Round five of the Shimano
Cascadia Dirt Cup presented by Cannondale
headed to Tiger Mountain, Issaquah, for a day of enthusiastic racing and the series finals. Tiger Mountain is where the CDC had its first race, so it's a bit like coming home when the series races here. As an added bonus, this ended up being the first full-pull race on the Department of Natural Resource's freshly completed downhill trail Predator.
Predator is Tiger Mountain's first downhill trail (one-way bike traffic only) and features a raucous blend of everything. Slippery roots and rocks play leap-frog with deep berms and high-speed tabletops. All of which add a welcome flavor of gnar to one of the area's most popular riding destinations. The DNR hired Evergreen Mountain Alliance to build the trail and more than 5,000 hours of volunteer time went into its completion under the tutelage of Bryan Connolly, EMBA's lead trail builder. The finished product is an aggressive and challenging trail that throws riders around as they battle their way downhill.
With Predator opening to the public one week before the race, Series Director Trey Wilson decided that the Sport and Junior categories would only race Predator's less technical bottom section. This controversial decision was made because of the short amount of available practice time, overall technical difficulty of the trail, and the wide range of abilities in those categories. The call wasn't universally well received, but what's racing without some dissenters? Grumbling aside, the weekend was stacking up to be a great event complete with a waiting list of hopeful participants.
Racer's were divided up into groups 'A' and 'B' with the former consisting of Sport and Junior categories. Group A completed the race stages one, two, three, four, and an abbreviated five. Pros and Experts formed up Group B and ran the courses five, one, two, three, four. Which allowed them to get the gnar out of the way at the start - racer's could also switch out a full face helmet and any armor at the staging area after the run down Predator if they chose. Stages one and five rewarded high-speed aggressive riding while stages two, three, and four favored energy conservation or the ability to maintain momentum. In total the course involved 22 to 25 miles and 3,500 to 4,500 ft of climbing depending on one's group.
Thankfully the over precipitation that has plagued the series decided to lay off for the finals, and small patches of mist were the closest mother nature came to raining on the race. This boon of favorable weather did not go unnoticed by the riders who were better able to focus on racing instead of merely surviving the elements.
Coming into the finals Luke Strobel had a good lead in Pro Men, but a broken toe had him content with putting in a respectable time to hold down the overalls. Scott Kemp was in second, followed by Lars Sternberg, Charlie Sponsel, and Neal Strobel who had a three way split for third. Emily Sabelhaus was unchallenged in the Pro Women category and Jason Eiswald had a lead over Jimmy Cloherty and Layton Meyers for Junior Men. The Cascadia Dirt Cup requires that riders compete in three races before they are in the running for the overalls. Final scores are tallied from points from a rider's best four races.RACE RESULTS
Aaron Bradford put in the fastest time of the day, trailed a few second by Luke Strobel - who did put in a respectable enough time to clinch the overalls. Logan Wetzel came in third, followed by Neal Strobel and Charlie Sponsel. Emily Sabelhaus placed fourth behind Andi Zolton, Bekah Rottenberg, and Leana Gerrard. Karen O'Connel had her best Pro Women finish of the season, taking fifth. Scott Funston topped the podium for Junior Men ahead of Jimmy Cloherty, Jason Eiswald, Bryce Kans, and Brayden Buchanan. Eiswald managed to retain just enough lead in the points to finish first in the overalls.
Full Results Here
While points, ranks, and times will always be the meter by which we race, there's more to the story of mountain bike racing. The Cascadia Dirt Cup continues to hit that target by blending heartfelt competition with an even stronger sense camaraderie amongst riders. They do that through a passion for everything mountain biking, an earnest group of volunteers, generous sponsors, and a wealth of fantastic Pacific Northwest locations.
The wheel's don't stop turning for the CDC, expect to hear the schedule for next year in October or November. Hope to see you next year.