After summer fires raged in Washington this September, the original final race venue near Mt. Rainer had to be relocated to Dry Hill in Port Angeles, WA. The Race Cascadia crew did an amazing job at rolling with the punches and organizing an entirely new venue on short notice. In fact, this race ended up being one of the most well-organized and smoothest races we’ve attended so far, and Dry Hill has become one of our favorite places to ride!
For this Blog Post, the four of us that raced wrote a little recap of the weekend:
“We scored an awesome camp site at Salt Creek Campground on the beach outside of Port Angeles on Friday night. After some heavy rain all night we reluctantly left the warmth of our tents to catch some shuttle laps early on Saturday morning.
The shuttle vehicle was a Uhaul pick up truck, and the shuttle system worked flawlessly. We all piled into the back with our bikes which kept them all safe, was efficient loading and unloading, and could carry around 20 people per trip!
I had a blast racing both downhill and enduro in the same weekend! The DH trails were fast, loose, and chunky with lots of jumps and doubles to send making for some exciting racing. I snagged 5th in the downhill race on my Process 153 CR.
The venue, dirt, course, and trails were all amazing making for an awesome weekend and great end of the season. Delia and I rode together all day (singing Fleetwood Mac along the way) in the enduro and finished only seconds apart!
My favorite stage was stage 1 which was fast and full of doubles and sweet berms. Stage 2 was rocky, steep, and greasy, while stage 3 was dry, rooty, and dusty!
Despite a nasty climb in the middle, stage 4 was also a favorite, it had some epic, loamy singletrack at the end that had me grinning the entire way. I was stoked to finish the season strong, without crashes this race, and to take 3rd for the overall for my first year racing pro.”
“The Port Angeles race was the smoothest run race I have participated in. The race course was set up perfectly so that the sport class could race one side of the mountain while pro/expert did the other and then we flip-flopped. This way, we all finished around the same time and didn’t have to wait in line for the stages.
The trails were fast, loose, and super fun! It was awesome to come at the bottom of a stage, breathing hard, with a huge smile on your face. Hanging and laughing with the sport class ladies made the climbs manageable.
Despite the uphill sprint in the middle of it, stage four was my favorite stage of the day because you finished the last couple minutes weaving in and out of the trees in woods laced with beautiful tacky dirt from rain the day before. You ended in the staging area where you could grab some hugs and high fives before heading back up the road.”
“After some rain for the downhill race on Saturday, we arrived at the enduro race on Sunday with tacky trails and greasy roots, which are my favorite conditions!
Mickey headed up the road climb with the sport ladies to stages 3 and 4, while Hannah and I made our way up to start on Stage 1.
We ripped down the jumps, stayed upright on the loose entrance to Dante’s Inferno, and finished feeling stoked about the rest of the day. Steph and the expert ladies were beginning their pedal up to stage 1, so we joined forces to make it up the hill again.
Stage 2, also known as the Cat 2 downhill course, was running super fast after a little rain on those loose corners. I had a moment of excitement when my Garmin broke loose and popped off my handlebars halfway down the trail, but decided to let it go and come back for it later! Hannah and I regrouped and made our final pedal up to Stage 3, on the “dry” side of Dry Hill.
We were relieved to find the the roots weren’t too wet, and each had clean runs down the trickiest trail of the day. Next was one more easy pedal up to stage 4, during which we amused ourselves by listening to Fleetwood Mac and posting silly videos to Instagram. Stage 4 was the longest run and the stage with the most pedaling, but we got stoked and dropped in. I pedaled my little heart out, and was very thankful for my new Kona Process 153, which pedals so well I forget it’s a trail bike sometimes!
We finished, exhausted and full of adrenaline, and discovered we had both made it on the podium, just 4 seconds apart.
For me, this was the highlight of my season. I had some serious doubts about myself and my skills this season after having some bad crashes and disappointing results, but I finally had a race where I had fun and rode well, and felt like I actually belonged in the pro class! It was also amazing to see all of my teammates make it on the podium at our final race of the year–congrats to Steph for 3rd in Expert and Mickey on 2nd in Sport! Yeah ladies!!!”
For the Expert Ladies, it was all about having a good time and hanging with your friends. The weekend started out with shuttle lap after shuttle lap in the back of a dark Uhaul with, no joke, 20 other people.
I got to pre-ride with the lovely Michelle Warner and Julie Baird. On race day, at the start of the first climb, I ran into my fellow Supremes Hannah and Delia, and was able to pedal up with them to stage 1 – which really set the tone for the day. Rarely on race day do I get to ride with the other Supremes outside my category. This theme continued when I saw them again at the next transition to stage 2. After stage 2, which was slick, greasy, and fast, I ran into the Mickster and got stoked again to start the pedal over to stage 3 and 4. Stage 3 was still dry and loose despite Saturday’s rain, and the climb in the middle of stage 4 was exhausting.
However, at the end of the day, it felt good to stand on the podium in 3rd for the Expert Women after starting the season in Sport. Looking back at the season, racing the CDC allowed me to progress on my bike and meet some amazing people that Im now lucky enough to call friends! As Michelle (friend of the supremes and fellow expert race) put, “I race because I’m pretty much paying money to make friends.”
Everyone landed on the podium this race (including Brooklyn who couldn’t make it, but took 3rd in the overall for Sport). Mickey took 2nd in the enduro, and 2nd for the overall series. Steph got 3rd in the race in expert after catting-up this season. Delia and Hannah both landed on the podium in pro taking 5th and 4th and finishing only a few seconds apart! Hannah snagged a solid 3rd place in pro for the season.
We can’t thank the Cascadia Dirt Cup enough for hosting such awesome events, and all of our sponsors, fans, friends, and fam for all of your help and support this season! Thanks to Chris McFarland and Eric Mickelson for the AMAZING photos and for being such awesome humans. Huge shout-out to Nuun Hydration for keeping us hydrated, The Kona Bike Shop for helping us fix many broken bike parts, and Kona Bikes for making amazing bicycles!
My younger brother, Jackson, would have been 29 on September 11th, 2017. He passed away on April 9th, 2016 after a long battle with drug addiction. This is my story of the day he died.
I will never ever forget that spring day last year. I had been anxious about that Saturday for a while, because I was trying to become the first woman to finish the King County Classic, an all-day, self-supported (besides for a mid-day Domino’s delivery to the Tiger Mountain parking lot) mountain bike ride in the greater Seattle area hosted by the local fast guys. I knew I could ride my bike all day, I just didn’t know if I could hang at their pace or keep up on the downhill. My only goal was to finish and not get dropped. Little did I know how hard that day would be.
After surviving the first 40 miles (about 2/3 of the ride) and feeling pretty good, we got to a rest point at the radio towers on Tiger Mountain. I saw a missed call and text from my dad—“Call us ASAP”. My dad never texted me. Instinctively I knew that something was horribly wrong, and began to feel anxiety rising from the pit of my stomach. I debated ignoring the message until the ride was over, but I had to know. I called back and my mom answered, telling me what I had been terrified I would hear for years. My brother had overdosed and he passed away at some point in the night.
In shock, I hung up the phone, sank to the ground, and started shaking. One of the guys noticed and asked what had happened and I shared my devastating news. This group of 20 guys—most of them acquaintances or strangers, gathered around me, offering comfort (and a beer), and asked me about my brother. I will never ever forget the kindness and compassion I received at that dark moment from a bunch of biker guys I barely knew.
After I had somewhat collected myself, someone asked, “what do you want to do?”. Realizing that there was nothing I could do to change what had happened, nothing to be lost by continuing, and still wanting to stubbornly achieve my goal, I said “I want to f-ing finish this ride.” And I did. My friend rode behind me for the next 20 miles, making sure I didn’t crash and reminding me to eat and drink. I don’t know if there is a good way to find out your sibling has died, but being able to just focus on pedaling through the woods for a few hours before dealing with the fallout was just what I needed.
Over the next few weeks (and months even), cycling and my grief continued to be intertwined. I raced my first big pro XC race, the Whiskey Off-Road, three weeks after Jackson’s death, and after spending the pre-ride sobbing at the side of the trail, just reaching the finish line was an accomplishment of its own. I came back to my weekly Wednesday night short track series in Seattle and my “bike family” gave me big hugs and offered support. I leaned on my friends in the cycling community and went for long rides to talk things over and escape into the forest.
Some days I didn’t feel like training or riding, other days I went out and rode as hard as I could to try and deal with the loss. For me, grief was both emotionally and physically exhausting. I battled horrible insomnia and a fog in my brain that never seemed to go away, yet I kept riding as therapy and as an outlet and had my best season of XC and enduro racing. As fall rolled around and cyclocross started, the grief became less of a sharp constant pain and more of a dull ache, and I finally started to feel like my normal, happy self once again.
Every big ride, every climb, every mountain I summit, I think of my brother and the things he will never get to do or see. It’s a reminder to me to enjoy each and every moment on this beautiful earth, both the good and the bad, and experience as much as I can for both of us.
We all go through tough times in our lives, but I’ve certainly found that heading out alone (or with a good friend) on the trails or pavement can provide some clarity and comfort. Things change, people come and go, but my bikes are always there, waiting, ready to help work through whatever life has thrown at me.
The Cascadia Dirt Cup found itself in our hometown of Bellingham this weekend for the Chuckanut Enduro. Per usual this time of the year, big holes, blown berms, and moon dust can be found on most all of the trails in the Chucks. “Slow is fast” was the theme for the day, keeping it calm and in control served to be the best strategy for a fast time. Having a hometown race was awesome for having local trail knowledge and less than a 15 minute drive to the trailhead.
Mickey and Brooklyn rode sport class which raced on Two Dollar for stage 1, Upper Ridge for stage 2, and Double Black & Double Down for stage 3.
For stage one, they pedaled up the fragrance lake road to Two Dollar trail. Two Dollar is one of the few pedally flow trails in the chuckanuts. It has a few long climbs that are one of the most challenging parts of the trail for racing.
Steph raced in the expert category, Delia and I raced together in pro, and sadly Amanda had to sit this one out with a sprained ankle. Our course consisted of stage 1 on Upper Ridge, stage 2 to Lower Ridge, stage 3 on Raptor Ridge, and stage 4 on Double Black and Double Down.
For the Pro/Expert course, we started climbing up the Fragrance Lake Road to the top of the mountain. It was a fairly long but consistent pedal with only a few steep climbs. We then started stage one on Upper Ridge. This trail descends down the chuckanut ridge and is full of awkward root moves, rock rolls, and one nasty steep but short climb. Being so dusty, this trail was one of the most challenging trails of the day. Delia had a clean run, but I hit the ground twice sliding out in the loose dust losing my glove and water bottle but without any injuries.
Stage two started at Lower Ridge. This trail is similar to Upper Ridge, but a little steeper and faster. It has some tight fast sections that justify some narrower handlebars. This trail is one of my favorites, but was tough to race in the dry conditions. I went off trail once but had a better run than stage one. Delia managed another clean run and came out with a smile on her face. If you’re ever out riding the chucks, this trail is definitely worth checking out!
Stage 3 brought us to Raptor Ridge. This trail was in better shape than the others as it gets ridden less often. It’s super pedally and has some tight switchbacks and straight-away sections. I had a much better run and took 3rd for this stage despite it being one the trails I’ve ridden the least in the chucks.
We hike-a-biked up the Rock Trail back to the top for stage 4. This one I was most excited about as it’s one of my favorite trails in town.
It was insanely loose and dusty, but like always insanely fun! I had a clean run up until near the end where I had a washout on a loose corner. Despite so many crashes, I still came away with 4th on this stage and 6th place in the overall.
Delia was stoked to finally have a smooth race without any crashes, slips, or mechanicals! Steph Dawg had a great race and landed 5th for her first expert race. Mick and Brooky B absolutely crushed their home turf and took 2nd and 4th in the sport class. Getting to ride with so many awesome people on home trails was such a good time, and we were all happy to walk away from this race injury-free. Shout out to our local, hometown shredders Bonnie Burke for taking 2nd in Pro, Chelsea Hawkins for taking 3rd in Expert, Matty Hoff for 4th in Hard Tail Open, Donny Alison taking 4th in Pro, and Spencer Paxton for 5th in pro!
We have one more race left to go for the season down at Ranger Creek on September 16th. Stay tuned to our social media pages and in the bike shop for upcoming events. We have some group rides, clinics, and other events in the works for the fall that you won’t want to miss!
I’m 20 and a student at WWU in Bellingham, WA. I have been mountain biking for about 4 years now starting in my hometown of Hood River, OR after I received a hand-me-down, full suspension bike from my dad. My favorite types of trails are steep, technical, and have plenty of jumps to send. Having started mountain biking on a 160mm full suspension and spending my time in Bellingham riding the ever-capable Kona Process, I was very skeptical about the idea of hardtails as aggressive and capable downhill bikes. I always assumed they were for XC trails and riders, or for the crazy few who like the challenge of not having rear suspension. My friends and coworkers at Kona argued my assumption saying I couldn’t hold that opinion until I rode the Honzo. After some convincing, I agreed to take one for a spin… and after a few months and many rides, I haven’t given it back yet.
Height: 5’7″ but I have long-ish legs
Bike Size: Medium
Fork pressure: ~72
Kona designed the Honzo as an “aggressive” hardtail, meaning it loves to descend just as much as it likes to climb. The Honzo features a long front center which provides the bike with stability at high speeds. It has a low bottom bracket and short chainstays for a lively, responsive, and playful ride. It also has a slack headtube angle of 68 degrees to inspire confidence on steep and technical terrain. It comes stocked with a 120mm Yari Fork, Sram NX drivetrain, and Shimano hydraulic brakes. The only thing I changed about this bike was adding a Maxxis Minion DHF 2.3 to the back in place of the stock Maxxis Ardent for extra traction on rooty PNW terrain.
I will admit, I was pretty skeptical at first about how this bike would ride. I hadn’t spent hardly any time on a hardtail mountain bike unless you count my 26″ dirt jumper. I anticipated that it would climb well but hold me back a bit on the descents.
For my first ride, I pedaled up the ridge trail on Galbraith mountain. The ridge trail is a steep and technical climb trail that the honzo handled effortlessly. The ridge trail features tight switchbacks littered with roots and rock rolls to grind up. I sometimes noticed the length of the bike on tight corners, but the entirety of the climb was a breeze and had me wanting to keep on going. It had good traction and low-speed stability for grinding up steep slopes, and the 29″ wheels provide rolling efficiency on all terrain.
The climb-ability of this bike was impressive, but I was still skeptical about its descending capabilities. I was honestly expecting calm and careful ride back down to the car. I put the dropper seat down, but had to also drop the seat post height down more because my long legs require the seat post to be out quite a ways when I’m climbing. I started down one of my favorite trails on Galby called SST. It has a little bit of everything from flowy berms to jumps to rocky chutes and steeps. I was surprised to feel immediately comfortable descending on the Honzo. I was expecting to skip some of the normal jumps that I hit on this trail, but the Honzo had me wanting to hit every jump and feature I could find.
The very first feature at the top of the trail is a gap jump into a tight berm that leads to a long sender jump that I cleared with ease. The rest of the ride followed suit; I was hitting all the same jump lines I do on my full suspension, even making some hard-to-clear jumps with the improved rolling efficiency of the hard tail. It was surprisingly confidence inspiring and insanely fun.
After hitting the bottom of the trail I pedaled back up to a less familiar trail; Air chair and Oriental Express. These trails feature more technical rocky and steep lines than SST. I noticed myself being more selective about my line choice in the rocky sections, but the Honzo didn’t slow me down at all. I felt just as fast and confident as I did on my full suspension, even on trails I was unfamiliar with.
My second ride was a bikepacking trip with Amanda, Zach, and Mitch. Amanda and I loaded up the Honzos with frame bags, saddle bags, and handle bar bags to hold cookware, sleeping bags, hammocks, coffee, beers, and burritos. We pedaled from town a few miles to the galbraith trails. Even with the added weight, the Honzo climbed with ease. We set up camp, caught an amazing sunset, and woke up early for sunrise coffee. I was able to stuff my sleeping bag into a backpack for the descent to get rid of my saddle bag and drop my seat post down. We were smiling ear to ear the entire 10ish mile ride down and back to the bike shop.
I’ve been riding the Honzo for a few months now and have taken it to most of my favorite trails in Bellingham. I’ve had a blast riding long XC routes in Mazama, WA and descending technical, rock-filled trails in Squamish. This bike made me reconsider my opinion of hardtail bikes, and I feel like I have yet to find the limits of this bike. The only thing I would change is add a longer seat dropper than the stock 125mm post. I like to be able to have the seat as low as possible when descending for better maneuverability, and I would need a 150mm dropper. I would recommend the Honzo AL/DL to just about anyone from a brand new mountain biker looking for a less-expensive first bike to an experienced downhiller or XC racer looking for a hardtail to complete their quiver.
Save the Brown Pow Part 1: Why the Environment Matters
Words: Stephanie Ignell Photos: Matt Roebke
Too often in the mountain bike world I have heard comments like, “climate change doesn’t directly affect mountain biking,” or “environmental stewardship doesn’t matter to customers who are buying bikes.” These statements suggest that mountain bikers are apathetic towards environmental ethics and regard it as inconsequential. While climate change impacts may not be as drastically noticeable in mountain biking as it is in other sports or industries (i.e., snow sport), there are very real and impending negative implications to our sport. Some of these impacts are already happening, like the continual drought in the Pacific Northwest and other geographical regions. But to understand why this is so important, you need to understand how climate change impacts our ecosystems.
Many scientific models call for a significant increase in average global temperatures. For example, according to a report from the USDA on the North Cascades and Washington (2014), the Pacific Northwest (otherwise lovingly labeled the PNW) may experience an average warming increase of 2.1oC by 2040. This change will directly impact various ecosystems throughout the PNW, including systems pivotal to the continued longevity of our sport.
One impact is the increased vulnerability of our hydraulic systems, more specifically the hydrologic changes in the PNW’s watersheds. Many access roads and bike trails cross streams or rivers that will be subjected to flooding, snowpack changes, higher winter soil moisture, and the increased risk of landslide occurrences (USDA 2014). This impacts not only our access to trail systems, but affects the sustainability and longevity of the trail itself. While trail builders do an incredible job of creating and designing non-erosive drainage, increased flooding and higher precipitation during the fall and spring can cut off trail access and damage its integrity. The excessive amount of fallen trees and debris blocking sections of trails and roads this last fall and through this winter provides an example of what can be expected in the future.
Another main impact will be the degradation of forestry ecosystems. The projected high temperatures and increase in drought leads to higher tree mortality rates by increasing plant diseases, pests, insects, weeds, and, not to mention, wildfire occurrences.
This point has been driven too close to home recently with several wildfires impacting communities across the PNW that have not only threatened forests, lands, and trails; but even impacted our air quality in such a significant manner that participating in outdoor activities could cause temporary, or even significant, health problems. Not even a few days ago our beloved Chuckanut Mountain in Bellingham, WA caught on fire and we are still waiting to see the extent of damage that occurred in this popular recreation area.
These disturbances decrease the resiliency of our forest’s ecosystem and ultimately lead to the degradation and changes within these systems. Risking the integrity of these systems affects our ability to maintain and create existing and new trails; this may inevitably lead to a decrease in the quality and abundance of trails available to bikers. Furthermore, the decreased resiliency of forest ecosystem may cause regulatory agents to limit or ban recreation activities because of its fragile state. Mountain biking already experiences push back from regulators over the concern that biking may damage protect lands. The degradation of forest ecosystems will likely only exacerbate this problem
Lastly, climate change greatly impacts the quality of our soil. Higher temperature and lower precipitation events lead to a significant reduction in soil moisture throughout the summer months. What does this mean? It means that beyond soil degradation, increasing vulnerability of forest ecosystems, and decrease in vegetation growth, our beloved brown pow becomes dust – literally.
This synopsis is not an extensive description of climate change impacts, nor is it meant to be taken as a scientific literary piece. Rather, this is the ramblings of an educated, concerned mountain biker who believes that, based upon these facts (yes, facts), most of us fellow bike lovers care a great deal about what happens to our environment. If nothing else, advocate to keep the brown pow, well, brown.
This is the first article in a two part series about bikes and the environment and the importance of sustainable trail building and supporting your local trail builders. Next up we get to discuss the importance of Sustainable Trail Building and supporting your local trail builders.
If this article has peaked your interest and you desire to learn more about these vulnerabilities, please take a look at the link below to see the USDA report released in September 2014 on Climate Change Vulnerability and Adaptation in Washington’s North Cascades Region.
Last weekend the Kona Supremes (minus Amanda-conda and Steph-dog) headed down to Capitol forest in Olympia for their 3rd race in the CDC series. This race snuck up on us. July has been filled with multiple Squamish/Whistler trips and also a crazy wedding. Somehow the Supremes all managed to pull this one off.
Stage 1. Capitol Peak Trail.
Stage 1 was the start of the race for Expert and Pro, and the second stage of the day for everyone else. It was the beginning of the never ending pedal that took us to some towers at the top of the capital forest area. The stage started with a fast, loose and gnarly rock garden section. A few tires were sacrificed during this part of the stage, and in the race, Delia took a hard slam. She ended up with bad bruises, deep scrapes, but is tougher than nails and was able to finish out the race with Hannah, and bham friends Forrest, and Harrison.
This stage also had a couple of super punchy climb sections. There was one that was so difficult that I got off my bike. After each punchy climb section I had to convince myself that I was okay and calm down.
Stage 2. Lower Twin Peaks.
This stage was a nice continuation of stage 1. This trail was a little faster than stage 1 which was a plus. While waiting in line some little boy told me there was a big rock roll. This was not true and I was deeply disappointed.
Stage 3. McKenny Trail
Stage 3 was reserved for Expert and Pro racers, although it wasn’t the hardest or most technical trail of the day. It did add quite a bit of extra pedalling to get to the start and the trail itself was quite pedally also. It had one fast steep section at the very end that was one of my favorite parts of the race.
Stage 4. Little larch.
Stage 4 started with a climb up a short road and up a short little climb trail. This stage was fast and flowy, also the steepest trail (which was not very steep 🙁 ) There were a lot of fast corners that I wish I would have known where they were. Next time I’ll actually pre-ride the race course.
There was also a couple of forks that were necessary for getting a fast time on this stage. The fastest combination was left right left, but I forgot this mid run and just choose the path that looked most fun. On the first split, there was a skinny log ride that bypassed some berms and was definitely the faster line, but was super awkward.
Stage 5. Green Line Trail.
After Micks and I finished Stage 2 we made the long traverse over to the other side of the mountain for Stage 5. This trail is one of the longest stages that I have raced so far in the CDC series. It is about 2 miles long and has 3 brutal uphill climbs. The key to this trail was keeping focus. The trail itself wasn’t hard but keeping pace for that length of time is incredibly hard. This trail brings the endurance in enduro.
All of the supremes who made it to this event managed to get a podium finish. Brooklyn got 4th and mickey got 5th in sport, while Hannah managed to get a spot in 3rd in pro. Delia despite going to gnar-town during this race, placed 4th for pro. And mean while…. Steph-dog was recovering from a crash and having some safe wholesome fun paddle boarding, while Amanda was also recovering from a crash and getting ready for the annual Kona product launch in Squamish, BC 🙂
We immediately went down to the creek and spent some time cooling off and cleaning out the battle wounds.
For me this race wasn’t really about the competition because I rode blind. I had a lot of fun spending time with the other sport women. I got a chance to connect with the Bell Joy ride team that weekend. After the race the girls from the other team invited me out to Stevens Pass to ride. It was unbelievably rad to ride casually with girls that are usually my competition.
We are all very much looking forward the the next race on our home turf in the Chuckanuts on august 27! Hope to see you there!
Huge thanks to Chris, Eric, and Rob for the photos, to Nuun for keeping us well hydrated, and to all our fans, friends, and fam for all your support!
QOD women’s weekend was off the hook!
Most of the Supremes had the great honor of supporting one of the best women’s clinics put on (in my opinion) in the country; the Queens of Dirt Women’s weekend. This team of rad ladies, being led by Kirsten Jenson, Leah Kiviat, and Javon Smith brought in 9 of the best coaches to elevate women and junior girls’ skills and confidence on their mountain bikes.
Kirsten and Leah are two local Bellingham heroes that took on the 6-day long BC Bike Race as a duo and took the second place spot for the overall. These full time mothers took a private coaching lesson from the famous Angi Weston, experienced an explosion of progression in their riding, and thought “why not get other ladies to join in on the fun”?
This last QOD event was the 4th year of the QOD women’s weekend and it has grown from 16 participants to 46 women and 10 juniors.
Javon is a local trail builder and advocate that helps design and lead new trails that get put in on the mountain by the QOD. Javon is an IMBA certified coach that that is an incredible mentor for junior girls and force of nature on a bike. Mountain biking is her passion but building the trails we ride are equally important. She works closely as a trail leader for WMBC and has received extensive training through organizations such as the North Shore Mountain Bike Association, Outdoor Stewardship Institute, and Pacific Crest Trail Skills College
Leah, Javon, and Kirsten’s community involvement doesn’t end with an annual skills clinic- they have created and manage a local all-women’s race team out of Bellingham, WA. Besides wanting to represent a team at the BC Bike Race, and being moms of girls, they “also wanted to try and get more girls into the sport and into racing. We feel it provides girls with a positive self image and sense of empowerment in a male dominated sport”.
Junior girls are a big focus of the team and they are currently crushing it. The QOD provide scholarships for clinic entry and a bike rental to anyone in need. They work hard at reaching out to and offering support to the future women riders moving up through the ranks.
This year the QOD asked the Kona Supremes to act as sweeps for the head coaches and whatever else the clinic weekend needed. Of course we were down and very excited about having a hand in inspiring women to send it or work on cornering or even the basics of breaking and shifting.
We watched breakthroughs and huge smiles all weekend. Women are tough as nails and so eager to get better on their bikes. Each rider has a story and a reason why they ride. Some of those stories are a little heavier than others but the common theme is clear: Riding bikes is badass and riding bikes heals.
The QOD know how to party and we wouldn’t miss another clinic for the world. I caught up with Kirsten to ask her what her favorite part of the weekend was and I think it sums up well the reason why no one should miss out. “The excitement women express when they do something they didn’t think they could do and juniors seeing so many strong and powerful women on bikes, lots of incredible role models for them.
The Kona Supremes
Things to look out for from the QOD:
QOD Helping lead July 9 CDC Chuckanut Enduro preride with She Spokes
End of August and through December women and junior girls series of QOD cyclocross clinics as part of cascade cross series
HUGE thanks to Bryce Barry for her amazing photos and for the generous amount of time spent shooting, organizing, and helping with the event. You can check out her work at brycebarry.com and on instagram: @brycebarry_ & facebook: @brycebarryphotography
That’s the sound of your finger connecting with a rock and breaking into a bunch of little pieces. That’s the sound of your first race of the year, screeching to a halt. That’s the sound of all the training miles and gym hours going out the window.
I was 10 seconds in to The People’s Enduro in Spokane, WA, I was wearing a Hawaiian shirt and had a flask of Malibu in my pack, and my right ring finger was a crumpled mess. In a moment of shock and adrenaline, I pulled my finger straight and was overwhelmed with so much pain I almost threw up. I hiked back up to the medic, and was soon splinted and walking down the mountain, headed to the ER. Soon I would find out my finger was so annihilated I would need pins placed in it, and the hand specialist told me it would be 2-3 months before I could mountain bike again. I sat on a bench in the middle of Seattle and openly sobbed after I received that news.
Biking is my life. It’s my transportation, my recreation, my fitness, my therapy, my social circle. I had never broken a bone before, or had any injury worse than bumps and bruises. 2 months would be the longest I had been off the mountain bike in years. I thought my recovery time would be unbearable and isolating, but as it turns out, there are lots of things you can do besides biking!
I started walking the 2.5 miles to and from work every day. Whatever had been bothering me when I left the house or the office would melt away as I blasted tunes and marched through the streets of Seattle. I went to Goodwill and found a 3000-piece puzzle to keep me busy (I’m about 2/3 of the way done with it as of right now). I found ways to see my friends off the bike, spent quality time with my cat, read a whole pile of books, and did some traveling around the US. I texted my teammates when I was feeling bummed out, and went to hang with them in Bellingham whenever I could. I learned how to get through my daily life with just my left hand and arm (sorry to anyone that had to read my handwriting!).
Time flew by, and after a few weeks on the trainer, I graduated to one-handed fixed gear rides along Lake Washington. At 6 weeks, the pins were out of my hand and I took myself on some epic road rides, so excited to ride again that I did 250 miles and 20,000 feet of climbing in a week! I just got on the mountain bike a week ago, and I’ve found that my right hand and arm are fairly weak, and my finger hurts if I send it or ride too aggressively. I am a bit gun-shy of steep rooty sections that I used to rip down with confidence. I am scared to crash, and I am questioning my skills. But it gets better with every ride. I am told by friends and teammates that I will be back in fighting shape in no time.
This was not how I envisioned my first season racing the pro category with the Kona Supremes. But I like to think that everything happens for a reason. The mandatory 2-month break from shredding gave me a chance to slow down and enjoy life in Seattle, and create some great new habits like spending a few minutes on my puzzle and reading every night before bed to relax and get a better night of sleep. It also gave me some perspective that there is life outside of biking, and the world does not end if you take a break from pedaling.
Saturday June 6th, 2017 the weather cleared up just in time for the annual Sturdy Dirty race, aka ‘the best race of the year’. The Kona Supremes, minus Brooky B, pulled up to Tiger Mt. smiling from ear to ear; the stoke was already high. Over 200 women signed up for this all women’s race event. Not to mention that most of the husbands/partners/and supporters of these racers came dressed to impress. By the time the first wave of racers left the parking lot we had already seen a banana suit, a princess costume, half-naked cowboys, and an 80’s disco man.
The climb up the Master Link trail went by fast with all the encouragement from the other ladies as well as a few sighting of hecklers along the way. Emerging form the woods and entering the road you could hear the faint sound of music in the distance. The steep climb became easier the closer we got to sounds of the party taking place at the summit. It was all worth it for that adult snow cone.
Stage 1: East Tiger Summit was the perfect trail to get all the race jitters out; it was fast, flowy, and fun! It was also just the right length, not too short and not too long. Not to mention that you start out the day with a killer view of Mt. Rainer.
Between stage 1 and stage 2: Beer provided by man in leopard suit named “Jaguar”.
Stage 2: Off The Grid (OTG) trail features lots of roots, rocks, and punchy climbs. Dropper post is key on this trail. This is the longest trail in the race so encouragement from hecklers was much appreciated to keep up the stamina.
Between stage 2 and stage 3: Ribs and fireball.
Stage 3: Everyone’s nemesis; Joy Ride and Fully Ridged. These trails consist of tight corners, awkward roots, and one particular climb that seems like it lasts forever. Riding these two trails well requires focus and patience. Thankfully we were waved out of the starting gate by beautiful men in pink princess gowns in order to boost our confidence.
Between stage 3 and stage 4: Jell-O shots and brownies.
Stage 4: Legend/Mega Fauna. Depending on which category you were racing this is where the course started to differ. This stage is short and fast, with big berms, and a few rock drops. Most of us agree that this is one of our favorite trails on Tiger Mt. Pro and expert class raced Legend straight into Mega Fuana while sport and beginner class just raced Legend.
Between stage 4 and stage 5: Tequila shots prepared by man in gorilla suit.
Stage 5: PREDATOR. If this trail doesn’t get you hyped then the men cashing you down it in ass-less chaps sure will. This trail offers a little bit of everything, from gnarly root lines to steep rock gardens, making it the most difficult trail on the mountain. But non the less, that didn’t stop our very own Hannah B from getting in the fastest run, landing her in first place for the pro category. In order words, she was the fastest woman on the whole mountain!
Dance off: The Sturdy Dirty team and sponsors sure know how to throw a good party! Complete with beer, burritos, raffle, and a dance off. Supremes pulled off first in the dance battle against Liv and Juliana. Naturally our moves consisted of dropping it low, shaking booty, and spraying beer on the crowd (Amanda). If there is one thing the Kona Supremes can do, it’s light up the party!
Huge thanks to all the sponsors and volunteers that made this awesome day possible, you rock! See you all in Capital Forest for the next CDC race!