The Crooked River Canyon: Where the Brand was Born
Ed. Note—since 2009, Wattie Ink. has crafted its brand in many places: the slopes of Mt. Lemmon, Tucson; the hidden roads of San Diego County; on the shoulders of the Wattie Ink. Elite Team; and on the Crooked River Highway, just south of Prineville, Oregon. Heather rides this route just about once (or twice!) per week when she's home, and it's where we've tested and refined many of the products that make us who we are. Over the next months, we'll profile these places and people, bringing you a little closer to who we are and where we're from.
Riding Prineville is a special treat. It's a 100+ mile ride that doesn't feel that way, as the route breaks into little pieces you tick off one by one as you complete them: Bend to Millikan Crossing; Millikan Crossing to The Sunniest Gas Station in Prineville; along the Crooked River, up past the reservoir, to the misleading "22 Miles to Bend" sign; home on Alfalfa Market Road, where the afternoon winds usually make the final fifth of the ride really feel like a century.
We usually warm up to the first crossing, and then begin whatever repeats we have there along George Millikan road, a rolling, mostly flat affair that terminates in a giant pile of shipping containers. The road tips down into Prineville there, the small town spreading out like a hamlet in Middle Earth. We refuel at the gas station, just under halfway through the ride at this point, and then put in our strongest effort of the day, about 20 miles from the town to the top of the road. You see cows, fly fisherman, and campsites on the side of the road, and on hot days in July we often stare longingly at the river. The highway finishes in a two-mile climb, bisected by a flat section along Prineville Dam. From there it often looks like it will be downhill to Bend, but the afternoon winds often pick up, making what was an easy spin that morning into an exercise in fortitude. We make one final stop at Alfalfa Market for fluid and candy bars, before finishing the ride into town and the inevitable runs off the bike to come.