Race EXP Air Rides Bend’s Big Fat Tour

EB_BendBig_3It was the last day of Bend’s 6-month dry spell and the first day of three for Bend’s Big Fat Tour 2012. I recruited as many riders as would listen to me on my soap box: “3 days of singletrack riding in Bend, OR; 160 miles total (or more if you want); and the kicker- fully supported with food, trail markings, mechanic and medic. Its always good to have the medic. It took seconds to decide to enlist my Deuter Race EXP Air and hours choose what I’d need for weather that would vary 40 degrees and offer the potential for deep dusty ruts or muddy, snowy trails. Multiple layers for legs and body, fuel, water, and CYA gear, just in case.

I debated between my 2 and 3 Liter Streamer but the 2L won out as there were aid stations along the routes. All packed and ready, I thought I’d be feeling like a burrow but the Race X carried my roughly 18 lbs supremely well, (even though I always thought there should be a slightly beefier waist belt). I debated using my Deuter Trans Alpine 25 as it really can carry a huge amount of gear if needed, but I was impressed at how much the Race X could stash away.


To be fair, I’m one of the lesser qualified to write about the BBFT. Those more worthy would be ones who completed all three days, or at least someone who rode the Epic on day 2 (90+ miles of singletrack above 5000 feet). Nonetheless, I get to have my say because it’s the second year I’ve participated in this tour and I plan to do it again and again. Day 1: Ochoco Nat’l Forest, East of Bend. Beautiful scrub desert riding with fairly gradual elevation gain up two solid peaks. Highlights included riding with friends on new terrain, a 9 mile ripping descent of buff (apart from the volcanic rock sections) pine duff flow, an aid station just when you were ready for some real food, and a route that you didn’t need to think twice about: just look for the pink ribbon. When you’ve coughed up your lungs for the umpteenth time in a day and you can’t think straight anymore, it’s really nice to have those indisputable pink ribbons. It was also cool to top out on the second climb and to see the weather changing. For the first time in months it was wanting to rain in the high desert, and we were there to welcome it.

Day 2 started rather rough as it was dark, raining, and a night of food poisoning was an all too recent memory. Nonetheless, knowing there were bailout options helped me get out the RV door, telling myself it was ok not to finish a projected 60 mile day of riding. The morning proved better than the night before, and, as had been my experience in previous rides with this tour, the camaraderie was contagious. Everyone had a smile on their face, regardless of the climbs and icy weather. Alpine forests at the base of Mt Bachelor lured you to weave up and over hill after hill, and you were greeted by mist covered ponds or micro sun breaks and views. It was not an easy day, as I was irretrievably dehydrated from the day and eve before, and my legs were working hard not to rebel. Having some Nuun and protein bars to back up the large aid station spreads, and the great support from the volunteers at each stop, did however manage to convince me I could ride another 20 miles to each successive stop.

EB_BendBig_2Short story long, I cheated by shaving off a few of the last miles near Phil’s trailhead, and in doing so I realized later that I sealed my fate in having to return again next year to finish what I’d started. Family circumstances forced an early departure from the tour so I once again missed the last of 3 days of riding. Of course I never would have gotten on my bike that last day, but we’ll blame it on the family.

All said and done, I strongly recommend the tour, but you can’t pull off the ride without the right gear: a solid bike that you’re content to be on for many, many hours, and the Race EXP Air. See you next year!

–Ellie Booher (Family Ambassador).

Go ride Bend’s Big Fat Tour with a Race EXP Air!

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