Part of mountain biking is dealing with what the trail throws at you. Whether it’s a rock in your path, a downed tree, or a just an unexpected turn, you have no choice but to react to the obstacle in front of you. Sometimes it ends up in a horrific crash, other times it ends up being one of those epic “Did you see that!?” moments. DSENDiT’s weeklong road trip to Oregon was full of unexpected obstacles, some on the trail and some not, some with good results and others with bad.
With round four of the California Enduro Series being held in Ashland, Oregon, the team decided to make it a weeklong road trip and explore some of Oregon’s incredible trails. Unfortunately, I had to sit this trip out, but the rest of the team packed up and headed north for an epic week of riding and racing.
If you’re heading north from San Luis Obispo in the summer time, there’s no excuse not to stop at the Northstar bike park in Lake Tahoe, California. As it’s 400 miles from SLO and the first stop on the road trip, everyone was eager to get out on the trails and rip immediatley. A trip to the bike park usually isn’t complete without a few crashes, and in this case, there were plenty. Unfortunately for Casey, he was the first to fall victim to one of the obstacles of the Northstar slopes. He was forced off of his line, when a rider pulled out in front of him, and took a hard slam, badly bruising his hip. After a little rest and some food, Kasey went back up on the lift for another run. On his second run, he flatted part way down the hill and had to limp his way down the rest of the run. Clearly, it was not Casey’s day… Trevor was having troubles of his own as well. When leaning into a corner, he clipped a tree with his shoulder, ejecting him from the bike. To make the situation even worse, his tubeless valve stem somehow snapped in the crash, so he too, had to limp his bike down the rest of the mountain.
With an eventful weekend at Northstar under their belt, the team continued north to their next stop, the Mt. Hood bike park in Central Oregon. Upon arrival, the resort seemed a little questionable, especially because they were the only mountain bikers there. The very uneven ratio of bob sledders to mountain bikers (heavily favoring the bob sledders) had them second-guessing the venue. Fortunately, Mt Hood turned out to be one of the trip’s positive surprises. Between the epic trails and having the mountain all to themselves, it ended up being an awesome day of riding.
After a few days of riding the alpine trails of Mt Hood, it was time for a little R&R before the race, so the team headed west to tour around Portland. Trevor got his hipster coffee fix and some mustache inspiration, and then it was off to the next stop. The team started to make their way south towards Ashland, stopping in beautiful Crater Lake National Park. After a couple days of camping and hiking in the amazing scenery around the lake, and it was time to shoot down to Ashland for the race.
In the week leading up to the race, Ashland saw some extreme weather conditions ranging from 105° heat to heavy downpours. In anticipation of the inclement weather conditions, the event organizers altered the usual course to make it safer and more enjoyable for the riders. It was a pleasant surprise for the riders when they woke up to beautiful weather on race day, and thanks to the rain in the days prior, the dirt was all-time.
With terrain almost the exact opposite of San Luis Obispo trails, it was difficult for the team to get acclimated to the slippery, rooty trails of Ashland. Trevor rode consistently throughout all four stages, but still had his share of troubles. In stage three, he had a little trail surprise of his own after making a wrong turn, requiring some bush-whacking to get back on the track. Max had a rough day being that he didn’t make it to Ashland until 1am the night before the race. Running on a few hours of sleep, Max still charged hard all day and put in a solid result. In a Pro class full of talent, Trevor finished 29th, and Max finished 33rd.
In the sport class, Kasey finished a season best 7th place, despite his still injured hip. The young groms, Jacob and Mason dominated the under 18 sport class. Jacob and Mason were able to find their groove and finished 1st and 2nd on all four stages of the race. Jacob took his first win of the season with Mason not far back in second; the rest of the field was over a minute and a half back.
After a night of celebrating and drinking tequila with Mark Weir, the team went out for a friendly group ride on Sunday morning. Of course, it wouldn’t be a true mountain bike ride without a few surprises, which included one broken frame, several crashes, and one monsoonal downpour rounded out the weekend.
So what did I learn from staying home and hearing all of the epic stories from the week? Expect the unexpected. Being prepared physically and mentally for the curve balls that the trail will undoubtedly throw at you is the only thing you can do. Every ride is an adventure; the unknowns and the surprises are the things that make mountain biking such a thrill.