Cascadia Dirt Cup presented by Shimano
made its fourth stop in Bellingham, WA. Home to a flourishing biking community, the small bayside city sits just thirty minutes south of the Canadian Border and has an enviable collection of trails and breweries that make it a prime destination for any mountain biker. The Cascadia Dirt Cup was last here in 2014. This year, the return would bring new trails to race and the stop would also count toward points in the North American Enduro Tour
The wealth of trails in Bellingham are a result of the strong presence of the Whatcom Mountain Bike Coalition. While the WMBC's efforts on Galbraith Mountain are better known, much of the group's efforts in 2015 centered around opening a new biker-only trail in Larrabee State Park in the Chuckanut Recreation Area — big names we know, but the riding lives up to it. That new trail extended an existing route to form over two-miles of a rowdy and flowy descent that is one of the area's only shuttle-able trails.
So far this year, conditions for the CDC have been unreasonably favorable. At Chuckanut a long dry summer and the evident popularity of the Double Diamond to Double Down trail was already starting to take a toll on the young trail. Add in plenty of practice laps and nearly 300 riders come race day and conditions were dusty, loose, and blown. And it showed on the shoulders, sides, and knees of many a racer. Despite the rough conditions, Bellingham always delivers a good time and the race was well sold out in advance.
The tall sandstone ridge-lines that flow through the park were divided into five stages that were in turn divided into different groups for the various categories. Pros/Experts raced four stages starting with Upper Ridge, than Lower Ridge before a pedal up to Raptor Ridge, followed by an unusual transition to Double Diamond to Double Down. Sport racers began with Two Dollar, followed by Upper Ridge and ended the day on Double Diamond to Double Down for a total of three stages. Beginners enjoyed a stage on Double Down and then a stage on Two Dollar. In short; the race day served up loads of roots, rocks, ruts, drops, flow, climbing, and mileage.
Raptor Ridge was another new trail addition for the CDC. It's a great trail that starts out flat and then winds down narrow singletrack to a small rock ridgeback at the bottom — It's also never been raced before. A privilege that Pros/Experts would have to pay for while carrying their bikes up the steep steps of the hiker-only Rock Trail during their last transition. Hopefully the striking rock formations and seas of ferns along the way helped soften the blow.
Following last month's stop at Yacolt Burn
several racers had clearly defined their lead in the overalls. Among them Layton Meyers stood unchallenged in the Junior Expert field after claiming the top step in every race this season. Similarly, Hood River racer Kim Hardin's efforts had secured a big margin for Pro Women. On less certain ground was Kim's husband Nick Hardin who had slipped back into the Pro Men lead just ahead of Logan Wetzel. As a reminder, the best four results of the season count to a racer's overall points.
Saturday started with a lightly overcast morning that darkened to cool and grey as racers completed their first transition. Although the dark cloud cover made for dim visibility, it did make for a very agreeable August climbing temperature as racers wrapped up the more pedally stages on route to finish on the fast rip of Double Diamond to Double Down.
Keeping true to form, Layton Meyers delivered another win which more than secured him the overalls. Behind him came Eric Olsen, Scott Funston, Bryce Kans, and Brayden Buchanan (Junior Expert). Kim Hardin followed suite and delivered her fourth win of the season, also clearly securing her win in the overalls. Dawn Fidler, Emily Sabelhaus, Adrian Hopkins, and Karen O'Connell took the remaining steps of the podium after Andi Zolton was removed from the contention with a flat on the final stage.
The Pro Men results saw an upset when local racers Carson Eiswald and Jason Eiswald handily defended their home turf to take first and second. Their command of high-risk/high-reward lines set their times apart from the field, with Carson leading by over forty seconds. Behind the brothers was Evil Bikes' Luke Strobel who placed ahead of Transition Bikes' Logan Wetzel. California racer Kyle Warner rounded out the podium for a finish that pushed him ahead in the ongoing NAET standings. Nick Hardin, who was dogged by lingering mechanical issues from the previous day's practice, was bumped back to seventh. Not the race result Hardin was looking for, but one that was just barely good enough to lock in the series overall. Full Results Here
By the time podiums were in full swing the weather had upgraded into a perfect seaside day. The giveaways and beer flew and a grand prize raffle for an Evil Following frame had the crowd anxiously waiting for the finale ticket to be drawn. An ecstatic rider rushed to claim her new park-worthy frame after years of being turned away by lift operators because of her titanium hardtail. At each race, the CDC presents the venue host with a check to go back into stewarding the trails. WMBC's trail director Eric Brown shared that a chunk of the funds donated to the WMBC would also go to constructing a pump track this fall.
The Cascadia Dirt Cup finals at Tiger Mountain are already sold out. To see about getting on the waitlist for the September 17 race visit the CDC's website here
. In the meantime, come check out the trails Bellingham has to offer — some well deserved trail love is already in the plans as soon as the rain falls.
View full results here
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