photo courtesy of Jillian Betterly

Taking on a new adventure is hard and exciting. My boyfriend and I worked for months building bikes, collecting pieces of gear and training. Then the leaving night arrived. We rushed around the house, trains tickets, gear, burritos for late dinner, all ready to go. We biked to Martinez to catch the Amtrak, upon arrival we were informed that the train would be an hour late. Bikes packed, we found a seat which we occupied for another 3 hours. The Amtrak employee finally announced “10 more minutes to train arrival”, you could feel the anxiousness of the people to load that train and get to sleep. Loaded up and scoring a great seat in the back of the car, Tobe and I tried to sleep. The adventure that we had been working toward for over a year was about to happen.

After a restless night and beautiful morning, we finally arrived in Klamath Falls. The masses of people were launching the next day, we had a quiet unload with one other rider, Twan. It wasn’t until after we built our bikes and found the local bike shop that we started see more riders. Taking off a day early was a great plan, we saved money and met more people. We later got to see the one day riders pass us on trail and cheer them on, total bonus. With all items collected, we began the Oregon Outback. We started out by missing the trail and getting in a bonus half mile the wrong direction. Finally on track, we left paved roadways, cars, hassle, for open gravel roads.

Riding on gravel is different. It’s not solid enough to keep a consistent speed and soft enough to swallow your wheel. I didn’t have enough sleep the night before and felt like I was having a mental crash. Moving slow and feeling in the middle of nowhere alone, added to my mental breaking. Here we were taking on this dream and I was in the worst mood ever. I kept it together, when we saw other people my mood perked up some. The tall bike crew was the talk of Outback, two guys on tall bikes plus friends – all unique awesome humans. We rode with them for few miles, but when they stopped, we rode out the remaining 4 miles to town. All I wanted to do was get off my bike, eat some food and get some sleep.

Pulling into our first town, I gave it the one horse town rating. Sprague River had a store with food and water, that’s all we needed. I was toast. Our plan was to ride 66 miles that first day, we were only 40 in. I asked a local about camping near by, she told us to just head down to a park near the river and camp there. I felt relief that the day of biking was coming to an end. We grabbed beers, good bread, cheese and an avocado. We had a great spot, it was near a road without traffic and a nice tree to keep us from getting wet from the rain.

Day one wrapped up with us making dinner in the tent, enjoying beers and the wildlife near the river. In the tent, eating food and getting ready to sleep, I was finally happy. That first day the lack of sleep, release of stress and the unknown all added up. I worked harder than any other day to keep positive. In the end we made adjustments to our route and it worked out for the best. I am very lucky to have Tobe who was patient and helped me get through the day.

Beers finished, zipped into our sleeping bags, we laid down to the sound of light rain drops to reset for Day 2.

Check out the photo gallery of Jillian’s adventure on her website.

By Jillian Betterly – Oakland, CA – Jillian is a lifestyle and adventure photographer that spends a great deal of time on her bike. She is a long time friend of Girl Bike Love. Follow her on instagram @betterlyphotography and check out her website with more great cycling photos.