After a final work party to prep trails for the 2021 Trans-Cascadia, a group of dedicated volunteers and Trans-Cascadia staff were joined by representatives from Santa Cruz Factory Racing, Chris King, Shimano, as well as local US Forest Service Rangers to complete the remaining trail work before the upcoming race at the end of September.
As customary for the Trans-Cascadia, the race is held with new trails each year in order to keep the racing fresh and give back to local communities through extensive trail restoration. The stage is set for 2021 in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest of Washington state after it was postponed in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. “It’s unlike any Trans-Cascadia we’ve held before... This is our first year out on the Eastern side of the Cascades and the terrain is much different than in previous years. Higher peaks and longer descents, it’s really a great next step” explained logistics coordinator, Ben McCormack.
With dry conditions and extreme fire dangers across the Pacific Northwest, this year's crew was unable to use power tools to complete most of the trail work, relying solely on a plethora of hand tools to refurbish and set the trails. “It definitely impacts the amount of work we can get done, but we got a lot of people and a lot of energy which is making for some great progress,” says Cody Olsen, a trail builder from the Evergreen MTB Alliance. And Olsen added, “This trail work ultimately benefits everyone from hikers, mountain bikers, people riding motos... everything.”
After working their way up to the top of Storm Mountain from base camp at the Twenty-Five Mile Fire Camp some 6000ft below, teams were tasked with refurbishing the existing trail network in the area. The work focussed on scouting the trails for any potentially dangerous obstacles that needed to be removed, as well as maintaining trail widths and sightlines through methodically trimmed foliage. While work without power tools was slow, teams were highly motivated. The sweeping landscapes of the Eastern Cascade Mountains provided no shortage of breathtaking views and fast, grin-inducing descents to break up the day’s work.
“As you start to look at the Cascade Range and what makes sense for backcountry mountain bike access this was a place that matched our criteria while offering an entirely new venue and terrain” says Race Director Nick Gibson. We’ve been extremely fortunate to be working with the United States Forest Service in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. Our main contact Paul Willard, with coordination of the Local Ranger Districts, have created a welcoming environment for our trail work activities. When we sync with our local land manager, it’s incredible how much more work we get done. A big shout out to Paul and the Chelan, Entiat and Methow Districts for their progressive volunteer programs and for welcoming our work.
Volunteers were rewarded for their long days of hard work with an abundance of gourmet meals, prepared on-site by chef’s Hannah Carlos and Jon Moch, as well as unlimited refreshments provided by Deschutes Brewing and Ablis CBD. “To wake up and have fresh coffee and food right there, ready to go, is pretty motivating to get out and work on the trails,” says one volunteer.
“A lot of people don’t know about the trail work and it would be great to get more people involved with it” explained Gibson. “You can come out to these events, work and ride some trails, eat some good food, and meet some awesome people”. And a previous racer and current volunteer added these work party events are a great way to experience what the race has to offer without having to secure a limited spot in the race.
Chris King’s Kirby Bedsaul and his daughter Paige also enjoyed the work party. “The Trans-Cascadia crew know how to share an experience that will leave you wanting more. Bringing like-minded people together to work hard and give back to the sport that we love so much. And the food...Do I really need to say more?” says Bedsaul. Paige adds, "I cannot believe how positive and nice everyone was. I didn't know many people at the event, and it was so easy to talk to anyone and get to know them. The trail building was hard, the access was challenging, the riding was awesome, and the people were amazing. I can't wait to do it again."
Santa Cruz’s North American Brand Manager, Garen Becker spoke on what makes the event so unique and why they continue to be a title sponsor year after year. “Take a look at any venue where the Trans-Cascadia has been held. If you go back to any of those previous races, what’s left behind is an amazing trail network that these folks have either built or resurrected. Those trail networks are then stewarded by local users and are there for everyone to use later. The race is a bonus, but the main connection for us being involved is that we are building trails for all of us to use for decades to come.”
RD Gibson expressed his enthusiasm about returning for 2021 after the unexpected hiatus in 2020, “It feels good to be out in the woods doing trail work again. While some of us never really stopped doing trail work because it was a good, healthy thing to do during Covid, it's been great to get the community back together with these trail parties”.
Race entries are currently sold out, but a waitlist can be found on the Trans-Cascadia website in the eventuality a space opens up.