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Paulina Plunge (Downhill Biking) near Bend

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Paulina Plunge (Downhill Biking) near Bend

We recently experienced a day on a trip called "Paulina Plunge". This is a day event based on mountain bikes, mostly downhill, a bit of hiking and focused on accessing a series of waterfalls on the Paulina Creek.

ON THE PLUS SIDE: a) our ten year old had a blast and it seems best suited to the age plus or minus two or three years; b) our 18 year old enjoyed the biking piece- but he loves everything biking c) the remainder found it disappointing but not a complete waste of time

ON THE NEGATIVE SIDE: SIGNIFICANT LACK OF SAFETY DISCIPLINE. While our guide and the lead guide were very explicit speaking about risks on bikes, going downhill too fast, etc. the following negates this effort in our opinion. a) on the phone and on the website, it is noted to be a “SAFE, FUN FAMILY EXCURSION FOR ALL ACTIVE AGES” with no obvious discussion about risks; b) there is steeper terrain and some uphill runs which are not disclosed until on the bikes ready to go; c) our guide took little effort to assure that his entire group was assembled prior to leaving a location. No counts or other disciplines normally expected in such an outing; d) helmets were note required over age 16 and guides did not consistently wear helmets themselves (poor examples); and e) most importantly was a lack of systematic approach to major accidents.

SPECIFIC EXAMPLE: On our ride a mid-aged woman took a hard spill on her bike near the end of the day (fortunately she DID wear a helmet). She appeared to have a significant concussion based upon her response to questions- did not know where she was, what day it was, a bit confused on who she was and did not appear to recognize her husband. Clearly in shock and woozy- later found pain in her shoulder/collar bone area. Our guide was some where in back with our 20 person group.

Ahead was a leader on a motor bike who sat not taking action despite the collection of riders in his view not many yards away until finally we saw him and ran after him. I say ran after because he began to ride away. Screaming and making signs of distress, he chose to ride about a hundred yards to his bus before returning (perhaps for a first aid kit, perhaps not). Upon arriving at the scene the questioning was repeated and it was clear that the woman was not well, likely a major concussion, certainly disoriented. Rather than insisting on going to get the bus to pick her up, he encouraged her to walk to the bus. Probably 200 yards.

Our guide showed up at about yard 150 and probably 15 minutes or so after the accident occurred. He showed sincere concern, repeated the questioning to understand the situation and helped her husband and another man get her to the bus. He checked her helmet to see what it might tell him about the situation. However, that was the extent of it. We did take off rather than waiting for another group to join. No one called ahead to the emergency services facility; the company did not drive directly to that facility but rather to a parking lot (nearby).

No paperwork was filled out, no evidence of any further action to mitigate the risk, to mitigate the outcome of this event to this woman.

Would advise NOT trying this unless they materially upgrade their safety procedures and then only for the benefit of 8-14 year olds.

Destination Expert
for Portland, Sunriver
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1. Re: Paulina Plunge (Downhill Biking) near Bend

That is too bad that happened. I have not personally done this trip yet. We had hoped to a few weeks ago when we were there, but ran out of time, so it is on our agenda for the next trip. Family members have done it several times before and loved it. They range in age from about 8 to early 40's and said it was fine. Have you spoken to the company about this?

There are several members on this board that live in Bend, so maybe they have some insight on this.

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2. Re: Paulina Plunge (Downhill Biking) near Bend

My family has owned a house in Sunriver for the past 25 years. We have taken the Paulina Plunge tour at least 10 times with our family and friends, ages 4 to 80, in that period. I was surprised to read this post when I was making reservations for the 2006 family reunion tour.

I highly recommend this tour company and all of their paid events. They have great bikes,clean buses and fun guides. I have never seen a lack of safety in all those years. In my opinion, safety is over stressed and gets old after hearing for the 10th time "SLOW DOWN" that day. The guides will make sure you come back with no band-aids, their tips depend on it. Riding Mt. bikes downhill can be dangerous, so just ride slow and you will be find. Try to go in July or Aug, the waterslide is alot warmer than. Good luck - see you on the trail Tom

Fremont, CA
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3. Re: Paulina Plunge (Downhill Biking) near Bend

I'm so sorry you had a negative experience on the Paulina Plunge.

This is one of our family's "must do" things on every trip to Sunriver.

Yes, there are years we're pretty tired by the end of the day, and not without some scrapes, but we've never found it unsafe unless we were overly-aggressive or got a bit careless. Typically, the participants are grouped with others of their same family composition or ability. Our children - even when very young - wanted to go with the "big dogs" instead of with the other kids, so this always pushed us (mom & dad) a little.

The biking part is relatively tame. Hiking down to waterfalls is also pretty easy. In my opinion, walking back up from the waterfalls can be tiring and slow, and is certainly the hardest part of the day.

The guides (and owner, I think) are terrific. I love that they teach a geology lesson in addition to the adventure itself. They clearly love the forest wilderness area and want others to appreciate it also.

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4. Re: Paulina Plunge (Downhill Biking) near Bend

yeah, it seems your experience was wholly atypical - I went this past weekend while i was visiting from chicago, and i am a 35 year old lawyer and I had an absolute blast from beginning to end. I gave it a 10 out 10 on fun scale. This past weekend i also went white water rafting, golfing, willie nelson concert, deschutes brewery, floating down the deschutes river near downtown, and many other activities - but the paulina plunge was the most fun - it combined everything from biking to swimming to indian tradition.

If you do not feel secure or stable on a bike or in outdoor activities, which seems to be the case with 55 traveler, i would not recommend it. But if you want to have a great time and the weather is hot - I definitely recommend the Plunge.

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5. Re: Paulina Plunge (Downhill Biking) near Bend

Where does the bike ride start from? My husband and I will be in Sunriver and we would like to take the bike ride but we do not want to pay $60 per person. Does anyone have directions?

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6. Re: Paulina Plunge (Downhill Biking) near Bend

Today our family of 5 thoroughly enjoy the PP. Our 4 1/2 year old daughter rode behind my husband using an alleycat hookup. She and our two sons, ages 8 and 11, were closely advised, guided and befriended by our two helpful and careful guides. The caution to ride slowly and with common sense was reiterated several times throughout the day. We always had a guide at the beginning and another at the end of our group. We stopped several times and assembled together as a group. There was a headcount taken when we left any location to move on.

Along the journey down were several informative talks about the surrounding area, Chief Paulina's history, and how to leave nothing behind when in nature.

A specific incident today illustrated the care and caution that I believe the staff showed (it seems things have improved in that department since 2005). My 8 year old son was jumping off a rock into a water hole at the first stop. Several folks were doing this. My son, a confident swim-team swimmer, was pulled under by the force of the waterfall. He came up scared, and teary. The guide who was in the water assisting folks out of the pool went to him quickly, spoke calmly to him, rubbed his back and reassured him. The guide stayed with him until he felt better (about 5 minutes) giving him one-on-one attention. My son was in no way injured, just scared. I appreciated their concern. Within minutes my son recovered his courage and was jumping again.

Our daughter was the youngest one in our group of 20 riders. The guides were aware of her whereabouts whenever we were near water. They were an enjoyable bunch of guides, helpful and funny, and made our day a wonderful memory. We will definitely do the PP again and would recommend it to anyone who is fit enough to coast downhill on a bike, using their brakes.

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7. Re: Paulina Plunge (Downhill Biking) near Bend

I find it impossible to believe there were any concerns about safety on the Paulina Plunge adventure unless when this was posted (3 years ago)things were different. We just got back from Sunriver, and took our family of 6 (ages 10-45) on this wonderful day of fun!! I felt the 2 guides were far and above focused on the safety of the entire group and I wasn't worried about the younger kids for a minute.

Everyone loved the woodsy riding (it's all downhill), the warrior face painting and of course the water slides were a blast. I highly recommend this outing during a nice hot summer day when visiting Bend or Sunriver, OR.

Bay Area
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8. Re: Paulina Plunge (Downhill Biking) near Bend

We just finished a day long trip on Paulina's Plunge (July 1, 2009). We were two families, total of 5 kids (all girls ages ranging from 6 to 16).

I have read many negative comments regarding safety and such. These were mostly a few years old. Based on our expereince today I can say those negative comments are inherently wrong. Our families had an absolute blast.

We had two outstanding guides in Chris and Zack. Both were very informative and took great care for the entire group of roughly 20+ people in our group, but paid special attention to the kids. As for safety concerns all kids were given a bike test before they were allowed to ride solo. Those that did not have the requisite skills had a bike (trainer?) attached to thier parents bike. In our group my daughter, age 6 bwas the youngest. She rode on a trainer attached to my bike and we had no problems keeping up or safety. At all times on the ride either Chris or Zack would take the lead with the other taking up a position in the back. The entire group was maintained between them at all times. There were more than adequate stops along the way so the entire group could catch up before moving on.

The trip takes all day and includes a fairly easy downhill mountain biking trip that includes several stops at waterfalls and natural water slides. There is one short up hill at the beginning of the ride but those who cannot make it to the top simply walk the bike up.

All in all it was a great trip and I would highly recommend it. The negative comments I had read were, I believe old news.

Oahu, Hawaii
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9. Re: Paulina Plunge (Downhill Biking) near Bend

We signed up for the Paulina Plunge on July 20 and had a WONDERFUL time. Our guides Brandon and Ashley were excellent. We had a group of about 25 - ranging from about 6 years to 50ish. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves through the biking, hiking and playing in the water! Out of everything we did on our 10 day trip to Oregon, this was the best experience. Our family would definitely recommend these professionals to take your family on an unforgettable outing :)

10. Re: Paulina Plunge (Downhill Biking) near Bend

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