Round three of the Evil
Cascadia Dirt Cup presented by Shimano
gathered this weekend in the remote hills of the Yacolt Burn State Forest. You’ll be forgiven if you can't point to the area on a map, or if you haven’t heard about the collection of trails nestled less than an hour northeast of Portland. Historically, the area hasn’t been big on the mountain biking radar, but the region’s beautiful forests, lively trails, and dedicated trail builders are starting to change that. For the CDC, the Yacolt Burn has played a major role over the last few years and despite its remote location, it’s been one of the most frequented stops in the series.
2015's stop here brought unforeseen challenges when the weather decided a forecast for light morning showers really meant an all day deluge that left riders soggy and beaten. Fortunately in 2016, the weather was cooperating and conditions were dialed with a cool misty morning that faded to bluebird skies under a warm sun. As a result, the ranks of racers were packed for a full day of climbing and descending. Nothing is perfect though, and many south bound riders lost out on practice time Friday when the route from Seattle was slowed for hours after a back-to-back fire and trailer/overpass collision along the route.
The 4,500 feet of climbing planned for Saturday would be the price of admission to four stages of fast and rowdy riding that featured sections of Grouse Vista, the Cold Creek Trail, and part of Thrillium — a course change Friday afternoon actually added the top half of Thrillium for an even grander race.
Stage One served up mist shrouded trees, a dollop of slop, and an alpine meadow before racers finished charging down the fast straight aways on this never before raced section of trail. A short but rocky hike-a-bike brought riders back to the top before finishing Transition Two across the shale fields of the Cold Creek Trail. Stage Two opened with a techy descent into an optional log drop before this old-school section of trail continued snaking back and forth with sharp corners and a few unruly rock gardens that gave way to smooth berms into a clear cut.
Stage Three started directly afterwards and took racers down a fast open descent that transitioned to a creek-side pedal with short punchy climbs and a notable rock garden at the end. From there it was a pedal to the top of Thrillium, the area's best know trail. This 2.6 mile descent sports plenty of downhill flavor, a large section of table tops, and some high speed rock gardens at the end.
Each year the CDC is made up of five stops, so round three is always an interesting time to start tallying points and looking ahead to the overalls. To mix things up in 2016, the debut North American Enduro Cup in June served as a bonus race — with racer's best 5 out of 6 races counting towards the overalls.
With that optional boost from the NAEC, Layton Meyers had a strong lead ahead of Gideon Bender and Alex Walker (Junior 17 & Under). Kim Hardin's claim to the top was undisputed with three wins in a row followed by Nikki Hollatz and Andi Zolton (Pro Women). And for Pro Men, a recent win at the NAEC put Logan Wetzel a respectable distance ahead of Craig Harvey and Nick Hardin. Last year's series overall winner Luke Strobel had yet to put in an appearance.
WIth so many rough stages, flat tires were a real risk and more than one podium-promising run was derailed by the dreaded walk or sad roll to the finish line — both Logan Wetzel and Matthew Slaven were taken out of the contending and Jimmy Cloherty endured a 50 minute walk down stage four. For those lucky enough to dodge any mechanicals, the favorable dirt conditions were ready to return fast course times.
Layton Meyers once again put his fast and loose style to good use and claimed his fourth consecutive win of the season ahead of Gideon Bender, Brayden Buchanan, Daven Kuder, and Dylan Brown. Kim Hardin was off her game and ended the day 24 seconds behind Adele Mery. Janea Perry, Andi Zolton and Bekah Rottenberg brought up the rest of the Pro Women's podium. Tyler Littlefield and Erik Nilson took fourth and fifth for Pro Men, each earning their first Pro podium. First time CDC racer Nate Furbee finished third behind Nick Hardin and Luke Strobel lost no time heading back to the top for his first race of the season. Full results here.
Restocked on food and beverages, a happy crowd of racers turned their attention toward podiums and some well deserved recognition to the Cold Creek Mountain Bikers for building and maintaining such high caliber trails — rumor has it that some of their volunteers spent the previous week weed whacking late into the night, using head lamps to make sure corridors were clear and safe.
This type of dedication is just one of the many reasons the CDC continues to be a successful series with a constantly growing tally of grins and cheers along miles of Cascadia's finest trails. If you haven't ridden at Yacolt Burn yet, it's time to add it to your bucket list. Up next the CDC heads to Bellingham to savor the trails at Chuckanut for Round Four on August 27