rideguide

MOUNT BACHELOR —

Dust flying behind his bike’s wheels, Tom Lomax ripped around a bermed corner then sailed off a small jump along the Lava Flow Trail. Bouncing along jagged rocks, he cruised his way down the mountain along the expertly excavated trail.

Riding along with Lomax on Monday, I was gassed by the time we reached the bottom of the Pine Marten chairlift at the Mt. Bachelor Bike Park. Who knew that downhill riding could be so exhausting?

“Most people who aren’t park riders will be surprised how worked they get physically by one afternoon of riding here,” said Lomax, the operations manager at Bachelor. “You’re not sitting on the seat and you’re active and you’re up the entire time. My riding has gotten so much better because of the bike park, because now I can go up and work on downhill skills.”

This season marks the fifth full summer of operations at the Bachelor Bike Park, which opened in September 2013. The park — served by the Pine Marten and Sunshine chairlifts — includes more than a dozen trails ranging in difficulty from green (easier) to double-black diamond (most difficult). The trails are a mix of free-ride and technical routes. The free-ride trails include machine-cut features such as dirt jumps, boxes, gaps, wall rides and berms. Technical trails incorporate the naturally rugged terrain, including rocks, roots, logs and drops.

The idea is for riders to start easy and progress to increasingly more challenging trails.

After a winter of meager snowfall, the bike park had its earliest opening ever this season, on June 15. Portions of the park were also open for biking on the last day of the winter ski season on May 27.

“The snow came off really quickly, and we’ve never been open before the second week in July,” Lomax said. “Within a week (after June 15) we had almost all the trails open. Last week we got Last Chance (Trail) open, which is over on the west side of the mountain, and that usually has huge snowdrifts. So we’re 100 percent open right now when we’re normally just getting open.”

Last Chance is a black diamond trail that starts from the top of Pine Marten. Lava Flow is a blue (intermediate) trail that also starts from the top of Pine Marten and serves as the main connection to other trails.

Winding down Lava Flow, Lomax and I eventually linked up to Hanger, another blue trail at the park. I noticed how the riding at the top of the mountain starts out through jagged lava rock, but as we got lower the trails transitioned nicely to smoother dirt.

After the first run we made our way to the Sunshine chairlift. Some chairs on Sunshine and Pine Marten are fitted with a bike rack. Riders roll their bikes onto the rack, then take the next chair up, their bikes on the chair ahead of them going up the lift. A lift operator then takes riders’ bikes off the lift as they unload at the top and hands them off to the riders.

The trails off Sunshine are a good place to start not just for beginners, but for anybody to simply get a feel for the dirt and the style of trails.

“Sunshine has our beginner trails, and that’s what we really want people to progress from,” Lomax said. “No matter what your skills are, we highly recommend starting on Sunshine just to get used to it. You want to pace yourself and ride a progression. You want to ride to ride another day. Start easy and work your way up.”

The FTL (first-timer line) trail off the Sunshine lift features banked turns, several jumps and some man-made wood features as it carves through trees and lava rock to the base of the mountain. Lomax easily went airborne on several jumps, but getting air is not required on the trail. FTL includes many of the same features as some of the more challenging trails within the park, such as upper Lava Flow, but on a smaller scale. The banked turns, rollers, jumps, paver sections, wood sections and drops are all smaller and less steep than what mountain bikers will experience higher on the mountain.

On our next run Lomax and I headed back up Pine Marten and rode Lava Flow to Cone Run, which took us across the cinder cone, a popular place for skiers and boarders to hike and ride in the winter. From Cone Run, we connected to DSM and then the bottom of Last Chance. The bottom of Last Chance is a blue trail, which was lucky for me, as I had expressed some concern about my abilities on the black diamond sections of the trail.

“To me it’s one of the most fun trails up here, because you get to practice all these advanced bike skills — rolling over rocks, super-steep pitches and really tight switchbacks,” Lomax said of Last Chance. “It feels like you’re out in the backcountry.”

Trail work is ongoing at the bike park, including on the Red Line Trail, which is expected to be a black diamond trail near the Red Chair lift and open by next summer.

Bend’s Kyle Jameson, a trail worker and a professional mountain biker, was hard at work with a mini excavator on Monday while building Red Line alongside Paul Lissette, owner of Dirt Mechanics and builder of many of the trails at Bachelor. Jameson said the new trail will cater to more advanced, aggressive riders, but also will be accessible to intermediate riders looking to progress.

“It’s a big commitment to better the bike park,” Jameson said. “This is a push to cater to all genres of bike park riding. They’ve spent a number of years of building it to cater to everyone, now it’s time for that next progression of what else can you do with new, bigger features and this flow aspect. I build a lot of jumps for my line of work, so I know a lot about speed and air time and berms. So this is kind of my forte.”

The new trail will likely be the final touch to the Bachelor Bike Park, which gives Central Oregon mountain bikers a chance to experience a dramatically different flavor of riding from other local trails.

— Reporter: 541-383-0318,

mmorical@bendbulletin.com

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