In Part 1 of our SIGHT LINES series from Trans-Cascadia, brothers Dane and Zach Petersen share a racer’s perspective from five days of alpine riding bliss.
Trans-Cascadia is more than a bike race. To us, it is a multi-day immersion in all of the purest aspects of mountain biking. In late September, Trans-Cascadia was back for its sixth year, and it’s always a welcome reminder of why we ride. With five single-day stages, this event is a visceral backcountry riding experience, where racers are transported far from the demands of everyday life into the backwoods of the Pacific Northwest—no cell service, camping out, good food, and nothing but the days of riding to worry about. It’s a fully immersive mountain biking experience!
The race still follows its signature blind format and with little more than a physical map and some quick highlights from the organizers, riders set off for the day’s adventure each morning. Raw and gritty wilderness-style trails are par for the course. Summiting high peaks, traversing ridges and plunging down seldom-used runs are staples of each stage. But it’s about more than the riding—Trans-Cascadia has grown into more than just a race; the event now operates as a non-profit that is dedicated to maintaining and rebuilding trails in the area. Every year leading up to the big week, the event brings together volunteers and community members who log hundreds of hours to reopen and revitalize neglected trails. The majority of each stage route has never been ridden on a bike (or, at least not recently!), and much would be impossible without these months of hard work and dedication that the organizers put into breathing new life into these forgotten trails.
Unlike most cycling events that quickly fade after the racers have gone home, Trans-Cascadia leaves the best kind of impact on the region with improved trails and expanded riding opportunities. It’s a model for what sustainable racing and riding looks like if we all come together with a shared purpose.
Photography captured by Riley Seebeck @flowphoto_co