June 7th and 8th was the opening round of the Oregon Enduro Series and the first race of the North American Enduro Tour. The race took place at Post Canyon in Hood River, Oregon.
Hood River holds a special place in my heart. For years and years I went to summer ski camp at Mt. Hood and spent a good amount of time hanging out, wind surfing, paddle boarding, hiking, biking and eating ice cream at Mike's in Hood River. Last summer was the first summer in eight years that I didn't get to go up to Oregon, so when I saw the OES in Hood River I made up my mind that I had to go. Despite it being almost 1,300 miles from Flagstaff to Hood River and the hassle of flying with a bike, I am lucky enough to have family in Portland and friends In White Salmon, WA, directly across the gorge from Hood.
I got into Oregon the Wednesday before the race and got to pre-ride Thursday and Friday--which was nice since there were eight stages to ride. I went solo on this adventure but met up with a bunch of other friends when I got there and met and made plenty more as the weekend went on. I ended up getting a spot on the Dirty Fingers shuttle Thursday afternoon and got the chance to shred with a couple of locals and Giant Factory Off-Road Team Rider, Adam Craig--a seriously cool dude. Friday morning Margaret and Mal (Smith Rep) got into town and we continued our mission to find the fast lines.
To say that Hood River was a stacked race is an understatement but not surprising since it was the NAET opener. There were 16 pro women including Heather Irmiger, Kathy Pruitt, Abbi Hippely, Katrina Strand, etc. The pro men's field included Ross Schnell, Curtis Keene, Josh Carlson, Adam Craig, Nate Hills, JHK, Brian Lopes, Kirt Voreis, etc, etc.
Post Canyon is not for the light-hearted. The trails are steep, rocky, rooty, and loose, in combination with bike park style jumps and berms. I was expecting to go up to Oregon and have it be wet and slippery, but it was incredibly dry and dusty--a lot like the trails in Flagstaff and much more suited to my riding style than Moab was. The weeks leading up to the race were interesting; my riding had been suffering and I was just not riding fast so my goal going into the first day was to just keep the rubber side down. Mission almost accomplished. I crashed pretty hard trying to go through a berm corner as fast as I could. I somehow managed to get my saddle completely perpendicular to my top tube. After landing hard on my hip I decided to take the last stage of the day easy. Upper GP and Bad Motor Scooter are two super fun jump trails, so I got to make peace with the berms.
The second day of racing I was a little peeved about how Saturday finished and went in with the mindset of just going fast. It worked. Kind of. I definitely rode more like myself; faster, a little looser, and a little more risky. The stages I managed to get down without mishaps I was pleased with, and even the two stages I had trouble with I was still happy about because I knew I had tried. I had another saddle issue on stage 6 that caused some problems and slammed my front wheel into a tree when the end of a berm crumbled on stage 7. Overall, day two was my favorite. the trails were loose and technical with lots of rock gardens and drops, and the fans were out in full force to cheer the riders on. At the bottom of stage 7 was Heckler's Corner, where fans were dressed in all kinds of ridiculous costumes and equipped with air horns and cowbells--enough happiness to make any bad day better.
I ended up 9th overall for the weekend. Despite being frustrated about some things I think I rode really well, maybe not the fastest I could have, but oh well. I met so many cool people, got to ride tons of awesome new trails, and hang out with friends and family in one of my favorite places. I learned a lot, like what is fast and what isn't, and how to find the balance between staying on the ground and going all out. I sent myself off of a big (to me) diving board drop totally blind and survived, so that's cool. I also learned how to break down and rebuild my bike and pack it in to a bike box. Whooop! To me, Oregon was a win. the opening round of the Big Mountain Enduro Series and stop two of the NAET is this weekend, June 21 and 22, in Snowmass, CO.
Writing is something I have always been passionate about. I love sharing my stories, my thoughts, my advice, but mostly, I write to record memories and express myself. So here are a few of my fondest memories, best and worst moments, my most profound and boisterous thoughts, and riskiest advice. Enjoy!