It is no longer called the Blitz 2 the Barrel, just simply the Blitz.
But the fan-favorite pro invitational mountain bike race in Bend is maintaining all of its charm — including the 10 Barrel craft beer at the finish line.
That finish line will now be at Tetherow Golf Club on the southwestern edge of Bend, rather than at 10 Barrel Brewing Co. on busy Northwest Galveston Avenue.
Moving the finish line for tonight’s sixth annual race reduces headaches for both event organizers and competitors, according to Blitz promoter Erik Eastland.
“A lot of it is just the west side in general … a lot of the neighborhoods over there get really cranky when there’s something going on,” Eastland said. “It’s just more and more traffic, and the city in general is kind of clamping down on events. There’s so many things like that, I was just like, it’s too stressful. It’s stressful for the racers being on the road. It’s stressful for me trying to get qualified help trying to keep everybody safe. It’s just a lot of stuff.”
The brewery remains the presenting sponsor of the event, and racers must still down a pint of 10 Barrel beer before they have officially finished the race.
The Blitz features 40 of the best professional mountain bikers from the U.S. and Canada. This year’s field includes 24 men and 16 women, many of the riders from Bend. The race includes four cash prizes (primes) of $1,000 each along the roughly 18-mile route from Wanoga Sno-park to Tetherow. The primes include winning the hole shot, big air, fastest on pavement, and arm wrestling (after the race).
Men’s and women’s race winners each earn $3,000. The total prize purse of $20,000 is one of the biggest in the country among mountain bike races, according to Eastland.
The route starts at Wanoga and takes cyclists down the Funner and C.O.D. trails and into the Lair jump park near Tetherow. From there, they will race to the big-air jump near the golf club’s patio and then up the cart path on hole No. 18. Riders will then race across a “cyclocross” section through some grass and into the finish line.
The new finish area will include a small-scale beer festival, featuring beer from several of Central Oregon’s breweries, barbecue, bike demos and other activities.
Men’s favorites in the race include Bend locals Adam Craig and Carl Decker. Decker, 40, is a two-time Blitz winner and the defending champion. He suffered a separated shoulder in a crash last month but still plans to race tonight, according to Eastland.
Other riders to watch in the men’s race include Max Plaxton, a former Canadian national champion and 2012 Olympian, and Australian Josh Carlson, who finished second in the 2013 Blitz.
“Carl Decker is strong, and he’s won it twice,” Eastland says. “Adam Craig will be pushing hard, and Josh Carlson will be a big name to watch.”
Some favorites in the women’s race include Czech Katerina Nash, a four-time Olympian (1996 and 2012 in mountain biking and 1998 and 2002 in nordic skiing), and Teal Stetson Lee, of Reno, Nevada, who finished second in the 2014 Blitz. Bend’s Serena Bishop Gordon, third last year, is also scheduled to race.
Festivities officially begin with a rider meet and greet at 5 p.m. tonight at Tetherow. The women start at 6 p.m. and are expected to finish at about 7:05 p.m., according to Eastland. The men start at 7 p.m. and should finish at about 8 p.m. Arm wrestling is expected to start at about 8:30 p.m.
— Reporter: 541-383-0318,