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Aug 15, 2007
by Mike Estes  
Held just outside of MTB mecca Oakridge, Oregon at Willamette Pass Ski Area is one of the most amazing lift accessed mountain bike areas in the United States. For $12(USD) you can ride endless trails of varying degree in difficulty with views that will knock your socks off. For the racers, it has the best courses to challenge anyone- wide open sections, to technical turns, drops and line options galore. Adding to the race excitement- it was the last weekend to get points for the overalls.

The event was very dollar friendly- you get major bang for your buck. Practice on Saturday is endless. Start at 11am, and have your run dialed by 7pm. I made several runs, I counted 8 (including a very hairball run with Eddie Roach down “Dirty Sanchez” that ate up 60% of my rear brake. I did have the typical crash too, first run, came into a section sorta hot and as I was turning my front wheel through axle deep dust- I hit a rock and go OTB. I jam my thumb into something. I do remember the slam in slow motion, the dust was like a giant pillow- it didn’t hurt even with the bike slamming me in the back and forcing my face further into the dirt’wich. Yum.

Now my left thumb is throbbing. I grab it and scream a nice verbal profanity that is customary in this situation. It rhymes with truck, buck, luck- you get the picture. I collect myself by removing a good pound of dirt from my armor, my helmet- I look over my bike- headset/stem twisted a bit, correct that, everything seems fine. I get back on it and it hits me- Thank god it was my “left” thumb I say to myself.

Why you ask? Well I don’t need use the “left” thumb to shift too much in DH- I start in 7th, maybe might gear up to 7th in my run if I have to pedal and that would be my “right” thumb doing all the work, you can be assured 9th gear is where most of the work is done. DH racers rarely get in a granny gear requiring my newly damaged “left” thumb to push a lever. That would be like slamming your finger in the car door for fun. I can still grip the handlebars like a lobster, “So lets get down” I say to myself- I head to the pits. This is where I confess to the wife “I’m hurt” (only do this if you are hurt). She lectured me all the way to the pits, so let this be a lesson to you all- be prepared for the slam. I was, and so was she- I sat in the chair and here comes the aspirin, the water- she actually calmed me down by telling me “It’ll be fine- get hydrated and get up for another run”. I had no “Athletic Tape” so I went to the toolbox and grabbed the “Duct” tape and did my best to support my damaged left thumb- swelling was evident already.

Back up I go. I was so nervous about getting down the “Sport” course that I took way longer than I normally do- it was very humbling. Eventually I was ready to drop in. About halfway into the first section there were 4 log drops- the true test for the “left” thumb. I drop the first one slow, not bad. Second one easier, I relax, third one was harder and there was a little pain but nothing I couldn’t handle and flew the 4th. I was re-assured that I can reach podium when I did a pain-less run- well so I thought.

Sunday morning, the parking lot of Willamette Pass starts coming alive around 8am, you can smell the coffee brewing and breakfast cooking all around you. You can also hear the laughter of several racers waking up to zip tyed bikes and fingers pointing all afternoon long. I wish I got a shot of the bikes next to my camp-site, those boys from Redding, CA sure like to have fun. I start off by taking a good look at my “left” thumb- she’s damaged and swollen- definite sprain. I hunt down the duct tape and fast release gel aspirin. I’ve been running the course in my head all night, creating an insomniac like state- but I’m there to race and I know I can pull a fast, clean run. My wife is amazing, she gets breakfast going, and some-how manages to get my two and half year old up and dressed as I focus on getting myself race ready.

Practice starts at 9am, with my “left” thumb duct taped like a victim in a robbery, I head up, unexpectedly I get paired up with the points leader and man to beat in my class. We chat it up like nervous people at an audition for a movie. I believe (pro) Nathan Riddle was in the gondola with us as well and he had his race face on. I took one good run and headed back to the pits with confidence of a clean run. Riders can get up to 3 practice runs before Randy (race director and organizer) hosts the race meeting. When he says 10:30 sharp, he gets it done by 10:31. When he says race starts at 10:45- the first pro guy is on course.

It was hot, dry, dusty, loose, rocky, with tree roots galore. I did not go down the “Pro/Expert” course because I focused on my course, (duh!) but I have been nicely pestering Vic Sandrin at to email me something. Here it is:

“The Expert course was loose to say the least. The top started down a road before crossing into the side of the mountain with some steep loose, rutted out turns and some man-made wood and natural rock drops. The middle section is fast with a 6 foot ladder drop then it turns down into some fast rutted out switch backs before finishing with a fast fire road to the finish. The start of the season is usually tacky and fast but get to August it turns into a dry, loose, crazy ride.” Vic

Here’s a description for the Sport Course:
3,2,1,Go! Pedal into narrow track, into the most blown-out, bottom bracket deep rutted first turn known to man. Traverse away, narrow large braking bumps into sweeping left turn. Sheep all stay to the right in the brake bumps. I shark it onto the grass to bypass this crap, into the split for beginners, and rail medium size turns with 4 log drops out onto the road. Pedal hard, a long fast part of the course. Into another junction, and enter the first technical section, narrow deep ruts with braking bumps swallow you up if you run the sheep lines. Hard drop into hard left, sharp right after a tree to avoid several rocks and drop quickly into steep deep ruts, avoid the stump in the center of the course and let it go into the next berm. Long traverse over 4 more log drops and one rock garden to quickly maneuver, over a log, pedal hard here. More traversing and blown out sections, braking bumps are causing serious arm pump. Enter the area of the crash, deep rutted out steeps, grab the inside line to avoid crap, hit the log drop, cautiously enter last section of super loose, blown out berms. Inside line across last traverse, pinned into last steep narrow “s” drops, make one last sweeping right, hit the log on the inside, land on rock, anchor brake down last rutted out turn, hit the fire-road for a small taste of speed, the last 4 turns, so many riders crashed right there and out to the finish line which is marked by an open passenger door of a red SUV.

I won’t go into details regarding my time, but I was in 3rd on my first run and 3 guys lit it up on the 2nd run, myself included and I got bumped off the podium. I did find the terrain to be amazing for racing DH, the event staff was very nice, the lift crew was very entertaining, and it seemed everyone had a great time. Awards, well, everyone has their own way of doing it and Randy gave us the message that he was pretty much ready to go on vacation, it was quick, and joyless, hard to get podium shots with no podium.

A huge thanks to all the riders (95 in all) that attended and a huge high five to Vic at for being the man who gets us all the treats and goodies from these very generous sponsors (PLEASE CONSIDER THESE BRANDS ON YOUR NEXT BIKE SHOP PURCHASE!!): Protec, crankbros, Goldtooth Mafia, Rockgardn, Pryme, Atomlab and Grubworks

-Mike Estes

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  • 1 0
 Vic, you're rad. And I'd vouch for the shop being A-OK. No shortage of high-fives given in that place. One of the few places in Portland area that I know people aren't dishing out a bunch of salesmanship B.S. That last W.P. race was a lot of fun though, and I thought everyone did a good job "with what they could do". There was definately things that could be improved on, like MORE EFFECIENT TIMING, more/different trail (which I'm sure will just come with time so thumbs up to everyone) and a whole lot more high-fives to be given. Overall I had a blast, everyone else had a blast, and there was a butt-load of raffle stuff given out. It's nice having a really manly rough expert course, and because of it, I'll definately make it a priority next year.


p.s. the nice gondola was a definate thumbs up compared to Ski Bowl. Yay for gondolas.
  • 0 0
 "Thanks to", lets stop for a moment and remember while we rip and at the same time falsely mislabel Randy (the promoter) that Ride-This was the title sponsor. Yes they did provide some great swag (my bro got sweet Atom Lab Trailpimp bars) but they only had overall trophies for the top finisher of each class not the entire podium! No medals or any recognition for 2nd or 3rd.
And the fact that the overall champs of "Pro, Semi-Pro Men,Exp 19-29, Exp 31-39, Pro Women, were all supposed to get paid $250, $200, $150 respectively (as advertised all year on the entry flyer). I was stunned to see no one objected. While this is great article I also hate to see no mention of the 3-5 people (this includes me) that built all the trails and stunts (- the fr park, & Sanchez). From the photos in the story, I think you may have been in the camp of someone (who you also may have mentioned in your article) trying to get $10 out of me for a photo. Whatever, I am not about to drop money on a photo of myself riding a feature on a trail I made!
It is all about the effort and WP needs all the help it can get! This feature on Pinkbike is great, I hate to see it so late in the season though. Funny after reading the recent Mt. Hood Skibowl story I wondered what it would take to get a writeup of Willamette Pass! Also funny that I am watching a banner ad on this webpage for Ride-This....along with Universal Cycles and no sales tax in Oregon, I bet they are doing pretty good for themselves. Well there it is, until next Spring...when the soil is primo (Vic is so right!)
  • 1 0
 Wow Zane, you seem to have some pent up aggression, but I am thankfull that you are well spoken and have points that you are trying to get across with out a bunch of 4 letter words. As for this article, it was written by a friend of ours (Mike Estes) from Hood River that just started racing this year and he is super stoked to be taking part in something that is so new to him. This is only his second feature for us, but we hope to see many more from him in the coming seasons. Mike loves where he lives and wants to share that with others-hence why we do what we do here in Canada. The fact that there may be negative feelings towards some promoters/sponsors could have been over looked by a person that is new to the sport and just happy to be there. I think that Mike did a great job of bringing light to your area and really a lot of folks should be stoked that he's trying to promote the grass roots racing and riding to a broader reader base. Great work Mike. He may have missed it in his piece, but I would like to say thanks to all those folks that pick up shovels and rakes all over the world and make these events a reality-guys like Zane. Happy Trails
  • 0 0
 Wow brule, thanks...what can I say, your right on the money! Pent up aggression, more than you know. I'd let you know about it but everyone has their troubles. Yeah, I've matured past the point of four-letter words, except when I crash hard, like the author Mike! Heal up that thumb man. Mike did compose a great article, I just wish he would have let someone at the event know it was going to happen so I could have talked to him. I also wish he would have talked directly to Randy and then maybe things would have been written a little different. I mean "Randy gave us the message that he was pretty much ready to go on vacation" is kind of harsh! Does he know that Randy also runs the popular Mt.Bike Oregon adventure(see, plus a trailguide/shuttle service, plus 12/24hr events, plus a Super D series, get the idea. I think he may have been a little upset over promoters/sponsors and just wanted to address that. We started work on that trailess mountain in 2003. Willamette Pass, as we were told this year, maybe in it's last year of summer operation without some huge increases in revenue. Winter has been rough also, snow keeps getting less and less. So any bad publicity, especially how the racing scene is run is not good. Just know that next years events are going to be even better, people are hard at work going to make sure it is...that is,if they decide to open. Let's all hope so. Happy Trails, Ride On
  • 0 0
 I did talk to Randy. He wasn't into chatting with me at all. He was very exhausted and that reflected in the race. If you read the article carefully, you can read "he (Randy) sent the message he was over-it" pretty much taps everything your refering to.

Also, I'm not sure where the "bad" publicity comes into play here.....I highlighted everyhting rad about WP, the views, the trails, it was written very positive. I see over 3000 hits on this article alone, more to come. That's a good thing Zane.
  • 0 0
 Oh yeah, a lift pass is actually $15/US a day not $12 as the article stated. And Pinkbike, you should kick down a chainguide you review or something to this hardworking corespondent covering a downhill event, left thumb for grannygear shifting...I'd be taping my left arm to the bar, what's up with that? Hey, I'm trying to redeem myself Mr. Estes! See-ya next year!
  • 0 0
 I was told by the lady at the Ticket Office it was $12 USD for an allday pass........I guess you should call a meeting. Sorry man.

How rad would it be to have click on gloves? Instead of taping your hand to the bar, ya know, sorta like step in bindings for your hands.
  • 0 0
 Hello to all, this is Victor from Ride-This. First of all I would like to thank Randy for promoting a great race and to the legion of Dirt guys for building some great trails down at WP, I hope to get down there in September to help build a new Expert trail. I help Randy with the race because he is great and I love riding at WP. I have done alot to help him the last 2 years so that we continue to have races at WP. I have handed flyers out at races and posted info on the race on our website, we all should be getting people out to these races not be upset about an article.
So sorry we only had trophies for overall winners that was all I could budget for and it should inspire people to work harder for the overall. top three got medals for that race and the people who were most consistant got the big trophy, why the bashing? last time I checked no one at any of the local races even gave trophies for anything just a cheap medal. Next year I hope to have trophies for top three. As for the overall pro semi and expert they will get a check in the mail, I forgot my checkbook so I am sending it through mail, I thought I let everyone know but I guess not.
your upset because you didn't get credit for building the trail? give me a break I have built alot more trails in my life and my joy is knowing that people are having fun on trails I built, I really don't care about getting credit.
also what is the dig about us advertising on Pinkbike?? and your upset because someone took your picture and wanted to sell it to you? I have been racing 18 years and was always stoked when I was able to buy a picture of me racing, I have them on the wall in my house, all the way back when I was 17.

and for the Joker who says we are not a full service shop, stop by sometime and I can show how full service we are.
  • 0 0
 Well Said Vic. Maybe we should hand out Q-tips at the next awards so people can hear the details next year.
  • 0 0
 Mike, nice article. Hope your thumb heals up quickly. It sounds like that was a great race, even if you did get bumped off the podium. Where in Oregon/ the Willamette river valley area is this place? $12, or $15 or whatever it is, seems like a great deal for a day of DH based on those pics. I paid $39 @ northstar. I guess I'll have to check out this course next summer, when I hit up all of Washington and Oregon's top places to ride. BTW, thanks for the directions to post canyon.
  • 0 0
 Wp is located West of Eugene on HWY 58- its a great drive. The bike park ticket is $15 USD to ride LOD's trails (Zane's Crew) and there's camping at nearby Odell Lake. Hit it up- its stellar. Tell Zane I sent ya!
  • 0 0
 A special thanks to Randy Dwelling and Mike Rinnan for putting on a great race. As you well know Mike Rinnan is resposible or raking and maintaining and building the trails at Willamette Pass. Five years ago Mike had a dream to build trails at Willamette Pass so that everyone could enjoy riding. With the help of Randy Dwelling he made that possible. Today you see all the hard work that goes into maintaining the trails. If it weren't for Mike and his Legion Of Dirt team the trails would not be maintained. I think each and everyone who reads this should send thanks to those guys. What would we do without the dirt at Willamette Pass think about it. Ride On
  • 0 0
 so it's actually on willamette pass? I will have to check it out next summer-my car just died...damn electrical Will everybody stop complaining already? Who cares who deserves props for building those trails (zane, your crew did a good job by the sounds of it), just say everybody who was there had a good time riding...that's that. end of story.
  • 0 0
 Great to see some more coverage coming out of that area Mike! Looks like the race scene is pretty strong. Heal up that thumb and get back out there!
  • 0 0
 Off Topic (or somewhat)

Is this the same Vic who was envolved with the ol' Holy Spokes shop in Reno, NV?

I have a feeling...
  • 0 0
 Yes I am one in the same. Not too many people know about that shop since it wasn't around very long. Are you the Art I sold my yellow Karpiel to all those years ago?
  • 0 0
 No-hard feelings Vic S. or Mike E., Randy is out....let's help WP make this great, ah?
  • 0 0
 ride this isn't even a real full service shop. just another mailorder.
  • 1 0
 Ah, your wrong. Stop by sometime and chew on these words. They do both.

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