I got my wish for fresh snow at the 2015 Dirksen Derby. The forecast was almost as stacked as the event roster, which was packed with 500 riders. A heavy storm cycle rolled in as the long weekend approached. The new snow made for slow race courses and a strange sense of emptiness at the courses in comparison to past years. The riding elsewhere on Mt.Bachelor were arguably more fun than the two races courses. The 2015 red course was missing any sign of a significant feature and rode a little too slow for my taste. I decided to ride the green course for qualifiers because it was faster with longer, more open turns. The green course had a touch of technical riding as well with a tight pintch of two turns in the middle, right before a small pump section. This was the first year the green course was the more popular choice for qualifiers.
My hunch about the missing camaraderie at the course this year, is that it related to the course location. Tucked away in the trees between two different zones of the mountain, the course was not easy to add into a lap from higher on the hill. That meant everyone riding powder only visited the course during their scheduled run.
My lack of excitement for racing was reflected in my results. I had a decent run but not enough to make the cut, missing finals by only 5 spots out of 105 men who raced the green course. There were other activities on the docket for my weekend and not competing in finals allowed the flexibility I needed. Nikki and I rented a condo. We were met by Andy who drove up from Reno for the event. Nikki, Andy and I had a blast riding Bachelor Friday and Saturday, finding great turns under the Red chair and off The Cone. Friday started out with Kelso and our whole Bend area crew making a rare appearance on the hill to makes lap with us in the new snow.
Friday night Kelso and I got a break-in ride on the new machines with our ladies. We rode with Ben and Kelsea out to Elk Lake Lodge, 10 miles out in the National Forest via snowmobile trails. The evening light punching through busts of thick falling snow was such a pretty sight. I haven’t taken a sunset/night ride in years and forgot how awesome it is to be on an empty trail, lit by snowmobile headlights.
On Sunday, Kelso and I left Nikki and Andy to brave the big dump of snow and crowds at “Flatchelor” while we followed Nate, Ben, Zach and Dave into the Bend backcountry. It was a beautiful tour out towards “Little AK”. The Central Oregon forrest was so heavily laden with new snow, it felt magical, like it wouldn’t last and we just happened to be there to see it.
We did a lots of skinning. Too much for how few turns we made. I shouldn’t complain though because we didn’t break trail once all day. I had no idea how populated the Bend backcountry was. Also, the turns we did take on our two runs of about 500 vertical feet each, were as deep as you can ask for. The term “scary deep” kept coming into mind. Our biggest danger for the day was falling while riding and being buried in your own bomb-hole. All said and done, I was really pleased with our backcountry adventure. When Kelso and I met Nikki, Andy and Becca in town at the Crux brewery, we heard that Mt.Bachelor was out of power all day, running lifts on diesel and the snow was too deep to enjoy on the flat terrain. That news really made me appreciate our tour.
Cheers to another fun Derby event. May the course be more interesting next year. I will bring my focus and A-game. Thanks for all the hard work Dirksen.