OAKRIDGE, OREGON, September 28, 2015. It is Monday morning and racers are still lingering by a smouldering fire in the middle of camp – no one really wants the Trans-Cascadia race to be over. Since Wednesday when everyone arrived the base camp vibe here has been one of good times, friendship, story telling, and celebration. There have been antics and hijinks (that’s what we call Lars Sternberg and Mark Weir), and there has been an genuine camaraderie that has brought every single one of the sixty-six racers into a club – they are the people who took a chance on a first year event, and won. Event Organizer, Alex Gardner, says, “[The race went] beyond any expectation, it went so smoothly, everyone here came for the same reason and it was fabulous.”
The event was amazing, definitely the coolest multi-day, or really any event, I’ve done, just really the whole package was incredible, the racing, the trails, just this amazing crescendo of different styles and everything building up from a backcountry kind of feel to the classic mountain bike trails of Oakridge. And then with the camping and hanging out afterwards, the camaraderie and the good social and making so many new friends, hanging out and really have a good time. It was incredible! – Logan Wetzel
Despite some epic crash stories that left people gripping the side of scree slopes or landing on their faces after encountering root balls in the shadows, all sixty-six racers rode hard and finished all of the twenty-one stages. Alex says, “the way the riders rode the trails was incredible, they rode fast but they also respected the trails, they did what we asked, I think they had a good time!” Aaron Bradford who maintained a lead in the Pro Men’s category after Day 2, survived the scariest moment of his four days on the last stage of the race, “I figured I probably shouldn’t push it, but I still wanted to contend. There’s this one section on Alpine right before you get down to the covered bridge and there’s this little G-out thing, super techy. But when you’re analyzing it and you’re coming up on it, there’s this little line to the left where you can kind of jump the whole thing. I came into it and I hesitated and I thought I could, and then I hit the brakes and dropped right into this dip. I sent it huge and as I was in the air the seat came up and pressed me in the chin and then it looped around my Evoc bag chest strap. It hooked and as soon as I was moving forward my head hit the handlebars and Mach whatever. It was absolutely insane, I don’t know how many feet I rode just looking at my front tire, but then I broke the clasp mechanism. I was free to go but I was still pretty woah. . .”
Luckily Aaron was able to ride it out and win the $5000 cash prize for the overall Pro Men category. Geoff Kabush took second and Logan Wetzel came from behind to take third. “I knew it was the last day so I was riding a little less conservatively, just trying to give it everything I had knowing that the end was near,” says Logan. “I pedalled hard and just took a little more chances than I had been the rest of the week. I didn’t really know how fast I went because the stages today were different than the other days so it was hard to really tell how fast we were going but it ended up turning our really well and I had a great day, a lot of fun.”
The women’s podium stayed consistent all week and ended with Rosara Joseph taking the top prize of $5000, followed by Rachel Walker in second and Jenny Konway in third.
Last night, after dinner and podiums, around a fire that Mark Weir ensured was raging, midway through roughly 400 beers, and watching a super moon eclipse, there really wasn’t anything that could have made for a more perfect finale to the race. “These are the events I like to support,” says Aaron. “I do the EWS and I love those events, they are amazing and each event is totally unreal. But when you come to a place that people are really passionate about, like a certain region and they love it and they want to show it off to the best of their ability and they do that and they succeed – this is one of the best ran events that I’ve been to. It’s crazy; there are no glitches. Someone asked me if there was anything that I would change and I honestly thought about it for a good amount of time and the only thing I could come up with was maybe more Nutella for the desert aisle. The trails were rad, the people are rad, there are bonfires every night, it was good!”
When asked about plans for Trans-Cascadia 2016, the Event Organizers were coy in their responses. “We’ll do something,” said Alex. Whatever it is they do, after this event, you can be sure it will be gold.