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MailTribune.com
  • Bachelor's bike resort is downhill freedom

  • It's that day again when we all celebrate what it is to be American. And what better way to do that than through our national pastime, sitting.
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  • It's that day again when we all celebrate what it is to be American. And what better way to do that than through our national pastime, sitting.
    Yes, that's right, whether you're sitting around the barbecue this Fourth of July weekend, planting your butt to watch a parade or kicking back to take in a fireworks display, be thankful that your freedom and standard of living have allowed you the privilege of sedentary living that so few of our ancestors enjoyed. Even mountain biking is really just glorified sitting.
    Now, mountain bikers, imagine throwing your bike on a rack, taking a seat on a magical floating bench, and enjoying a relaxing ride straight up 1,400 vertical feet, arriving at the top of miles of premium downhill trail with your bike waiting for you.
    That's the kind of experience you can get with lift-assisted downhill mountain bike parks, and although I've yet to try one, I've got my eyes set on the new trails at Mount Bachelor Ski Resort, which should be a must-visit for any Southern Oregon downhill enthusiasts this summer.
    Mount Bachelor's downhill bike resort opened for the first time last September but had to close five days later when several inches of snow fell. When the 2014 season begins, just one week from now, three top-to-bottom trails will have been completed. Construction will proceed rapidly over the summer, the resort says. Trails will open as they are completed, and all 13 miles of planned trail are scheduled to be done in summer 2015.
    Ski resorts in the region have begun to tap into the rising popularity of mountain biking, and the possibility of having a steady stream of income, even in what is normally the off-season.
    Mount Shasta and Willamette Pass already offer lift-assisted trails, but both resorts have had to cancel their summer seasons this year because of an abysmal winter. This leaves Mount Bachelor and its brand-new resort as the only option within a few hours' drive of Southern Oregon.
    All this leaves me pining for something similar at Mount Ashland. With a trail system already stretching from the base of the ski area to Ashland proper, I could only imagine the potential of a trail system gracing the slopes.
    At Mount Bachelor, however, the snow melts to reveal broad fields of lava rock. The main trail, Lava Flow, twists and turns through this environment on wide double-track armored in many spots with concrete lattice. It still looks a bit rocky, but nothing properly tuned suspension can't handle. We'll see how my hardtail handles the runs.
    There are no beginner trails here. All the trails are or will be marked with a blue square or black diamond. But on Lava Flow at least, there are no huge stunts, just plenty of bermed turns and flow.
    A fleet of 100 brand-new Norco bikes has arrived at the park and will be available for rental. Protective gear, including full-face helmets, kneepads, elbowpads and body armor, is loaned out as well.
    A full-day pass (starting at 10 a.m.) to the Mount Bachelor park costs $34, while a half-day (from 1 p.m.) costs $29. Passes for twilight riding, from 3 to 7 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, will run $19.
    To me, that sounds — dare I say it — dirt cheap.
    Forrest Roth can be reached at froth@mailtribune.com
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