Jacksonville Bikefest-The Trip North Before Sea Otter!

The Felt mountain bike crew has had an incredible couple of weeks. April really is the beginning of the mountain bike season, and nothing says mountain bike racing like a road trip, so we decided to take a quick detour to the Jacksonville Bikefest in southern Oregon before making our way to the infamous Sea Otter Classic.

Jacksonville is a cool little town just outside of Ashland, OR.  The race took place in the Jacksonville Forest Park and Motorcycle Recreation Area, which is an awesome network of trails. The format for the weekend was two Super-D races, with the fastest combined time from each day being the winner on the weekend. The race course for Saturday was a rolling combination of fireroad and fast, tight singletrack. With our arrival early Friday afternoon, we made our way to the venue to get some laps in.  Sadly, mother nature did her best to put a damper on our weekend, allowing a bunch of snow to fly a few days before the race kicked off. Luckily, we here at Felt have had our fair share of situations with inclimate weather, so we put our cold weather gear on and got ready to shred in the mud. The trail was like a a river with icy puddles at the base of every climb, helping us all earn our mud-warrior merit badges. Along with being hard on us riders, the muddy conditions took a toll on the bikes, and sadly Felt athlete Casey Coffman had to sit out Saturday’s race becasue the mud ruined his brakes.

Though riding in the mud is fun, Joe and Zoe, the event promoters at Echelon Events, knew that racing down the slippery cold trails would not be in the best interest for the racers. The course was cut in half, and everyone was happy to have a bit less moisture to deal with.  Jared Kessler was the sole Feltie to race on Saturday morning. Here is his account of the course and his run:

I was pleased however to learn that they decided to “86” the new extension and just race the old course. Race time and I’m going off last…after waiting and warming up for some time waiting minute after minute as they start the riders off in intervals. 3…2…1…go!!! Holy Smokes!!! Pedal pedal pedal! The course is great because it gives you just enough sweet downhill to lift your spirits 1 minute in to the track, 1 more minute then your soul is absolutely crushed with a ruthless punisher of a climb appropriately called “the wall” about 100 yards of 15 percent pitch, 20 feet of “flat” around a corner then about 200 yards of 20-25 percent rutted out climbing… Good news is I passed a guy at the base of this climb! I nail this bastard hill hard and felt like I wanted to die at the top but kept pressing! I had a sweet traverse for about a 1/4 mile of nasty fire road before dropping into the 10 minute descent back to the park and there I saw another rider!! Feeling great I started charging…and then it happened…flat tire, about 20 yards into the descent. Wonderful…race over. Bummed.”

It’s Only Flat on the Bottom…

We were all a bit bummed with the mechanicals early on in the weekend, so after the race Saturday, we spent the afternoon getting the bikes re-dialed in for the races Sunday and shuttling a few quick laps on the awesome trails.

After resting up in the hotel Saturday evening, we were plesantly surprised to wake up to a sunny-ish sky Sunday morning. Our only problem with the day was the lack of practice in the morning; we were having so much fun riding other trails on Saturday, we figured we’d practice the race course on Sunday morning. We were wrong. We all agreed, however, that racing a trail without practice was going to be fun. Jared, having flatted out of Saturday’s race, was ready to crush all of his opposition on Sunday, and that’s exactly what he did. With no practice runs in the morning, and a crash during his race, Jared still managed to win the Pro class by three seconds. Quite the performance by Jared!

Jared’s 1st Place Medal

Casey in his Race Run (Photo Courtesy of Echelon Events)

“What do you want to do?”

“I dont’ know, shred more trail?”

After racing, we hit up a few more shuttle runs, and packed the vehicle up for the long drive south to Sea Otter! Stay tuned for part two of our story!

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