Expedition Oregon 2020 - America’s Toughest Race.
You are just under 6 months away from the start line of Expedition Oregon 2020 - America’s Hardest Race.
If you are getting this newsletter, you have already taken one of the most important steps toward any great adventure - commitment. While this newsletter will not give you too many details of the coming race, it will serve to wet your appetite, cover some basic logistics, scheduling, and training ideas. It will also lay out the current mandatory gear list. So let’s get started. Captains please share this with your team too, so everyone can get excited.
Logistics and Schedule
Host City: We are pleased to announce Prineville, Oregon as the official host of EO 2020. Prineville is an old cowboy and railroad town located in the high desert of central Oregon. It sits at the foot of the expansive Ochoco mountains and just north of the rugged canyons of the Prineville Reservoir. It boasts 2 local breweries, a full service mountain bike shop, three grocery stores, and many coffee shops and dining opportunities.
Prineville is a relatively small town and easy to get around, so teams should not feel like they need a vehicle (other than their bike) to get around pre or post race.
Getting there: Prineville is about 30 minutes from Redmond airport (RDM) and 3 hours from Portland airport (PDX). Transport will be provided from RDM on May 11, and the early morning of May 12 if necessary. Return transport will be provided on May 18th. Uber and Taxis are also readily available from the airport to the hotel. Rental cars from either Portland or Redmond are also an option and usually very reasonable.
Race Accommodation: Teams are provided a double queen hotel room on the nights of May 11 and 12. Teams will be able to book extra rooms (at a special race rate) or upgrade rooms as desired, as well as arrange for rooms at the end of the race depending on when they finish. Teams may wish to pre-book hotel for the 17th at a minimum. Luggage storage will be available during the race, and the hotel is happy to receive equipment for teams that want to ship it ahead. The exact details of the lodging, as well as options for upgrades, extensions etc will be communicated in newsletter #2. Thanks for you patience as we confirm these details.
Race Equipment: Prineville has several small town hunting/camping stores, as well as a full service bike shop (focused on MTB, gravel and bikepacking). For more extensive gear needs, there is an REI (and 20 other outdoor stores) 30 minutes away in Bend.
Tentative Schedule of events:
May 11: teams arrive and are transported to host hotel.
May 12: Late arrival participants arrive. Team check-in, mandatory gear checks, required skills test, race briefing, map hand out, gear packing and drop off. Early to bed
Early AM board bus to remote start. Approximate travel time 3.5 hours. Race start.
May 16: Expected winners
May 17: course close and awards
May 18: transport to RDM airport.
While it is technically possible that members arrive on the 12th, it is necessary that all team members are present at gear and skills checks on that day.
Mandatory Gear List (as of Nov 15, 2019)
As a sanctioned ARWS event, we will be using their mandatory gear list (unless noted - see below)
Teams only need 2 throw bags, regardless of # of boats they are using.
This race will use packrafts. Each member must have a “seat”, so 4 singles, two doubles, or one double and two singles are all acceptable. Racers must provide their own packrafts. We will advise in the next newsletter on any discounts and rental options that are available (there will be some for sure). Below is the updated “packraft mandatory gear per team”. This only replaces the “Canoe/kayak” item in the ARWS list. Note, at this time, cycle helmets ARE allowed for the whitewater requirement, but as always we recommend a WW or multisport helmet.
Packraft (1 seat per person)
Packraft repair kit
2 x inflation bag/pump
Drysuit or wetsuit (2 mil farmer john at absolute minimum)
Although it is no longer mandatory to carry any bike repair equipment, it is strongly
recommended. You should be able to fix most minor bike problems in the field these days with some practice. We personally have found a tubeless repair kit pretty essential on our last two races, and on some of the vetting of the bike legs. So if you run tubeless, make sure you have fresh sealant and a few sides of bacon. (umm, and bacon is what they call the little tubeless repair rubber bits. But you can bring real bacon out there too, cause it is yummy).
Additional Safety Gear: PLB per team
Teams will be required to carry a PLB (personal locator beacon). The race will be very remote in sections, and while you will have trackers, we know first hand that even the best satellite tracking system ends up having some units that fail or run out of batteries. We are personally big believers in the PLB, which has only one purpose - to save your life. So go buy one (they usually stay good for about 6 years). They can also be rented for cheap through OERentals.com for about $10.
Much of the details of the course is still being developed, but it likely that there will be some technical sections. In the past we’ve had climbing (lead and toprope), mountaineering, bike rappel, rappel, and tyrolean. We’ll update as soon as we have details confirmed, but all racers should plan on having basic AR climbing gear available (harness, helmet, slings, locking biners, rappel device, etc).
For those that survived last year’s epic - we salute you. This year will likely be a good bit warmer. The average high for the race dates is about 68 degrees, with the average low in the 40s. And historically, there is no snow precipitation in the area in May. That said, nights will experience a significant cooling effect in much of the high desert area, and on sunny days the exposed areas can seem much warmer. So be prepared for varied weather.
The water will often still be cold this time of year, as the upper snowpack is still melting in the mountains. So the longer paddling sections can get quite cold on the rivers. Reservoirs and lakes are much warmer.
During the race, sunrise will be about 5:30AM, and sunset at 8:30PM, so there are only 9 hours of dark! But remember that the coldest time is usually just after the sun rises, around 6AM.
Trekking: The trekking will be varied, with a lot of rugged off-trail travel possible depending on route choice. It will be a mix of forest, scrub, canyon, and open high desert. Good feature based navigation skills will be essential for success. Route-finding off-trail (animal tracks, weaknesses through downfall, etc) will also be important.
Mountain Bike: Big big bike legs. Rugged biking, hike a bike, and some big climbs and descents. If you are planning on doing all the PRO points, a lightweight full suspension bike is what we would recommend. But to each his own. If you are the lead team, you might very well be the second group ever to bike certain trails.
Whitewater Packrafting: over 70 miles of swiftwater and class II/III- whitewater. Some big water flows and some creeking. Deep canyons, old forests, and wide open ranchlands. We are in love with packrafting in Oregon, and some of these rivers are rarely (if ever) done. By the end of the race, we’ll have 10xed the number of people that have paddled one of the rivers.
Flatwater BikeRafting: Nothing says “badass adventure” like and image of someone paddling with a bike strapped to the front of their boat...or biking with a paddle strapped to their top tube and a packrafts hanging from the handlebars.
Surprises: Let’s just say there will likely be some opportunities for some other interesting travel modes. But for now, we’ll just recommend that at least 2 people on each team have some basic navigation skills. We’ll get more specific later...but if you have been putting off reading “Squiggly Lines” by our old teammate Mark Latanzi...put it on your holiday list.