- Associated Press - Sunday, May 22, 2016

BEND, Ore. (AP) - As mountain biking has progressed over the past several years, many new trails with downhill flavor have been designed and built near Bend by visionary volunteers with the Central Oregon Trail Alliance.

Tyler’s Traverse, Tiddlywinks and Funner are a few such trails that have evolved into some of the most popular strips of singletrack on the High Desert. And now mountain bikers can even ride the chairlifts at Mt. Bachelor and come bombing down freeride trails during the summer and fall.

Before any of those trails existed, there was the Whoops Trail.

I first rode Whoops in 2002, when I was new to Bend and new to mountain biking. I was immediately enthralled, and I’m pretty sure I’ve ridden it several times every year since.

Tucked into the Phil’s Trail network, the downhill-only Whoops Trail is located about 5 miles west of Bend. Lower Whoops is about 2 miles long and includes large tabletop jumps, smaller jumps and bermed corners. Upper Whoops, about 1½ miles long, is more of a cross-country trail with smaller features.

COTA has been improving the Whoops Trail for nearly 20 years. The area near Whoops was logged in the 1930s and ‘40s, according to longtime COTA member Kent Howes. To help replanted trees grow, the U.S. Forest Service built furrows - grooves in the ground that collect rain and snow.

The Whoops Trail (named for the up-and-down “whoop-de-do” nature of the furrows) was built in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s along these furrows, which were transformed into small jumps along the trail.

In 2003, Bend’s Lev Stryker, owner of Cog Wild Bicycle Tours in Bend, took over as the COTA trail steward for Lower Whoops, adding bermed corners and even more tabletop jumps. Stryker said he’s made changes to the trail each fall. His efforts require a balancing act between providing enough jumping opportunities for more aggressive riders and keeping the trail approachable for beginners.

“It’s been our goal on Whoops, because it’s such a popular local trail for everybody, to keep it ridable by everyone,” Stryker said. “A beginner can ride it and have a great time, and then the fast guys who are trying to hit the gaps, there’s progression. It’s not like if you can’t make it (over a big jump) the trail sucks. No matter what speed you’re going, you’re having a good time.”

Stryker describes Whoops as the classic “pump-and-flow” trail.

“It almost set the precedent,” Stryker said. “It’s like the O.G. pump-flow trail. Tyler’s and Tiddlywinks are kind of the next generation.”

When Stryker first built taller, steeper jumps and more sharply bermed corners on Whoops, he said he faced some pushback from riders who liked the trail the way it was. But most local mountain bikers have welcomed the adjustments.

“As mountain biking progresses, the trails can progress, and the way that the majority of people are riding now, they’re really stoked on that kind of trail,” Stryker said. “It’s become more and more acceptable to have that style of trail. Whoops faced some criticism in the beginning, but now it’s just much more a part of the norm.”

I set out last week from Phil’s Trailhead to ride up Ben’s Trail, then descend Lower Whoops and Kent’s trails. Those three trails are some of the few that remain open in the Phil’s complex Monday through Friday during the U.S. Forest Service’s tree removal and thinning project in the area. (All trails in the area are open Saturday and Sunday.)

Ben’s Trail is restricted to uphill riding and I made the climb rather quickly, without encountering any other riders during the warm, blue-sky afternoon. When I reached Junction 24 along Forest Road 300 at the bottom of Lower Whoops, I noticed a group of mountain bikers who appeared to be camped out for the day. They were making laps up and down Whoops, which has become a common activity for local mountain bikers.

“That’s just become its own trailhead,” Stryker said. “I’ve gone through there and there’s 20 cars parked in there.”

I continued climbing on my bike up Forest Road 310, which leads to Junction 29 and the top of Lower Whoops. The climb required about 20 minutes.

After climbing up the road, I started down Whoops, cruising through the bermed corners and catching a decent amount of air on the smaller jumps, but slowing on the taller tabletop jumps to avoid over-committing myself in the air. I still need some practice on the more intimidating jumps.

Stryker recommended lowering the bike seat when riding down trails like Whoops.

“For pumping and jumping, it just makes it so you can engage your legs more,” he said. “Start low and as you start to compress into that jump, you’re using your whole body to spread the energy out, so it’s not so abrupt.”

After reaching the bottom, I rode down Road 300 to connect to upper Phil’s and Kent’s trails back to Phil’s Trailhead. The entire 14-mile loop took about 2½ hours - a solid workout with the added thrills of the vaunted Whoops Trail.

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If you go …

Whoops Trail

Directions: The Whoops Trail can be reached by bike via the Phil’s Trail Network west of Bend. Bikers can also drive west on Skyliners Road from Bend to Road 300, where Lower Whoops ends. Road 310, just to the north of Junction 24, can be ridden up to Junction 29, the top of Lower Whoops and the bottom of Upper Whoops. (Lower Whoops is downhill only, but Upper Whoops can be ridden both ways.)

Length: Upper Whoops is about 1½ miles long and Lower Whoops is about 2 miles long.

Rating: Technically advanced, aerobically easy.

Trail Features: Fast singletrack with a variety of freeride features, including small jumps, large tabletop jumps and banked turns.

Editor’s note: Mountain Bike Trail Guide, by Bulletin sports and outdoors writer Mark Morical, features various trails in Central Oregon and beyond. The trail guide appears in Outdoors on alternating Wednesdays through the riding season. For more rides and video, visit bendbulletin.com/rideguide.

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The original story can be found on The Bulletin’s website: http://bit.ly/1NqRUwB

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