While we’re still unsure of how & when mass participation events will responsibly rebound this year on a larger scale, the new self-supported Odyssey of the VOG bikepacking event could be something to consider in the interim. A grassroots-organized trip along Oregon’s beautiful and rugged Pacific coast the Odyssey of the Valley of the Giants, the race will take you over steep climbs, through old-growth Pacific Northwest forest, the Willamette Valley wine country, and occasionally peeking out for oceanfront views…
The Odyssey of the VOG, bikepacking coastal Oregon’s forests
“Legend has it that deep in the heart of the Valley of the Giants dwells a terrifying creature, part evergreen, part… something else, whose confier-ous appetite feeds on the firs of Douglas and Noble, but possibly on the waylaid souls of exhausted cyclists and Stan’s sealant (among other bike bits), as well. Locals claim this bestial apparition blasts sappy Brian Adams songs while a-board a massive 4X8 MTB hardwood… I mean hardtail.“- chief VOG trackers.
OK, with all of that silliness (the VOG is the monster, btw) you’ll likely have plenty of deep, dark old forest mostly to yourself. With a course length of roughly 350mi/560km the organizers (two local riders who dreamt up the project – Seth & Ben) plan to cap the number of racers between 50-75 cyclists, based on rider interest.
Depending on the actual COVID-19 situation at the time of the race at the end of May, they also have plans in the works to stagger start times to keep contacts further limited. So when you register, they’ll want you to estimate the pace you hope to set for the duration of the race – between roughly 1.5 days for the craziest & fastest, to 4 or more days for riders looking to enjoy the scenery a bit.
Bikepacking racing logistics
The event itself is technically free. That’s as grassroots as you can get, right?
But to enter they are hoping you will buy one or both of their Odyssey of the VOG $35 trucker hat or $60 VOG T-shirt to raise money to support The Oregon Timber Trail Alliance who build & maintains the local trails.
You will actually need to pay for the required satellite tracking, though a large portion of the route will be away from any cell signal. SPOT trackers will be rented for $100, or you’ll still have to pay $20 for administration if you already have your own satellite tracker.
The racing gets underway on May 29, 2021 just west of Salem, OR. The course itself will remain secret up to a few weeks ahead of time, but the chief VOGers will share some training routes in the region soon, so locals can get a taste of the steepness in the deep, dark forests. What we do know is that it mixes asphalt, gravel & dirt roads. But it gets steep enough that organizers suggest you might be happy to have mountain bike gearing, especially considering you’ll be hauling all your gear to be self-sufficient for several days.
The night before departure, local bike shop sponsor Bike Peddler has arranged free camping & overnight parking. Organizers note to bring cash for the keg to get your pre-race pre-game on. Even though this year is expected to be limited in numbers, they hope to build community over time with the race.