For many mountain bikers, the arrival of August signals bluebird conditions, more than a fair share of dust, and long days in the park. It’s strange to think that it also signals that downhill racing is entering into the home stretch in the Pacific Northwest. Round six of the NW Cup headed to its highest elevation stop at the granite infused Stevens Pass Bike Park.
Despite only spinning one lift, Stevens kept quickly whipping riders to the top for their share of bluebird and a touch of dust. Not a lot has changed course-wise, probably because the build crew has been busy cutting in new trails this season. A general smoothing in some areas helped riders maintain speed, while noticeable wear in a few key turns made for plenty of challenge picking the best line.
With only two race courses, Stevens Pass uniquely allows Cat 2 racers to ride on the exact same trails as Cat 1/Pro. And while it does make for busy practice schedules it’s interesting to see where everyone stacks up. As a possible result, more than one trail bike was seen hurtling down Slingshot Wookie — strangely it wasn’t limited to intermediate racers as Dylan Brown (Cat 1 Men 0-18 ) and Janea Perry (Pro Women) both rode single crowns to good effect over the weekend.
Cat 3 racers wheeled down Lichen It to Luvin’ It, an involved course that emphasizes deft handling through the tight turns and bridges at the top before letting things rip on the chunk and chunder of lower Luvin’ It. The weekend continued a strong presence of Cat 3 racers, including a mob of shredding groms.
At this point in the season, there’s generally some major contention for the overalls. Heading into the weekend Austin Lancaster led Junior Men, an almost unchallenged Jaime Rees led Pro Women, and last year’s series winner ,Luke Strobel was once again at the front for Pro Men. Both Rees and Strobel were comfortable enough with their lead that neither raced Sunday.
Saturday’s seedings went smoothly and Jason Eiswald set the pace for Junior Men with a time of 3:03.01. Dylan Brown, Colton Wiersum, Josh Gibb, and Declan Ervin delivered the next four quickest times. Janea Perry, who recently catted up from Cat 2 Women, finished ahead of Britney White, Kerstin Holster, and Linnea Rooke (Pro Women).
Kent Billingsley, who holds the current track record for Stevens, seeded second ahead of Jake Grob, Carson Eiswald, and Andrew Flaschenriem. Nate Furbee once again delivered the fastest seeding time, making it down the mountain in just over three minutes.
By Sunday morning the bluebird conditions were gone and a cool cloud cover had rolled in. As a result, the even light made for excellent conditions through the wooded portions of the upper mountain. The crowds were out enjoying the show and cheering racers to the finish line.
There wasn’t too much change for the top Junior Men’s results. Jason Eiswald took the win ahead of Dylan Brown. Austin Lancaster scored third, pushing Colton Wiersum and Josh Gibb back a position to score fourth and fifth. Janea Perry rode her trail bike to victory ahead of Britney White, Kerstin Holster, and Linnea Rooke (Pro Women).
Jake Grob scored the third NW Cup Pro podium of his career after he snagged fifth behind Kent Billingsley. Carson Eiswald delivered big, in this his second year of downhill racing, scoring third for his first NW Cup Pro podium. Weston Potter turned in a time of 2:58.37 to take second and prove he’s back after collar bone surgery earlier this year. Nate Furbee was the only other racer to break the three-minute mark with a time of 2:57.96, securing him his first Pro Win. Full Results Here
Downhill racing may be winding down in the Pacific Northwest, but there is still time to compete this season. The NW Cup heads back to Stevens Pass September 9-11 for finals. See you there!