best bike rides in Oregon

Tubeless Tires: Road Edition

In the past decade, tubeless tires have hit the bike scene in one of the biggest advances in technology (with wide-ranging side effects).

In the last article, I dove into everything you need to know about tubeless tires for mountain bikes. This month I’ll weigh in on the latest tire technology: tubeless tires for road riding.

What are “Tubeless” Tires?

As a quick refresher, tubeless tires are actually a system of tires and rims specially designed to not use an inner tube. Instead, a tubeless ready (TLR or TR) rim is designed to create an airtight seal with the TLR specific tire—without needing a tube.

Most tubeless tires are designed to be used with a thin sealant inside of it to help self-seal and repair small punctures as well as make the seal between the rim and tire have an extra layer of air-tight protection.

On the exterior, tubeless rims and tires look just like regular rims, so they’re usually identified with a “TLR” decal. On the inside of the rim where the tire bead (the thick part that stays hooked inside the rim) catches is extra stout to create an airtight seal.

You can upgrade to a tubeless system on your existing road bike, but if you buy a new road bike there’s a good chance it will come with wheels and possibly even tires that are ready to be set up tubeless.


Pros of Road Tubeless Tires

Much like mountain bike tires, road tubeless has a few distinct advantages. The first being protection from small punctures. With a traditional tubed tire (usually referred to as a “clincher”), the only way to get fewer flats is to beef up the materials making it heavier and less supple. Tubeless tires are filled with sealant, so the small punctures that plague most cyclists (thorns, glass, the tiny wires of broken-off street sweeper bristles) are a thing of the past since the puncture is sealed within seconds by the sealant within. This can be a real advantage in a road race or training ride with friends.

Tubeless tires can also be run at lower pressures without risking pinch flats giving you a more comfortable ride without compromising your ability to roll quickly. This is a good leg up for any rider—especially when cornering or on Oregon chip seal roads—and it’s a huge advantage for those that like to head into more adventuresome gravel and dirt roads where the surfaces are likely to be less than ideal.

There’s some debate about rolling resistance (meaning how much energy you have to output to make the tire roll) when it comes to road tubeless tires. In most recent tests, it seems like lightweight tubeless and lightweight racing tires with latex tubes are neck and neck for the best rolling resistance. So if you’re a road racer worried about shaving grams, it all comes out in the wash.


Cons of Road Tubeless Tires

Like their mountain counterparts, the cost of the rims is higher and the set-up is messy and pretty much requires an air compressor, so if you’re ready to spend a little on parts it’s best to let the shop handle installation. Of course, if you get a big enough cut in the tire tread you’ll be handling it yourself on the side of the road. In this case, the thicker, stronger bead of the tire can be extremely difficult to get off the rim (the narrower the tire/rim set-up, the harder it will be). If you’re not a confident tire changer with quality tire levers, or don’t have quick access to a lift, this might be a deal-breaker for you.

The liquid sealant needs to be refreshed every 4- 6 months or more often in a drier climate, which is simple but another tick of maintenance. Tubeless tires need to be aired up a bit more often than your tubed tire, but this is a minor quibble considering it only takes a few seconds of time and most of us are checking our tire pressure before we head out for a spin.


Why Would You Ride Road Tubeless?  

The best reason to ride road tubeless is because your new road bike came with tubeless ready rims and tires and it’s easy to step up to a higher quality ride. If you’re someone who’s a confident flat repairer and likes to head out into the wild blue yonder, wandering on the unpaved back roads of Oregon and Washington, tubeless tires can also be a game changer. Finally, if you’re just tubeless curious and have some cash to drop on new rims, tires and sealant, most people who’ve ridden them give them rave reviews for comfort, ride quality, and being puncture free.

At this point though, road tubeless is made for extended road riding not commuting. While they do offer great protection from small flats, the rubber compounds aren’t up to tough, loaded commuter miles, so tubes are your best bet for now. Keep your eyes peeled, though. I won’t be surprised to see the technology eventually upgrade to encompass every type of riding.


Tori Bortman is ORbike’s resident bike mechanic. She is also an educator, consultant and the owner of Gracie’s Wrench. Tori is the author of The Big Book of Cycling for Beginners published by Bicycling Magazine.

Cruising for a (Fantastic) Cause

Ride to Defeat ALS – 7/14 – Mt. Angel

Many of us hop on our bikes without a second thought, but for those who can’t pedal, there’s Ride to Defeat ALS, an opportunity to raise funds and awareness for people living with ALS, also known as Lou Gerhig’s Disease. This devastating disease eventually takes people’s lives after a long and painful decline in mobility.

But there is great hope! There is so much that can be done to support people living with the disease, to make their lives more comfortable, to provide them with increased mobility options and to to support their loved ones who tirelessly care for them. Those good efforts come thanks to the National ALS Association and Ride to Defeat ALS is your opportunity to support their impactful work.

This ride is a gorgeous odyssey through the hushed open landscape around Mt. Angel on the edge of Portland. Sign up for this important ride and be a part of the movement for those who can’t.



Tour de Blast

June 17 – Mount St. Helens

The eruption of Mount St. Helens was the deadliest and most economically destructive volcanic event in the history of the United States, but in the aftermath we are left with a striking landscape and an intriguing region to explore.

Tour de Blast takes you on a journey through the “blast zone” on an intense ride that’s both challenging and rewarding. It’s one of those rides you’ll forever feel proud to have accomplished, and you most certainly will never
forget those amazing views.



Photo Gallery

Filmed by Bike Film Festival

May 4-6 – Hollywood Theatre – Portland

Portland is one of the coolest bike cities in the world, and the Filmed by Bike film festival is certainly one of the reasons why.

The festival features the world’s best bike movies with six distinct themed programs playing over the course of three days. Just what makes these films the best in the world? The festival spends eight months hunting for movies and a panel of jurors reviews them all to select the very best. This year’s jury included notables such as Chris King of Chris King Precision Components and Barry Braverman, a Director of Photography involved with many Wes Anderson projects.

Street Party

Filmed by Bike is an inventive arts and culture event, with bike-themed activities all long. Our favorite is the Street Party on opening night. New this year, the part will take place in the street in front of the Hollywood Theatre.

  • Beer garden
  • Street dancers
  • Photo booth
  • DJs
  • Food trucks
    + much more!

Festival Pass: See it All!

With a wealth of movies and activities all weekend long, the Festival Pass is by far the best way to experience Filmed by Bike. You’ll save money, get access to exclusive activities and be able to reserve your tickets in advance.

More Info

Buy a Festival Pass
Schedule + Tickets
Street Party

Flower Power on Petal Pedal!

Petal Pedal is a stunning ride with four beautiful routes that meander through the Willamette Valley. This much revered event is considered one of the best organized rides in Oregon.

Petal Pedal highlights the Willamette Valley’s gorgeous scenery, tours low-traffic roads and provides unrivaled support.

Registration includes admission to The Oregon Garden, live music, a fully supported ride with delicious stops along the route and a gourmet dinner with unlimited wine and beer. This ride is particularly perfect for friends who love to ride but have different distance preferences. You can choose from 30, 50, 70 and 100-mile routes – which means there’s a little something for everyone.

The ride is capped at 1,500 and is expected to sell out.

Ride Basics

DATES: June 23
LOCATION: Silverton, Oregon
HIGHLIGHTS: Gorgeous routes, amazing start/finish location, premier support, fun finish line party

EvergreenHealth 7 Hills of Kirkland

May 28 – Kirkland, WA

What does your summer riding season have in store for you?

Set the tone for a powerful season of strong riding with the EvergreenHealth 7 Hills of Kirkland – a hill climb challenge on gorgeous routes. Your legs will thank you all season long. There are several routes to choose from, each one of them guaranteed to make you feel victorious at the end.

This Memorial Day weekend, travel at your own pace through urban, suburban and rural roads. This Memorial Day weekend, the cyclists will outnumber the cars on these hushed roads. This Memorial Day weekend, do something special on your bike.


Columbia Century Challenge

June 16 – Scappoose

Just outside of Portland is a region so quiet most people don’t even realize it’s there.

Columbia Century Challenge takes takes you on a journey through times past as you explore the old logging towns around Scappoose and Vernonia.

Backroads. Rolling through the old Oregon timberlands. Farm roads through the open fields. Pastures along the Columbia River. An optional jaunt along the unpaved historic Crown-Zellerbach trail.

Add to all of this charming rural towns and you have the perfect recipe for all day fun on your bike.

The start location adjusts every year so repeat riders – and there are many of them – have the opportunity to explore a different town each year. This ride came out of the gate strong, earning prestigious Best Bike Ride award in just the very first year.


Mt. Adams Country Bicycle Tour

June 30 – Trout Lake, WA

Let the Mountain be Your Guide

The southern slopes of Mt. Adams in June are a bicyclist’s paradise with smooth roads, exceptional weather, cool temps and unparalleled vista.

A Serene Country Ride

The Mt. Adams Country Bicycle Tour is the perfect way to enjoy and explore this spectacular sun-drenched area in the fresh mountain air. Ride against the glorious snow clad backdrop of magnificent Mt Adams. The ride is known for having a well marked course that snakes along quiet country roads. Relax and let the mountain show you the way as you wind through the countryside.

Enjoy the Routes

Select from four route options: An 11 mile family ride, a 51 mile loop, a 105 mile infinity loop or a 54 mile Forest Loop that rides up and down the flanks of Mt. Adams.

The organizers are cyclists in the region who know and love the roads. They’re being out some of their best kept secrets for you to enjoy for this splendid day of riding.


An Oregon Classic: Coast Hills Classic

April 15 – Newport

It’s muddy, soupy and sloppy – just the way you like it.

The Coast Hills Classic mt. bike race is a spring tradition. With a lush wooded course and surprising sweeping ocean views, this race is the perfect way to kick off the season. This year the race is slightly earlier in the season, meaning you just might get more of the mud everyone love so much at this event.

It might be raining, but in true Oregon fashion there is always a sea of broad smiles at the lively finish line festival for this beloved race.

This event is well known for having a killer course, a fun finish line and hoards of awesome bike people. Make a weekend of it and head to Newport!


Photo Gallery

Cycling is a tough sport – there is no doubt about that

An idyllic ride through the countryside sounds like a lovely way to spend a Sunday afternoon but riding is never that simple. Mountains would be difficult to walk up – let alone cycle. Overcoming nutrition and hydration issues or saddle sores is a staple of the sport. In three-week grand tours, there’s the day-to-day fatigue and close proximity to your teammates to take into account.

But whilst races through the Alps and Pyrenees are par for the course when it comes to pro cycling, and known by all cycling fans, there’s nothing quite like the spring classics to condense all of that excitement, drama and indeed pain into one afternoon. They are just different races, but for anyone who is only a casual follower of cycling as a spectator sport, it’s this sort of variety that makes the whole calendar so interesting.

A Sunday in Hell

First and foremost, the spring classics are for the strong men. You win the Tour de France in the mountains, but you win the classics with the power in your legs. Tom Boonen and Fabian Cancellara spring to mind instantly: powerful men who are suited to the one-day races. This year, you’d expect Peter Sagan and Philippe Gilbert to be up there.

They are not idyllic Sunday afternoons on the road. Indeed, the most difficult of the lot is Paris-Roubaix – the race they call A Sunday in Hell. And a race that was dominated by Boonen and Cancellara in the last decade.

What makes it so hard is not its length or its hilltops. It is not the field you race against or the speed you go at. But if you were to race the whole thing on the nicest of roads – the kinds of which you’d find on a Tour de France sprint stage – you would get a very different race to what you’ll see at the Paris-Roubaix in the second week of April – the 8th this year, to be precise.

It is the terrain that makes it such a special race and nothing else – the patches of cobbled roads that have not been covered in asphalt are part of the lore and the difficulty. The winner gets a trophy made of a cobble stone and the glory of being able to say he is a Paris-Roubaix champion – a badge of honour and toughness. Currently Peter Sagan is tipped to win the Paris-Roubaix in 2018, but this can all change on the day!

PHOTO: Cycling Tips

The Unpredictable Cobbles

The cobbles – sections of pavé, as it is known in French – are a staple of northern France and Flanders. It is a region known for its World War One memorials and its love of bike racing, and you can see why the pavé plays such an important role: it is not just there for show. It adds to the drama in a way you might not expect at first glance.

Cobbles make for an unpredictable race, but they’re used sparingly. Most of the day is spent on normal paved roads, but for several stretches of a few kilometres, the peloton hits the pavé and all hell breaks loose for a few minutes.

Pavé turns the race into a spectacle. Not the whole thing, but in parts. For the viewer, it is a treat to encounter them. Like the meat in a stew, you savour them while you’re watching. They are the main event, but made better by their scarcity.

And it is a boneshaking few minutes. For the riders and almost for the spectators, too. You can see the bumps and the potential bruises, the difficulty these professional riders are having in keeping their bikes going straight. The power you need to glide over the cobbles is massive, and only the strongest can do it.

A spectator sport

If you can’t, you are at the mercy of luck.

When the riders come up to a section of pavé, they are supposed to stay in the middle of the road. That is where the cobbles are at their most difficult to navigate, but it is also where the road is cleanest. Fall away to either side and you’ll find it easier to push the pedals, but you’ll also be cycling in silt, stones and shards discarded by bikes, cars and the wind. In other words, you are cycling in a whole world of potential punctures.

That’s why it’s a test of the strongest. Those who can deal with the cobbles the best, and those who can use it to pull away from the field by the time they get to a clean stretch of road. They are the riders who will win the event.

As hellish as it might be for those in the thick of it, Paris-Roubaix is one of cycling’s most thrilling races for those watching on.

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