Out Our Back Door By Tom Baake
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Bicycle Events Showcase A Variety of South Coast Settings
By Tom Baake
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A bicyclist enters the main trailhead of the Whiskey Run mountain bike trail system between Coos Bay and Bandon. The system’s official opening is June 9.

Bicyclists are looking forward to two fun events this June, with opportunities for road riders as well as mountain bikers.

The Whiskey Run Bike Festival, set for Saturday, June 9, will officially unveil the first phase of what’s envisioned as a 30-mile mountain bike trail system in the Coos County Forest between Coos Bay and Bandon. The trails have been a work in progress for over a year and have been opened but not quite finished since last fall, but now with final refinements completed, and improved parking and signage at trailheads, they’re ready for an official opening.

Get details and a map at http://bikewhiskeyrun.com.

According to the website, volunteers from the Wild Rivers Coast Mountain Bicycling Association and local riders will lead beginner, moderate and advanced rides. The Break the Ice ride will be “perfect for beginners that want to get a taste of the trails at an easy pace, so you don’t need to feel like you’re always having to ‘keep up.’” It’s about four miles with an option to add miles.

The seven-mile intermediate-level Whiskey Sampler is described as “a good solid ride with good solid people,” with plenty of downhill and uphill, and an option to add mileage.

The Full Flight advanced ride will be led by Whiskey Run bike trails gurus and will take in over 12 miles, again with optional added mileage.

An after-party for riders, family and friends at Bandon Brewing will feature music, snacks, outdoor games and fun races.

The trail system event, however, “is not a race, it’s a fun ride,” said Jerry Gross of the mountain bike group. “In the future we’ll probably have races, but this is a grand opening so the community can come out and hopefully get interested in riding.”

Jerry’s been coordinating volunteers who’ve been doing “a lot of work lately, trying to get the mudholes filled up with gravel or drained.” He credited Johnson Rock for gravel donations, as well as other businesses, saying “that’s what it takes to keep a system in good shape. Everybody needs to be involved, but I’m looking at it as a big draw to the community.”

Meantime, mountain bikers have already discovered the trails, which are also open to hikers, and are giving rave reviews. The system features what are known as “flow” trails, characterized by rolling, contoured paths and reversals, and minimal steep ascents and descents.

According to Coos County commissioner Melissa Cribbins, who spearheaded the trail development, the first section cost $232,000, covered by state parks trail grant funding. A Regional Solutions grant for workforce training helped with crew costs. Phase 2 is expected to be covered by the state’s travel agency, Travel Oregon, with the third by another state parks grant, with completion set for 2020.

The system’s main trailhead -- and the site of the June 9 event -- is on Whiskey Run Ln., off West Beaver Hill Rd. Directions depend on which way you’re coming, so refer to the website listed above for the various options. From Coos Bay, go south on US 101 about 13.5 miles and turn right (W) on West Beaver Hill Rd. In about two miles turn left (W) on Whiskey Run Ln., and go 0.7 mile to the trailhead parking area. Maps are available at the trailhead.

Now in its 21st year, the Tour de Fronds bike event will again showcase the beautiful forestland south of Powers. Set for Saturday, June 15, the event features seven rides ranging from 30 to 103 miles, most on asphalt and two with asphalt/gravel routes.

Get details at www.tourdefronds.com. All proceeds benefit Powers projects. Participants get a continental breakfast on Saturday, lots of snacks at rest stops, and a lasagna dinner. A spaghetti dinner on Friday night before the event and the annual Powers Lions Club pancake feed fundraiser on Sunday will be offered for an added fee.

Volunteer Donna Freeman helps coordinate a crew of hardworking locals who’ve made this a highlight of the season for many of the out-of-town bicyclists who return year after year. There are also a lot of new entrants this year, she said. “The word just keeps spreading, I guess.”

Donna noted this year’s Eden Valley ride has been renamed the Mahaffey Cruiser Crush for longtime cyclist Charles Mahaffey. “He rides with us and he’s a real go-getter, so we wanted to honor him.”

There will also be a mini crafts fair, souvenir items for sale, and live music at the Saturday night dinner and at a couple of rest stops.

All part of the plan to “make it as unique as we can and draw the interest,” said Donna. After all, “we’re not just a stop by and ride, we’re a destination. You have to plan to go to Powers.” So plan on it!

(Shopper columnist Tom Baake is author of “Oregon South Coast Bike Ride Guide,” available at local bookstores and bike shops.)

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