A Bike-SUP-Ski Adventure in the Oregon Backcountry
The Kona Bikes adventure team is a group of professional mountain bike racers who aim to extend their experiences beyond the race tape. Uncommon adventures and multimodel excursions into the wilds are their focus. For this trip, Adventure Team member Barry Wicks and Team Photographer Patrick Means were joined by Professional Windsurfer Ingrid Larouche and Running Guru Jay Dicherry (and adventure dog Bruce!) for a bike, stand up paddle and ski mission into the Three Sisters Wilderness outside of Bend, Oregon.
In Spring I set out with a few new friends on a bucket-list bike-SUP-ski adventure to a remote lake in Oregon’s Deschutes National Forest. The idea for the trip came over some late-night map scouring, as many great adventures do, during the epic snowstorms of the 2016 winter. I had been dreaming of combining a trifecta of human-powered techniques to explore some new routes into the Cascade Mountains, and figured the winter’s heavy snowpack would open doors for a unique mission into the backcountry, one that would utilize biking, standup paddling and skiing in the same adventure.
On paper the expedition seemed simple enough. In the morning we’d load up our snow ready Kona Fatbikes with inflatable SUPs, Black Project 3-peice paddles, snow skis and lots of snacks. We’d ride the bikes three miles up a remote forest service road near Mount Bachelor to Todd Lake. Upon arriving at Todd Lake we’d inflate the SUPs, paddle our skis across the lake and skin up Todd Ridge for some spring turns back down to the lake, then reverse our way out before nightfall.
Setting out up the service road, we quickly learned that our trusty steads—bikes ostensibly designed to ride in snow—were not as capable as we’d hoped. The already cumbersome machines were nearly unmanageable loaded with 25 pounds of SUPs and skis. Fortunately we had a hardy crew, and after about an hour and a half we covered the three miles to the lake on the half-melted, whooped out snowmobile road.
Sweaty and exhausted, we pulled onto the shores of Todd Lake just as the cloud cover lifted, revealing amazing views of nearby Broken Top. After a quick energy top-off from some of Bend, Oregon’s World Famous Ocean Rolls, we unloaded the bikes, deployed the SUP pumps, clicked together our Black Project collapsible paddles and in short-order we were standup paddling around the crystal-clear water of Todd Lake.
Scattered chunks of ice blocked our passage to the ski route at the far side of the lake but we made the best of what little open water was there to paddle, sliding on and off the ice sheet and spinning circles in our ski boots.
With the half-frozen lake behind us, our crew slapped on the old shuffle sticks and made its way up through the fir canopy towards Todd Ridge. The snow under the trees was full of pine needles and holes, but out in the open pure, slushy snow awaited our eager skis.
Once we topped out and took in the views of the surrounding mountains, we ate some more snacks and lingered in the sun, enjoying the summit. Finally it was time to rip off the skins and cash in the hard earned tickets for some gravity assisted fun back to our adventure base camp along the lake.
Our team breezed down the ridge and glided right up to the awaiting bikes and SUPs. We contemplated setting up an epic pond skim on a corner of the lake, but with the fading light and icy water temps we decided against it and hustled our gear back on to the bikes for the trek back to civilization.
Our vans came into view as the sun approached the horizon and we emerged from the wilderness and back into our comfort zones basking in the afterglow of an awesome experience with great people. Looking back on our epic day trip to Todd Lake, I’m more encouraged than ever to say “Yes!” to uncommon journeys, hanging out with new people and getting outside of my element. It’s amazing what good vibes, a little preparation and the spirit for adventure can bring about!