|5/28/2013 1:16:00 PM|
Cyclists take on Sisters Stampede
By Jim WilliamsOminous clouds and the threat of rain couldn't dampen the spirits of nearly 500 riders who challenged the mountain bike trails of the Peterson Ridge trail system on Sunday for the fourth annual Sisters Stampede Mountain Bike Race.
On-and-off rain during the week and a steady rain overnight left the course firm and in nearly perfect condition for a day of fast riding in what has become the premier mountain bike event in Central Oregon.
"It was awesome out there!" said Ryan Wilkerson, 29, from Eugene, and riding in his first Stampede. "The course was real good, a little sketchy around some of the corners where if you got into the loam you'd start to lose a wheel, but overall the course was pretty flat, fast, and a lot of fun."
The race began with the Cat 3 Beginner Men at 10:30 a.m. followed in close sequence by the Women Cat 3s at 10:33 a.m.; both had a challenging 12-mile ride in front of them.
Cowboy Mike and his horse Wyatt led the racers out of the chute with guns blazing. A seven-minute gap allowed both beginning groups to get some space on the Cat 1 Men and Women's groups who went off at 11 and 11:02 a.m. and took on this year's 28-mile circuit.
All told, 26 different categories of riders took on the challenge.
Appearing in his first Stampede and riding competitively in just his first year, 26-year-old Chris Trask from Albany was the first to cross the finish line in the Cat 3 Men's event in a blazing 52:09.
"It was a blast!" said Trask. "I just started this year, and this was the next race on the list. I rode BMX, doing dirt jumps and stuff, and just transferred into racing, kind of got tired of breaking too many bones. I'm hoping to get enough points this year to move up a Cat next year. Luckily, I registered just in time as it looked the like spots were filling like crazy."
By the time all of the riders were on the course, the clouds dispersed and a beautiful day emerged for all on hand in what is becoming a Memorial Day Weekend tradition in Sisters.
In previous years some of the Elite Men riders had commented on not having enough room to pass on the course, leading some riders to skip last year's race.
"Yes, most of the nay-sayers didn't do the race last year," said Race Director Joel Palanuk. "But the course changed, and now allows four double-track corridors for passing, and doesn't overlap categories like it did the first two years."
Defending champion Chris Sheppard of Bend didn't participate in this year's Stampede. Ryan Trebon of Bend took home the title in a time of 1:30:28, followed closely by Oliver Zurbruegg in 1:30:30, and Ben Thompson of Bend in 1:31:56.
The top three Elite Women finishers were Sue Butler of Portland in 1:46:08, Beth Ann Orton, also from Portland, with M. Norland finishing third.
As in years past, $1,000 in cash and prizes were up for grabs to the top three finishers in the Elite or Cat 1 categories. And in keeping with tradition, each of the men's and women's winners received a custom-made Stampede belt buckle as well as one night of lodging at FivePine Lodge, and dinner for two at Three Creeks Brewing Co.
While the vast majority of the riders are from the Pacific Nothwest, some riders came from as far as Missoula, Montana; Vacaville, California; and Minneapolis, Minnesota.
The after-ride festivities sealed the deal on what turned out to be another great day. With live music from Hobbs, food and drink from Three Creeks Brewing Co. and Rad's Famous Puerto Rican Barbecue Pork, the day in some ways was just beginning.
Race results are now posted at: www.sistersstampede.com/results-2013.html
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