Racers settled into Horse Creek Lodge on Saturday night with hot indoor and outdoor showers, a roaring fire pit, and another gourmet meal created by Chef Chris Diminno; provided by Chris King.
After a long day in the rain, sleet, snow, and slippery river crossings, the happy, but exhausted group cheered when the event organizers announced the cancelation of a stage for the final day. “Because we are ambitious, Day 4 is an ambitious day,” started Nick Gibson, “but we are going to be slightly less ambitious and cut out Stage 16.”
Day 4 was still a monster of a day with over 10 miles of riding, much of it on an exposed ridge at 5500 feet in snow and freezing rain. Racers – who were relieved to have a later start time – were shuttled up to start a roughly 1.5 hour liaison stage across the ridgeline to the top of Stage 17. Here racers started a descent that had expected fast times of 30 minutes and arrived to the bottom where fires to warm freezing hands were already burning.
A short liaise between Stage 17 and 18 took racers to their final descent of the race – 15 minutes of a flatter grade, but high speed trail. It was the perfect trail to end on and left everyone smiling and congregating around another warm fire with beers in hand.
Barry Wicks experienced the weather on the way to Stage 17 firsthand, “at the top on the liaison from the bus it was definitely raining and snowing; ‘wintery mix,’ I think is the correct term. It was really cool up there. It was nice that we were pedalling a bit, so it wasn’t too cold.” As for the choice to drop Stage 16 from today’s agenda, Barry thought the right call was made. “I’m pretty tired, it would have been hard to do another couple of hours out in the woods. Erring on the side of safety is the right way to go.”
“It was all types of weather out there, we had snow and sleet at the top. And there was a fire going at the top as well, so it was nice to warm your hands before you dropped in,” said Chris Johnston holding his celebratory finish line beer. “It was a super long stage, but not quite as long as estimated so I think a lot of us crossed the line with a bit of extra gas in the tank and could have gone a little bit harder. The second stage after that had really good flow, you still had to pedal hard to maintain that flow, but it was a really cool way to end the week.” At the start of Day 3 Geoff Kabush had a 55 second lead over Chris, “It will be really cool to see how it all pans out. I know I gave it my best, so whatever happens, I’m stoked!”
In the end Geoff Kabush would take the overall win and after finishing in 2nd last year, he says he didn’t have any expectations coming into this week, “I just wanted to come down and have some fun! These guys put on an awesome event in a really fun place to ride. I rode the trails as fast as I could and I think it went pretty well.”
Rosara Joseph won her second consecutive Trans-Cascadia in the Pro Women’s category, “I felt like this year was definitely a step up in terms of the challenge; the trails that we rode were more physically and technically demanding, the days were longer and there was some more gnarly stuff on the trails. And we had the great privilege of riding some brand new trails and that was super exciting. I think people – specifically these last two days have been big days – have definitely been challenged but everyone is buzzing and it’s such a cool atmosphere and I really admire the attitude of everyone here who took part.”
This year the Trans-Cascadia event expanded their area and, in working with local organizations, was able to open and use new trails to provide a more diverse racecourse. Like every true adventure there was adversity in the form of injuries and weather, but there were also incredible views, descents, competition, and of course basecamp life. When all was said and done yesterday, everyone gathered around the campfire to celebrate, not just the success of the entire 2016 Trans-Cascadia field, but also their shared experience over the last four days – and it would seem that the times around the fire generate the richest of memories.