There was a lot of build up to my trip to Oregon this week. Everyone I had talked to had only incredible things to say about Bend. From their outdoor athletics to their beer, everything was highly regarded from those who visited. One individual even went as far as to say Bend was nothing short of "Heaven." With all of this build up, Bend had quite a reputation to uphold, and so far it has lived up to every word.
The town of Bend is home to about 81,000 people (according to a sign, but this number may vary), and everyone I talk to seems to be physically involved in something. Their high school jocks are not football players, but rather alpine skiers. Overweight individuals are a rarity, and in my adventures so far I have only come across a single McDonalds. The lifestyle in the area is that of full-year ski-town, but with so much more going on. The only downside in this area seems to be a lack of jobs. It is almost impossible to find a viable career in your field of study, no matter what it be, and its extremely common to find common workers with expansive educations. My host family tells numerous stories to this fact, including one about a window fitter who received his PhD from Oxford (he rightfully claims to be the most educated window fitter in America).
As for the 'Cross racing, the course originally seemed pretty tame as far as technical aspects go, but did prove a respectable distance (3.2 km). Not much elevation gain, but one stair run-up and one set of barriers. However, the weather in Bend produced a very difficult, and dynamic course. The temperature when I arrived in Bend was -16, or -25 with wind chill factored in (and yes, both of those numbers have negatives on them). I have never been that cold in my life! But the cold resulted in frozen ground (and rivers), making the course have the potential for lots of speed. The snow mixed in on top assured the riders that it wouldn't just be a straight powerfest, as you really had to have good handling to navigate the corners. As the first day of racing progressed, temperatures rose throughout the day and began melting a little bit of the ice. But as soon as the sun tucked itself behind the mountains, the portions of the course that had originally thawed out began to freeze over again. So instead of hard ground, riders were blasting through sheets of ice. More snow is expected to fall over the next few days, so it is tough to predict just what the course will be like by the time the Elites race.
I'm off to explore more of the town this evening, and partake in cycling related activities, but I'll be sure to update more after tomorrow, and especially after I race on Sunday. I'll even post some pictures when I have the chance. Tomorrow I also head over to Mt. Bachelor for some Nordic skiing! Hopefully I won't bust myself up too bad...
Written by Tim Darwick at 8:29 PM