Sisters to Smith Rock Scenic Bikeway Photo Shoot

Jocelyn, me, and Melissa: the “talent” for the shoot

When I first moved to Portland, I was determined to take advantage of everything that Portland had to offer in every area of interest that I might have had ever, ever, ever. So, in July, when I signed up to be a part of the Oregon Scenic Bikeways photoshoots sponsored by Travel Oregon and conducted by Laura and Russ of The Path Less Pedaled, I was confident that I would not only have a bike by mid-September, but that I would have ridden it multiple times, properly conditioned my rear end, and invested in all of the accoutrement like panniers and a light and ultra-lightweight bike camping gear. As you might imagine, none of that proved to be true.

The trip I was preparing for was a simulated bike camping trip that would be filmed and photographed for a Travel Oregon promotional video about a Scenic Bikeways ride. Three of us were pretending to be BFFs on a girls-only camping weekend to a well-known rock climbing destination:

Sisters to Smith Rock: September 14-15
We’ll meet in Sisters on the evening of September 13 and camp at Sisters Overnight Park. Roughly 40 miles to Smith Rock, with lots of stops along the way. Some climbing/hiking in the park, and camp there. Shuttle back to Sisters on September 15. Any bike is okay, must be able to carry your own gear for camping.

Two weeks prior, I had a helmet (brought with me from Boston), an 8-year-old heavy sleeping bag (brought with me from Boston), and about $200 to outfit myself for the trip. Thanks to a cheap bike, the generosity of various friends, and the magic of the mechanics at Southwest Bicycle who put on new tires, a new saddle, new pedals, and fixed my spokes the day before I left, this is what I brought with me:

That would be a heavy, aluminum, ancient bicycle with filled rear panniers, a sleeping bag, pillow, two-person tent, and Camelbak water backpack bungee-corded to its frame.

May I recommend you learn from me.

What could have been an absolute nightmare turned into one of the most fun trips I’ve ever been on. Laura and Russ from The Path Less Pedaled were communicative, professional, and gracious. Jocelyn and Melissa, the other “talent” for the shoot, turned out to be smart, hilarious, and supportive. Alan was a great support van driver, and all of us together were quite a merry little crew.

On Friday, we met up in the afternoon, packed up the van, and drove up to Sisters where we ate dinner and got to know each other. Melissa is an archaeologist while Jocelyn works for an international bike share company that is based in Portland. You can imagine how interesting our conversations were, as they ranged in topic from travel to immigration to relationships and everything in-between. We set up our tents at the camp site (which luckily had actual toilets – I really love camping and really dislike peeing outside) and got a good first night’s sleep.

We were up early on Saturday to catch the sunrise (such is the life of a model) and simulate some map reading.

Then the bike riding began. I had had about a week of riding behind me (pun intended) so get used to being on a bike again, so I was able to settle in and enjoy the absolutely gorgeous sunrise. While I could stare at fields or mountains or any other one land feature for hours on end while on a ride, the road from Sisters to Smith Rock has some nicely varied scenery for those who don’t feel the same way.

There were fields AND mountains AND valleys AND farms AND forests.

Having never been on a shoot before (no, I do not model regularly, but thanks for asking), I didn’t really know what to expect in terms of the schedule. We needed to cover a certain amount of mileage, but we also needed to simulate an entire weekend of bike camping, including a wine tasting, rock climbing, and a few meals in additional to the actual riding. It turned out that we would ride short stretches of roadway in front of beautiful scenery, doing multiple passes so that Russ could film us and take photographs. Certain areas would require us riding uphill or downhill multiple times while being filmed. Our group motto became, “Grin, not grimace,” as we’d ride up the same stretch of mountain for the third time. Particularly in my case, as I have asthma and so riding up and down the same prolonged hill in an arid climate made my lungs hate me. Jocelyn and Melissa were both really supportive and let me go first during those uphill shoots so I could set the pace, sucking on my inhaler off-camera between takes.

Grin, not grimace

We managed to squeeze in a wine tasting.

Once we had all the shots we needed along the way, we jumped into the support van and sped on down the road to Smith Rock. Apparently, Smith Rock is a very well-known rock climbing spot. Melissa is quite the climber, and Jocelyn was interested in rekindling her interest. We quickly set up camp and then took off for the hills. And this is what we found:

This photo is completely untouched, minus the border. Not a single edit. I took it with my cell phone. This spot is really this breathtaking.

After you see scenery like this, the rest of the trip was really just icing on the cake. Melissa and Jocelyn climbed, and then I went for a little solo hike. We all ate dinner together with some of Melissa’s friends who were up to climb for the weekend, and then tucked in for the night. The next morning, we were up early again for one more day of shooting before heading back to Portland in the afternoon.

First up on our list of shots for the day? Fake music playing shot!
Jocelyn’s singing, Melissa’s strumming the ukelele, and I’m pretending to play the harmonica. We eventually settled on singing “Happy Birthday” and “Row, row, row your boat” as we didn’t know what other songs we all knew.

Here’s what these pictures don’t show you: about an hour into our first day on the shoot, my bike fell over, bending the front tire almost in half. We bent it back, but it was so crooked that we had to unclip my front brakes to get the wheel to revolve properly without rubbing on anything. That, and only three of my gears worked, meaning that when I was huffing up those hills, it was because the three lowest gears were out of commission. So I rode on a broken wheel, with no front breaks, and only three working gears for almost the entire trip. When they delivered us back to Portland, I actually had to bus back to my house because I was afraid of riding my bike in the city without front breaks with that much weight on the bike. But it was totally worth it, as we all had so much fun on that shoot, that Jocelyn, Melissa, and I have gotten together for dinner a few times since then.

I’ve decided to ride the Oregon Outback next spring/summer, so I have until then to get a new bike.

To see the entire photo stream of Sisters to Smith Rock taken by Russ Roca of The Path Less Pedaled, click here.

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  1. […] I’m going rock climbing at Smith Rock this weekend. Smith Rock is in Eastern Oregon, about 2.5 hours from Portland. I’ve been there once before, when I was the “talent” for an Oregon Scenic Bikeways tour video. You can amuse yourself by watching it below, and read about my adventure here on WildlyTraveled. […]

  2. […] I had personally wanted to revisit ever since my initial bike camping weekend there last September (read the full story about that trip here). So obviously, despite having only known Terra for a couple of weeks and having never met the […]



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