Grail de Grunge
The Osprey Brand Team, a group of 10 ambassadors reporting from the field at consumer outdoor events across the country as well as reporting on adventures in their own neck of the woods, checks in with bike racer and brand team member, James Whitesides. Here James describes the enormously active (and slightly contentious!) Pacific Northwest cyclocross scene…
Come to Seattle because good fun is being had by everyone in the PNWCX scene! If you don’t know what that is don’t worry; Scotty came up with it last month for our beer cozies. Rivalries have been restarted, racing has been fast (and big), and we are just about to get some real rain. After spending the better part of four days in Las Vegas at Interbike it has been great to be home and enjoying our trails and racing. Lots of people are sure that the Northwest is rainy and nasty in the winter but being from the MItten I find it to be much more enjoyable than everyone lets on. As the days get shorter out come the lights and the knobbies and everyone gets their lube on nice and thick.
Nick and I started sampling the joys of fall and winter riding here in the northwest last week at Tiger Mountain State Forest. Logging constantly disrupts our use of the trails, and we are forced onto about 1/16th of the parks trail system to stop “erosion” caused by mountain bikes. I find it a little hard to swallow some of the vitriol that greets us every time we run into hikers on trails that are designated multi use when they have just walked through a massive clear-cut to get to the trail we are riding in the trees.
Luckily, Nick and I only saw one other soul out there and he was cruising up to the top of the hill to ride the Preston Trail down and up (not the usual exit) thanks to a closure so we knew that there would be little to distract us from some great riding in the rain. I had the Talon packed with my camera and we played around with shooting a few poor quality movies just for the heck of it. Nothing like tight rooty single track in the wet! Only two and a half hours of riding and I was sore that night. I realized that I hadn’t ridden over an hour since the Rapha ride in the middle of September!
Despite a little mountain biking, Cyclocross (CX) has been dominating my riding schedule lately and I am finally having consistent races. As of today I am 4th in the MFG Cat 3 field after three races and I think I might be able to get that top step with a little bit of luck. I raced the Cross Crusade race in Rainier, OR this weekend and I am more than impressed with what they bring to the table. If anyone doubts that Oregon is the heart of CX in the good ol’ US of A then they need to take a look at the result sheets.
Our biggest races in WA bring out 900 people for the day. Their average is around 1200 and they just held the biggest CX race ever with about 1450 racers. That’s a lot of people! Not only do they have a ton of racers but they also make it feel a lot more like Europe than anywhere else I have raced. However, we did steal the Grail de Grunge this weekend with a fine showing on Saturday in Seattle and a little bit of craziness on Sunday. There will be a lot of talk over the next week in the blogosphere about how crazy seven guys from Seattle are for stealing the cup from right under the noses of a guy with a sledgehammer. If you doubt my story go check out the pictures on the Cross Crusade site. I can only say that I acted in the heat of the moment and we are all lucky that no one really got hurt (except Brett but he only bled for ten minutes). People are keen to defend the honor of the their cross scenes! I hope that means we are going to see a more consolidated racing schedule over the next couple of years where SCX, MFG and the Cross Crusade work together for the betterment of each series.
Ed.’s note: Check out this story and video on Wend for a better idea of what James is describing!
Driving home from Seattle all of us were stoked to talk about some long rides this winter and we are all planning on doing some long races this winter. After seeing the new hydration pack online and the Flapjack at Interbike (Thanks Osprey for supporting Bike Hugger) I am really excited to test the new stuff and I am already dreaming up ways to abuse some packs!
For more information about James, see his profile page here.