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Sound of rapids leads back to scene of the fun.

Byline: John Rezell The Register-Guard

When I opened the door of the truck, the cold hit me smack in the face. It was 30 degrees out there. Do I really want to do this?

I stood at the west trailhead of the McKenzie River Trail just past mile marker 51 on Highway 126.

This wasn't like most of my adventures. Instead of breaking new ground, finding yet another interesting place to spend a few hours outdoors to share with you, I decided to savor a rerun. Just for fun.

Fun for me meant a return to the McKenzie River Trail, which I have ignored for more than a year since my baptism on what is, without question, the greatest mountain bike trail.

Sometimes I'll get to a pre-planned destination and feel the icy cold, or clammy rain, or smothering heat, or whatever, and want to take a pass. But since I need column material, I trudge forward.

On this day, I feel the cold and think, I don't need this.

I have to give my black lab Ridgely the chance for a break, at minimum, after the hour drive. I let her out, and she bounces around like a superball on the playground.

Then I'm hit again, although not in the head. Much, much lower, and deeper. Something stirs. I realize it's the soothing sound of the rapids on the McKenzie River, calling me like a siren.

Before I know it, my bike is off the roof. I've made one concession to the cold. I'll keep my heavy-duty Columbia hiking boots on rather than switch to my boot cleats. Warm toes trump bike handling today.

We hit the trail, and in a mere moment, I've whisked back to my ride with my brother Tom.

Starting at the bottom of the trail and heading up this time, I'm in reverse of the course recommended. But I don't have time to do the entire 25 miles, much less find a way to get myself to the top trailhead while leaving my truck at the bottom.

I'm enjoying the sweet, swishing of the finishing miles, soft, yet firm, singletrack through combinations of first fir needles, then maple leaves, and back and forth.

The constant song of the river, not to mention endless snapshots that linger in my mind forever, keep you flying.

Out and back from the bottom means no stunning views of Clear Lake, or the lava fields, or the Blue Pool, or the waterfalls. But it's still sweet enough for a great day out, just having fun.

John Rezell, aka, Raz, can be reached at
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Title Annotation:Outdoors Columnist
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Jan 22, 2008
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