By Jonathan Coy
- Julie Lucas O’Brien CAT 1 – 3rd (4th overall woman)
- Lora Melkonian CAT 2 50+ – 1st
- Jonathan Coy CAT 2 19-39 – 3rd
The Chainbreaker is a 24 mile XC MTB race in Bend (race 3 of the Oregon XC Series).
Bend, Oregon sits at 3,623 feet which can have an impact on performance when all of us train essentially at sea level. Portions of the course exceed 4,500′ in elevation. Higher altitudes cause you to breathe more rapidly due to the decreased amount of oxygen in the air which increases dehydration. It is also easier to get sunburned at higher altitudes, because there is less of the earth’s atmosphere to block sunlight (especially on a cloudless sunny day in Bend). Make sure you bring sunscreen and are well hydrated prior to starting this race.
Pro Tip: make sure to apply sunscreen on your legs and not just your face and arms………fail
The race is hosted by Bend Endurance Academy and was very well run (chip timing, well marked course with volunteers at critical intersections, best podium swag bags of any race I’ve ever attended). The start of the race is a double track climb up a gravel road for about a mile before entering singletrack. I found that the climb sorted the field prior to entering the singletrack but position is important as the course overall has minimal locations to pass.
As mentioned, the course has a lot of singletrack. Many singletrack sections are lined with overgrown shrubs making passing impossible and the potential for your handlebars to catch causing a crash. The course also runs through an area that recently experienced a forest fire, so several of the trails were very primitive (fresh cut stumps, soft lose dirt) which didn’t make for the most enjoyable riding.
The course elevation gain was approximately 1,800′ (not too bad) and most climbs were gradual, not steep. With the amount of climbing we do riding around the Hood River area, use the climbs in this race to your advantage, this is where i was able to make the biggest gains against the competition.
Due to the course being so dry, dust is a factor to consider if you are sensitive. This also made the descents and turns on the course pretty sketch. Recommend a conservative approach to each turn and descent, and making gains on the climbs. The risk is not worth the reward, both Julie and I went over the handlebars and have the scars to show.
The end of the race is very confusing as there are several loops around the “stadium” area designed for spectating but resulted in confused riders wondering where the finish was and when. This section has several very steep short climbs and sharp turns. I found it difficult to finish strong due to the confusion of where the finish was. If you are competing against a rider that knows the finish course, they would certainly have an advantage in this portion of the race and would be something to consider.
Overall, good race, just wish it wasn’t so far away.