Slowly emerging from their tents, racers took their time preparing for another raw, long day in the mountains. A late start allowed extra time at breakfast for a third cup of Trailhead coffee, enjoyed round the daily morning fire. With shuttles loaded and lunch packed, the camp emptied as racers started the course.
Fires recently devastated the Wenatchee National Forest, nearly canceling the event. This means that day after day, racers are riding fresh cut trails, with volunteers working overtime, moving massive amounts of earth daily. It is truly something special, riding trails untouched by tread, carving fresh lines deep in the backcountry.
Between Covid tests and general rider safety and welfare, Lead Medic Nic Hall expressed the gravity of the day, “We have the highest level of covid safety and our first priority is rider safety. We will close the race or freeze the stage and utilize everyone to bring a patient off the mountain.” The remote nature of the event means racers may be called on to assist the medical team in the event of a crash. If someone hits the deck, stages will be frozen and all bodies on course will be utilized to assist with extraction.
Racers took to the course en masse, laying fresh tracks on trail as the competition heated up. Transfer stages saw a party train covering the mountain, the fight for the podium was real across all categories, with Kabush and Kintner maintaining the lead as the day progressed.
"This is definitely a unique event. You're kind of just out there in the middle of nowhere taking in all the sights," says Jill Kintner.
Tobin Ortenblad loved the challenge of day 2. "The early stages of each day are very chunky and take a lot of finesse to go fast on. It honestly felt like riding a bike for the first time.”
Riders tackled steep climbs, occasionally hitting hike a bike sections of trail before bombing down into camp with a rowdy crew of volunteers heckling pros and amateurs alike, where cold refreshments and fresh snacks awaited all participants, delivered directly tent to tent by the amazing chefs on site. The massage tent, run by Sarah Olsen of Portland’s Elevated Bodyworks, was fully booked as everyone took time to recover and prepare for day two.
“We’re taking care of everyone, trail builders, volunteers, racers and kitchen staff,” she says. With long days back to back, Olsen and fellow masseuse Sammy Stark are key in ensuring everyone is at their best during the event.
Dinner was lively as war stories from the day were recounted over hot bowls of soup and all time Tiramisu for dessert. Kabush gently rubbed his stage times in Ortenblad’s face, as the California and Canadian beef continues to heat up. The fire was homebase for the daily slideshow of images from the AMAZING crew of shooters out on course, followed by podium presentations. Kabush managed to maintain his lead ahead of Myles Morgan and Myles Trainer, while Kintner retained the top step followed by Corinne Prevot and Alex Pavon.
"It was certainly rowdy, but beautiful and glorious up in the alpine. I'm looking forward to getting up high again, the larch trees are turning and it's absolutely stunning," says Briana Valorosi.
As the fire died down and riders peeled off to their tents, the last stragglers finished watching the nightly star show through the trees. Camp felt like family as racers laughed and spoke about the days ahead. A huge thanks to all the volunteers who dedicated not only this weekend but many others preparing for the onslaught of 100+ riders tearing down the labor of love they helped create.
Day three will see riders tackle just under 12 miles that the trail crew call a special treat. 4000 feet of vertical followed by a blazing 7000-foot descent. Stay tuned for results and highlights as the race continues. Day 2 ResultsPro Men
1) Geoff Kabush
2) Myles Morgan
3) Myles Trainer
4) Aaron Bradford
5) Dane PetersenPro 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.