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Signs of Spring: Daffodils, white legs and PPP entry forms mark the season 

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This weekend came in like a lamb and went out like a lion, fitting for the first weekend of spring in Central Oregon.

After a gray El Nino winter, I think everyone in Bend went bonkers on Saturday when it was sunny and 71 degrees. It was hard to choose what to do that day, so most of us just tried to cram in as many outdoor activities as possible. I got in a road ride up to Wanoga without my neoprene booties and a run in shorts (exposing my winter-white legs) along the river trail. Bikers, runners and paddlers were scattered all over the place.

By Sunday, a front came through, bringing fresh snow to the mountain and blowing all my over-optimistically unveiled adirondack chairs off the deck. Oh well, that's how it goes, but the signs of spring are unequivocal - the daffodils are blooming and the PPP entry forms are out.

Not only has the weather had a hard time deciding what do this time of year, but we too will soon be faced with some tough choices.

Great Nordeen vs.
Horse Butte 10-Miler

April 3, 2010

Should you wax your skate skis one last time or should you dust off your trail running shoes? You'll have to choose, because the Great Nordeen cross country ski race and the Horse Butte 10-Miler are on the same day.

The Great Nordeen is a generally downhill point-to-point 15K/30K freestyle race from Sunrise Lodge to Wanoga. It's a great opportunity to ski terrain groomed specially for the event and also features a skijouring race (with your dog). For more information, visit www.mbsef.org.

The fifth-annual Horse Butte 10-miler is an east-side trail run that has become a spring tradition in Bend. The course is 100 percent dirt and 99.9 percent single-track and has a participant limit of 200 people. It has filled to capacity for the past three years, so sign up soon at www.footzonebend.com.

Salmon Run vs.
King & Queen of the Cone vs. Bike-A-Roo Breakfast Ride

May 1 and 2, 2010

Running shoes, randonee skis, or road bike? Actually, you could do it all on the first weekend of May.

The Salmon Run is a long-standing spring tradition, in its 18th year. The 5K/10K run/walk up and down the Deschutes River starts at McKay Park at 9 a.m. on May 1. The race is a benefit for the Environmental Center, so visit www.envirocenter.org for more information.

If you've recovered from the Salmon Run, you can follow it up the next day with another Environmental Center fundraiser in the second-annual King and Queen of the Cone, an up-and-down-and-up-and-down ski race at Mt. Bachelor on May 2. Visit www.envirocenter.org for more info.

Sadly, Bend Bike-n-Sport closed its doors on Monday, but cycling is alive and well in Central Oregon. If you'd rather ride your bike and eat coffee cake than climb the cone twice on your skis, then the Bike-a-Roo is for you. Meet at Sunnyside Sports for the annual 25-mile ride on May 2 at 9 a.m. www.sunnysidesports.com

Spring Skiing vs.
Trip to Maui

This is the big choice, but for me it's a no-brainer. Hmmm, let's see. Skis vs. surfboard.

Soft-shell parka vs. bikini and Banana Boat. Burgers and fries at Cascade Lakes vs. fresh opakapaka at the Paia Fish Market. Northwest Express vs. the inside break at Hookipa. Well, you know where to find me in April.

Not to say that spring skiing in Bend can't be sweet, especially with Mt. Bachelor's BendOR Spring specials. The early spring pass is valid March 29 through May 16 for $139 while the late-spring pass is valid April 19 through May 16 for just $99.

In addition, in a move I applaud heartily, the nordic ski season will be extended one month. Historically, the PPP course has been maintained until mid-May for training and to keep the snow in useable shape. This season, however, an expanded grooming plan is being developed that will allow the Nordic Lodge to remain open for business with spring rates and services.

Even though the Century Mark Party, celebrating a 100-inch base at West Village never happened (we got tantalizingly close at 98 inches, I believe) the party spirit is still alive at Mt. B. When the weather forecast is right (warm, sunny, calm) heading into a select Friday or Saturday, Mt. Bachelor may throw a Pine Party, keeping the Pine Marten Express and the Clearing Rock Bar open from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Pine Party tickets will be $10 for the general public and access will be free to season passholders and spring passholders. Day tickets will remain valid in the evening session. Guests are urged to stay tuned to www.mtbachelor.com.

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