Trans Cascadia is both a grueling 4-day “enduro” race as well as a celebration. Riders endure 8-hour days on the bikes, climbing up to 20,000 feet over the duration of the event. The physical punishment is always met equally with post-ride pleasures, like a bottomless kegs of Pfriem beer and gourmet food, provided as breakfast, lunch and dinner prepared by Oregon’s finest mountain biking chefs. The event – started and run by Alex Garnder, Nick Gibson, and Tommy Magrath, just completed its fourth and most ambitious year yet. This year the event headed north in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.
I’ve been involved with the event for the past three years in various roles. The first year I jumped in to help out Chris Diminno in the kitchen. Based on that experience, I can tell you that the kitchen crew works harder than anyone – you wake up at 4:30 to make sure coffee is ready at 6am, and you finish close to 11pm after dishes are done, grey water is emptied, and prep is done for tomorrow’s meals. It’s not a thankless job though - riders are grateful to have beautiful meals in the middle of the woods. The following year I was happy to join the photo crew. But for me, the most satisfying part is taking part in both the trail work parties and then seeing the final results at the race - watching racers jaws drop and proclaim these the best trails they’ve ever ridden. Having legendary pros like Greg Minnar, Josh Bryceland, and Steve Peat tell us we have some world class trails in our backyard and the fact that we had a hand in bringing them back to life is deeply satisfying. It’s all about the process.
The Trans Cascadia photo crew is a hard working bunch. For the past two years, it has consisted of Dylan Vanweelden, Leslie Kehmeier, Chris Hornbecker, Mike Thomas, Nate Johnson and Trevor Lyden. This year we were joined by the talented Patrick Means. I should add that everyone knocks themselves out in an entirely volunteer capacity. We’re all doing it for the love of shooting mountain biking and for the camaraderie of shooting as a team, as well as supporting the event itself. We hustle around the course during the day, doing our best to spread out and cover the race from wherever we think is best, and then reconvene in the evening to share stories from the day and edit images, often until 11pm. Pinkbike is the media outlet for the event, so while we’re shooting during the day, Danielle is driving to town to upload our images and her written account of the days racing.
One thing that strikes me about this event is the sheer challenge of the logistics of getting 100 racers to the trailheads, getting water trucks and portable showers/toilets to the campgrounds, the food, the tents. It’s an amazing effort to bring the party to the woods and back out. Personally, I’m glad to be a part of a race that is reopening up miles of trails that were largely overgrown and neglected and bringing them back to life for all to enjoy. For the hardcore backcountry mountain biker, Trans Cascadia just opened up a gold mine of mountain biking not far from Portland. That’s the part that gets me fired up – the trail work and the getting folks together for a good cause. It’s a physical challenge to get to the race itself. We all pedal ourselves from the trailhead to where we want to shoot. Full confession - I did have the pleasure of riding an ebike on day three and loved it. But as a photographer, it’s an intense four days purely focused on getting the best images we can and getting ourselves out safely to do it again the next day. I enjoy the full immersion and pure focus. It’s really nice to not have cell service and just be in the woods focused on riding bikes and celebrating the end of summer in style.
Now we are left wondering. Where will they go next? Stay tuned…