Ideas to Survive an Extended Shoulder Season.

8 01 2018

Many parts of the country may never experience a shoulder season for outdoor activities.  In western Oregon the shoulder season phenomena usually occurs in spring and fall as trails get too wet to ride, snow is too shallow to ski, rocks are too wet to climb and conditions are overall more challenging to deal with.  Normally by early January we are out of the shoulder season and full swing into winter activities, but this year that’s not the case.  The snow is refusing to fall!

There is an upside to shoulder seasons as most people are driven inside by the conditions and stay home.  Finding a partner to join in your adventure may be more difficult, but if you are seeking solitude this can be a great time to find it.  Gear to stay relatively comfortable and multiple activity options to match current conditions can allow you to remain outside playing all year long.

Kayaking and canoeing is the classic in-between season activity.  Whether whitewater or flat, paddlesports require water and water is often in high supply as it falls in autumn and snow melts in the spring.  With the correct gear, kayaking can keep the active outdoors person sane during rainy shoulder seasons that make many other activities not possible.


Traveling a short distance can show a significant difference in weather.  In western Oregon a short drive to the coast may bring warmer weather and no rain.  It can also bring large storms and wind so check the weather throughout the week to see changes in the forecast.  The shoulder season is a perfect time to visit the sand dunes if you have never been there.  Unlike in summer, crowds are few and noise is minimal.  A clear evening spent on the expansive dunes is similar to clear evenings on snowy slopes and it’s way easier to cook fresh oysters over a fire.  Florence and Winchester Bay dunes both offer camping on the dunes for $10.  Make sure to research the rules and regulations before heading out. Dunes Rec Guide

sand 1

Bike touring is a great activity that can take advantage of short two day breaks in weather.  The adventure starts directly from your doorstep and in many areas, 35 miles outside of town is all that’s needed for a great destination.  Depart Saturday at noon and return Sunday at noon with plenty of opportunity for stories in between.  Beware that winter clothing and sleeping bags take up much more space in your packs than traditional summer touring gear.


If you still can’t find the motivation to get out, use the time to check over your gear and fix the needs that are neglected during the prime season.  Explore maps and plan your next adventure or watch countless online videos that might help spark your next mission idea.

However you do it, don’t let this extended shoulder season get you down.  Try new things that fit the conditions, search out new places and find yourself alone in the great outdoors.

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How to Bike in the City

29 06 2017

Here’s an entertaining tutorial on building confidence when riding in Urban Areas.  Keep it simple and stay aware and arrive with more energy and a smile.

-Plan Route   -Suite Up  -Check your bike  -Mind the Door Zone  -Claim the Lane                 -Careful in Turns  -Don’t Run over Pedestrians

For a free Eugene/Springfield biking map:

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Trans-Cascadia: Enduro Bike Race in our Backyards.

7 11 2016


Year 2 of the enduro formatted backcountry race on our local trails.  For non-mountain bikers you’ve probably never heard of this race, but it’s quickly becoming a premier experience for top pro and amateur bike racers.  Taking place in areas around Oakridge and McKenzie Bridge, the Trans Cascadia is four days of hard racing, camping, and fun- bringing the bike industry to the trails just miles down the road.

Trans Cascadia Race recap.

Although an expensive race; the event highlights our local trail network and excites riders to get out and explore.

Interested in racing next year?  September 27 – October 1, 2017.  Registration is up now.   registration

Next summer we will be expanding our Mountain Bike Camps at the River House Outdoor Center and will have young rippers on some of these same trails with the goal of helping to create passionate, forest loving and respectful riders.

Trails like we have in the Pacific Northwest are a blessing!  Please do your part and help maintain what you enjoy.  Local clubs are a great way to find trail work parties.

Eugene/Springfield area- Desciples Of Dirt

Oarkridge area- Greater Oakridge Area Trail Stewards

Corvallis area- Team Dirt

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Bike Theft- A Eugene Tradition

14 01 2016

As you may already know, Eugene is known for bike theft.  We have all either had or know someone that has had an entire bike or pieces of a bike stolen.  It’s learned quickly a cable lock is as effective as a zip tie, and even a u-lock can be broken if given enough time alone to work.  Below is a listing of the top 10 highest reported bike theft spots for 2015.  Info from via the Eugene Police Commission.

Never take your bike’s safety for granted.  Use a U-lock.  Park in well-lit areas.  Don’t leave accessories on the bike.  Lock your wheels. Know your serial # and register your bike. (register your bike).

  • South Eugene High School (34 reported thefts)
  • Eugene Public Library (24)
  • Capstone Apartments (17)
  • Stadium Park Apartments, 90 Commons Drive (16)
  • 5th Street Public Market, 296 E. Fifth Ave. (15)
  • Ducks Village, 3224 Kinsrow Ave. (14)
  • YMCA, 2055 Patterson St. (14)
  • Wal-mart, 4550 W. 11th Ave. (10)
  • Parkside Apartments, 4075 Aerial Way (10)
  • Spencer View Apartments, 2250 Patterson St. (10)

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5 01 2016

Tips for commuting by bike in winter.

The winter weather conditions don’t have to make you halt your bike commute, but take some smart precautions to keep the rubber side down.  The tips below may help you brave the weather and arrive safely.


  1. Road Conditions- Check road and path conditions before leaving. Slick roads will obviously increase stopping distance for bikes and cars.  Stay loose in slick conditions; too much front brake on ice and the bike will not be under you for long and be prepared to stick out a foot to catch a fall.
  2. Be Defensive- Drivers are often distracted when driving in cold dealing with low light, heater controls, and foggy windshields. Be sure to use lights and do not assume cars see you.  Less presence of cyclist in the winter also means you may not be expected on the street.
  3. Dress for Warmth, but not too warm. Starting your ride a little cold leaves room to increase your warmth as you ride without overheating.  Warm gloves are important to keep your hands sensitive enough to work the brakes.  Rainwear keeps off water and also works as a wind block.  Waterproof shoes can greatly increase warmth and a tight fitting hat will fit under most helmets.  On really cold days, a scarf is perfect to protect your face, but still allow easy adjustment as you warm- careful to keep loose ends secure.
  4. Fenders!- Fenders are a must. Nuff said.
  5. Messy Storage- An icy, dirty bike will soon be surrounded by a pool of dirty water if brought inside. Be aware of where you store your bike and be considerate of the mess it may make.
  6. Don’t trade your helmet for a warm hat! Wear it.
  7. Public Transit- One fall on slick ice can keep you off the bike for a long time. If conditions are bad enough, take the bus.winterride1


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30 12 2014

My name is Melinda and I am the office manager here at the River House Outdoor Program.  Today I woke up to find the temperature outside to be 23 degrees.  It didn’t dawn on me to even get into my car to commute to work.  In fact, today and everyday it brings me happiness knowing that there is such an ease and delight to get onto my bike and pedal to work.  I enjoy all the curves, hills, straight roads, the familiar faces, the smiles I try to put on people’s faces, and being able to use all five of my senses to jump start my day.  In Eugene you should always prepared to get wet.  But today, I was prepared to be cold.  I bike to work 80% of the year (4 out of 5 days) and very seldom have I had any challenges dealing with the weather. At the River House most of us are bike commuters.  So, I asked each one of the staff that biked to work today on how they prepared for today’s morning ride.  And here is what they had to say…

Zane, Melinda and Roger


This morning I was psyched that is was clear cold (24 degrees) and sunny.

I tucked my rain pants in my bike bag because well you know Oregon=winter=rain.

My ride is 25 minutes now and my hands often get cold so I layered a pair of goretex mittens over my gloves – toasty hands and no problem with the controls. I also wore my favorite hat that covers my ears and a lovingly made wool sweater under my bike jacket. I was plenty warm, too warm in fact by the time I got to work and stripped down to short sleeves until I cooled off. I thought about wearing sunglasses, have you ever had cold eyeballs, and wish I had but spaced them out at the last minute as I assembled my lunch.

And since I’ve been commuting in the rain a lot lately my chain is in need of a serious cleaning and lube-weekend project.

Hey – don’t forget your bike lights. Even though we are gaining a few minutes of daylight each day it’s plenty dark out there and drivers are still in the holiday mode and not exactly paying attention to cyclists.


Number 1 tip for cold weather riding.  Start off a little cold.  If you start hot, you will only get hotter.  Sweat builds up and you feel gross for the rest of the day.  Start cold and become comfortable after the first 5 minutes and stay comfortable.

On really cold days, glasses help keep your eyes from watering and a scarf is an easy piece to shed if you get too hot.  Just don’t let your scarf get caught in the spokes!


Morning Sunrise

Since I have such a cold downhill ride, I like to keep the part above my shoulders warm.  The wind can be brutal on my ears and eyes. I wear a balaclava under my helmet that covers everything but my eyes. I also wear a fleece neck gaiter over for that for added warmth.  I use the four layer (silk tank, sweater, primaloft vest, and rain jacket) approach when it comes to my torso area.  And for my legs I wear tights and a fleece skirt (  The fleece skirts are custom made here in Eugene and are super comfy. And I recommend them not for just biking in but for skiing, reading by the fire or taking your dogs for an evening walk. My hands stay warm in my fleece lined mittens. Today’s early morning ride was exceptionally bright.  And I was happy to ride into the sunrise with my sunglasses.  Since there is the challenge of different light conditions during this time of year, I like to have interchangeable lenses that change with what time of day I arrive and leave to work.  Lately, my lighter-colored lenses have remained on my sunglasses; they help to enhance contrast when it is cloudy and on my dusk bike ride home.

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A New Look at the Springfield/Eugene Bike Paths

6 05 2014

Hello and Happy Bike Month! River House staff celebrate in a variety of ways–by teaching Bike Safety Education classes in the 4J school district, by biking to and from work, and by playing on bicycles in our free time as much as possible. We have folks who eat, sleep, and dream all things Bike Polo, friends who spend their weekends at Cyclocross races, and coworkers who tour the state, country, and the globe by bicycle.

We aren’t the only ones who love bikes, though, and I wanted to find out how others show their love of traveling on 2 wheels.  Meet Dan O’Donnell. Dan has been a bike commuter for 37 years, and has been an artist all his life (whether he admits it or not).  He spends much of his free time on the bike paths in town journaling, writing songs, and making art.  He kindly showed me these 7 beautiful renditions of different views from the bike paths and rides in the Eugene/Springfield area, and I couldn’t stop talking about them for days.  If you follow the yellow road on some of them, he’ll take you on a lovely ride through the area–much of it on our paths, some of it on low-traffic roads. You’ll cross the Willamette, parallel the McKenzie, ride through Dorris Ranch, and see views of Mount Pisgah (to name a few highlights).

Dan combines his love of the outdoors with art on a regular basis. He loves “to get wild” with primary colors and pastels.  He’ll go out on a hike one day, and the spend the next day mapping it out. While out on an adventure, his brain is constantly working to memorize details about the area. He especially loves to draw details in architectural structures like the bike bridges and Matt Court. When asked what he hopes people get from his work, he simply says, “A bike ride.”

Thanks Dan, for sharing your art with our community. I know what I’m doing this weekend!

Michelle Brown


Maurie Jacobs Park (off River Road) to Dorris Ranch (Springfield)

Maurie Jacobs Park (off River Road) to Dorris Ranch (Springfield)

Dorris Ranch (Springfield) to Crescent Road (North Eugene)

Dorris Ranch (Springfield) to Crescent Road (North Eugene)

Crescent Road to McKenzie View Drive

Crescent Road to McKenzie View Drive

Clearwater Park to North Bank Bike Path (through Glenwood)

Clearwater Park to North Bank Bike Path (through Glenwood)

Dorris Ranch (Springfield) to North Bank Bike Path (E. Springfield)

Dorris Ranch (Springfield) to North Bank Bike Path (E. Springfield)

View of Knickerbocker Bridge, Mt. Pisgah and Moon Mtn.

View of Knickerbocker Bridge, Mt. Pisgah and Moon Mtn.

View of Hendricks Park from North Bank Bike Path

View of Hendricks Park from North Bank Bike Path


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