Echo Red 2 Red


85060011.jpg

On the first saturday in March a few of us decided to test our mettle. Although not the principal thought that proliferates from within our cerebral cortex when dreaming of mountain biking, we had the idea to enter a cross country race.  Echo red to red, the largest mountain bike race in Oregon, has reputations of uninspired descents and grinding climbs.  The course leverages a maximum length to square footage ratio with constant twist and countless switchbacks; all crammed just outside the almost ghost town of Echo. 

Our races went well. Not at all did we inspire future generations of cycling prodigies with our physical prowess, but we finished.  Well, I don’t think Ethan finished. His bike couldn’t handle his winter fitness. As I passed him with his bike upside down beside the trail he mentioned his “9 speed chain broke where it met his 10 speed chain” (he was riding a singlespeed). Jake decided to pause and wait for me at the aid station, surely looking for conversation in place of forested terrain. We completed the race almost together, at the back of the pack, with camaraderie at an all time high.

The town of Echo embraces the mountain bike race with all generations of spectators coming out to the biggest thing to happen to the town each year. It’s always great to ride someplace new even when it includes a three hour drive and less than technical trails.

Winter riding


Don’t forget to ride in the winter.

When the dense grey clouds hide smiles in the Pacific Northwest like cotton candy gone bad, most patrons of the sport are seemingly forced to retire their shred sleds.  In place of finding mud in the corners of eyes on Monday mornings, many riders hope to maintain a glimmer of stoke though consumption of winter shreddits on the never ending feeds of pinkbike and VitalMTB and hope to connect with their loved bikes by searching for shiny bits on ebay. Mountain bikes are not reserved for sunny days and epic adventures. They can be equally inspiring in the most bummer riding season: winter. 

Don’t worry about going on a long ride. Just getting to the trail with the bike is the accomplishment.  

Before the ride stop at the local market and grab 6 tall cans; bring 1-2 in your bag. These refreshments will offer mid ride respite and excuses for not hammering that last climb.   (i.e., I would have, but I had that beer)

Bring friends. You’re going to need somebody to drink those other beers.

The rides are shorter so bring your dog. Don’t have a dog? Get one. Dogs are the best excuse to get outside in the winter.

Find new trails. Ride someplace different. The winter has stolen all your skills anyway. Might as well try to get them back stumbling along a new trail.

Don’t be afraid of the snow. It makes the crash landing that much softer.

Lastly, concentrate on getting high-fives not on getting fitness.

CASCADIA


Transient

Sometimes you just connect with a bike.  I was lucky enough to have a friend sell me a “vintage” Cascadia frame just before the start of the cyclocross season. Its a simple single speed . . . no frills, just great welds, great geometry, and made in Portland.  This bike shreds and will for many cross seasons to come.

Blind Date

Cyclocross is in full swing; it has been for awhile now. Most often ‘cross is saved for the irreverence of sundays; Belgian fries, chased with cheap beers, and tastes of mud are ubiquitous to the weekend tradition. As a hot bed for this baffling pastime, Portland has generated a weekday outlet for the obsessed. Like methadone clinic patrons, cyclists flock to the Alpenrose dairy to quench the thirst to ride as days lose light and meteorologists earn their salaries.

Recently my wednesdays became filled with anticipation, robbing hours from productive work, before indulging in my 50 minutes of freedom.