Photo Story: Clearing Trails Ahead of the 2021 Trans Cascadia

Sep 8, 2021
by Trans Cascadia  

Words: Trans-Cascadia


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.




15 Comments

  • 7 0
 There seem to be few of these trans type races that are just money making schemes and dont care in any way for the trails. This however seems like an awesome formula, Bravo! If only I lived nearer I'd love to be involved as I'm sure it creates a wonderful community spirit.
  • 2 0
 I was lucky to get a spot the first year of this race and we are still loving trails that were re-claimed, they are awesome! Tons of stuff that had been abandoned for years is now is pristine backcountry riding. Really love the ethos of the event making some genuinely remote, big, burley, and super fun trails as a response to all the overly manicured stuff that's become so popular close in to urban areas. Great organization and top-notch stewardship, so much other event organizers can learn from the Trans-Cascadia team. For the event itself, I still can say it was the most fun bike related event I've ever done.
  • 7 0
 one day i must come to race trans cascadia, cheers from italy!
  • 4 0
 I’m with you paisano
  • 5 0
 Props to the volunteers and organizers for doing this
  • 7 4
 Perfect use case for an e-bike. Sounds a lot more fun than being a desk jockey!
  • 5 4
 @slippynicky trans-cascadia routes are eeb heaven!
  • 3 0
 Don't be hating the e-bikers. I don't ride one there, but that entire zone is originally moto-trail, and the principal maintainers for many years were volunteers from one of the Entiat clubs. And if you've ever actually been on Devil's Backbone, you'd know that anyone who can ride a moto on that trail isn't fk-ing around...
  • 3 0
 @geephlow: yeah dude we’re on it. I clipped in and did the entire OCC loop last year on an eeb: that’d actually be kinda boring on a pedalbike…and i’d’ve had to train for a year lol
  • 4 0
 Hope the fire over there doesn’t upset the race event.
  • 5 0
 I was thinking the same. Pretty sure that's the exact area that's burning now. So sad.
  • 4 0
 @stalkinghorse: The eastern slope of WA Cascades are a gamble in the summer these days. Really sad.
  • 5 0
 I sure hope it still happens but I can't imagine it's looking great right now for the Pot Peak/Devil's Backbone/Angle Peak/Lone Peak zone. There's a USFS closure order in effect and still active backfire and mop-up going on, including (sadly, but necessary) burn-out operations right near the Devil's/Pot Peak junction. Last Sunday there were probably 15 sorties by a pair of Superscoopers taking water right in front of my family's cabin, and it's been a constant stream of tankers and support vehicles heading in every day on Lakeshore.

The good news is that the weather is mostly cooperating and containment stands at around 40%. Didn't lose a lot of homes (1 maybe?) and it's looking like they'll be able to control it into when the rains/snow come in.

The bad news is that it definitely burned right through a lot of the beautiful work that Trans-Cascadia did in the area. I've been riding those trails -- especially Devil's Backbone/Pot Peak -- for two decades and the TC crew had them running as good as they ever have. I'm grateful I got to see them in such great shape.

But the trails there managed to survive the massive Pot Peak Complex event in 2004. We'll get them back up and ripping again!

(Info: inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/7804)
  • 1 0
 @jimeg: Yep and predicted for decades. Unfortunately politicians dont give a shit until the electorate does.
  • 1 0
 Anyone who are going to 2021 to race. DM me to ig @llapiomies. lets match rides and do small pre race ride!

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