The Mountain Biking Capital
By State of the Re:Union
Mountain Bike Oregon (MBO) captures the essence of their community in numerous ways. Not only do they offer exhilarating mountain biking adventures for everyone from beginner to expert in some of the most beautiful terrain in the world, they are a major part of the Oakridge community’s rebirth.
Oakridge was at the center of the timber industry, but suffered a major blow when the town’s largest employer closed its doors. Part of the town’s reinvention is being found in its breathtaking landscape, perfect for mountain biking. We spoke with MBO’s Promoter and Oakridge City Council member Randy Dreiling about MBO and their place in the community.
SOTRU: Would Mountain Bike Oregon exist if the lumber mills in Oakridge hadn’t closed?
Randy: I think it would.
SOTRU: Does MBO’s importance in the community go beyond providing an enjoyable activity?
Randy: Yes. There are many benefits:
1. MBO creates return visits and those people bring more people.
2. MBO runs Friday morning though Sunday noon, but 90% of the people get here on Thursday. People spend money in town on Thursday and again on Sunday on their way out of town. Two years in a row our Chevron ran out of regular gas during MBO. Others businesses have record days during MBO.
3. Not everyone camps, so people stay in lodging.
4. Not all people eat our meals some go out to eat instead.
5. We hire local people. We own 9 school buses and we hire our school bus drivers.
6. We donate to community projects.
7. The money we pay to use the park helps our parks department.
8. Local sports teams earn money at MBO.
The biggest benefit is that you do see people that attended MBO back in town spending money at other times of the year, year after year. This provides an income base for many years to come.
SOTRU: What makes this area in particular, even more than other scenic areas, so great for biking?
Randy: Many areas are famous for one trail. We have many trails and hundreds of miles that are amazing. Our trails are true Single Track not wide double track. You are riding along side 500-700 year old trees at times. There is always a great view.
SOTRU: Why make Oakridge the mountain biking capital of the Northwest?
Randy: I have been calling it that for at least 5 years. Our slogan was the “Center of Oregon Recreation” but tourism studies suggested we narrow our focus to what sets us apart. So the city council (which I am on) approved the new slogan.
SOTRU: What are normal reactions from participants when you set out on a ride?
Randy: “This place is amazing.” After the ride many say it is the best place they have ridden. Many people plan to spend one or two days in Oakridge and then ride in other areas, but end up staying for a week. “It is so green” is another thing we hear a lot.
SOTRU: Do you feel through the efforts of organizations like MBO, Oakridge has successfully reinvented itself?
Randy: Mountain Biking is only one part of the pie. It is a much bigger part than it used to be. We are part of helping Oakridge move forward, but the journey is not over.
SOTRU: Where do you see Oakridge in 5 years?
Randy: I see more people living here, which is great because we lost thousands of people when the mills closed. I see more people here on vacation. I see more new businesses…I see outdoor related manufactures, bike frame builders. I see a new sense of pride.
SOTRU: Where do you see MBO in 5 years?
Randy: This year we sold out August MBO in April. I see MBO since it is capped at 300 people per event selling out in days in 5 years. I see it becoming a premier event not only for the riders but also the bike industry to display and demo their products. I see the fun vibe only getting better.
SOTRU: What is the one thing you want people to know about MBO?
Randy: It is a FUN, non-competitive event for people with at least an intermediate skill set. If your goal is to be the coolest, fastest dude down the trail, MBO is not for you. There is no attitude at MBO. It is about riding great trails and having fun.