The Pacific Northwest is always a top destination for riding bikes. I had ridden in British Columbia before but never to Washington, and now I had an excuse to go! The Pro GRT (Mountain Bike Gravity Tour) is a gravity series that holds races all over the country. Starting off with the season opener at Port Angeles Washington. This race also was also a part of the Northwest Cup, which is a gravity series throughout the Pacific Northwest. I have been longing to explore Washington, so I decided to make it an extended vacation for adventure too!
Starting off in Seattle, we didn’t spend much or any time in the city. Instead we got to hangout with some of my amazing friends Lynn and Jason. Without their help, guidance, gear, and awesome personalities it would have been hard to make this trip happen. With their Atlas in hand and borrowed camping gear we were off to the Olympic Peninsula.
We adventured through the rain forest and the beautiful beaches. I always thought I would love Washington, but when I experienced it… I knew. Instead of me trying to explain my first look at the Olympic Peninsula in words… here are some cool pictures
After great adventures and vacation time, it was time to get down to racing. So we did what any good mountain biker would do. Packed up the bikes and rented a van to live out of.
Day 1: Course Walk. Starting from the finish line at the bottom of the Pro GRT course, I scouted the track all the way to the top. The trails were rooty with lots on stumps, and log drops which is my kind of riding. Some really tight corners, nice gap jumps, and big tables. Overall I was thinking to myself there was not anything I was really nervous about.
Day 2: Hike a Bike. After visually seeing the track. I hiked my bike up to the top to roll down the track and practice certain features and sections.
Day 3: Practice Laps… or so I thought. Looking at the online schedule from USA cycling for the Pro GRT they posted that Cat 1 had practice from 1-5. I showed up to registration at 12:30 to pick up my number plate and information… turns out they posted the wrong schedule to USA cycling and my practice was really from 9-1… So I had already missed 4 hours of practice. Trying to come to an agreement on the situation, there was nothing they could do. Nervous and upset about missing 4 hours out of 7 hours of practice before the race, I was not thrilled. They really tried to help and were nice though so I had to get myself to understand the bigger picture here.
Day 4: First and Last day of Practice. With only 3 hours of practice and none the day before I knew I had to go lap after lap without stopping to try to get as many laps in as possible. Over the past couple days of everyone riding the course, I could not believe how much it had changed. The track was getting BLOWN OUT. Roots popping out, VERY dusty, LOOOOOOSE, and berms destroyed. I ended up crashing hard in my second practice run. Came over a steep roll down too fast and went over my bars. Landing hard on my chest and my legs came over my head with my bike still attached at my clipped in shoes. Luckily I had all my protection on so I was able to walk away but the wind was knocked out of me.
Day 5: Race Day!! It had rained all evening and night before the race, meaning the track was now a whole different monster. The loose dirt turned to slik mud and the roots and stumps were very slippery. Everything that we had practiced the day before was sort of out the window. With only one practice run before the race, that was all you had to figure out how to change your ride down the track. I had a good race, but was feeling cautious about my crash yesterday. I made it down the track clean and put down a decent run.
Here is a great Pro GRT Port Angeles Pinkbike Video Recap
Once the race was over it was time to pack up, say goodbye and head back to Michigan… for now.
Overall the trip was one to remember. Amazing friends, hiking, views, beaches, rocks, creatures, and of course bike trails. I don’t think it will be long until I end up in the Northwest again… maybe to stay.