As the interest in gravel riding continues to grow at a feverish pace, people are mapping out more and more routes. Apps including Strava and Map My Ride allow people to develop and share routes with others, thus increasing the exposure. One such ride, ridden for year by locals, and recently penned by the gravel crazed folks at Dirty Freehub, is called The Alpaca Loop—a gravel bike route that should be on your list.
- David Sword
For those familiar with routes such as Twin Bridges or Lower Bridge, you'll see the Alpaca Loop shares some of those pathways. Starting in Tumalo, or in Bend, the Alpaca rolls through 45 miles of tarmac and gravel of various "smoothness." Rated by Dirty Freehub as a "moderate" ride, only one rough-and-tumble section of moon rocks puts the route into that classification.
Like most bike rides in Central Oregon, the climbing is rolling, with a punchy hill or two to keep you honest. You'll cycle past sweeping views of the Cascades, various public lands and farmlands, and ranches that are home for hundreds of the route's namesakes: the alpaca. Raised by the Incas over 6,000 years ago for their soft and manageable fur, the alpaca is a distant cousin of the camel.
For this ride, bring water, a camera, and be ready to smile and sweat. Best ridden in fall, winter and spring, get on the Alpaca before the moon dust settles in.
- Courtesy Dirty Freehub
For complete route description, search on Map My Ride GPS, or Dirty Freehub.