PRESS RELEASE: Trans Cascadia
The fifth edition of Trans-Cascadia
kicks off on Thursday. For the second year, the basecamps will be in the depths of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in Washington state where race organizers and volunteers have been hard at work over the last year expanding access to the backcountry network and they are thrilled to introduce another batch of new and returning racers to it.
“There are some enhancements and fine-tuning we've been able to do this year after the initial peel back that we did in 2018 which is awesome,” says Ben McCormack, volunteer coordinator. “We've been able to focus more on tread and sustainability as opposed to just splitting the vegetation open and making sure there's still a trail there."
This truly remote area of Washington offers natural and diverse trails that are steep and challenging. The high alpine riding will give racers descents of 2,000-3,000 feet at a time. Within the blast zone of Mount St. Helens, in addition to the stunning ridge line views and massive descents, the riding here has another unique property. “[The pumice] layer is like Swiss cheese marbles that float,” says Ben. “Ultimately it's just a really fun thing to ride because you've got traction but you don't have traction. I mean, the whole bike is moving, so it's pretty playful and a little disconcerting at first. But once they get used to it and know how to run it, I think folks will be surprised to see how well they’ll do in those sections.”
We can expect to see an exciting race from an international field of Pro Women with diverse disciplines. Attending will be Canadian EWS Racer, Chistina Chappetta; American World Cup XC racer, Kaysee Armstrong; French enduro racer, Deborah Motsch; American downhill racer Caroline Washam; and German 3-time Transalp Challenge and Transrockies winner, Karen Eller.
In the Pro Men’s category, newcomer Marco Osbourne will be up against some familiar Trans-Cascadia faces including 2-time Trans-Cascadia winner, Geoff Kabush; Trans Cascadia winner, Aaron Bradford; and 2nd place Trans-Cascadia finisher, Chris Johnston. Other new faces in the Pro Men’s category this year are legendary freeriders Matt Hunter and Thomas Vanderham.
Once again racers will be accessing this mostly primitive singletrack using both shuttles and pedalling and will return, exhausted to their tents at basecamp to find welcoming campfires and gourmet meals. The bar will be open – serving beer and cocktails nightly – and for those who get to sleep, they will drift off dreaming about the big mountain ridge lines and ribbons of dirt under the old-growth canopies that the next day will bring.
Over the last five years, Trans-Cascadia has evolved to be more than a 4-day backcountry enduro. The non-profit’s mission to promote and build sustainable trails throughout the Pacific Northwest has created a passionate community and united once-divided user groups. Working year-round with the forest service and land managers, the Trans-Cascadia team continues to establish and maintain backcountry routes that were previously impassable. Roughly 145 miles of trail have been reclaimed here through the efforts of Trans-Cascadia and their collaborations with Cowlitz-Naches Chapter Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance, The Backcountry Horsemen of Washington, and other user groups over the last two years.
“We've actually got to be well beyond 3000 hours for 2019 at this point,” says Ben, “just given the number of folks that we've got out here and we're pulling 10-hour days pretty regularly. We did a lot of work last year, but we've been able to multiply that by a little bit this year which is cool to see.”
Freehub Magazine has produced a three-part series that takes a look behind the scenes. From advocacy to hands-on work and from racing to good times, these edits give a full view of what Trans-Cascadia has become and inspires ideas of what may be possible for the future of mountain bike access. The first two episodes of the Common Ground series are now available.
The isolated location of our basecamps and lack of access to cell service and wifi is a big part of the culture of Trans-Cascadia.
Instead of focusing on social media, racers and crew alike spend time sharing stories and dreaming up ridiculously entertaining antics around the fire. That said, our media team will be working hard to get our daily reports and updates out to you. Keep an eye here and on our website for daily photos, videos, and race reports starting on Friday!This event is under special use permit of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.