Monday, September 24, 2012

Leadman Epic 250 / 125 Bend, Oregon

Another good race lies behind me, an event that I had been looking forward to for months. Not only was Bend a new destination for me, but I was genuinely interested in finding out more about this place that seems to be one of the new hotspots to live and recreate.
Forest fires have been raging in Oregon all summer
Well, I wasn't disappointed.  My time here in Bend was punctuated by not only a lot of work but also by a few bike rides, visits to a record number of microbreweries, and chatting with locals. On Thursday morning, I drove from Eugene east on HWY 126, along the McKenzie river, across the Cascades. Unfortunately, forest fires are still raging, and pristine vistas were softened by the bluish haze of smoke. Around Sisters things were so bad that I was coughing inside of the car. I went by one camp being used by firefighters that looked like something out of a war movie. Throughout the weekend, there were always reminders of those fires in the form of haze and often the smell of smoke.
The Cycle Pub combines "bike riding" and beer drinking, two favorites in Bend
Huge plumes of smoke looked like cumulus clouds
On Thursday afternoon, I met with two of my local referees, Dan and Peter, for a good pow-wow. (Our fourth referee, Dave, was to drive in from Seattle the next day.) At the swank Tetherow golf club Life Time Fitness had arranged for the Pro Athlete and VIP reception, and both venue as well as execution showed off once again LTF's penchant for doing things the first-class way.
The Ritchey had once again come along with me
On Friday things became serious in regard to the race, with lots of scheduled athlete briefings that RD Dominic and I co-hosted. Nevertheless, I did get a chance to squeeze in a quick visit at the Deschutes Brewery, one of the race's major sponsors. Unfortunately there wasn't enough time for a full brewery tour, which is supposed to be very interesting as this fifth-largest craft brewery in the US puts a lot of emphasis on sustainability. Well, next year.
A cell tower, Oregon style
Race morning started early, around 4 a.m. Since the swim in Cultus Lake was located almost 60 miles away we all had to catch bus shuttles at a really early time. Our bus with all four referees and numerous Pro riders promptly got lost, and we detoured for an extra 30 or 40 miles. Frantic phone calls to the RD made sure that the race wasn't going to start before everyone was at the start line. I joked that this was the first Epic 300 after we drove the extra 50 kilometers. It turned out that another bus also went off course. But eventually the race did start, only about 15 minutes late. Oh well—stuff happens, right? The setting was gorgeous, and we were lucky in that the wind had shifted overnight and the air was clear of smoke for the entire bike portion of the race. Here are a few shots from the course.
Cultus Lake on a frigid morning
Lava, burned trees, and a Pro

The race circumnavigated Mt. Bachelor, twice
My moto driver, Jeff, and I take a quick break
One of the Sisters mountains and a Cascade lake

The Epic course was simply spectacular

Around 7:30 p.m., with only a handful of runners still on the course, I called it a day. And since it was still too early to go to bed, I made sure to continue sampling the local breweries. Bend is chock-full of them (I managed to visit nine of them during my stay), some with better beer than others. At the top of my list were Silver Moon, GoodLife, 10 Barrel, and the oddly named Crux Fermentation Project, one of the most unusual brewpubs I've been to. Forget about Bend Brewing, and Cascade Brewing is nothing to write home about, either. My moto driver, Jeff, accompanied me on this tour and we had a great evening.

Crux Fermentation Project, one of Bend's finest breweries
On Sunday, after the (very classy) awards breakfast, I was free to go for a 44-mile ride. Instead of heading toward Mt. Bachelor the way I had on an earlier ride I headed first south-east, then angled north, and came back in on a beautiful winding road that was almost totally devoid of traffic. The area I rode through features lots of horse farms, has a gently undulating character, and is dotted with expensive homes. I was reminded of the area around Edgewood, NM, that has been settled by folks who don't want to live in Albuquerque proper—the only thing is that I didn't see a single trailer home. Classy (and I am sure expensive) to the max.
Jeff and I living the good life at GoodLife Brewing
I closed out the day over dinner with one of my two local refs, Dan, and his wife, Kate. What great people! It was a fitting end to a stay in a beautiful place, in a positive environment of superior athletes, working for a company that is different from others. Once I put the finishing touches on this entry I will get in the car and drive back to Eugene, from where I will fly back to Texas tomorrow morning. I can tell you one thing: I am already looking forward to working this race again next year, and I may have to plan an actual vacation out here, especially when it doesn't burn!


PS: I almost forgot about the blackberries, Judy's favorite when we visited Eugene in 2001.


  1. Great write up Jurgen. I might have to think about that race. Maybe not!!! Anyway I loved the traveling bike and beer!


  2. You forgot The Boneyard! It was fun hanging out and listening to your stories ! Great Race!