Chugging a beer when you are out of breath at the finish of an hour long race is hard. But that's exactly what you have to do to win the Blitz race in Bend, OR. Your time doesn't stop until that beer is empty and there is big money on the line, so you better drink fast!
That race takes place in Bend and it's on an invite-only basis. Only about 20 women and 20 men take part in the race. We start in a parking lot at the top of a trailhead and race all the way down to a golf course where a table with glasses of local Deschutes Brewery beer awaits you. Hundreds of people line up the golf course and the atmosphere is quite spectacular, especially considering that it all happens on a Wednesday night.
Inside the main race, there are other competitions that are all worth 500$ to whoever wins them:
- The Hole Shot which is awarded to the first person to enter the single track after the start;
- The Speed Trap goes to the fastest person passing on a stretch of pavement towards the end (they have a speed radar to calculate that);
- The biggest jump goes to the person who gets the most air on the last jump on the golf course;
- The Arm Wrestling competition: Once the race is over, all the racers gather on a stage for an arm wrestling tournament.
That being said, you have to pick your battles. I was going for the overall race and the hole shot.
From the gun, you have to do a lap of the parking lot before entering the trail. I was in front of the pack and in great position to get the hole shot, until Joanna Peterson took an inside line to cut in front of me and get the hole shot! I was quite surprised by that. I had seen that line, but didn't think it was super legit, so I went for the real entrance of the singletrack and she outsmarted me to take the first 500$ of the night. I got "enduroed". It won't happen again! We all had a good laugh about that afterwards!
She then moved to the side and let me go in front of her as we entered the first pedalling section of the race. Katka and I quickly got a gap and went found a good system: every time the one leading messed up, the other one would take the lead so we kept the momentum going. It wasn't a planned strategy, but it worked out perfectly as we exchanged the lead a few times. The rest of the race kind of went like this:
- Katka and I ride into people who are riding up the trails: "AHHHHH!!!"
- Teal catches up to us! "Yeah Teal!!"
- All three of us follow each other into the back-to-back drops section. BAM! "Ouch. Hit my suspension pretty hard. All good though!"
- We accelerate in the pedalling section and eventually Teal lets us go.
- Katka messes up. I go in front.
- I hit a pointy rock with my front tire and hear air coming out. I see a splash of Stans and the wheel finally seals. "Crap." I don't think I lost too much air, but then I kind of wash out a little bit in next few turns. "Gotta be careful Magh!"
- I mess up, Katka goes in front. She messes up, I go in front. Repeat.
- Suddenly a dog starts riding with us! "AHHH!!" He rides between us for at least a good minute!
- Thinking to myself: "That trails so fun!"
- "We are going too fast, I don't think I can drop Katerina."
- Towards the end. Katerina yells : "I'm not sure if we are on the good trail anymore!"
- Me: "No we're good! I see some orange markings on the trees!"
- Little do I know, she is laughing to herself... I later learned that orange paint on trees had nothing to do with course marking. It was for logging purposes. Anyway, we were on the good trail!
- Exit the trail and hit the pavement. Me: "Let's team up for the speed trap! I'll lead you out!"
- Katka: "Okay. I'll slingshot around you."
- We get to the speed trap...
- Katerina: "Never mind, I'm spun out!"
- Me: "Me too!"
- I lead on the pavement. "Hmm, I should probably not leave it to the chugging...Katerina must be good at that."
- Still leading on pavement. "Well that's stupid Magh. No way I can attack if I'm already pulling." Katerina gets around me on the last steep hill. I follow. We jump.
- "Okay, I'll just follow her and try to relax and calm my breathing before the chugging."
- "Who knows, I might be good at chugging beer!" Lets relax. Deep breaths.
- Katka gets off her bike. I get off my bike. We start drinking. One sip: "Oh CRAP! I'm already out of breath. Come on come on hurry up Magh. Just chug it."
- Looks a Katerina. She's already halfway done. I drank one sip.
- She pauses to laugh at me.
- "Come on come on Magh." "ooohh it's coming up my nose"
- Katerina is done. "Crap I still have half of it left." I finish. "Phewww finally! Now I feel like burping."
- We hug! "This was the best event EVER!"
- Katerina: "I knew all these years of drinking would pay off one day!" (By out-chugging me, she won the race and earned 3000$, while I won 2000$ for 2nd place. It was a 1000$ chug-off.)
The Chug in images. From Steve Henrich.
We then hung out to watch the other girls and the men come to the finish and exchange race stories. Later that night, there was an arm wrestling tournament, which brought a lot of excitement amongst the racer and the crowd. Geoff Kabush was pretty impressive and won ever single rounds to take the victory. He later said: "I don't understand. I still can't believe I won that!". Meanwhile, Katerina and I both were eliminated in our first rounds.
All in all, that was one of the best Wednesday nights ever! The mountain community is so fun. That event was a mixe of cross-country, enduro and downhill riders but the chemistry and camaraderie among all of us was quite special. I felt extremely privileged to be there and enjoy this event and share good stories with all these people.
I really hope to be back next year. Until then, I'll go practice my beer chugging and arm wrestling skills...
Huge thank you to Erik Eastland and The Blitz crew for putting on such a great event and giving us this amazing opportunity. Also thank you to Ryan who hosted us for a week and Katerina for organizing everything.
Until next time, Bend!
Note to self:
Here are some cool places you enjoyed in Bend, Magh. Make sure you hit them up next year!
- Ocean Roll: The famous local specialty pastry. It's a croissant dough rolled with sugar and cardamom. I got to taste it at the Blackporch coffee.
- Mother's Juice: Good salads, sandwiches and juices. Great lunch spot.
- Chow breakfast place: Healthy and delicious breakfast options.
- Spork: Kind of a healthy and fancy fast food for dinner. You order at the counter amongst many options of rice bowls/salads (I had a Korean bowl with rice, bbq ribs, fried egg, kimchi and veggies) before choosing your table.
- For my parents: Remember to tell my parents that they should visit Bend. It is beautiful with its many giant conifer trees and snowy mountain peaks in the background. There are many golf courses that mom would enjoy and a lot of amazing trails that dad would love. Downtown is cute with many cute shops and good food!