What Is The Pole Pedal Paddle Bend & Why You Should Check It Out

The road to Mt Bachelor is beautiful any time of year but in spring the contrasts of green and white are breathtaking. Winter clinging to life on top of Mt Bachelor.

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Ah spring. Even if you’re a powder hound skiing in April or May might be the best kept secret in the ski in industry. While the crowds descend on the mountains during mid-winter. The real mountain enthusiasts know that this is when you should visit. It’s the opportunity to multi-sport. Ski, climb, run, hike, bike… even kayak. And there isn’t a better event that highlights this than the Pole, Pedal, Paddle. There’s a few across the nation, but one of our favorites is the Selco Pole Pedal Paddle Bend that happens every late May in Central Oregon. Started by Jenny and Dave Sheldon back in 1975 they wanted to bring a multi-sport event that that they had seen in their original town of Jackson Hole, Wyoming.  Four decades later this gathering has grown bigger and has found a huge following.

What Is It?

nordic skiing segment at Mt Bachelor for the Pole Pedal Paddle Bend race
Image taken by: Stephen Badger

Finishing up with a party in the Old Mill District not too far from the Riverbend Park this annual tradition is the BIGGEST event of the year for the area. Over 10,000 people descend upon Bend to taste everything the region has to offer in the Pole Pedal Paddle Bend event. It starts on the snow-covered slopes of Mt. Bachelor and flows downhill finishing up on the Deschutes River. Depending on how fit you are you can either attempt to do all six legs or enjoy it as a team relay race. 

Keep It Mellow Or Get After It

One of the main reasons why it’s so popular is the flexibility of how you can enjoy the Pole Pedal Paddle Bend race. If you’re a fierce competitor or just a soul surfer, it can be an easy jog or a strenuous workout. It’s all up to you. Based on that, the course can take anywhere from an hour and 45 minutes, to four hours. 

Team Category Options

In regards to team categories there’s a LOT to choose from. If you’re in it for a chance to win a cash prize the Elite Individual category is the one for you. It’s the only category with cash prizes, which are $1,000, $500, and $250. The next option is a two-person team. Your team can be all female, all male, or coed. These two person crews will have one person per leg, with each member alternating. If you’re looking for a more intense experience and still only two people check out the tandem category. While some of the legs you’ll be able to alternate there are some that you must do together like using a tandem bike or a two-person kayak. To keep the races more competitive for everyone another unique two-team category is the Clydesdale pair. Each member must weigh a certain amount:

  • Males must weight 200 lbs.
  • Women must weight 160 lbs.

Last, but not least is the most popular the team race. Each crew must include three to seven members (there are six legs, but you can have two people in a canoe, or one in a kayak).

How It Works

Compared to other pole, pedal, paddle races this one doesn’t have just three legs but a whopping six categories. They are the following:

1 Alpine Ski

This leg starts at the top of Mt. Bachelor’s Red Chair, sprinting uphill then skiing down the LeeWay run.

2 Cross-Country Ski

The XC is an 8 km skate ski and goes to Mt. Bachelor’s Nordic Lodge parking area.

3 Bike

Biking consists of a 22 mile beautiful ride into Bend along Century Drive.

4 Run

This leg is a 5 mile, single track trail run along the Deschutes River and starts at the Athletic Club.

5 Canoe/Kayak

The water portion goes upstream, then downstream, then upstream again.

6 Sprint

The sprint goes under the Columbia Bridge and finishes the race at the arena in Les Schwab Amphitheater.

Why You Should Go

If you’re anywhere near the Pacific Northwest we urge you to stop by not to just cheer these people on but actually get a few laps on Mt. Bachelor. Skiing in May on this dormant volcano isn’t just good it’s phenomenal! In fact, it’s home to what might be considered the BEST corn snow on the planet. So, slap on some slush wax, grab your decks and head to Bend for what most of us will call the final hurrah. If you want to learn the in’s & outs of skiing in spring, what gear to bring, & why it’s our favorite time to go on a ski vacation, check out our comprehensive spring skiing guide. And for those that want to be more of an active participant check out the registration link below.

Event Details:

When: Late May

Where: Mt. Bachelor Ski Resort and Bend, OR

Registration: PPP Bend Website



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