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Mud, Loam and Tears. Trans-Cascadia 2017

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With a tagline like “party in the woods” you know it’s going to be a good time.  For those who aren’t familiar, Trans-Cascadia is the premier multi-day enduro race in the country, and arguably the western hemisphere.  The event takes place over four days in the Oregon backcountry where 100 racers meet for unmatched blind-format riding, top notch food and comradery.   This year the talk of the race was the new area of trails which the event opened up.  Modus Sports Group, the main sponsor and company who hosts the race, put in an astounding amount of time resurrecting decades old singletrack in the heart of Oregon.  These old trails were primarily used as ancient hiking routes and logging access, but have been long forgotten and were reclaimed by the forest.  Alex, Nick and Tommy, the three partners who run Modus, organized multiple trail work parties throughout the year in order to prepare the new trails for the race.   In the end the countless hours of cutting, brushing and raking paid off and racers were rewarded with some of the steepest raw singletrack in the greater Central Oregon area.  In addition to the new trails, another improvement for the 2017 race was the amount and quality of the racer’s swag.  Upon arrival each participant was given a custom logo Oakley Roller Bag ($350 I might add) filled with camping goodies such as an MSR plate and utensils, insulated custom pint glass and Shimano headwear.  As a friendly touch the organizers also included what became known as the party pocket, a zippered pouch on the front of the bag which held a special edition Party in the Woods beer and a pre-rolled joint.  Racers were urged to either consume or discard of the contents before boarding any planes however.  Another staple of Trans-Cascadia is the gourmet food.  Every year executive chefs from the Portland area prepare five star meals which are whole heatedly welcomed at the end of a long day.  Although the nightlife and amenities are a major attraction to this race, it is however, still a race, and thankfully that part does not disappoint.

 

The race itself took place over three days and included trails in the Oakridge, Old Cascade Crest, and McKenzie River areas.  Day one was a great introduction to what Oregon has to offer and included some of Oakridge’s classic rides.  Racers boarded the shuttles and headed for the top of Lawler, Yula and Larison. The rain from the previous week had left the trails in prime condition with the exception of isolated spots of “ice clay”.  These super slick spots seemingly came out of nowhere and had the racers on their toes for the extent of the day.  When the riding wrapped up there were smiles all around and stories were exchanged of the day’s shenanigans.  Afterwards the racers were shuttled back to camp to enjoy a premium meal, stiff drinks and a warm campfire.

 

If day one was the introduction to classic Oregon trails, day two was the introduction to classic Oregon weather.  Things had turned a little damp overnight, which meant that the trails were going to be extra fun.  Those racers who had mud tires with them quickly swapped them over and everyone was sure to pack a jacket and extra layers.  Day two took riders to some of the more popular trails in the McKenzie River area.  One of which included Grasshopper, an absolutely brutal 8 mile climb followed by a ripping fast descent.  Other trails included Tire Mountain and Cloverpatch.  Both of which were wet, wild and fun.  Once again racers all finished with grins, just this time there was a bit more mud involved.

 

The last day of the race welcomed riders to the newly rediscovered Old Cascade Crest trails.  This was essentially the first time anyone has rode these trails and to say that people enjoyed them would be an understatement.  The weather was another story however, with bouts of pouring rain, sunshine and the occasional snow flurry.  Despite the ever changing conditions one thing stayed consistent.  The LOAM.  Trails were absolutely ripping on day three and there was mud everywhere.  Despite being wet, things remained surprisingly tacky.  Racers were chomping at the bit to ride the new trails which included Gordon Peak, Scar Mountain and South Pyramid Creek Trail.   The organizers really did save the best for last.  After the final day racers returned to camp for one last gourmet meal and the largest bonfire of the event.  Stories were shared, beers were drank, and good times were had.

In a race like this everyone truly is a winner, however only a select few can take home the winnings.  This year the fastest racers over the three days were;

Pro Men

1st: Geoff Kabush

2nd: Chris Johnston

3rd: Brian Lopes

 

Pro Women

1st: Kathy Pruitt

2nd: Bekah Rottenberg

3rd: Ingrid Larouche

 

Congratulations to all the racers and a huge shout out to the organizers, volunteers and sponsors.  We all can’t wait till next year!

 

Words and Photos:

@trevorlyden

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