The old adage holds that April showers bring May flowers. But in “Always Sunny Port Angeles,” April showers just brought May showers for the second stop of the NW Cup and Pro GRT. But with a huge turnout of over 500 racers and a deep pool of talent, there wasn’t much the rain could do to dampen the weekend.
The courses tied together time-honored signature features and even introduced a new patch of loam named Rekluse, that quickly turned into a mud-fest. Conditions alternated between drizzles, a spot of sun, even some hail on Friday, and a torrential downpour for Junior and Pro races on Sunday. Racers did their best to roll with the changes by extending visors, wearing ponchos and trash bags, and just generally making do with the slick conditions.
Saturday's practice for Juniors and Pros was pretty brief but most racers still managed to slam through some laps before seeding. At the end of the day, Lucas Cruz led Devin Kjaer, Blake Bunting, Ethan Shandro, and Kendal McLean. Jill Kintner had a clear lead over the competition including Canada's Vaea Verbeeck and Australia's Danielle Beecroft. Luke Strobel set the pace for Pro Men ahead of Kirk McDowall, Kiran MacKinnon, Carson Eiswald, and Mitch Ropelato.
The next morning, conditions stayed pretty tame as Categories 3, 2 and 1 completed their runs. The same can't be said for the Junior and Pro practices which were accompanied by a hard rain that just magnified the channels of peanut buttery mud. This was especially evident in Reckluse where some of the ruts were starting to reach to the rotors.
Ethan Shandro battled his way to the top to unseat teammate Lucas Cruz with a time of 2.40.70. Jill Kintner powered through the slop and found nearly five seconds, putting her well at the lead. In the coming weeks, the Bellingham local will be checking out Whistler's opening weekend and getting ready for the upcoming US Open. She'll also be spending some time working on the freshly minted pumptrack she partnered with the WMBC to bring to Bellingham.
Mitch Ropelato delivered a smooth run and turned in a burst of speed that saw him surge up five spots for the win. Following Ropelato was Magnus Manson, Austin Warren, Luke Strobel, and Kiran MacKinnon. Ropelato will also be spending some time enjoy the riding near home for a favorite local Utah race. Check out the full results here
If you missed the mud-slinging fun of stop two, the Pro GRT heads to Beech Mountain Resort in June while the NW Cup stays a little closer to home with a stop at Ski Bowl in two weekends.