WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY
Mountain Biking season has arrived! The WebCyclery Cascade ChainBreaker Mountain Bike Race, the traditional opener in Central Oregon, is coming May 10. Yes, that's Mother's Day- last year, Barry Wicks brought his mom to the race.
Beating the Sandtrap: Mountain Biking Millican OHV Trails in SpringThe race will use the same course as last year-the Cascade Timberlands property just west of Shevlin Park, which is a great mix of singletrack, doubletrack, short climbs, dry creekbed crossings, a gravel road or two and a few man-made obstacles. Categories will include:
Pro = FAST!
Cat 1 = Experienced riders with lots of mojo
Cat 2 = Riders looking for adventure and working on speed to move up to Cat 1
Cat 3 = New to the sport and out for a good time
Singlespeed = One gear, simplicity and some pain
Tandem = Two riders, one really big bike
Don't miss this big event-over 200 cyclists compete and over $1,000 in cash and prizes will be awarded. For more information, visit www.webcyclery.com.
If you plan to actually train for the ChainBreaker, it's probably time to chip last year's dirt out of your brakes and oil your chain. On the Westside, lower Phil's Trail is pretty good now, but you want to avoid clogging up your drivetrain and chewing up the trails by riding in the mud at higher elevation.
Now is the ideal time to take your mountain bike out east. I've often ridden Horse Ridge and the Badlands off of Highway 20, but two weeks ago some friends introduced me to the North Millican OHV Trail System. There, you'll find 181 miles of well-marked trails through rolling desert terrain. The trails are already getting sandy, so the window of opportunity for enjoyable riding is short. To get there, drive out Highway 20 about 25 miles and turn left down a dirt road.
Having competed in the Jackson Hole Pole Pedal Paddle on April 4 and Wenatchee's Ridge to River on April 18, I can absolutely say our race is the best, but we could take away a few lessons.
Jackson's race, the original PPP, is a longer course, but a much smaller race in terms of participants. Even so, there is a pre-race meeting and a post-race party with some great raffle prizes that make it a first-class event. In its heyday, R2R attracted 1,800 or more racers, but this year only 51 Ironmen and Ironwomen and 83 teams entered. The buzz was that it might be the last year for the event because of decreased participation. By far, our race has the largest crowd and most hubub.
In terms of schwag, the Jackson T-shirts were pretty boring and the knitted ski hats awarded for podium finishes were designed for encephalitis patients. At R2R, however, they ran out of T-shirts, so we didn't even get them, and the trophies were hefty blocks of aluminum (ALCOA is the title sponsor). A big thumbs up goes to our Blue Spruce mugs, which are useful for post-race celebration as well as year-round tea.
One way in which the Jackson PPP and R2R beat our PPP, is that both races provide split times. Jackson does it with hand timing and R2R uses an electronic chip. I've inquired in the past about the possibility of split times at PPP; the answer I received is that it would be "too difficult." This is the 21st century-it's totally possible if the MBSEF felt like it. The question is, should we have split times? Personally, I'm curious to know how each leg stacks up to the competition, because you definitely have to take the post-race beer garden analysis with a grain of salt. "Man, my wax sucked! I did the skate ski in twelve minutes, but I could have done it in ten, for sure!" On the other hand, if we had split times at PPP, they'd provide enough fodder for year-around debate at dinner parties, which would get a little tiresome after a while. What do you think?