Round six of the NW Cup made the trek to Idaho to explore the goods at Silver Mountain Bike Park for the first time. With only a finite number of Northwest venues equipped to host the NW Cup, the promise of a new destination on the horizon has been one of the highlights to an already great year of racing. While a greater traveling distance meant a smaller turnout, Kellogg didn’t disappoint.
The mining town turned ski-destination has had a modest biking scene over the last few years. Very recently, the hard work of a few passionate individuals has brought a surge at Silver Mountain Bike Park with new investments, trails, and races earning them the vote for the Northwest’s Best Bike Park in 2014. With all the forward movement, it was time to bring the Northwest's largest race series to Idaho.
The racers that made the long drive were pleasantly surprised by an inviting village with a waterpark, restaurants, and the option to take beer onboard North America’s longest gondola ride. They also arrived during one of the driest and dustiest summers — leaving trails engulfed in moon dust. And several fires in the state added to the unsavory air quality on Friday and Sunday.
Silver Mountain separates into two zones — the top is 800’ of vertical serviced by a double chair, and the bottom delivers the remaining 2600’ for a no-turning-back ride to the village below. The race took place in the top zone, and controversially saw Cat 2 racers on the flowy Jackass trail with Cat 3. Pro and Cat 1 racers followed Hot Beans into Frankenbeans.
Hot Beans is a short connector trail leading to the rest of the course. Short or not, Hot Beans brought the heat right off the gate with a wide rocky swath of trail that appeared to have been shelled by artillery fire. A couple of drops, stump pit, and pedaling section brought riders to the main attraction, Frankenbeans.
At its inception Frankebeans was off-camber, steep, and dusty. Now, a couple years later it’s still all those things, but it’s also gotten mean. Massive break bumps, deep ruts, and rivulets of dust battle riders for control. A simple brush along course left jerseys smeared with dust. Crashing resulted in complete baptism. On race day, a run with no crashes was its own meter of success, independent of time.
The substantially mellower Jackass trail was the source of some grumbling among the Cat 2 crowd who is accustomed to a little more tech in their racing diet. Some racers even switched out their downhill rigs for trail bikes. In the end, the dust on course was enough of a wild card to shake things up.
Seeding times on Saturday evening saw Damon Sedivy put in the fastest run for Junior Men with Jason Eiswald a bit over a second back. Local Pro Women racer, Jaime Rees, had an ample seven second lead, and looked set to repeat on Sunday. Kent Billingsley, Luke Strobel, and Weston Potter took the top three places for Pro Men. Their times all fell within one second, and Strobel was only .11 seconds back. Billingsley actually helped cut in the trail back in 2013 so a home game win was on his agenda.
Overnight, Saturday’s clear skies gave way to smoke on Sunday. Riders would already be dropping every minute instead of the customary 30 seconds because of the dust. Fortunately the extra haze didn’t do too much more to obscure the trails, and probably even softened the shadows, if not the lungs. Race runs flew fast and aggressive, with clear wins in most categories. Except for (Cat 1 Men 30-39), when Noah Bodman and Matt Chynoweth tied for second down to the 1/1000th of a second. The two later shared a podium — reportedly the first time this has happened for the NW Cup.
Race results: Damon Sedivy put in a clean run but was overtaken by Jason Eiswald who scored his first win of the year. Jaime Rees’ expectations for a clean win dissolved when a flat tire sent her into last and Kersti Christensen into first. Luke Strobel fell short of the podium, coming in 14th. Charlie Sponsel moved up to second place leading Kent Billingsley by .02 of a second. Weston Potter delivered another fast run that earned him his second NW Cup Pro win of his rookie year. Check out the full results here
Silver Mountain Bike Park shook things up with a formidable but fun new course. Let’s hope to see more stops here in the future.