Many folks probably haven’t heard about Maupin, a little river town that has become one of our favorite escapes, but if you follow us on Instagram (especially our new Rod and Road venture) then you know we’ve fallen in love with this little part of Oregon. We just spent the last week fishing the famed salmonfly hatch on the Deschutes river, which has become an annual trip for us. You can read our first fun but somewhat unsuccessful (from a catching point of view) trip here and our more successful report from last year here.
On this trip we spent four nights with our families at the bike friendly Imperial River Company, which we highly recommend if you’re looking for some indoor accommodations. Not only are they literally on the banks of the Deschutes (you can catch fish in front of the property if you’re feeling lazy) but they welcome cyclists and even have their own RideWithGPS Ambassador page!
The plan was simple: ride bikes and catch fish. I also had the goal of getting my dad, who was visiting from out of state, into atleast one of the famed Deschutes redside trout.
For bikes on this trip, we were breaking in our Salsa El Mariachis. We’ve been contemplating getting more into mountain biking and possibly bikepacking and are excited to finally have proper bikes to do it on! Our primary riding would be simply up and down the Deschutes River Access Road. Going downstream, the road is paved and lightly trafficked especially during the shoulder seasons. Going upstream, the road turns into gravel with some real deep and chunky sections. While we’ve ridden that section in the past with our Vayas, it was definitely NOT enjoyable. We would spend most of our time trying to pick good lines through the gravel rather than looking at the river. The El Mariachis were perfect for this trip. The front suspension took the edge off of the washboard and divots in the road and the wider tires with tread let us surf through most of the gravel. We could easily spend more time looking at the river searching for fish rather than trying not to slip out.
The trip was also a good way to do a shakedown of the new Ortlieb bikepacking bags. While we weren’t bikepacking per se, it gave us an opportunity to load them up and figure out how much they could carry and how they played with the bikes. We were primarily using the Ortlieb seatbag and the front accessory pouch and loaded them up with extra layers, snacks and fishing gear.
After a quick stop at Deschutes Angler to get some intel and flies, we hit the river. We figured that instead of packing our waders and putting them on at different locations, we would just ride in our waders during the next few days. The platform pedals on our bikes worked fine with the wading boots, though we did have to raise the saddles atlest an inch to compensate for the sole of the boots. On the first day we carried things on our backpacks which was fine riding out to fish. However, after hours on the river riding back on them became a bit of a pain (figuratively and literally). So on subsequent days, we tried out different ways to attach our rods, tackle, food and landing net on our bikes and bags. It was great to have a pretty low stress situation to try out different packing techniques.
The fishing was a little slow the first two days. There were LOTS of salmonflies about, but they were either not falling in the river or the trout weren’t exactly keyed on them. Our third and fourth day on the river, the fishing turned on. We had had enough consecutive hot days to stimulate the bug activity plus there was wind. Wind, while typically not good for casting, was good for the fishing. It blew the salmonflies and golden stones into the river, turning the Deschutes into a giant bug sushi conveyor belt for the opportunistic trout. Around us we were seeing some pretty violent rises as the trout would almost leap out of the water for a big mouthful of salmonfly.
We had a few good hours when there were rises around us. Catching the fish was another matter. Sometimes the fish would pass on the fly or it would strike but we wouldn’t be able to set the hook fast enough. We all caught fish however. Laura caught the largest, a big bruiser of a fish that looked a worse for the wear but put a massive bend in her rod. My dad hooked up with a plump athletic fish that did a few aerials before coming into the net (mission accomplished!). I caught some nice fish that fought well above their weight class and hit the flies with gusto. The Deschutes is a big and powerful river and the fish that survive and thrive there are strong and aren’t easy pushovers.
The riding was relaxing and was a good way to get to different spots and to wind down after standing in the river. On this trip, the fishing was a bit more of the priority, but it was nice to stretch the legs every morning and afternoon by riding the river road. Speaking of post fishing/riding, we had awesome meals at the Riverside restaurant in Maupin. The food is spectacular. At our table, we had everything from smoked game hen, steaks on a bed of perfectly roasted asparagus to some scratch made cheesecake with real whipped cream and real fruit glaze topped off with some craft beer. If you’re staying in Maupin or simply passing through, the food there is worth a stop!
For me, it was great to see Laura advance in her fishing skills. She caught her first trout on the Deschutes almost exactly a year ago and since then she has become more adept at reading water, tying knots and casting a Western style fly rod. For us, there are a lot of elements in fly fishing that we love about bicycle touring. They are both physical activities, they both require you to actively read the landscape (or waterscape) and they both give you excuses to stop and get to know wonderful small towns like Maupin.
While there, we also gave a short presentation talking about bicycle tourism at a chamber meeting. It was held in an American Legion building just off of the main street. We spoke about the benefits of having a Scenic Bikeway (they are currently proposing one), joining Oregon’s Bike Friendly Buisness Program as well as how bicycling can fit into the recreation opportunities they already have.
By now, the salmonfly hatch is probably winding down but there are still tons of fish in the water. We’re looking forward to it again already next year as well as planning our next biking and fishing excursion. If you’re into both fishing and bicycling, Maupin makes an awesome basecamp and we highly recommend it as a long weekend escape from Portland (the weather is usually drier too…bonus!). Tight lines and rubber side down.
In this video, we take a quick first look at Ortlieb’s first foray into bikepacking! Bringing their years of experience in making quality panniers, it’s exciting to see their addition to the current bikepacking trend.
We’re going to be taking a look at their handlebar roll and accessory bag as well. Be sure to subscribe to our Youtube Channel and be notified the second they are released!
In this video we take a look at the Swift Industries Hinterland Ozette Rando bag. Made of lightweight X-Pac, it’s a great mashup between the traditional form factor of French randonneuring bags and modern materials. Watch the vid for a closer look!
If you like this video and want to be updated when we post new ones, be sure to subscribe to your Bicycle Travel Channel on Youtube.
A bike friendly lodge on the banks of one of Oregon’s premiere trout and steelhead rivers?! It doesn’t get any better than this. A few weeks ago we spent three days in the small town of Maupin, Oregon to do some great road riding and fishing. We stayed at the Imperial River Company which is right on the river. From our room, I could literally run out the door and be fishing in less than five minutes! In this video, we chat with Susie the owner of the hotel and talk about why they decided to be a bike friendly business. If you’re looking for a long weekend getaway and want to do some road riding and fishing, we really can’t recommend this place enough. On a side note, we’re going to start a little list of “PLP Recommended” businesses and destinations that we feel are awesome experiences for the bike traveler.
A quick video overview at Nemo Equipment’s minimal gear specifically for bikepacking. For more vids, be sure to subscribe to our Youtube Channel!
We’ve been in Iowa the last few days to speak at the Iowa Bicycle Summit about bicycle tourism. After the summit, we hung out for the weekend to check out the Iowa Bike Expo and RAGBRAI route announcement party. We haven’t ridden RAGBRAI ourselves and have only heard stories of its size and general craziness. Both the Expo and RAGBRAI party were well attended and it was a great chance to take a peek into Iowa’s own version of bike fun!
Shameless plug. If you enjoyed the video, don’t forget to subscribe to the Bicycle Travel Channel!
In this vid, we review the Carsick Designs Rack Sling, an open topped sling bag that functions similarly to Xtracycle Free Radical bags. The slings can accommodate loads that won’t fit in regular panniers. In the few weeks that we’ve been testing them, I’ve put everything from a standard backpack to a 1×1 LED video light to our fishing gear in the sling. Watch the vid and see it in action on our Bicycle Travel Channel.
Our latest Oregon Scenic Bikeway is up! This one is located in the Southern Oregon Coast and really gives a unique way to experience the Oregon Coast. You get a mix of windswept views as well as following the Elk River through a river gorge into the coastal range! Check out the route here.
In this video we review the SOMA Fabrications Supple Vitesse tire. The Supple Vitesse, as the name implies, is an amazingly smooth and fast riding tire. It’s 42mm width means that there is tons of air volume to provide suspension. Unlike tires just a few years ago that were wide, but prioritized flat protection, the Supple Vitesse offers great ride quality. I’ve been riding it for the last few months and have enjoyed it over varied terrain, everything from paved road rides to mixed terrain rambles up in the Verdugos, Griffith Park and Forest Park here in Portland. Watch the vid for the rest of our thoughts and don’t forget to subscribe to our Youtube Channel!
Some might find it strange to know that despite a lot of the content we put up online via our website, Youtube Channel and other various social media feeds Laura and I both do a fair amount of analog journaling. We spend a lot of time online, so it is absolutely refreshing to brain dump thoughts using a real pen and paper. When we travel, although we may take a tablet or laptop depending on the trip, everything goes down on paper first. In fact, those dogeared notebooks with rough sketches, misspellings and coffee stains are among our prized possessions from our travels. There is something about that slow tactile experience of writing something down that seems to better set a memory than merely typing it down on a bright glowing screen.
It is interesting to see my preference over years for journaling tools. Looking at my pile of notebooks, there was a period when I exclusively used thicker Moleskine notebooks. But now, my preferences have changed towards simple staple bound mini notebooks. I think there is something about the fewer pages that not only makes it easier to carry, but also takes the pressure off of always having something ponderous to say before writing it down. The smaller notebooks, for me at least, feel more like every day users and I therefore use them every day.
There is also something satisfying about filling up a small book and starting a new one. Like most, we started with the ubiquitous Field Notes brand notebooks. They are easy to find and come in some nice themed editions. I was particularly fond of the Expedition Series because of their water resistant paper and dot ruling, but found it hard to find a pen that wrote well on the slick paper. I gave up at one point and just started using a mechanical pencil with those notebooks.
The Midori Passport is a current favorite for carrying multiple notebooks.
Being a mini notebook power user, I started looking for a way to carry multiple notebooks. Typically, I will carry three notebooks with particular purposes on a trip (journal, fishing notes, sketchbook). This led me to the Midori Passport. It is a beautifully simple notebook system that consists of a leather cover and a series of rubber bands to hold multiple notebooks in place. The paper, although wispy thin compared to FieldNotes, is actually of a much higher quality especially if you use fountain pens. The problem is that the Midori uses slightly smaller notebooks and refills aren’t as easy to find and few stores (if any) carry them locally. Though, we did find that Scout Books, a Portland based notebook maker, offers their notebook in a passport size which works perfectly with the Midori. Scout Books make a great refill alternative for the Midori, but I found the paper was a little too absorbent for fountain pen use. The local art store started carrying notebooks by Fabriano and in particular EcoQua mini notebooks which are my current favorite. They are the same size as Field Notes with dot ruling, but the paper is much better and works well with fountain pens. There is far less feathering and bleed through with them.
I write all this to say that analog journaling can be an endless rabbit hole in of itself but it is pleasant to have some nice tools in the journaling process. Part of the impetus of creating our latest Youtube video, was to give people a simple way to try out multiple notebooks without spending too much on specialized leather cases.
While my personal taste for specific notebooks and pens may change, I think I will probably always analog journal in some shape or form. I’m curious, do you journal with pen and paper on your trips? What are your favorite tools and how do you organize them? And lastly, what are YOUR reasons for analog journaling when it is so easy to do it on a phone or tablet?