If anyone thought that rainy weather would put a damper on the annual Sisters Stampede Mountain Bike Race held last Sunday, they would be dead wrong.

“Completely the best dirt in history,” said race organizer. “Dust-free should be the headline.”

Riders and volunteers alike sung the praises of a firm, dust-free course — which had changed a little from previous years. The course was about a mile longer in each category (27.5 miles for the long course) and the track was altered to provide a little more double track.

That, Ripley told The Nugget, is reflective of the purpose of the race, which is to provide a good early season event for seasoned riders while at the same time providing an outstanding introductory experience for new riders.

The course changes were designed to mitigate “the frustration of climbing lava,” Ripley said. “You want to have some challenge, but not be frustrated.”

One volunteer described the design of the event as a “low-consequences, high-reward race.”

The race features a variety of categories, from elite to novice and for men and women.

“We had a ton of women first-timers,” Ripley said. “That was different.”

Ripley acknowledged that the drippy weather did keep some riders away. About 480 riders participated, slightly short of the race’s 500-rider capacity.

“We could have done without the morning rain,” he said.

But overall, the organizer couldn’t have been happier with the event and its impact.

Ripley was happy to note that the Outlaws boys lacrosse team earned $1,000 putting up the big event tent, and that so many riders had an outstanding experience on a “phenomenal” course.

That, he said, will allow the Sisters Stampede to continue to be “the gateway drug for mountain bike riding in Sisters, Oregon.”

And whether the weather shows it or not, it’s the official kickoff to summer.

“That’s what it is,” Ripley said. “It’s the cross-over to summer.”