Dave and I rode the McKenzie River Trail. It is increasingly apparent that Dave is still doing some significant training, despite his protests otherwise. He was hammering through stuff faster than I was. Part of this may be due to the fact that this trail is made for XC oriented full suspension bikes--he has one, I am on a hardtail. But the other part is that he has gotten faster than I. Not that I am slower, he is just faster. I also popped two tubes and bent the largest ring on my cassette, which sort of sucked. But stuff happens--whatever--it was a good ride for the most part.
I have done this trail twice and I have ridden around Clear Lake an additional 2 times. I am here to offer my quick and dirty review on this semi-famous trail by offering some advice: Stick to the top of the trail and don't bother with the lower half. And one more thing: Don't ride, or attempt to ride, around the eastern side of Clear Lake any more than twice. Once to see how bad it sucks and once more to realize that yes, that first time you weren't imagining how bad it sucked.
Regarding the latter bit of advice--perhaps I am a wuss, but I don't enjoy the east side of the Clear Lake with its constant barrage of technical lava rock riding. That stuff tears you up if and when you fall and you can't go particularly fast around the lake, so it takes forever. I have ridden it four times over the past half dozen years and I am done with it. I immediately ask myself when I get to the lava rock strewn portion, "What the hell was I thinking? No, I am not a better rider than I was the last time I was here, no it is not any easier, and damn that last fall frickin' hurt."
Today, we skipped that side of the lake. It was a very nice change.
The rest of the top half of MRT is great. It is rocky and challenging (but not impossible) to clear everything without dabbing. Some parts are nice and fast, some are technical and some sections have a nice rhythm to them that makes you say or at least think, "Whoopee!"
The bottom half is boring. Snoozeville. Especially after the top. It is the type of riding that one can experience in many other areas. Mostly flat and the endless parade of beautiful scenery becomes a blur of brown and green. I stopped caring about how pretty stuff was about 16 miles into the ride. If you are crunched for time skip it. If you aren't spend the time riding up and down the upper MRT. We shuttled the 26 or so miles, we wouldn't have had the time to ride up and down. I think it took us about 4.5 hours including a couple of breaks, and changing two flats.
Anyway, here are some pics from the top half of the MRT.