Trans-Cascadia: Day 3; 'Some of the best riding I've done – I don't even know really how to put it into words.' ~ Thomas Vanderham
The plan was for racers to pedal out of camp from Takhlakh Lake and to pedal into camp at Green River Horse Camp at the end of the day – Mother Nature had other plans. The night before, as Race Director Nick Gibson delivered the details for the following day's race, it had begun to snow.
The day started out as planned with a short pedal from camp to the singletrack and a 1000 foot climb featuring some incredible views of Mount Adam on the way to the start of the first stage. Stage 8 was an 1100-foot descent over 1.2 miles of super-fast gravity-fed flow. "We woke up to snow in our campground and frozen bikes and frozen tents and then it was just clear and cold," says Thomas Vanderham. "When we were riding there was no problem with temperature, we were nice and warm. The approach to the first trail was incredible. It was really misty with the sun coming through it was so beautiful up on this ridgeline."
Less than a mile of traversing along a road took them to the top of Stage 9; 1200 feet of descending over 1.5 miles with a little rolling climb – and easy grind – in the middle. At the bottom of Stage 9, a big fire and a hot lunch were waiting for racers.
From there, racers got a big bump up in the shuttles to the ridgeline on the non-motorized side of the Gifford Pinchot. This is the area where Trans-Cascadia has spent the last two years cutting out over 500 logs and brushing over 100 miles of trail. From the drop-off point, racers had a 1-1.5-hour pedal with a couple of playful descents to the top of Stage 10.
Depicted on the map the racers were given, the Stage 10 descent had both a drooling and a mind exploding emoji. No other stage description has featured these. Nick had described it at the meeting the night before as "an insane descent with a neutral in the middle, deep loam, 12/10, best ever." Expectations were high and it did not disappoint.
Blake Ramsden was even reminded at the top of the stage that it was going to be the best "and it was bonkers," he says. "Literally loam was flying off my rear tire, I could feel it on my helmet, I was in a party train with three of my pals from North Vancouver and it was just incredible!", "We started in the snow and it was this ribbon of dark dirt and then the snow melted, and it turned to moss with a ribbon of dark dirt," Corinne Prevot describes Stage 10. "And then the ribbons just kept getting longer and longer with these really long side cuts that you could see the very bottom of into a hairpin. So, you haul ass and then you see the hairpin getting closer and you're like 'shut it down!' And then you're riding this really soft rut, and everything just holds, it's just such hero dirt. It was just really screaming fast!", "The snow made Strawberry Mountain extra exciting at the top," says Geoff Kabush. "Riding through a track of snow, just holding on because you didn't know what was going to be in the corners, and loose but it got better and better as we got down and out of the snow. Everyone was super psyched at the bottom of that one."
The stage ended on a double track road that took racers back to shuttles. The plan had been to shuttle everyone back up to the same drop off spot and head north to the start of Stage 11 which would drop everyone back into camp. Only about a dozen racers made it through this stage before it had to be canceled due to steadily increasing snowfall. "It's as simple as the health of our racers and our volunteers," explained Racer Producer, Alex Gardner about their decision to cut the last stage. "Our doctors made the decision and we support it.", "The whole day was incredible right until the end, we got cut off the last stage because a big snowstorm rolled in," says Thomas Vanderham. "[Before that was] some of the best riding I've done – I don't even know really how to put it into words."
After Day 3, the top Pro Women were Alex Pavon (3rd), Christina Chapetta (2nd), and Ingrid Larouche (1st). And the top Pro Men's podium has Myles Trainer (3rd), Chris Johnston (2nd), and Romain Paulhan (1st).
Despite cutting the day a little short, racers were still smiling around the campfire. "[Trans-Cascadia] is much, much more than I expected, and I heard that it was great but it's so much more," says Karen Eller. "The riding is the best riding I've done in my whole mountain bike life. Today especially, the third stage was so amazing, I wanted to stop and have more time on the trail. And what the team does to keep the riders feeling comfortable, it starts with the food, the lunch, the showers, the drinks, everything, they are working their asses off for us to have a good week and this is so much more than I expected!"
The weather held long enough at camp for people to dry out and warm up with hot showers, Hot Buttered Rum, and hot fires. And before bed, the crew reminded everyone not to get cold in the night, "we have extra sleeping bags, warm places to put you, and lots of options to make you more comfortable. Don't suffer – you do enough of that on your bike!"
To further their advocacy efforts, Trans-Cascadia has created Ten for Trails (https://trans-cascadia.com/tenfortrails). Each $10 donation increases the chances of winning a Santa Cruz Megatower and all proceeds from the raffle will benefit the continued work of Trans-Cascadia.
This event is under special use permit of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.