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A Guide to Your First PNW Mountain Bike Race

by Doug on February 12, 2024 in Guides

Race season is fast approaching and with it comes the NW cup and Race Cascadia Dirt Cup. If this is the first bike race you’ve signed up for, you will want to get the most out of your expensive registration fees.

Follow this guide to maximize your experience for the Vudu race series, Cascadia Dirt Cup, or NW Cup.

Vudu Race Series

 This is a great first race series to enter into. If you’re not ready to get three extra jobs to support your new race addiction, the Vudu races can be done on most mountain bikes and don’t require lots of suspension or full face helmets to have a good time.

They’re usually a one-day event and offer a couple different length options. For a first race, I’d really suggest the shortest length. Vudu races can be quite the lung-buster. If you really want to challenge yourself, you could go bigger, but there are lap cutoff times, and you’ll be stuck with a DNF (did-not-finish) if you can’t complete them in time. If you’re not sure if you can make it, the Trailforks app has most routes from past years, so you can test ride a previous course and see how your times stack up.

What bike to bring? The fastest lap times are going to be set on carbon fiber hardtails, but there will be a mix of full suspension and hard tail bikes. You don’t need a full squish bike to have fun at this race series.

How do I prepare my body for the race? Practice shifting gears as you approach a climb, hydrating while riding, and make sure you know how to change a tube. A flat tire won’t kill your race time if you can change it quickly.

What gear to bring? XC Bike, water bottle, half shell helmet, glasses (not goggles), spare tube and mini pump, high-sugar fuel like gels or glucose blocks (tape the tear-off tab to your top tube for quick access), a towel for the parking lot.

How are the Pros so fast? To take it to the next level in this race series, focus on calorie intake and maintaining a consistent heart rate throughout climbs and descents. Focus training on long distances and how to transition between climbing and descending efficiently. Seconds are earned on the descents, but minutes are earned on the climbs.

Race Cascadia Dirt Cup

This race is a stage race, so you’ll have several shorter race stages that you’re timed on. They’re usually 1-2 miles each and are predominantly downhill. The number of stages varies, depending on which level you signed up for. Pros usually race 7 stages, and younger riders and enduro-light riders race 2-3 stages.

Riders are spaced at 30-second intervals. Maybe you’ll pass a rider, maybe they’ll pass you. If you have to pass somebody: call out to them that you’re back there. They should let you pass. If you get passed: pull off as soon as it’s safe to do so. If it’s a sketchy rock garden, it’s ok to make them wait. They’re going to want to pass you on an inside corner, so try not to block their fast line if you can help it.

All race stages are downhill-prominent; you’ll have to ride back up to the top, but that part isn’t timed and they’re generous about cutoff times so you can take it easy and save energy by going slow back to the top. Most people will be on a full suspension bike, which is recommended but not required. This is not a race you can do on a Walmart bike. Knee pads are recommended, and there will be a significant number of people racing in a full face helmet, although only half-shells are required.

Race stages aren’t released until the week of the event, but they’re usually similar to the previous year’s, so you can get in some unofficial training runs and learn the course. Generally speaking, Saturday is for adult racing; Sunday is for youth. If you’re racing youth, you can hike into the race stages and watch line choices and cheer on the older riders on Saturday.

A few races this year will have a FreeForAll race on Friday. The stages will probably vary, but it’s a shuttle-supported race where you can get lots of practice laps in. If you see the AddictiveAdventure truck at a FreeForAll, wave us down for a ride to the top.

What bike to bring? The fastest lap times will be set on an Enduro bike, probably in the 150-180mm range. Hardtails are rare, but you will see them there. There’s a hardtails category, but it’s pretty competitive and is recommended for expert racers or masochists.

How do i prepare my body for the race? Cross training on a road bike will help with the necessary endurance required, but long trail rides will yield better rounded results. Focus on line choice and cornering. Cornering cornering and more cornering. Stages are a sprint, so get a tire plug and CO2 pump, and get efficient at using it.

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With decades of experience designing world-class gear and equipment, our team knows how to find and solve problems. Since we are all users of the products we create, we always are looking for a simple, elegant, and effective solution to every gear-related problem.

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Take a look at the products we have available for you and make your adventure more epic!

Experience Our Great Gear

When heading to your race, you want to make sure your bike makes it in one piece and without damage. You will need to use a quality bike rack. Keep in mind that the one you choose can be the difference between smooth transportation and a moving experience that leaves you overall disappointed with scratches and paint peels on your car.

At Addictive Adventure, we believe in making things locally whenever possible. Since we own our own factory right here in the great Pacific Northwest of the USA, we know every single product will perform as intended.

We have been building stainless steel industrial equipment for over 20 years.  We apply high-quality industrial manufacturing practices to everything we do. Our Bike Rack is built for durability.  100% stainless steel and aluminum construction, so it’s light where you want it and strong where you need it.

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