Blitz to the Barrel

What: Invite-only downhill mountain bike race.

When: Wednesday. Party starts at 10 Barrel at 5 p.m. Race starts at 6:30 p.m. Finishers are expected about 7:20 to 7:30 p.m.

Where: Trails west of Bend with finish at 10 Barrel Brewing Co. in west Bend.

Information: 10barrel.com/event/blitz-to-the-barrel

The Blitz mountain bike race, which has become something of a summertime tradition in Bend, is returning to its roots for the 10th edition on Wednesday night.

When the first Blitz race was held in 2010, it was known as the “Blitz to the Barrel” because it finished at 10 Barrel Brewing Co. in west Bend.

For the past few years the race has finished at Tetherow Golf Club in southwest Bend and was called simply the “Blitz.”

Now, the invite-only race will again finish at 10 Barrel and will once again be called the “Blitz to the Barrel,” according to organizer Erik Eastland.

Last year, the ninth edition of the race was an informal event with no prize money or official sponsors. Riders did not even know the route until the day of the race.

“We wanted to rest this thing because it kind of lost its character a little bit,” Eastland said of the Blitz. “It was getting to be too much and it lost its edge a little bit. I think other people felt the same way and we just wanted to start over. So we did that and 10 Barrel got back on board.”

The finish area at Tetherow in previous Blitz races had featured large man-made jumps built up on scaffolding and crowds of spectators who came to watch some of the best pro mountain bikers in the West.

This year, the all-new race route will not include Tetherow. The 22-mile course will start at Shooting Star and include Upper Whoops, Lower Whoops and Phil’s trails, and several paved roads through west Bend neighborhoods to the finish at 10 Barrel on Galveston Avenue. As always in the Blitz, racers will not have officially completed the race until drinking — typically, chugging — a pint of beer at the finish area.

Riders will be judged on big-air jumps along the Lower Whoops Trail and can earn cash prizes if they win the big-air contest. In previous races the big-air jumps were set up at Tetherow.

The total prize purse for this year’s race, according to Eastland, is $7,000.

The purse for previous Blitz races was as much as $20,000.

Eastland acknowledges that the new version of the race is smaller, but he notes that many top Oregon mountain biking pros are on the rosters, including Bend’s Adam Craig and Carl Decker in the men’s race and Bend’s Zoe Roy and Serena Gordon in the women’s race. The field includes 13 men and 13 women.

“It’s a good lineup,” Eastland said. “We could have a freight train of about six to eight guys right up front. We’ve always wanted to race that side of the hill and not have to cross Century Drive. That way we get our big-air jumps at Whoops. We’ll have cameras set up at certain areas and (judges will) pick the best big-air jump.”

Spectators can watch along the Lower Whoops Trail or plan to be at the finish at 10 Barrel’s Northwest Galveston Avenue location. After the riders finish, live music and arm-wrestling contests among the racers are scheduled as part of the Blitz tradition.

Eastland said the jumps and features set up at Tetherow just got to be too big and too expensive, thus the scaled-down version of the race for its 10th edition.

“To support that infrastructure it became unaffordable, basically,” Eastland said. “It took the fun out of it. We’re going back to a local tradition and simplifying it.”

— Reporter: 541-383-0318,

mmorical@bendbulletin.com

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