As Whitney said, that was a whirlwind of a trip. Leaving friday afternoon, Patrick Means, Ben Rathkamp, Whitney, and I piled into Patrick's old 4-runner and began a quick road trip down to Corvallis, Oregon for the 23rd annual Mudslinger, the oldest mountain bike race in the NW. On the way down, we must have had the worst possible timing because we managed to hit Everett, Seattle, Tacoma, and Olympia rush hour traffic. Eight hours later, and after a burrito stop in Portland, we finally arrived at Patrick's folk's house in Corvallis. Patrick's parents Paula and Allen were incredibly accommodating(as they have been in past years for collegiate race weekends). They even spoiled us with an amazing breakfast of scrambled eggs, fruit, and homemade scones in the morning!
The Mudslinger is a unique race, in that it is mass start and also mostly point-to-point, with only a couple of miles ridden twice. It was cool starting with 350 other people and heading straight into a long fireroad climb. The field quickly stretched out as we hammered up the climb. Going over the top, Sean Babcock (Kona/S&M) led me into the first singletrack downhill, with a couple dudes on my wheel. Coming out of the trail and onto a double track, a slick mud-hole caught me by surprise and I went down pretty hard. Dazed, I put myself back together, jumped on my bike, pulled clumps of grass and dirt off my handlebar, and started chasing Sean.
Course profile from my Garmin computer.
After a few minutes, I was back with Sean and we were hammering up another fireroad climb. The next descent was a good one. Super high speed double track with water bars and then into a singletrack trail called Panama Canal that was was fast and flowy, with a lot of greasy muddy corners where you could really let the bike drift. So much fun! I was glad to have chosen a Rocket Ron as my front tire, as it really hooked up in the grease.
Lush forest and a good time on Panama Canal. WWU kit(disguise) since my Noble clothes were stolen... (Oregon Velo Photos)
The rest of the course featured some difficult climbs, great views, and fast descents. Sean and I battled it out the whole time, but neither of us could crack the other. Eventually, we were riding on the dirt road into the finish and both knew it would come down to the final quarter mile climb to the finish line. I led into the climb, Sean attack, I got on his wheel briefly then counter-attacked and held it to the line.
To win this race means a lot to me, as it is sort of a "classic" race of the Northwest. It was a fun course with an "old-school" feel. Our whole crew killed it too! Patrick was 4th and Ben was 10th(in his first mtb race, no less!) Whitney finished strong in a huge women's field. To top the day off, the weather was sunny and nearly 70 degrees!
And so we began the long drive back to Bellingham. Patrick's 4-runner had begun blowing steam out the exhaust, indicating a possible blown head gasket. He was forced to limp the poor thing home, adding coolant and water every hour or two when it would start to overheat. It was a marathon of a drive, but at least we were able to stop for burgers and beer at the Duschutes Brewery in Portland. Damn, that was so well worth the stop. We finally made it to Bellingham at 1am and quickly passed out, exhausted.
It was a great trip with good friends and a really fun race. Well worth all the car time.
Oregon Cycling Action race report here.
My Garmin Connect file here.