Race Report #3: Stub Slinger

Well, we’ve done it again. Three races down and three appearances on the final Team Competition podium in the Oregon League’s inaugural season…

Race Three Team PodiumPMC + Thumbs!
Turns out these city kids can ride some mountain bikes. 🙂

This week’s course was interesting, and awesome actually. Very challenging to any riders abilities on a mountain bike…

The course started with a steep uphill on a gravel fire/service road. Riders had to take on this difficult feature without over cooking themselves with all the intensity of these fast cross country mountain bike race starts.

Once they reached the top of this road, they ducked into the forest and onto a smooth ribbon on single track trail. Smooth yes…but only for a stretch and then the course again turns steeply upward tackling the majority of this courses ~ 350 foot elevation gain in the first ~3/4 mile of a ~3.3 mile lap. Ouch! This for the record, is a brutal way to have to start a bike race, and as such it provided true test of the riders courage and their commitment to their interscholastic racing efforts

Once to the top of this section of heavy climbing, the riders turned into a beautiful section of neat medium-dense Pacific Northwest forrest with patches of sunlight and a nice ground cover of ferns and other native flora and fauna.

It’s a shame the riders eyes weren’t focused on the vegetation–but they had business to do…

They had to negotiate a very steep downhill section of trail, with a couple of sharp switchbacks and tight turns, ending in a thicker section of forest with a couple handlebar grabbing trees. This is why we practice bike control so much and we trust it’s the reason all of our riders got through this un-scathed.

Once down this section, a quick jaunt on a fire road in order to connect to another trail with more single track. While not as steep, this smooth and fast section of trail included some “rollers” which could send a rider flying from the trail if not managed with good bike and speed control. This section also included some “pedal grabbers”–low obstacles/features on the trail that must me spotted and steered around, with coordination at the feet as well, where riders must lift a pedal to ensure it’s not grabbed as the obstacle is passed.

Two technical single track sections complete, and it was on to the rest of the course which was less technical, but all about speed, maintained momentum and short “punchy” climbs.

On this section we worked with riders on speed control, improving their “line of site” for upcoming trail features, corners and the things you can’t expect, but must anticipate and be prepared for such as a rider who might be down or disabled on the trail.

The coaches are pumped that our riders all raced this course so well. Once again they all finishing and all scoring points for their team, without issue or injury. Being able to do this requires a lot of smarts and coordination that all of our riders are displaying, and as coaches it’s has been great to be able to foster amount these developing mountain bikers.

They were all heroes this weekend, but to report on some of the exciting individual results, the middle school trio of Sophie, Emily and Izzy locked up their race podium as a team…

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Ben also finished in the Top 5 in a fast Sophomore boys race, and Emmaline showed mental toughness and commitment to her team when, after she flatted shortly into her first lap, she toughed it out while managing a low leaky tire, then ended her 2nd lap on a flat rear tire, in order to finish her race and score valuable JV Girls points for her team.

A final important race aspect to report on…

NICA leagues, and all the races hosted by the Oregon League only happen due to significant amounts of volunteerism. League staff, team up volunteer league staff, who team up with with volunteer race crews–so our volunteer coaches can bring their teams…full of parents and family members who come to the race weekends to participate as spectators–cheering on their racers–while also taking on volunteer shifts as volunteer race officials and scorers and volunteer course marshals. When the race is over, all the teams of coaches and parents and riders all hustle together to help the league and race crews tear down and pack up the race course. It’s amazing how quickly and smoothly all of this gets done at these races, and it’s a thing of beauty to see how a this community of fun-loving Oregonians makes it all happen together.

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