Day 1 of Trans Cascadia started with a bang, deep in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. This land is traditional indigenous territory of the Wenatchi and Syilx people.
After an unfortunate but necessary break in 2020, the race is back with rider safety first and foremost. A blind enduro, racers are given each day's map the night before, with no chance to explore the trail prior. This makes for quite an interesting event, leveling the playing field for all riders.
Race Director Nick Gibson was excited to get started. "I'm stoked to get people on course after a year's delay. We're excited to show people this area, this is the first ever bike race on these trails."
With a full volunteer staff, spending countless hours in preparation, racers shuttled into Foggy Dew Campsite, their home for the next 5 days. A remote backcountry experience with all the amenities save cell service, racers are treated to a camp that feels more like a living village. After Covid testing and orientation, participants devoured a stunning southern inspired meal prepared by Hannah Carlos of The Bayou Catfish under the stars.
"Riding blind trails is something special...you have to be super comfortable on your bike and just react to the trail," says Geoff Kabush, a two-time winner and one of only three five-time finishers of Trans Cascadia.
Race Producer Alex Gardner gave a preview of what was to come. “We've got a lot in store for you guys. We've been learning a lot over the years and Nick's put together an amazing course."
Santa Cruz Bicycles sent Walker Shaw and Tobin Ortenblad to the event, both feeling fresh and excited to race the trails blind. “This is a different style of racing than we've been doing, but I'm pretty excited for it,” said Shaw. Aside from a minor beef between veteran Kabush and Ortenblad, the entire day was spent deep in the forest with riders enjoying the transfer stages as much as the racing.
Dillon Osleger of Specialized Soil Searching even stopped for a short spell of fly fishing as he inched his way close to the podium. "The granite and all that glaciation just felt like home. It's just like what I grew up riding."
The larches were in full bloom, as riders traversed the early hours of the first day of racing. Stage one began after a multi hour technical climb, leading racers up Angel’s Staircase, a rocky exposed uphill slog, switchback after switchback. Stage two took racers on a fresh and flowy 1.5 mile descent before dropping back to camp. Times were tight, smiles were all time, many riders said stage two was the best trail of their life.
"I've done Trans BC, Andes Pacifico, the BC Bike Race, and this is my favorite trail that I've ever been on,” raved Chris Karwisch after finishing the stage.
Back at camp, the community vibe was flowing and Pearl Izumi, Shimano, and Santa Cruz helped bring the party. Hard. Hot dinner and conversations around the blazing fire eventually lulled the camp to sleep. After only two stages, the times were tight with Kabush in the lead, followed closely by Myles Morgan and Myles Trainer. For the pro women Jill Kintner took the top step. "I've always wanted to do this race...It was a tight turnaround, I was in Italy a day and half ago...They feed you, you have a tent, everything is set up so you just ride your bike!"
Travel restrictions cut the international field drastically, making the event feel a bit more homegrown, reminiscent of year one. With stacked fields in all categories and a sold out race, the weekend is sure to excite. With no leader's jersey to present after a year away, race organizers treated all participants and staff to custom jerseys presented by Pearl Izumi.
The evening was spent around a roaring bonfire, with a full bar, hot showers and all the amenities that make the event special. Energy was at an all time high as many racers had not seen each other in over a year, community and connection were present in spades, and everyone might have stayed up a bit too late.
Trans Cascadia is more than just a race. Hundreds of hours went into clearing the course.These trails remain open to the public for all to ride and enjoy. The Trans Cascadia staff and volunteers have clocked nearly 20,000 hours in the woods to date, with over 500 miles of trail maintained, and 100+ miles reclaimed. The race is merely a catalyst for open access to our public lands. Stay tuned for more daily reportage as the racing heats up.Day 1 ResultsPro Men
1) Geoff Kabush
2) Myles Morgan
3) Myles Trainer
4) Aaron Bradford
5) Tobin OrtenbladPro Women
1) Jill Kintner
2) Corinne Prevot
3) Alexandra Pavon
4) Alicia Leggett
5) Michelle ParkerThis event is under a special use permit of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest.