Bend, Oregon: Biking, Climbing, and Beer

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Bend sits in central Oregon, fortuitously positioned in the Central Cascade Region. The high-desert landscape affords year-round active distraction, like mountain biking Horse Ridge Trail one spring afternoon...  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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... after you spent the day skiing fresh powder at Mount Bachelor, which is a 30-minute drive from downtown. The ski resort also hosts a variety of summertime activities, including lift-service hiking and sunset dinners at the ski lodge, where you can take in panoramic views of the surrounding Three Sisters Wilderness while dining on seared scallops.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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World-class rock climbing is also a short drive away at Smith Rock, long prized by climbers as well as by hikers and campers. The scenic state park is defined by the vertiginous cliffs that line the banks of the Crooked River.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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There are literally thousands of defined climbing routes in the park, each dialed to specific levels, with everything from mellow crags to multi-pitch routes. Here a professional, 5.10-sponsored climber takes on one of the more challenging routes.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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Two climbers summit a crag at sunset.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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Experienced climbers can rope right in—the routes are easy to locate, and the whole park develops a mellow party-like vibe.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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Or you can hook up with a regional outfitter who can help you with equipment and guide you up the rock. Greg Garretson, a local guide with Smith Rock Climbing Guides (pictured here on Gingersnap), was a godsend while leading our wobbly kneed journalist up a two-pitch ascent.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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Smith Rock can get ridiculously hot in mid-summer, but the rest of the year, it’s heaven. And there’s also great bouldering lining the road leading to Mount Bachelor to get that climbing fix in June, July, and August.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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Or, come summer, just go mountain biking. There are more than 1,200 miles of trail within a two-hour radius. Here a local (and recent 5.10-sponsored athlete) dominates the nearby pump course, but most of the trails are considerably more mellow, including local favorites like Whoops and Phil’s.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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Most of the trails lie within Deschutes National Forest, and exist because of a deeply committed group of local cyclists who carved out the singletrack trails. Here, a local places her offering on the “altar” on Elv trail.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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Indeed, cycling is part of Bend’s central culture. Here you can see a collection of bike-centric tokens, including other offerings to the altar on Elv and a skill-marker sign. To get to the best of the trails—and arrange for shuttle rides and guided tours—hook up with Cog Wild.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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The love of cycling isn’t only for mountain bikers. Bend also has miles of spectacular road riding throughout the county, and also hosts the BMC Cascade Classic bike race, the biggest staged race in North America. Here a rider speeds through the street course in downtown Bend.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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But Bend isn’t all active all the time. In fact, one of the best ways to end an active day is by drinking a few of the award-winning beers at one of the city's 14 (and counting) breweries. One way to wrap your head around what’s on offer is to try a flight sampler, like this one at Deschutes Brewpub.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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Deschutes is the fifth-largest craft brewery in the country and offers free tours of its large operation, which sits near downtown on the river from which the brewery derives its name.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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Other operations are intentionally smaller-scale. Here Larry Sidor, former brew-master at Deschutes and a god among men in the craft brewing scene, pours his Outcast IPA at his new brewery/restaurant Crux Fermentation Project.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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While still other operations consist of a small tasting room and only serve beer by the growler or keg—along with the requisite merchandise. This T-shirt design comes from Boneyard Brewery, an award-winning operation that corralled its first batch of brewing equipment from other brewers.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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Getting to all these breweries can be a challenge. There’s an app for that, naturally: the Bend Ale Trail, which guides you on a tour of nine breweries. But we vote for the Bend Cycle Pub. You can rent the circular, six-person rig (plus driver) pictured here for a 90-minute tour for $120, or go big and recruit enough people to populate the 14-person rig. The price includes a driver—all you have to do is pedal… and drink.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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When it comes to bedding down for the night, you’ll find plenty of hotel options—from boutique to the standard chains—but if you’ve got a small group, go for a group house. Alpenglow Vacation Rentals has lots of great, historical properties within close proximity to downtown. It’ll let you live like a local, and may tempt you stay longer than you’d intended.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
 
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