Manage Your Life: The Trans-Cascadia Experience

Nov 19, 2016
by Jaime Hill  
Images for Jaime Hill s article - Manage Your Life The Trans-Cascadia Experience

Science tells us that traveling changes your brain and its ability to think positively. Getting rid of bad moods and reconnecting with your inner child and creative mind can be as simple as traveling to a remote location, turning off your brain and being surrounded by nature. If the recommended one-and-a-half hours per day of wandering in the woods can increase positive thought by a small percentage – imagine what four days of charging through the backwoods of Oregon on two-wheels could do for you!

The trans-Cascadia experience ticks all the boxes (and then some) on the scientific quest to expand horizons, connect with our inner child and increase positivity. So, with science in mind – and the recent inspiration of returning to my roots in riding and racing bikes – naturally I determined it was my duty to accept the opportunity to take part in this year’s Trans-Cascadia race, to prove science, and myself, right!

Images for Jaime Hill s article - Manage Your Life The Trans-Cascadia Experience
  Getting wrangled up to be carted off to our first unknown destination.

Traveling to remote locations…check.

In fact, our destination was more like a secret location; reserved only for those willing to part ways with technological conveniences. Despite my best efforts to figure out exactly where we’d end up, I was unsuccessful. Somehow, though, not knowing exactly where we’d be calling home for the next four days made me giddy with excitement about the ensuing adventure and only added to the whole “blind racing” factor. Many of us laughed at the fact that on day-one we resembled more a trusting herd of cattle, ready to be wrangled than a group of high-calibre riders. Without a clue or care in the world, onto our respective buses we trotted, eagerly anticipating being transported to our first unknown destination; it could have been green pastures or the slaughterhouse.

From the get-go, everything about this race was blind and seemed more reminiscent of a mountain biker’s ultimate treasure hunt rather than a race. As we arrived at our first base camp, 100 riders [and countless volunteers] convened for dinner under the stars, as we eagerly awaited the next clue on our quest to ride the ultimate single track…and we would not be disappointed.

Images for Jaime Hill s article - Manage Your Life The Trans-Cascadia Experience

Turning off your brain…check.

It seemed no expense was spared through the whole weekend and that everything you could have needed was organized for you. As we turned up to each base camp our gear was waiting for us and there was always snacks and beer flowing to keep all of us campers happy after a long day of riding and camp set-up. Having a pretty hectic life back home, it was nice only to have to think about the necessities: coffee, food, bikes, and beer. Turning off your brain really was an easy thing to do!

Images for Jaime Hill s article - Manage Your Life The Trans-Cascadia Experience
Camp life - no official team pits here.

Each night Nick, Alex and Tommy (the Founders of Trans-Cascadia) would give us a brief run-down of any ‘need to know’ points for the next day’s trails, along with elevation maps. The maps were a nice touch as it prepped us for how much climbing we’d be in for on any given day, as well as a general idea of what to expect for the descents.

As a DH racer, I’ve become accustomed to taking notes and drawing the race course during track walks, and knowing every rock, root and turn on the trail by race day. Trans-Cascadia is on the total opposite end of the racing spectrum. On day one I quickly figured out I wasn’t ‘in Kansas anymore’ when Nick began to explain a couple hazards to watch out for. I looked down at my, poor excuse for race notes, and soon realized that my regular approach to racing wouldn’t be of any benefit here. It was time to turn off my brain and just have some fun reveling in all of the new surroundings and new people I’d already made connections with.

Images for Jaime Hill s article - Manage Your Life The Trans-Cascadia Experience
Images for Jaime Hill s article - Manage Your Life The Trans-Cascadia Experience

Being surrounded by nature…check.

One of the best parts of being in such remote locations and being one with nature was the fact that we had NO CELL SERVICE! We all agreed that this was key to the whole Trans-Cascadia experience and to connecting with nature. The opportunity to drop the phone and connect with people on a more personal level, without the ‘pressures’ of overloading social media with instant imagery, was refreshing! Yes, we took photos, but those would be saved for our post race reflections allowing us all to relive the moment with great emotion and memories attached to each snapshot in time!

Images for Jaime Hill s article - Manage Your Life The Trans-Cascadia Experience

Meal times and the fireside dynamic were always buzzing with conversations of how each person’s day unfolded out on the trails and it meant that people were actually interacting, face-to-face, on a human level – imagine that! Being out, in nature, cut off from some of our life’s conveniences, did in fact, seem to put everyone into positive moods and definitely reminded me of my early days on bike trips, rather than my more recent experiences in stressful competition settings. It was clear that science and I were proving to be right.

Images for Jaime Hill s article - Manage Your Life The Trans-Cascadia Experience
Images for Jaime Hill s article - Manage Your Life The Trans-Cascadia Experience

As each day got underway we were treated to the most amazing singletrack and scenery that could rival any picturesque postcard. Overall the riding was, for a lack of better words, f*cking amazing and a completely different style to my home trails in Squamish, British Columbia.

The timed stages ranged from high-speed bench cut singletrack on narrow side hills to steep chutes, tight switchbacks, scree fields, and some of the best loam you could ask for! You just couldn’t help but have a ‘shit-eating grin’ on your face and laugh most of the way down. There were big climbs within the stages, but those were easily forgiven when you were rewarded with another fast and zesty section to drop into when you reached the top.

Images for Jaime Hill s article - Manage Your Life The Trans-Cascadia Experience

The quality of riding and seamless organization of every day is a true testament to the hard work and relationships that the Trans-Cascadia crew have developed with local forest services and trail advocacy within the area. It’s no small task to coordinate everything that goes into an event of this magnitude and thanks to all of the crew’s hard work, this year they could add two new zones to the menu, allowing us all to experience several new or refurbished trails, giving even returning racers the same element of surprise! Four big days in the saddle meant there were some epic transfers, with not a road in sight or the sound of vehicles within earshot. We were totally immersed in nature and it was easy to be humbled and awe-struck as we rode through lush green forests and high alpine terrain.

Images for Jaime Hill s article - Manage Your Life The Trans-Cascadia Experience
Images for Jaime Hill s article - Manage Your Life The Trans-Cascadia Experience

Proving science right…

Seeking out adventure in remote locations, turning off your brain (and your phone) to build new friendships, connecting with nature, and shredding some amazing trails – these are all things that made me (and probably most of you) gravitate to riding bikes in the first place. After the four-day Trans-Cascadia experience, I think it’s safe to say that it was easy to prove science right! Everything we love about riding helps connect us with our inner child and ultimately make us much happier people. In fact, it was hard to find a sad face in our close-knit group of 100 riders on any given day, and even when you were suffering, just taking in your surroundings made it easy to find a reason to smile!

Images for Jaime Hill s article - Manage Your Life The Trans-Cascadia Experience
Images for Jaime Hill s article - Manage Your Life The Trans-Cascadia Experience

Despite Trans-Cascadia being loaded with some big racing names, it still manages to have an ‘anti-race’ atmosphere; more reminiscent of ripping through the forest on a rad bike trip with your closest friends. Yes, there were big days and yes, it was hard work, but it was all totally worth it. There was such an organic feel, void of any attitude, and a real sense of community.

Images for Jaime Hill s article - Manage Your Life The Trans-Cascadia Experience

Our four-day quest for the ultimate adventure finished and copious amounts of freshly tapped beer flowed in celebration, inhibitions lowered and we danced around the fire pit, in what resembled a scene from ‘Lord of The Flies'. It was the perfect ending to the perfect bike trip. My only regret was not getting a little more ‘lit-up’ on some of the first nights at camp, but then I’m not sure I would’ve survived all four days!

When I returned home, a buddy of mine asked me if it was worth it, to do the Trans-Cascadia next year and my response to him was, “if science has taught us anything, you should be asking yourself, can you afford not to?

On the eve of the the 2nd running of Trans-Cascadia the camp was buzzing with anticipation and preparation under the clear skies at Lake Timpanogas.
  A buzzing camp site under the starry skies on day one.

Images by Leslie Kehmeier.


MENTIONS: @jaimehi / @TransCascadia / @thewideeyedworld




45 Comments

  • + 14
 I have done both of them, and signed up for next year as well. The money goes into trail development in the area. I can't think of a better way to support it, other than volunteering to do the work myself. The most fun event I have ever participated in, and the most fun group of people I have had the pleasure to ride with. See you all next September!
  • + 8
 would be signed up for next year but cost jumped way to high from last year. looks like fun but I can ride amazing places for a lot less
  • + 3
 $2200 US ouch that is steep, not a race for the regular working folk.
  • + 1
 @knarf1: brutal price - but it looks like they have no issue selling registration spots between normal folks and supported pro's (probably have their sponsors take care of it?).
  • + 1
 Signups just opened... you might like Mountain Bike Oregon as a more affordable option. Less gourmet breakfast/lunch, and dinner isn't included, but you get 2 1/2 days of shuttled riding, in Oakridge, on some (but not all) of the same trails that TransCascadia did this year, for about 20% of the cost.

mtboregon.com
  • + 6
 1st off great article. It was fun sharing the event with you Jaime. 2nd, everyone put the price in this perspective; 5 nights of paid campground, 5 days of 5 star food, 5 nights of all you can drink, 5 nights of partying with some of the bike industries best people, and 4 days of shuttling and riding some of the best trails you'll ever ride. The question you have to ask yourself: Do I want to have the best 5 day mountain biking trip of a lifetime? I'm going back next year. No question.
  • + 2
 It's definitely money well spent! Such a great time...can't wait for next year!
  • + 3
 @jaimehi: Great article thanks for sharing your experience. I just spent my life´s savings in a Rotwild RX1, so it´s just local trails for me for the next couple of years. Btw, average salary in Germany is around 36.000 Euros / year, after taxes (which are freaking high), you get around 1.600 Euros / month in your bank account, you want to buy a 4.000 Euro bike, you gotta save and save and save.
  • + 1
 @javijavi: Maybe something like this is in the cards for you in a couple yearsSmile This was my first multi-day stage race and I wasn't sure how I'd like it...turns out it really resonated with me. I definitely see a rise in these types of racing adventures in the near future!
How's the riding in Germany?
  • + 2
 @jaimehi: I definitely find those adventures amazing. One reads here on PB riders doing trips to Nepal, Japan, Mongolia, South America, NZ, they are all spectacular. I can imagine Trans Cascadia and the Oregon trails to be wonderful and yes value for money, but above all, the experience and meeting cool people is like the master card tv ad, priceless. I live in Berlin, the north of Germany is quite flat, the only cool place to ride around here is in a region called Harz, otherwise just local trails in the nearby forests outside he city. The south of Germany has the best locations to ride (mountains).
  • + 5
 I travel all the way from switzerland for next years trans cascadia. I'm already a little bit nervous...... see you in september 17.....
  • + 2
 How long are the timed stages and much riding each day? From the results, looks like stages are ~1hr which seems reasonable. However, I hope the actual riding is at least 6 hours per day. Otherwise, would become incredibly boring just sitting around chatting.
  • + 2
 @motivated the riding day on average starts at around 9am...the timed stages were anywhere from 2 minutes to 20-30 mins...with either riding transitions or shuttle transitions followed by a ride into the start of the timed stage.

Your riding day ends around 4pm...although on the day we got to head way up into the high alpine some people didn't finish the day until 5:30pm.

Not much time to sit around chatting during the day....we were too busy riding our faces off!!

then you get to finish off each day with some time by the fire, dinner and drinks! Everything you could ask for really.
  • + 0
 This is a great question. 5 star food and all you can drink beer is great, but if it's not after a 5 or 6 hour day its seems like it'd be a waste.
  • + 3
 @RideTahoe707: Not to fear ... There was lots of riding! While the timed stages totalled somewhere in around the hour marker, we were out there on bikes for anywhere from 4-6 (or more) hours riding.
The transfers between stages had some of the best riding...great climbs with fun flowy single track mixed in there. Even on stages where we rode down to a shuttle pick-up spot, once we got to the top (higher alpine stuff) we still got to ride in to the timed stage.
There is no shortage of time spent in the saddle...trust me! I was just coming off of a broken arm, so it was a tough four days but tons of fun!
  • - 1
 @jaimehi: you're trying pretty hard to get a free entry for next year, huh?
  • + 1
 @RideTahoe707: You should try downhill racing then. You'll spend at least 3 minutes riding, maybe more!
  • + 4
 I had a great time reading this. Thanks so much for sharing your awesome adventure!
  • + 4
 Worth every penny! I guess you could call it a race, I'd say it was a stoke on life ride with a lot of exceptional humans!
  • + 0
 You can always come to the PNW with a smartphone, a tent and you car to explore for very little $$$. Events like this are great for those who want to do them and can afford them, but with Trailforks it's easy to go on an economy road trip to a new area and have no troubles finding great riding.
  • + 3
 Nice write up @jaimehi ! It was a great experience for sure, I had a blast.
  • + 1
 I really need some encouragement to spend $2200. If there is sampling local craft beer from the greatest craft beer region I am in, but from the looks of Steigl, yeah no.
  • + 1
 Signups just opened... you might like Mountain Bike Oregon as a more affordable option. Less gourmet breakfast/lunch, and dinner isn't included, but you get 2 1/2 days of shuttled riding, in Oakridge, on some (but not all) of the same trails that TransCascadia did this year, for about 20% of the cost.

mtboregon.com

Oh, and it has a beer garden on Friday and Saturday night, cost is included in your registration. Last year it was Ninkasi and Ancestry breweries.
  • + 2
 How have I not heard of this?
  • - 2
 There should be a rule, if a race charges such an outrageously high fee to participate, then they shouldn't plaster their sh$t all over pinkbike all the time. Ridiculous. And for all the talk of "connecting with other riders" and a "break from social media" they sure as hell make up for it once they get their wifi back!
  • + 1
 Jealous much ...I haven't done any multi stage races ..not my thing, but love reading about other people's experience ...if you don't, just don't ring clinck on the article,.there is like 100 others for you to enjoy?
I guess value always depends on what your looking for....one people spend thousands of $ on a tv, while I do t even own a tv or have cable....others may want to pay to have a plush backcountry experience that caters you the best bike trails and local brew complete with shuttles and grubs ways off the beaten path....I dig it and although the race format is not my thing I could totally see myself doing this as a trip and definitely wouldn't mind paying the money for it....it's all about what is it worth to you ....it's not a friggin mutual fund
  • + 3
 And then there is th fact that the money goes back to the trails ...
  • + 0
 @jaimehi if science has taught you anything then you wouldnt be drinking beer lolz.
  • + 4
 however, if your tastebuds have taught you anything you would def. be drinking more Stiegel radler cans.
  • + 0
 @h-beck83: nah mate. i dont touch that shit
  • + 1
 @Theeeeo: Yeah, not the best afternoon evening beverage but great for mornings. I could see a lot of beer folks passing on a grapefruit beer but I like it.
  • + 2
 @h-beck83: just hand me a joint on any time of the day riding Wink
  • + 1
 @Theeeeo haha... you're right - I should've gone right for the Whisky Wink
  • - 1
 @jaimehi: I do second that. if you're gonna drink poison you may as well get loose and go full on spirits, the only other alternative is chain oil.
  • + 0
 Those 4 days must have the same price tag as a month´s salary here in Germany Frown
  • + 1
 Seriously! Besides the four days off of work, the bikes and the usual gear, what is the cost to participate in this?
  • + 2
 Well invested one month salary
  • + 0
 No. 2200 USD says the transcascadia site. Less than half a month's salary in Germany
  • + 1
 @giopk70: average income in Germany is about 2800$. Dunno where you live but i dont think there is anny country in the world with a average income of 5k$ or more.
  • + 2
 @ColinD: Luxembourg and Switzerland are quite close
  • + 2
 Great article, Jaime!
  • + 1
 Thanks @sparkplug !
  • + 1
 Looks like fun. Way overpriced for me to consider.
  • + 1
 Signups just opened... you might like Mountain Bike Oregon as a more affordable option. Less gourmet breakfast/lunch, and dinner isn't included, but you get 2 1/2 days of shuttled riding, in Oakridge, on some (but not all) of the same trails that TransCascadia did this year, for about 20% of the cost. Also all the beer your want on Friday and Saturday night. There's not jumping over a bonfire but there is a minibike race and swag handed out and Hawaiian shirt night rewards...

mtboregon.com
  • + 0
 2200$$ .....its a race for the elite and pretentious !!

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