Maghalie Rochette was just a few yards behind Katerina Nash as the two pedaled their mountain bikes onto the patio at Bend’s Tetherow Golf Club Wednesday night.
But Nash was not worried.
She crossed the finish line first, then polished off her required beer well ahead of Rochette to win the women’s race in the eighth annual Blitz mountain bike event in front of hundreds of rowdy spectators on a comfortable late spring evening.
“She was riding so strong, but I was like, man, I know I got the drinking,” Nash said. “I think I could take her down. Because I’ve seen her drink, and it’s not good. She’s an amazing cyclist, but …”
In the Blitz, riders have not officially finished until they down a pint of beer — a local craft beer, naturally — at the finish line at Tetherow. Perhaps the 39-year-old Nash, a five-time Olympian from the Czech Republic who now resides in the Bay Area, has had a bit more practice — in both drinking and mountain biking — than the 24-year-old Rochette, of Montreal.
Teal Stetson-Lee, of Reno, Nevada, finished third, a few minutes behind Rochette. Bend’s Serena Bishop Gordon took fourth.
The 2017 Blitz was an 18-mile race that started at Wanoga Sno-park west of Bend and took riders down several singletrack trails to the roads around Tetherow, then to the big-air jumps and the finish line near Tetherow’s patio.
Wednesday’s triumph marked the second Blitz victory for Nash, who also won in 2015. She was fifth in women’s mountain biking at the Rio Olympics last summer.
Nash and Rochette are teammates on the Clif Pro Team, and the two pulled away from the others riders early in the Blitz. Nash overtook Rochette on the last uphill stretch just before coming into the jumps, which were made of dirt and rocks and included a choice of two lines.
“We got an advantage early on and we tried to focus on the pedaling sections,” Nash said. “I wanted to come in to the jump first so I sprinted up that last pitch of the golf course. That’s where I got ahead of her.
“It’s so awesome to be back. It’s a great event. It pretty exciting to come in here and see the crowd.”
Nash’s Olympic appearances include nordic skiing in 1998 and 2002 and mountain biking in 1996, 2012 and 2016. She has no plans, though, to compete in the Tokyo Games in 2020.
“I’m going to focus on these kinds of events,” Nash said of the Blitz. “They’re a lot more fun.”
In the men’s race at the Blitz, which started 30 minutes after the women’s race, Canadian Geoff Kabush rode to his second Blitz victory about 20 seconds ahead of last year’s winner, Todd Wells, of Durango, Colorado. Cody Kaiser, of El Dorado Hills, California, finished third. Bend’s Carl Decker was sixth.
Kabush, of Squamish, British Columbia, is a three-time Olympian who won the Blitz in 2013. Kaiser held the early lead, but Wells and Kabush passed him on the singletrack and then rode in the front together for much of the race.
“He was setting an awesome pace,” Kabush said of Wells. “I didn’t have the energy to attack him on the singletrack, so it just came down to the golf course loop. I put a little dig in on the pavement and got a gap.”
Kabush, 40, downed his beer easily. But when he spit the foam out before getting to the brew, a smattering of boos could be heard in the beer-savvy crowd that lined the finish area.
“I was trying to catch my breath coming up the finish chute,” explained Kabush, who finished eighth in the 2012 London Games.
“It’s an awesome event. I’ve spent a lot of time in Bend, so it’s great to be back here. It’s a pretty awesome place to hang out and ride your bike. The community really rallies around the event.”
— Reporter: 541-383-0318,