By: Ali Halpin

“Frogger” a term coined by Ryan Francesconi of Our Mother The Mountain, OMTM.cc. It’s how they name routes that string together close-to-home “shred zones”.

My first frogger experience was the perfect blend of grit, insanity, and grin-inducing fun. Ever since that first maiden frogger, I have been shown some cherry frogger routes in and around the city of Portland, OR, and have been inspired to start exploring more of the little trails and roads that are threaded through the city of Bend, OR where I reside. I came across some of the old canal roads in town several years ago, started to explore them, and began to dream up a route to string them all together creating a route that never leaves city limits and is filled primarily with dirt trails and gravel. The result was a nearly 20-mile route that can be completed in about 1.5 hours, the perfect after-work rip. It also gave me the opportunity to explore some areas and neighborhoods I had never visited and even find a new coffee shop!

So how do you build your own frogger? Here are some tips to get you out and exploring your own urban routes!

  1. Question where it goes. Keep your eye out for little trails and roads that lead off the beaten path. Question where they go and then, find out for yourself! It may dead-end, or, you may find a new link to a route you have ridden for ages. 
  2. Strava. Use the heat maps function to see where others are riding. I have found new links and new dirt sections by looking at Strava heat maps. It will also get you prepared for either forging a new path or riding something with the peace of mind that others have been able to connect through. To access heat maps on your computer go to Dashboard > My Routes > Create New Route. From there make sure you have Heatmaps enabled by clicking on Global Heatmaps under Map Preferences. You will now see blue lines on the map. The darker the line the more often it is ridden. 
  3. TrailForks. This can be a great way to search for trails and find ways to connect more dirt between roads. I love TrailForks because it works, as long as you have the specific state map you are currently in downloaded, when you don’t have cell reception. If I see a trail I will jump on TrailForks and use the “flashlight” feature to see if the trails are on the map and decipher where they lead to. TrailForks also show many Forest Service roads as well as trails. 
  4. Google Maps. After a ride, if there was a trail that wasn’t on TrailForks or a road I was unsure about Ill jump on Google maps, using the satellite mode, and try to gather more information about where the road might go, where it ends, and if there appears to be any gates or roadblocks. 
  5. Break your idea into chunks. Instead of heading out on one big wild goose chase, which if you are up for is still fun, I like to break my route scouting into chunks. I’ll pick one new road I have been curious about on a ride I know and see what it is like and if the road is good. Then I’ll start to connect the different pieces over several rides. This is great if you have limited ride time and still want to explore a new route. 
  6. Load the snacks. If your schedule is flexible pick some areas you are going to explore, load up the snacks, and embrace the adventure! Maybe you will be out for 1.5 hours or maybe the roads and route are calling you, and you scout further and ride 2.5 hours or longer! Having snacks is key for keeping the train rolling and the tank full. 
  7. Share with your shred pals. Once you have connected and confirmed your route, get out and ride it with friends! I love sharing new funky routes with friends and likewise, love learning my friend’s routes.