NORTHWEST TANDEM RALLY 2016: KLAMATH FALLS, OREGON

The Kid and I had the opportunity to ride at this year’s Northwest Tandem Rally (http://nwtr.org), held in Klamath Falls, Oregon. Klamath Falls is in southern central Oregon near the California border. It sits at about 4000 ft. and has an arid, sunny climate. During the day, it would get into the 90s, but it was nice to get some sun since we were having spells of rain back in Seattle. It was really great weather for camping.

The event was held at the Steen Sports Park, which is a pretty amazing facility. It has a lot of really nice soccer fields, and we camped out on one of them. Coincidentally, I had brought a ball along, so we were able to kick it around in the afternoons. There were also some really nice playgrounds there that the Kid really enjoyed.

 

We arrived to Klamath Falls on Friday afternoon, and after setting up camp, we had enough time to go on a short ride. There is a significantly large circuit of paved bike paths in Klamath Falls, which is pretty remarkable for a small town of 21k. One path passes right by Steen Sports Park and links into a paved bike trail the follows the A Canal through town. This was a fun ride to get loosened up and introduced to the layout of the town.

Saturday morning was the official launch of the rally, and it was some sight to see hundreds of tandem cyclists depart together from the park. There were even police escorts all through town and locals cheering us on as we rode through downtown Klamath Falls.

Once out of town, we were on country roads with very light traffic. There were two routes to choose from, and we opted for the shorter 28 mile route, which is actually the farthest continuous route we’ve done together. The route was as follows:

The riding was extremely enjoyable and the scenes out in the countryside were very beautiful. Fields with a variety of crops, cattle pastures, and small lakes and canals were in the foreground with the distant snow capped mountain peaks in the background. There were some gradual climbs, but the route was relatively flat and steady and the traffic was minimal.

We made the loop back into town, and finished off our ride. We spent the afternoon hanging out with the guys and test riding bikes from Bike Friday (bikefriday.com) and Co-Motion Cycles (co-motion.com), playing on the playgrounds, and even went for a swim. We did a little tour of Klamath Falls and ended up at Klamath Basin Brewing (kbbrewing.com) for dinner, which I highly recommend.

The second day ride was a less dramatic start as start times were staggered and there wasn’t the police escort or fanfare. The ride was a 22 mile route and another scenic tour of country roads outside of Klamath Falls.

A large portion of the route was on the OC&E Woods Line State Trail, a rail-to-trail conversion. It is apparently Oregon’s longest linear park at 109 miles! Klamath Falls to Olene is completely paved which was our leg of the trail, and passed through scenic wetlands and over wood plank bridges. Coming back to take the trail as a bike-packing excursion beyond Olene is now high on my list.

The route continued over the Lost River and up a small climb that offered beautiful views of the valley. We linked back up to the OC&E trail and then back through town. One last climb brought us up to Foothills Blvd. for a final descent back to Steen Sports Park.

After the ride, we had a great lunch, then broke down our camp, packed up our gear, and said goodbye to Steen Sports Park, which was our home for the last two days, and the NWTR, which was a really fun event. Next year, the rally will be held in our hometown of Seattle, so I’m really looking forward to that event and the routes planned for it.

We had enough time that afternoon to stop at Crater Lake National Park, which is only about an hour from Klamath Falls. Crater Lake is definitely a place everyone must go at some point, because there is nothing else like it, and you really have to be there to experience it. Our brief stop planted a seed to plan out a bike-camping trip there sometime soon, which would be an amazing experience. I’m sure the sunrises there are spectacular.

The Northwest Tandem Rally was a really well organized and extremely enjoyable event. I would recommend anyone to participate in future NWTRs as you are guaranteed to have a great time. I would also recommend putting Klamath Falls on your list of riding destinations, as it has a lot of great routes to offer, great weather, and is an inviting and bike friendly community.

Please comment below and share any stories on tandem cycling or riding around Klamath Falls, Oregon.