WANOGA SNO-PARK — The Oregon 12/24 mountain bike race did not go smoothly for DAAM, a four-man team from Lafayette, California, or any other team for that matter.
On Sunday morning, as the last participants of the 24-hour relay race were packing up their campsites at Wanoga Sno-park, the DAAM teammates discussed getting off their bikes and hauling them through snow too slushy to pedal over, how their gears and brakes froze after getting covered in snow and how each rider wiped out multiple times, sometimes on the same lap. They admitted it was probably for the best that race organizers cut off the 12- and 24-hour racers at 10 p.m. Saturday, instead of letting the 24-hour racers continue through the freezing night as planned.
And all of those teams that originally signed up for the race but did not show up, either because of the change in date or the early-season snowstorm that dumped about a foot of snow on the trails days before the race? As one team member, David Lloyd, put it, “Ah man, they missed out.”
“We ended up in second — or last, depending on how you look at it,” Andres Caicedo, 47, said, noting that numerous teams had originally entered their division. “But we showed up.”
“It’s just fun,” Mike Voie, 43, added. “This was an adventure.”
The Oregon 12/24 was originally scheduled for Sept. 9, but like many events it was postponed to October due to poor air quality from wildfires across the state. When it became clear the snow would not melt before the start of the race Saturday morning, race director Mike Ripley shaved several miles off the typical 11.2-mile loop to keep each leg of the relay from becoming too long.
Kim Birgh-Pitkanen of Gig Harbor, Washington, and Adam Richards, of Bend, said Wanoga was engulfed in blizzardlike conditions when they pulled in on Friday morning.
“I thought, ‘I brought the wrong bike,’” joked Birgh-Pitkanen, who has competed in numerous 24-hour cycling races. “But then again, it’s the only bike I had.”
“What we did immediately is we turned back to town and rented that fatbike,” Richards said. “They all got rented up real fast. There are no fatbikes in Bend right now.”
Fatbikes, which have wide tires designed to give riders more traction for riding on snow or sand, might have helped during some stretches of the race, but numerous competitors said the trail conditions varied wildly from hour to hour. Cody Peterson, who traded off every two laps with his teammate Erin Reis, said he even noticed a difference between the first lap and the second.
“The first lap was way better, because nobody had walked all over everything,” Peterson, 38 and of Bend, said. “I think that’s going to make the course a little tougher. I don’t think anyone will ridge the climb all day long.”
Birgh-Pitkanen and Richards, who competed under the team name “Revenge of the Chubby Bunnies” (last year they were simply “Chubby Bunnies”), said they had intended for Richards to take the first and final six hours of the race, while Birgh-Pitkanen would race through the night.
“So in the middle of my six hours, I come in, and they say, change of plans,” the race will stop at 12 hours, Richards said. “We were really disappointed, strangely, even though she was about to go out in 19-degree weather.”
“And I realize it was a good call,” Birgh-Pitkanen added. “It would have been really unbearable.”
And even though 24-hour mountain bike races tend to attract an adventurous crowd to begin with, most said they had never taken part in a race like this year’s Oregon 12/24 — which is all part of the fun.
“It’s probably the first time in 30 years that I’ve ridden in the snow, at night, more or less alone, in 28-degree weather. That’s the experience,” Lloyd said. “I haven’t experienced that in 30 years of riding, so that makes it memorable.”
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