More than a decade has slipped by since the last time I could call myself a true Oregonian.
I sneak back whenever I can, and this weekend was a perfect opportunity. For me, the coastal region of the state conjures the magic of childhood times: Lush conifer forests, trillium and foxglove in the spring, a few orchids if you look hard enough, and the broad cathedrals of ancient firs paved with vine maples and moss. Basically its beautiful there.
The Mudslinger XC is a race with grit and history. Now in it's 29th year, the Slinger is renowned by riders in Oregon, Washington, California and Idaho for its technical singletrack, solid climbing, stunning scenery and a generally muddy and wet demeanor. In a few words, it's pretty awesome.
This year's Mudslinger brought dry conditions, sunshine, and more than a handful of "overheating in the 50 degree weather" Oregon natives to the tiny town of Blodgett, Oregon. Blodgett is home to approximately 58 people (US Census 2010), 1 church, 1 school, 1 road, and a General Store housing the post office, gas station, pizzeria and Oregon's oldest walk-in cooler. Additionally, every single person I met there was incredibly kind and welcoming. Thank you Blodgett for proving that great things do indeed come in small packages.
The race itself starts at the bottom of a 2 mile forest road climb in the heart of the Starker Forest Tree Farm. After veering from the road, the real fun begins. Wet, technical and weaving singletrack is interwoven with old logging roads to create a challenging mix of all skills for riders. The at-times unpredictable course demands full attention and rewards a good bike handler. To finish up a long day in the forest, a 1.5 mile uphill TT style gravel finish ensures that you've paid your full day's fare.
This race is an incredibly fun and thorough introduction to loamy, technical Pacific Northwest riding. Coming from arid, high desert country it was such a pleasure to find a new style of riding to master and work with throughout the course. Highly recommend to anyone looking to try out coastal technical XC racing, anyone who wants an escape to Oregon, annnnd pretty much anyone who likes to ride bikes. Really, its so much fun and the Ripley family really knows how to have a good time. Just be sure to sign up early, as many of the Mudslinger events have a registration limit!
Thank you to Mudslinger Events, Peak Sports and Starker Forests for a great event! Big thank you to my sister in Corvallis for hosting two stinky bike riders for the weekend. And of course, a HUGE thanks to my sponsors for their kindness & support!
Stay tuned for SEA OTTER next week!! -FFM
The ORIGINAL Mudslinger, Circa 1987. Photo: Mike Ripley