High on Victory at the High Cascade 100 (Bend, Oregon)

It’s been five days now, and I’m still coughing up the dust I swallowed last Sunday, August 23, while competing in the inaugural High Cascade 100 endurance mountain bike race in Bend, Oregon.
The air I had been breathing for half the day was suffused with tiny particles of sand, kicked up by nearly a hundred riders spinning their wheels thousands of times to complete the epic century distance and rack up 11,000 feet of climbing. Whether I was leading the charge, hot in pursuit of another racer or riding a segment of trail all by my lonesome, there was a constant cloud of dust hanging suspended in the air like a layer of smoke. My lungs protested, of course, but after winning the women’s race and finishing in the top half of the men’s field, a little sand on the lungs didn’t seem all that bad.

The Course
The race began in Wanoga Sno-Park 11 miles west of Bend and featured 70 percent singletrack, 10 percent ATV trail and 20 percent doubletrack across high-desert terrain. My lungs held up through the first 45-mile loop around Mt Bachelor, where racers climbed up well over 7,000 feet and dropped down through threatening lava rock fields. Next came two 20+ mile loops around Old Swampy (the dry, dusty singletrack proved the name a misnomer). The last 11-mile loop brought riders back to town for some fun technical descents down such popular trails as “Tiddlywinks” and “Funner,” followed by a seven-mile ascent to the finish line. Throughout the day, the soft sand sucked our wheels, making us work absurdly hard to power through even the smallest patch of momentum-stealing soil. It also made for some quite scary, nearly-out-of-control descents at speed. But that’s not the half of it.
The Race
We began early—at 6:15am—and we began cold, amid near-freezing temperatures. But once we started spinning our wheels on the slight-incline up the dusty doubletrack toward Mt. Bachelor, we forgot the chill and concentrated on the long, long day ahead. Chris Sheppard was an early leader, attacking from the start and taking only a few pro men along with him. Sheppard would go on to win the event handily, with Sloane Anderson taking second. I settled into a manageable pace, concentrating on having an efficient race, fueling well and keeping myself out of trouble. Of course, the harsh desert conditions (wheel-sucking sand, choking clouds of dust, tube-puncturing lava rock, etc.) took out nearly a third of the entire field. We racers were warned about the “über-technical” Kwol Butte section ahead of time, but to be honest, I felt far more at ease riding the rocky sections to bombing down the miles of sandy trail that never failed to surprise with sporadic, traction-less slides atop soft sand. But at least it’s soft sand, right? It could be worse. . .
Doh! Mechanical.
Mid-way into the race—at 45 miles—my free hub began to act up. And by “act up,” I mean, every time I began to descend, my bike would make the sound of a swarm of angry bees—or of a prop plane coming in for a crash landing. My bike would shake like it was falling to pieces, and the rear hub would begin to seize up until I slowed down. And I still had 55 miles left to go.
The volunteer mechanics at each of the three aide stations assured me that my bike would not explode, though they could not fix the loose bearing in the hub on the fly. So I kept riding, albeit at half-pace on the descents. I did “Big Ring” it on the less steep descents, pedaling for as long as the terrain would allow me on my hard tail. But when the trail got steep and I had to coast, the angry sound returned. I surely must have scared several riders half to death as I passed them on my deafening bike.
I may have lost tons of time on the descents (descending is my riding strength), but I still managed to cross the line in first place out of the women’s field at 11 hours, 55 minutes. I finished thirtieth overall. I was also thrilled to win a pair of DT Swiss wheels at the post-race raffle. Extra wheels—exactly what I could have used during the race!
Many Thanks
Mike Ripley and Mudslinger Events put on a great show, as always, and they raised $3,500 from the inaugural race to help support COTA (Central Oregon Trail Alliance) in future trail construction efforts. Thanks to all for putting on a well-organized event on a challenging course—and thanks to all the other racers who suffered along with me. It was great to play in Oregon’s biggest sandbox with you.
You can read other coverage of the event on cyclingnews.com and singletrack.com.
Until next time—see you on the trail!
Angela + Sobo = 🙂
Angela Sucich,
Freelance Copywriter

About angelarides

I have many practical skills. I have a PhD in Medieval Literature. I can solder an LED hula hoop. Oh, and I ride and write about bikes.
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