(photo credit: Oregon Velo)
After finishing second to one of the country’s top riders, Ryan “I barely race my bike anymore” Trebon in Bend’s Cascade Chainbreaker mountain bike race and placing third behind other area paid pros, Chris Sheppard and Carl Decker at last week’s Sisters Stampede, Brig Brandt finally notched a win — a pair of them in fact.
On Sunday, the Bend-based Silverado Gallery/Sunnyside rider walked away from the lead group on the day’s first major climb to take the win at the climbing-intensive Return on the Jedi cross-country race outside Grants Pass. Brandt secured the coveted “Jedi Master” title on the weekend after posting the best time for all three events — short-track, Super D and cross-country. Precise times were hard to come by in the back woods of Merlin, Oregon, but Brandt reckons he finished the XC race in 2 hours, 29 minutes.
Bend was well represented as “Jedi Master” Serena Bishop-Gordon (Silverado Gallery/Sunnyside) grabbed the female overall after taking third in both the short track and Super D on Saturday before placing second in the cross-country race on Sunday — the eighth race in the Oregon XC series. Saturday afternoon, Brandt won the Super D, but barely. After thirty minutes of demanding descending, the race came down to a four-up sprint for first and in the mix was Bend native Brennan Wodtli (Hutchs), who earlier in the day won the 34-minute short track race by a commanding 90-second margin.
“He put on a clinic,” joked Brandt of Wodtli’s dominating win Saturday morning. The damp, rich trails of Merlin were in their usual top form, thanks to equal parts climate and human nurturing. Approximately 130 folks showed up for the fast and flowing downhills that served as compensation for the course’s two grueling climbs — an advertised 5,800 combined feet of climbing over the 30-mile cross-country course.
“The course is getting better and better,” noted promoter Bear Perrin, who along with Shawn Logue put on a race many racers were calling “the best course in Oregon.” For next year, Perrin and Logue are working towards creating a prize purse will be “hard to ignore,” said Perrin. This year Jedi Masters Brandt and Bishop-Gordon both walked away with $200 on top of their cross-country. A cheap weekend considering all three races cost only $40 and homemade food was offered on site ($16 got you two day’s worth of breakfasts and lunches and dinner Saturday night) and camping was free.
It was good prep for the Test of Endurance 50 on June 19 — the next event on the Oregon XC series calendar — a 50 mile race in Blodgett with nearly 8,000 feet of uphill pedaling.