Popular Bike Event Canceled: Bad Apples Spoil Bunch

Trash strewn along trails, feces left in campsites, a barn left in shambles, and a new city ordinance banning camping: These are the results of a recent “self-supported” bike ride in Oregon.

Organizers have canceled the popular, long distance Oregon Outback bike tour because of the horrendous behavior of at least a few of the participants.

“I’m sad and disgusted and angry, and I don’t see any other way to make this right short of shutting it down so this never happens again,” writes former race director Donnie Kolb. “I’m sorry folks, but the Oregon Outback is dead.”

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Leah Johnson rides the 2014; photo by Lucas Winzenburg

Kolb goes on to list the offenses that led to the cancellation (as he puts it, from “kind of bad to horrendous”):

  1. Leaving garbage all along the route.
  2. Leaving bush-camp sites full of actual shit and used TP, not only not burying it, but leaving actual shit and used TP in the campsites.
  3. Garbage all over the barn that a local opened up to folks in Silver Lake during the first, rainy night.
  4. Leaving the park in Silver Lake in enough disrepair that the city passed a new ordinance banning camping.
  5. Someone taking an actual shit in the yard of the nice folks who opened up their barn for riders to camp (see #3 above, same barn…)

This list should get anyone who loves the outdoors fuming mad. GearJunkie contributor Amy Oberbroeckling participated in the race in 2014, and she wrote of a natural wonderland.

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“With each pedal stroke I became evermore convinced that the state is just one giant idyllic panorama. I couldn’t imagine a better way to take in the sights than from the bike saddle,” she wrote.

How could anyone who participates in a sport like bike-packing be so blind to their actions as to insult the residents and volunteers of a wilderness race with such disrespect?

I’m disappointed that there are still people who think it’s OK to leave their mess for others to clean up, and not just in this race.

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You, too, have probably seen plastic bags of poop sitting along side trails, dog waste or otherwise. You’ve seen empty bottles and cans in a still smoldering campfire. You’ve seen the initials carved into trees and rocks and bullet holes in roadside signs.

As many a parent has said, “this is why we can’t have nice things.”

You probably know what to do, and you are probably not one of the 1 percent of idiots who ruin the outdoors for others. Please share the principles of Leave No Trace. Pick up trash, and be a stewart. We all need to do our part.

As Kolb wrote in his blog post, “I know that 90%, 95%, maybe even 99.9% of you are good folks who had nothing to do with this. I get that and I love and respect you for it. But what’s done is done and this can’t ever happen again.”

Sean McCoy

Editorial Director Sean McCoy is a life-long outdoorsman who grew up hunting and fishing central Wisconsin forests and lakes. He joined GearJunkie after a 10-year stint as a newspaperman in the Caribbean, where he learned sailing and wooden-boat repair. Based in GearJunkie's Denver office, McCoy is an avid trail runner, camper, hunter, angler, mountain biker, skier, and beer tester.