(Photo: Shane Young/Oregon Velo)
As race promoter Mike Ripley blew the starting whistle for the rain-soaked racers, we sounded like a flock of angry geese in the middle of the gravel road as our disc brakes sounded off in unison. 325 of my closest mountain bike racing friends took part in yesterday’s wet adventure, also known as the the Mudslinger, held in Blodgett, Oregon for its 25th year.
Ripley reported that of the 325 total racers, 50 were beginners and, in a sign of the mountain biking’s general health in Oregon, 25% of the entire turnout where first-time riders or juniors.
With a short course of 10.5 miles, the Mudslinger gave new racers a taste of what great singletrack, challenging root sections and 1500 ft. of climbing feels like. This race also offered spectacular views at the top of the exposed climbs. For the higher category riders, 22.5 miles and 3850 ft. of climbing added double the elevation and some very technical trails like “Root Down” and the aptly named “Collarbone Alley” — which has deep gullies called water bars running horizontally across a steep, descending trail.
Everyone had their own goal for this race, like climbing that steep hill that you walked last year, or completing a technical section without “dabbing” a foot down. And for the first time racers, just getting to the finish was an accomplishment.
The mud on Sunday could be described as slick as snot and riding in it felt more like a mud-surfing than mountain bike racing. Photographers positioned themselves at different sections to capture the action and maybe a face plant or two.
Post race, the muddy-faced mob enjoyed pasta, and a massage therapist was on hand with free massages. For those that didn’t take home a medal, they might have taken home one of many raffle items like a new helmet or a set of Rolf-Prima wheels. All I took home was a sack full of muddy clothes, a very tired pair of legs, and memories from another great race.
Browse more stories in our Racing section.