Too much of a good thing has very little application when it comes to biking. But show up to enough races brimming with hero dirt and agreeable weather and you start to wait for the other shoe to drop. Apart from a little deviation during the bonus NAEC race, the Evil
Cascadia Dirt Cup presented by Shimano
has certainly been blessed by a heavy helping of optimum weekends this season. So Saturday's grim forecast felt a bit overdue.
Tiger Mountain is where the CDC began and it's been a stop each year ever since. The finals in 2015 saw the opening of Tiger Mountain's burliest trail Predator during a long day of racing, with podiums stretching into the dark. Likely as a result, this year the course for this sold out event was shorter. A change that didn't go unnoticed leading up to the race. Saturday's temperature in the fifties, strong winds, and directional rain did seem to wash away most of these objections as racers coped with cold transitions and slippery stages.
Keeping with last year's trend, the good trail builders at Tiger Mountain had a fresh trail all ready to race. The short and flowy "The Legend" is complemented by a climbing trail "Easy Tiger." The duo will form an easily accessible lollipop loop with the Northwest Timber trail. On race day, The Legend served as stage three and EasyTiger the transition out.
Down at the staging area, a large gathering of tents provided crowded shelter as racers checked in and waited for call-ups to begin. Riders were overall a bit resigned to the soaking rain, but there were still plenty of smiles and cheer. Navigating the parking areas with so many people is always a challenge during events, and the wet didn't make things any easier. As a result there was a short delay, but things were soon under way as racers made their first ascents. Pros and experts ran stages 1, 2, 3, 4 — with Predator being the rowdy final stage. Sport completed stages 3, 1, 2 and beginners raced 1 and 2.
The trails at Tiger Mountain are designed to be ridden year round through sun and rain, but racing in such a maelstrom of conditions isn't easy. Dark woods, smeared vision, and slippery roots all take a toll on speeds through both caution and crashes. Grimaces over slippery roots and gotcha moments were common, and plenty of DNFs cropped up during the day, with at least one racer being extracted off the course due to injuries.
By the time the pros made it to the top of stage four the rain was starting to fade, but a strong wind threatened to carry away the tent from the start gate. The slippery gnar of Predator did little to slow down the first wave of racers who flew down the steeps and roots on the way to the staging area where they were greeted by the welcoming embrace of friends, beer, food, and dry clothes.
When the race results were in, Layton Meyers stood at the top of the Junior Expert podium for the sixth time as he completed an impressive perfect season. Alex Walker took second ahead of Brayden Buchanan, Bryce Kans, and Alex Davis. Kim Hardin edged out Leana Gerrard on the final stage to take her fifth win of season. Emily Sabelhaus rode her rims into the ground to take third ahead of Lynn Hyde and Adrian Hopkins. Luke Strobel ended the day 36 seconds up, for his second win for 2016. Following Strobel was Gian Dalle, Peter Ostroski, Neal Strobel, and Aaron Bradford. Hood River's Nick Hardin placed outside the podium, but considering he had the overalls tied up after the last race he's still stoked with the season. Full results here
and overalls here
As mountain bikers we'll never tire of hero dirt and good conditions. But a day spent battling with nature on your favorite two-wheeled shredding machine earns a grand sense of accomplishment that lasts longer than the memory of perfect days.
That's a wrap for the 2016 season. If you missed out, make sure to join the series next year to see why the best trails, generous volunteers, and a dedicated team make the Cascadia Dirt Cup so awesome. You also have one more chance to get your PNW racing fix during the Cascadia MTB Championships
on September 30 – October 2nd in Port Angeles, WA. This stand alone event is presented by the CDC and NW Cup and will feature an enduro Saturday and a downhill race on Sunday. We can't promise it won't rain, but it's guaranteed to be fun.