The Yinzers invade Bend!!

There has been a lot written, posted, and videos made about Bend, Oregon and I won’t bore you with repetitive stories and accounts. However, suffice to say, when 19 people from Pittsburgh go to Bend and take in the gracious hospitality of native Pittsburgh people Julie and Jeff Chetlin and Barb and Tim Girone, things happen that affect one of the top 5 places to live in the country.

No visit would begin without the obligatory trek to one of Bend’s many brew pubs where the beer is fresh and cold and the food excellent. After pahnnding dahn an Elk Burger at Immersion Brewery http://www.imbrewing.com and drinking their most excellent IPAs, I began our adventure with our merry band of riders who sat around the tables and relaxed after a long day of travel to the West Coast. We were so happy to unite with Jeff and Julie who are our official tour leaders on the rides and the Girones who execute the lead with professionalism and the daily on-line “Trail Report” from Tim. Rising the next day we begin our climb up to the snow line surrounded by the most beautiful waterfalls you will ever see in one place.

Slogging through 6-8 inches of wet snow to get to the top around 6,000 feet, we began our descent down perhaps the longest trail I have ever descended. 13 miles to be exact. The gang was ripping down Mrazek Trail as the Chetlin video was rolling. However at the end of the trail, our fearless leader had a horrific high speed crash and broke 6 ribs in the process.

After the EMTs and the Bend Fire Department hauled Jeff out of there, we continued on and finished what was to be a 6 hour experience for the band from the burg. Settling in that night with a local IPA and tacos from the local food truck, we were treated to music in downtown Bend where the locals hang out and just chill around the tables and chairs set in the courtyard for the event. As you have heard, very laid back indeed. Puffys and trucker hats everywhere with dogs running amuck. As we all lamented the crash, and the loss of our riding leader, we made our way to the St. Charles Hospital to pay Jeff a visit. He has amazing resiliance and despite severe pain, he orchestrated our rides from the hospital bed. The next morning was another climb led by local hero, Matt,a schoolteacher who teaches culinary arts to middle school kids, who punished us with a rock strewn start on COD Trail up to the snow line again. The treat began as we descended the iconic Tiddly Winks Trail with major league features that were flawlessly crafted by the local trail crew. But perhaps the best day was the last when after an amazing breakfast at “Chow” http://www.bendinspoon.com we all took the COG Wild Shuttle http://www.cogwild.com to the top of Swampy and began a snow and ice lined trail system that led to a fast rip down a finish at the classic Bend trail- Phil’s. Another amazing downhill experience with the course profile on STRAVA all pointing negative ascent. We then began the inspection tour of Bend with a visit to what was described to us as the best brewpub in Bend. The Crux Fermentation Project as it is called is another outdoor respite that is relaxing along with some amazing food. http://www.cruxfermentation.com With a visit also to the Good Life Brewery, http://www.goodlifebrewing.com we were set to make our way to the hospital again to visit the fearless one, followed by the new Warren Miller movie “Timeless” at the Tower Theater in downtown Bend. Hoots and hollers from the Pittsburgh crew for sure as we are all skiers and boarders as well.

Ok enough, so what was the most impressive? Personally, what struck me were the neat things that you don’t see in many places like the fireplace and the bar setup in Sagebrush Cycles http://www.sagebrushcycles.com where you can try on ski boots while you drink a fresh IPA and ogle the eye candy mtb frames and clothing. Pine Mountain Sports also set us up with most excellent rental rides of Santa Cruz Hightowers and Tallboys. http://www.pinemountainsports.com They were most accomodating in their set ups with us, taking their time to set the sag based on our weight and riding ability and just in general wanted to make sure that we had the best ride for 3 days in their hometown. Did you know that they don’t have downspouts in Bend? They use a chain and the water runs down the chain into cisterns to be captured. Only in Bend. I digress. Oh one more, I was in the men’s room at one of the breweries and saw this amazing sink with no bowl. Just a flat slightly inclined sink deck where all the water ran away from you into the drain somewhere else? Only in Bend. Little things like that that you don’t see. I digress. Little things amuse little minds.

All in all, the band of ‘burgers thoroughly enjoyed the “vibe” of Bend as it is described. But the most impressive thing to me was the friendliness of the people of Bend. They are all smiling and asking you about YOUR day, where YOU are going and offering tips along the way. The relaxed mood of the restaurants, brew pubs, and shops all make you feel somehow that you are in a homey atmosphere with no plastic or snooty residents. Flannel abounds and along with kids riding, hiking, climbing and skiing, it would seem to me to be a great place to raise kids. The one comment from the Oregonians that joined us on the rides, was that they were amazed that we all were such a tight knit group and that we rode so well. The operative word was fast. As the geezer of the group, I smiled at that one and once more, it is apparent that even though we were in the most friendly, laid back, wonderful town in America, the Pittsburghers have something special too by way of camaraderie and friendliness especially in the mountain bike community where we reside. So, Jim, Simon, Josh, Dave, Sandy, Pete, Syed, John, Haley, Steve, Julie and Jeff, Barb and Tim, and Todd the resident fun timesĀ  commuter to Bend via Seattle, and Stacey- the new immigrant to Bend via Pittsburgh, I salute you and cherish you as friends. We can go anywhere and make new friends all along the way. Thanks Julie and Jeff and Tim and Barb. We will see you soon along the trail.

Statistics per John Cassucio for the 3 day riding adventure:

70 miles
5560 elevation gain
8316 elevation loss
Average Speed 8.33 MPH

John, Haley and Simon- the family that rides together stays together.

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Q.D.L. ( Quality Days Left)

My friend Jeff Chetlin( pictured here front and center in the orange shorts) said to me the other day on a MTB ride,” Paddy- I want you to get in your Jeep and think about what I am saying. I want you to think about quality days left.” He said, ” Today is a quality day. Sunshine, a long ride with friends, beers and lunch in the parking lot sitting around on soccer chairs, enjoying each other’s company after a great ride ” That is a quality day.” ” How many of these days do we have left?”
I thought about that on the way home and as Jeff also said, we really don’t know how many of these quality days we do have left. He is ten years younger than me but still, we don’t know. I asked the same question basically to my ski crowd a few weeks ago. ” How much longer do you think we will be able to ski the chutes, rip GS turns, and ski at a high level comparatively speaking?” The general consensus was if we kept ourselves in shape, didn’t get injured( longer recovery at an older age), and nothing catastrophic happened, we should be able to ski like this into our 70s. We saw a guy at Snowbasin one year making beautiful GS turns on the groomers at high speed…..at 75 years young. So back to Chetlin. He has ideas on how he wants to utilize his QDL.

Jeff seems to think that he needs to someday soon move to Bend, Oregon to pursue his dream of maximizing QDL. In many ways, his environment dictates and contributes to his QDL. He is questioning whether he wants to spend the rest of his active years in Pennsylvania or make the move to his favorite place out west. We all currently travel to ski trips and mountain bike trips but aside from those great days, our QDL are currently here in the Keystone State. But in my mind- that is ok. All of our friends are here with the exception of a few, and life is what you make of it, right? So I thought more about it and asked myself in my Jeep, what do I think is a quality day? Well, I have this positive way of viewing things and really, every day is a gift. When we wake up and are blessed with another healthy day, it is a quality day to me. I know that the epic mountain bike rides with friends and epic ski days with friends are quality days, but I think about every day being a quality day. No matter the weather, no matter what the circumstances, if you are blessed with friends, a good work environment, and a wonderful spouse, you have quality days. A great quality day is spent with my wife Janet. We need to value each and every day because we have each other currently in good health.
We will always value each other no matter what, but we need to maximize that time together. I am sure that Jeff feels that way about his wife Julie who is his partner in everything that he does.
So, I can dream about quality days left out west in some great location. But currently I live in Pittsburgh and must make the QDL alive and well right here. Again, the travel QDL are important and always will be memorable, but days like we had last Saturday with our MTB crew, riding in the spring sunshine, sitting around and telling stories in our soccer chairs, and sipping a cold brew, that is a quality day for sure. How many do we have left? Only the Lord knows that for sure. But my goal is to make every day a quality day, no matter what the day presents. I know what Jeff means about life in Bend. And, he may attain that goal soon. But for the time being, I am looking forward to the Coopers Gap Epic Ride in a few weeks at State College with the Chetlins and looking forward to more fun times with my Janet in whatever we do. Thanks for reading and maximize your QDL.