Monday, October 18, 2010

Bend's Big Fat Tour

It's been 10 years since the last time I did this ride (it's not a race).  I was living in Seattle at the time and read about this ride online that was down in a town I had never heard of before (Bend).  I talked one of my friends to come down with me and check it out.  We drove down, spent the night in his Toyota 4-Runner, and woke up at 5am do get shuttled up to Mt Bachelor.  What the hell were we thinking.  We had no idea of what to expect other than what the description said on their website..."come ride Bend's Epic".  When I did the ride that year it was called Bend's Epic and it was only a 1-day 60 mile ride.  I did the ride again the following year with the same friend and my girlfriend at the time who was a strong rider.  I had a blast both years and thought that Bend, OR was a pretty cool town and thought maybe one day I would want to live there.

Flash forward 10 years and wouldn't you know it I live in Bend and was doing the same ride, only now it is called Bend's Big Fat Tour (BBFT) and you get to choose between  2 or 3 days of riding.  The "Epic" is the 3-day and the 2-day is called the "Recreational".  I chose to ride the Epic since two of the days' rides were on trails I have never ridden before, and the fact that I like to ride my bike as much as possible.  The BBFT is not just a ride around Mt Bachelor anymore either, the routes change each year and this year we went to the Ochoco National Forrest, Mt. Bachelor, and Scout Lake.  There were roughly 75 riders testing their abilities to do the 3 day epic ride.  People from all over came to Bend, OR to extend their mountain bike season a little longer.  

This year the event organizers decided to put a clue on each of the summits we climbed and offered up a prize to the person who's name was drawn from all that got the corret answer to the question.  Some of the clues required an extra bit of climbing just to get to.

Day 1
I would have to say riding in the Ochoco's was probably my favorite of the three days.  It was a 34 mile epic ride that would have us climbing almost 6,000ft.  The weather was perfect (high 50's) and scenery amazing.  During one section of singletrack climbing it felt like climbing up L' Alp d' Huez.  Between the steepness and numerous switchbacks it was the mountain bike version of the infamous French climb.  When there is a lot of climbing, that can only mean one thing...that there will also be lots of descending.  The final 8 miles or so were pure bliss; fast, smooth-flowing singletrack that popped out right by the parking lot.

views form a top Vista Butte on Day 2

Day 2
This route was similar to the one I did 10 years ago but the total distance this year was 70 miles (instead of 60) and we actually rode some freshly built trails.  Again the theme for the ride was "climbing".  I'm not sure of the total amount of feet climbed but it seemed like a ton (and all on singletrack :-).  The ride started around 7:30am and I finished about 1:40pm.  There were about 4-5 Aid Stations fully stocked with food and drinks and each were definitely appreciated.  The most tasty bit of food were the chocolate chip brownies, I'm not sure how many of those I ate.

A rider relaxing by Scout Lake before the start of Day 3

Day 3
The final day of the Epic had us riding out by Scout Lake.  This was another area of trails I have never ridden so I was anxiously looking forward to it.  The ride started at 11am and temps seeemed warmer than everyone thought.  Lots of vests, jackets, arm/knee warmers were getting taken off quickly after the initial climb.  I'm not sure how the first section of singletrack was discovered because I could hardly even see the trail.  It took some serious focus to keep track of the trail.  After several miles riding singletrack and a broken chain, we hit the fire road climb to the summit of Cache Mountain.  The climb was a gradual 5-6 miles and rocky at times.  Once we reached the top the views were amazing.  Crystal clear skies allowed riders to soak in some of Central Oregon's best views (The Sisters, Three Fingered Jack, and Mt Washington). 

The only thing left now was to descent 5 miles to the parking lot.  It was a pretty sweet way to end a great three days of riding.

Once again I had a blast riding the BBFT and would highly recommend this to anyone looking to check out the town of Bend and sample some of the best trails in Central Oregon with lots of support along the way.  Just be prepared, the weather in Bend this time of year can be unpredictable, so come prepared for the worst and hope for the we experienced this year.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Thrilla series race #4

Last night was the final race of the WebCyclery Thrilla CX Race Series.  All four races in the series used the exact same course, with one steep run-up, and 2 barriers.  There was a good turnout for the finale with roughly 200 riders. 

Since the last cross race I did nearly 2 weeks ago I haven't touched the cross bike; instead riding the mountain bike taking advantage of the great trail conditions in the higher elevations.  So I knew before the race started that it was going to hurt, and hurt alot.  By the end of lap 1 I knew it was going to be a long night of racing (actually only 45 min) because I was breathing pretty damn hard already.  Sitting in 5th position behind Thompson, Peterson, Wodtli and Schmitt I tried to settle in to a rhythm.  Once we finished lap 2 I was beginning to drop back as  had to back off the throttle a bit.  The legs an lungs were screamin and I knew I had to conserve some if I was to finish.  So on the third lap I rode about 80%, which kind of backfired because I got passed by about 4 riders.  Then the final 2 laps I tried to gain back what I lost but was unable to do so. 

The run-up section kills me every time; it's steep and very soft and about 20 yards long.   It takes all of my energy just to make it up the damn hill.  Ahh, the pain we inflict upon ourselves...priceless

Great race series once again by WebCyclery.  Starting this month is the popular CrossCrusade race series held over near Portland.  From what I hear the first rce in the series draws nearly 1800 riders.  Unfortunately, I won't be able to make the race but hope to be able to do at least 4 of the races.