I am in Portland OR attending OSCON 2008, I’ve brought my mountain bike. On Saturday, I had the amazing Siouxon Creek Trail ride with Gabrielle. Last night (Monday), she led me to the Portland Mountain Bike Short Track Series 2008. This was race 5 of 6.
The event is held at a motor raceway. At the same time the mountain bikers are inside the oval, doing the cross country, the roadies are on the race track, doing their stuff. The off-road course is different every week.
The trip started off at the conference center and headed towards Portland International Raceway. We rode for about 45 minutes, much of it uphill. We arrived with plenty of time for me to register, get a day license, and have a quick look at the course. I also watched Gabrielle’s race and noticed the gravel pile and the log overs, the two most technical parts of the track.
There were a lot of people here. This is a big event. Social and competitive too. I was in the Sport Master Men class. I guess there were about 30-40 men in my class. They were fast. Starting after my group was the 50+ Sport men…. I am positive all of them lapped me…
The course was fun. It was fast. Not very technical, in my opinion. I could ride all of the course, not necessarily quickly. It starts out with a short prelude before you hit that part of the course which forms the basic lap. Included in this prelude is a gravel pile which you must go up and over. This was great. It appears in every course, but in a different place. Many people cannot ride over it, and a bottleneck often occurs at the top of the pile and at the bottom of the other side. I was able to ride over it and avoided those riders who were stuck…
The hills were what killed me. When I cycled around Wellington, New Zealand, we had lots of hills. I rode them every day. But having recently lived in Florida, where the biggest hill around was the Interstate overpass, and now in Philadelphia, where the biggest hill lasts 20 seconds, I’m not in hill climbing shape. My opinion conflicts with that of Lynne who told me I climb hills like a skinny guy (that was when I lived in FL). I could climb the hills, no problem, just not several in a row. It was not my legs, it was my lungs. Or so I think. I could get up over the hill, but would almost come to a complete stop at the top.
There were two log overs. I’d checked them out beforehand. They were easily handled and had good lines, both on the right hand side of the log, next to the tree they were up against. This didn’t stop a guy from trying to pass me between the two log-overs. Silly punter, expecting me to give way right in the middle of my approach to the log. I cleared that sucker easily and kept going. Cow-bell and all!
Gabrielle and her friends formed the cheering section right at the logs. They knew when I was coming around on my lap: the cow-bell gave it away. They cheered. I rode. It was great. :)
The only other incident was someone calling “on the inside” when going through an s-bend. I gave way to him but then he forced me off the outside of the s-bend, forcing me to brake, and slide to avoid running into a hay-bale. I called him a choice name as he disappeared. I have no problems with giving way to faster riders when they are clearing passing. Please, just don’t expect me to call a halt to my fun so you can gain 0.78 seconds.
It was also funny to see some riders short-cutting the corners by riding outside the cones.
Most riders were great. Calling out “on your left/right” etc, and passing with appropriate respect to the other rider.
Don’t read the above as me bitching about the event. It was a great event. I enjoyed it. The above is just my comments on some things I saw.
The people running the event were great, friendly, and helpful. The riders I met were fantastic. Don’t let my tales of a few minor incidents taint your view of Portland MTB.
From what I can tell, the Portland MTB scene is big. Lots of people. Very active. Diverse. And for the most part, amazingly active and fit. Damn are they fit.
Gabrielle: thanks for taking me there. It was fun.