Adventure. Travel. Race.
It's not every day you get to do a Pinkbike "Bike Check" with your husband (Photo: Cam Sloan)
The Cascadia Dirt Cup has fast become one of Nick and I's favorite series to race. Put on by a rad, dedicated group of PNW shredders, the CDC is FUN, and puts us on the best trails in the region. Their timing is spot on, as is their scheduling, and more or less everything else.
Since returning from Whistler, we'd been looking forward to racing Chuckanuts, as it has some similar slab-like features, and one particularly fun descent trail known as Double Down. It's in our backyard, sort-of (5.5 hours away), yet in a zone we don't venture to very often. What better an excuse than to go to Bellingham!
"Shark-fin" slab on Upper Ridge, Chuckanuts WA (Photo: Cam Sloan)
In our usual fashion, we rolled into Bham casually late after a full day of work (or early : 1am, depending on how you look at it). We woke up bright and early, and straight into practice, joining Nick's Teammate Kyle Warner for a few shuttles. After practice, this is what we had to work with:
Stage 1: Upper Ridge: Fast, some slabs (see above photo), punchy steep climb, hard left to wicked fast descent to fire road.
Stage 2: Lower Ridge: Ridgeline trail. Two main slab options- way faster on right. Second w/ tricky lead-in. Tight, loose turns at the bottom.
Stage 3: Raptor Ridge: No time = BLIND. Who knows? Supposedly a cool transfer though on a hiking only trail, cool!
Stage 4: Double Down: Longest stage? Sick descent. Swoopy S-turns on the first half, road crossing, three FUN step-downs. FUN FUN FUN!
Come race day, we both had a blast, and learned that despite watching video from horseback of Raptor Ridge, it was nothing like we had anticipated. Lots of switchbacks, and the climb that we'd hear rumors of never came. Hmmmm...
All in all, minus a small mechanical on Nick's part we both had a decent weekend. He managed to stay on his bike despite, and rode away with a top ten. I had a good day, and came away with the Win -- Guess we're stopping in Seattle for a fun night out on our way home!
Pinkbike Bike Check: http://www.pinkbike.com/news/cdc-round-4-naet-round-6-chuckanut-bike-checks-2016.html
Next stop- Tiger Mountain for the CDC Finals!
Crankworx is one of those events you watch on TV as a mountain bike enthusiast -- an event I've been watching for the last five years or so, never imagining I would be a participant, let alone alongside my husband. HA, It's funny how life works sometimes....
Back to the story... For 2016, Whistler was probably THE event that I was not only the most nervous about, but the most excited about. Whistler has steeps, slabs, roots and drops unlike most other race venues, and has been known to be a beast of a race. I wasn't sure what to expect, but felt to have a slight advantage with terrain similar to that of my PNW training grounds, and, well -- it was close to home. Somehow having our own car, spare parts, and food at the event made it feel more like home, despite the 7 hours drive.
After getting the thumbs up at the border, and a little spin at Squamish (Thanks Wolsky!), we headed straight to Whistler. A day of fun in the bike park to remember how to fly, and It was time for practice: two days of bike park brake bumps, and ending up on the Garbanzo DH course (oops!) instead of the EWS Enduro course multiple runs, we were ready to roll, albeit wishing "In Deep" was in our race, as well as in the Garbo. Oh well.....
In comparison to the previous years' races, it felt as though this year's event was right on the money in terms of difficulty, although there was only one (and a half) real climb transfers to speak of (climb to Crazy Train, and Climb to stage 4). Otherwise, everything was lift access with a few traversing transfers between Whistler Base and Creekside. Easier than expected in terms of physical fitness, but challenging for sure in terms of terrain. All in all, I was stoked to stay on my bike, minus a small OTB on a root in Crazy Train, and am excited for next year!
Stage 1: Bike Park (Blue Velvet,
Stage 2: Crazy Train: Steep, loamy, slabs, RAD!
Stage 3: Heavy Flow/Tunnel Vision: Super short, off Creekside. Fresh-cut/loamy, short steep section, flat pedaly!
Stage 4: Pigs w/wings: Steep, lose, slabby. HARD
Stage 5: Top of the World to the base (RAD!)
Twentieth on the weekend, and first American down Stage 5 from Top of the World -- not bad for Whistler.
Off to the next stop of the North American Enduro Tour (NAET) in Bellingham, Washington in a few weeks!
See you on the trails,
"Some place warm, a place where the beer flows like wine, where beautiful women instinctively flock like the salmon of Capistrano. I’m talking about a little place called Aspen," Dumb and Dumber.
When I first heard the stateside EWS was at this little place called Aspen (+ Snowmass), I was stoked! I'd never been before, and only heard good things of the area, especially the new trails that we heard were getting built just for the EWS.
We left Hood River bright and early, arriving to Denver, CO just in time to meet up with our friend, Matt Patterson, and claim our Turo rental car.
(If you haven't heard of Turo, you should check it out--private parties rent their care. Super cheap, super easy. Think bike racks, too!)
Once we arrived in Snowmass, we rallied to registration and built bikes late into the night. Brake rotors made it this time- yes!! Two days of solid practice, all lift-serve felt like a piece of cake, compared to South America.
If I remember right....
Stage 1: Snowmass, top-to-bottom: bike-park bermy, to tall grass and aspen trees, creeky runout
Stage 2: Buttermilk, top-to-bottom: Tall grass, swoopy through trees, more scary, sketchy tall grass and blind corners
Stage 3: RAD stage! Aspen, Top-to-bottom: Off camber woods, swoopy field, tight steep switchbacks, fire road, fresh cut open grassy.
Stage 4: Snowmass: Fun, Quick steep, grassy!
Stage 5: Snowmass: Fresh-cut grassy GS turns
Stage 6: Snowmass: Super rad, steepest stage. Three fun drops.
Fun Fact: I do remember that whenever I saw a gondola above, it usually meant there was a hard 90 degree turn coming up. Who knows if that will be the same next year.
Anyway, back to the story...
Race day #1 came, and so did my legs. I've never felt completely and utterly gassed, just sitting at the start line. I was exhausted -- thanks altitude! With that said, I had a blast! As usual, the company was amazing (Love you Teal!), and the trails were awesome. Transfers weren't bad at all, and the last stage of each day sent you giggling all the way back to the house.
Day 2 was a little shorter of a day, with a top to bottom stage at Snowmass, followed by two more shorter stages also at Snowmass. Unfortunately, the final stage was cancelled for females, out of respect, as a result of a rider down. I was excited to see how I would fair on a stage that I thought fit my style a little better -- will have to wait until next year.
, I gave it my all for the weekend, and came out mid-pack, slightly disappointed, however, having learnt a lot from the weekend.
1. Don't mess around with an altitude tent. Instead, get to the event as close as possible to race day, and leave as soon as you can.
2. Thunderstorms can happen at any time.
3. Colorado = 29'r zone
4. I need to practice riding in tall grass w/ blind corners.
Pinkbike, practice: http://www.pinkbike.com/news/two-halves.html
Pinkbike, Day 1: http://www.pinkbike.com/news/ews-aspen-day-1.html
Pinkbike, Race: http://www.pinkbike.com/news/the-boss-ews-round-5-aspen-snowmass-usa-2016.html
Until next year, Snowmass!