Nick Lerma's expression on day two pretty much sums up the Deux-Duro weekend of racing (Sport Senior Male 18-29).
When you and your closest 250 racing buddies are invited to sample the goods in Hood River, you go. Simple as that. That's why the Evil
Cascadia Dirt Cup presented by Shimano
kicked off the season with a double header in the little adventure town in Portland's backyard. The weekend delivered two days of fast and fun racing — endearingly dubbed the "Deux-Duro".
Top: Day two brought mixed weather with plenty of clouds, fog, sun, and rain to go around. Bottom Right: Watch out for the ball-bearings (little balls of clay) that habitually gather in corners where you least want them.
Not satisfied with just a new venue and state to race in, the CDC also threw a brand new timing system into the mix. Gone are the days of wildly braking to a stop as you frantically attempt to slap your wrist against an iPod-sized box staked to the ground. Instead, racers were invited to enjoy rolling stops and finishes for cleaner and safer starts and stops on the course.
Turns out the Shimano techs have some strong feelings about leaving stickers on your rotors. And they'll happily remove them for you - read forcibly
Transition Bike's newest employee, Adrian Hopkins made the trek down from Bellingham (Pro Female).
The CDC has a proven record of turning out quality events. This year, they got a jump on things by introducing She Spoke, a women's only pre-ride hosted at each venue before the big day. And, if you have groms in tow, the good folks at Acorns were on site to provide a day camp so both parents had a chance to compete. Finally, add in a new beginner's category with a shorter course and assisted climbs and there are few reasons to not come race in the great land of Cascadia.
Nick Hardin arrived to stage one with a malfunctioning derailleur, but even the reduced gear range didn't stop him from seizing first on day one (Pro Male).
Hood River is home to a fine selection of trails, with Post Canyon being the best known. This large network of trails is half tree farm and half recreation escape. The miles of trails provide easy access to hikers, equestrian users, motorcycles, quads, and mountain bikers. In general, you'll find ribbons of tame singletrack winding through the woods, but Post Canyon also has a few pockets of gnar and some jumps too if you know where to look. There's also a lot of clay, which translates into thousands of ball bearings gathering at the bottom of every turn in the hotter months.
Stage One | Day One
A rock embedded rip down the Ken A portion of trail 170. Racers had lots of opportunity to pump, but enough got you corners, rises, and obstacles kept them on their toes too.
Logan Wetzel heading into the top of Ken A. Wetzel finished fifth at the end of the day (Pro Male).
Patrick Dunn (Pro Male).
Unlike most CDC races, day one of the Deux-Duro was pretty much one giant climb followed by several descending stages (with a few climbs mixed in of course). In total, racers pedaled out around 20 miles with 4,663 ft of climbing to complete the transitions and all four stages. The weather on day one was cool and formidable, and had a sinister enough flair, that at least one photographer was worried about a resurgence in climate from the 2015 series (here
). Fortunately, wind and some spitting showers were the worst to hit.
Matt Salladay gets a little zesty over a small rock garden on stage one (Expert Master Male 30-39).
Local rider Nick Hardin was the first pro to arrive at the start of stage one, only to discover that a malfunctioning derailleur would deny him access to a full gear range. He was determined to overcome, and continued to punch out the fastest time of the day. Less than ten seconds back came Ben Cruz and Aaron Bradford, who were in turn followed by Craig Harvey and Logan Wetzel for day one's Pro Men podium. 2015's series overall winner, Luke Strobel, was absent attending Steve Smith's memorial over the weekend.
Both Ben Cruz and Craig Harvey earned podium finishes on day one. Day two was less kind, with Harvey placing seventh and Cruz punching a DNF (Pro Male).
Hard to beat a day racing in the woods. Steven Cloherty (Expert Veteran Male 40+).
Nick's counterpart, Kim Hardin, wasn't to be outdone, and she systematically put in the fastest Pro Women times on every stage (a feat she enjoyed so much she did it again on day two). She topped a podium ahead of Bekah Rottenberg, Andi Zolton, Nikki Hollatz, and Lynn Hyde. The newly formed Junior Expert category was lead by Layton Meyers who beat out Elliott Cramer by 27.13 seconds. Alex Walker, Luke Topol, and Dylan Brown filled out the next three steps on the podium. To round out the finishing festivities, the CDC presented the Hood River Area Trail Stewards with a check for $8,000 to fund the trails in and around Hood River. Day One Results Here
Anthony Palandri's loose riding on Saturday was well suited, earning him first place (Sport Senior Male 18-29).
Kim Hardin and Lynn Hyde start the short push-a-bike transition between stages one and two (Pro Female).
The number of no-shows was up on the second day. But it wasn't due to the weather forecast, which called for partial sun. And the sun did show - there was just a lot of fog, clouds, and the occasional rain shower in the way. It's more likely that the bulk of climbing on Saturday, or the post-race superhero party hosted at the Dirty Finger Bike Shop may have been at fault. The large group of racers that did compete on day two faced a more approachable 14 miles of pedaling and 3200 feet of climbing. Though, on the flip side, the trail difficulty was greater on Sunday too. A particularly long stage one saw a share of riders struggling to finish the course after flatting in the rock garden on Hidden. And while the smooth contours of Kleeway lacked any gnar, it was a challenge for riders to stay focused amidst the shenanigans from local hecklers on the final stage.
Stage Two | Day One
Racers would continue on trail 170, after a push-a-bike transition out of a steep gully. Dirt Surfer was all high-speed flow and the dirt conditions were especially conducive to letting er' rip.
Bekah Rottenberg steams through Dirt Surfer on stage two (Pro Female).
Right to left: Layton Meyers beat out Elliott Cramer by 27.13 seconds on Saturday to take first (Junior Expert 17 & Under).
Once again Nick Harden brought his local experience to bear and took home the win on day two. Some reordering in the ranks saw Neal Strobel in second while Aaron Bradford held onto third. Logan Wetzel improved to come in fourth and Matt Slaven closed out the podium. Kim Hardin maintained a sizable lead, ending the day over a minute up. Bekah Rottenberg placed second followed by Nikki Hollatz who had her pro debut over the weekend. Andi Zolton and Adrain Hopkins came in fourth and fifth. Layton Meyers tied up his second win of the weekend, with Alex Walker just a few second behind. Daven Kuder, Brayden Buchanan, and Gideon Bender placed third through fifth. Day Two Results Here
Kim Hardin put her local knowledge to good effect, earning the top spot on the podium both days (Pro Female).
Kristi Pruitt pinning the singletrack on stage two. Pruitt came in second (Expert Female).
And just like that, it's time for you and your 250 racing buddies to head home on tired legs, stoked on a great weekend, and ready to race the next great Cascadia riding location. Up next in July, the CDC will join forces with several other Northwest Enduro series for the premiere of the North American Enduro Coalition's two-day event held at Silver Mountain, Idaho. Don't miss out.
Time for a little air. The end of stage two was dotted with a number of casual table tops to give racers a little pop at the end. Andrew Tamura (Sport Senior Male 18-29).
Riley Ghio finds himself on the high-side of a particularly fast corner (Sport Senior Male 18-29).
Stage Three | Day One
Hidden was the most formidable section of trail both days. On day one riders would start at the road before plunging through the rocky turns that give way to smooth pedaling on Borderline.
Photo by Colin Meagher: 3-2-1... ready for ignition at the top of stage three on day one of racing in Hood River, OR.
Photo by Colin Meagher: The Baron of Radness, Aaron Bradford, taking his Evil Wreckoning on a bender on stage three of day one in Post Canyon.
Photo by Colin Meagher: Hidden-aka, the rock garden section of the third stage of day one and the first stage on day two has really become pretty tame over the past few years. But there are still a few ticking time bombs out there... Take this rock for example. Most riders missed this fang, even if only by millimeters. But not everyone...
Photo by Colin Meagher: Eject... eject... eject. Fred Gonzalez getting airborne at the crux of the rock garden. Healing vibes to the local racer; he's got surgery to pin his heel together on Wednesday.
Photo by Colin Meagher: It was nice to see the log launcher restored to the bottom of Hidden; nothing like a little air under your tires as you sail into the next section of trail: Borderline.
Stage Four | Day One
Stage four opened with Bad Motor Scooter, a moderate jump trail that winds through dark woods before crossing the road. On the other side was GP which traverses back and forth between shallow berms. The final trail of the day was Toilet Bowl — a narrow singletrack through lush foliage, which actually does have a toilet on trail.
Dropping into Bad Motor Scooter on stage three.
Dameon Pool not afraid to send things in the pursuit of first. Pool might have been on track for two days at the top, but a flat on day two set him back (Sport Veteran Male 40-49).
Clean Sweep. Kim Hardin delivered the fast pro women times on every stage over the weekend (Pro Female).
I have to admit, the conch shell was a particularly nice addition to the cheering on stage four.
Christy Graves (Pro Female).
Andi Zolton kept things consistent, finishing fourth both days (Pro Female).
Matt Houchens (Sport Veteran Male 18-29).
Let it not be said that enduro racing isn't a contact sport.
This short table on GP saw a lot of riders overcommitting and sending deep to flat.
Low and mean on the way to second. Jake Hightower (Junior Boys 17 & Under).
A crash earlier in the day would gnaw at Jessica Hatch after she finished less than a second off first (Sport Female).
Hannah Bergemann found her own - finishing first on day one and second on day two (Expert Female).
Junior Expert: Layton Meyers, Elliott Cramer, Alex Walker, Luke Topol, and Dylan Brown. Pro Women: Kim Hardin, Bekah Rottenberg, Andi Zolton, Nikki Hollatz, and Lynn Hyde. Pro Men: Nick Harden, Ben Cruz, Aaron Bradford, Craig Harvey, and Logan Wetzel.
Giving back. The Cascadia Dirt Cup proudly gave $8,000 to the HRATS (Hood River Area Trail Stewards) to keep fostering trails.
Day two's forecast was supposed to be a lot sunnier. There were just a lot of clouds getting in the way throughout the day.
James Whitesides fiercely unfurls the flag of Cascadia on Sunday morning.
Jennifer Johnson (Expert Female).
Rearing to go. Nick Bechtoldt and Brandon Porter (Expert Senior Male 18-29)
Stage One | Day Two
A long pull down 2 Chair (Trail 160) which is a high-speed bomber road into segments filled with baby-heads. The constant force of riders, and I suspect some local kindness, gave racers a mostly clear path to follow. Next up was a second crack at Hidden before winding down on Borderline.
First out of the gates. Nick Hardin wasted no time getting started on his second win of the weekend (Pro Male).
Chris Andreasen entering the trees on stage one (Pro Male).
Try no to stray from the path. Richard Handschin (Pro Male).
Harrison Gill (Expert Senior Male 18-29).
Stage one briefly took riders onto the road before plunging into the rock garden on Hidden. Matt Seeman (Expert Senior Male 18-29).
Easily the gnarliest section of the race, Hidden was the scene of a little carnage and plenty of anxiety. Isaac Pattis (Expert Master Male 30-39).
Claude Bazinet narrowly recovered from his tree inspection on Hidden (Expert Master Male 30-39).
Brandon Porter (Expert Senior Male 18-29).
Colin Longmuir put in his best result on stage one, coming in fifth fastest (Expert Master Male 30-39).
Stage Two and Three | Day Two
Stage two was a fast dusty descent down the steeps on Antioines with racer's pick of ladder diving-board or log drop. Stage three was a fast and flowy romp down singletrack on Mitchell Ridge with a series of root steps to keep things zesty.
Photo by Colin Meagher: Aaron Bradford sending it on stage two of day two of the Hood River CDC.
Photo by Colin Meagher: Fast man, Luke Strobel was attending Steve Smith's memorial, but the Strobel name was well represented with Neal Strobel taking podium honors on day two.
Photo by Colin Meagher: It was awesome to see Matt Slaven coming back into form after writing off most of 2015 due to injury. Fifth place for the semi-local from Portlandia.
Photo by Colin Meagher: Craig Harvey of Marin SR Suntour would take home podium honors on both days to match his teammate, Hardin.
Photo by Colin Meagher: Bekah Rottenburg skimming the roots of stage three of day two in Post Canyon.
Final climb of the day en route to stage four on Kleeway.
Stage Four | Day Two
A straight forwards mile along Kleeway, the area's signature flow/jump trail. With speed on the mind, most racers kept things low and fast to maintain speed. But a few still found time to pop some air and earn some smiles over hard packed doubletrack.
Jess Palacios was able to edge out the competition both days for the win (Expert Veteran Male 40+).
Gabe Stark upped his performance on day two to slide into first, just over six seconds up (Expert Senior Male 18-29).
Hecklers were amped to give finishers a warm embrace at the bottom of stage four.
Travis Blue coming in hot for a fifth place finish (Sport Veteran Male 40-49).
Matt Salladay (Expert Master Male 30-39).
Keith Rollins (Expert Veteran Male 40+).
Layton Meyers was on point day two to hold onto the lead (Junior Expert 17 & Under).
Doubles and tables gave racers once last final workout as they pumped and pedaled their way down Kleeyway. Anthony Barlow (Expert Veteran Male 40+).
Nikki Hollatz making her pro debut. Hollatz scored fourth on day one and third on Sunday (Pro Female).
David Stiles thoroughly enjoying the extra pop on stage four. Stiles held down fourth place across both days (Super Veteran Male 50+).
Photo by Colin Meagher: Kim Hardin ripping past the hecklers on the final stage of day two in Post Canyon, and took home another top step on the box, matching her husband, Nick Hardin with back to back wins at the opening round of the CDC. And yeah, some censorship was applied to the kangaroo on the bottom of the frame. But you can use your imagination to fill in the black box.
After a morning on the Evil Following, James Whitesides was pretty convinced the name was earned.
Trey Wilson offers a heartfelt thank you to Steven Cloherty whose generous donation made the CDC's new timing system a reality.
Junior Expert: Layton Meyers, Alex Walker, Daven Kuder, Brayden Buchanan, and Gideon Bender. Pro Women: Kim Hardin, Bekah Rottenberg, Nikki Hollatz, Andi Zolton, and Adrian Hopkins. Pro Men: Nick Hardin, Neal Strobel, Aaron Bradford, Logan Wetzel, and Matt Slaven.
There's still time to earn a Cascadia Dirt Cup medal this season.