Dryve Factory Athlete, Shane Johnson, took to the trails in neighboring Sisters, OR, for one of our awesome, local Oregon Off-Road XC races. Follow along to see how his race panned out!
Sisters Stampede is always one of my favorite races as it's close to home, the trails are fun, weather is usually pretty nice and I always seem to have a fun battle with other racers out on the course. This year was no different!!
Well, maybe a little different with the weather, it was looking a bit gloomy with threatening rain clouds that did end up opening up. Thankfully, the later start time for my race, allowed the rain to fall and then dissipate by the time I got on the bike to warm-up!
Race time came quickly and after a quick start line selfie after realizing my phone was still in my pocket, we were chasing the gun slinging cowgirl, as she charged ahead on her horse! The little burst of rain created the most dust-free start to the Stampede I have ever encountered, it was quite foreign to be able to see what was coming ahead, as we hammered our way through the field towards the singletrack!
As we flew through the first section of quasi-doubletrack onto the gravel road, a large group of about 20, formed at the front. Things got a bit sluggish as nobody was ready to attack that early, but soon after a right-hand turn onto a Forest Service road, the pace went up quick and the group began getting whittled down and about six miles in, my legs called mercy along with about 7 others riders and we lost touch with the lead group of 8.
With the lead group away, the battle within our chase group began to ramp up as the race progressed. Thankfully, I was able to keep in good position to be at the front or second wheel as we wove our way through the first sections of uphill singletrack. At about mile 12, another section of doubletrack funnels down to singletrack which offers me a great opportunity to try and create a gap on the technical trail. I readied myself for this spot and was able to hit the trail first without having to burn too many matches! This small attack started to break up our group, but they were right on my wheel for the next two miles even though I tried to squeeze more and more speed and fluidity out of my riding. Suddenly, I heard someone make a mistake on a corner behind me, so I threw an extra attack which allowed me to gap away from the others!!
I kept the pedal to the metal through the uphill, rocky sections, knowing the chasers were trying their hardest to close the gap, right behind me. At the top, we opened up onto a fire road, where I got nervous, as the riders behind were very smart and could start pacelining to increase their speed. They brought the gap down from 20 seconds to 6 and I could just see them around the gentle curves of the road behind, YIKES! I kept my cool, making sure to stick with my pace as another section of singletrack allowed me to put a little more time in.
Another section of road though, and they were able to make contact, no matter how hard I pushed. But with another section of singletrack coming, I made sure to burn what remaining matches I had, to get to that trail first, again! One other rider, Bruce Rogers, an absolute animal and who battled with me at the same spot last year, was on my wheel and we slowly pulled away from the rest of the group. Bruce made a brutal attack on an uphill section, to pull ahead of me, but luckily I had enough to quickly take back the position, just in time for some trail sections that really played to my strengths. From there, I was able to sneak away as the 'leader' of our little chase group that had been fighting it out for 13 miles.
As these last four miles ticked away, I smiled as I rallied the wonderfully flowy trail that swoops back and forth tossing in fun, little, dry creek crossings every so often, to keep you on your toes as you blast through the loose dirt and round river rocks before finally dumping you out in the open field where you get to ride by the team tents and across the finish line to screaming fans!!
Another fun and awesome Stampede in the books all while being able to take 8th in the Elite Men's race, I'll take it!! Can't wait until the next race!