The Cascade Gravel Grinder: Mother’s Day, #dadcamp, and epic conditions
Flavia Oliveira Parks and Pete Stetina come out on top after three days of exciting racing.
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There was plenty to celebrate at the Cascade Gravel Grinder in Oregon last weekend — from Mother’s Day to family reunions to the fact that the race went on at all despite conditions that would have made most event promoters weary.
Not so for Chad Sperry of Breakaway Promotions — Sperry is a skilled heavy machinery operator and spent weeks before the event plowing (and re-plowing) snow on certain key segments. The end result was a course that gave riders a bit of everything.
“Bend delivered all the goods,” said women’s overall stage race winner Flavia Oliveira Parks. “Everything — slush, snow, and if you were me, ice — it was an epic day. It was kinda windy, the course was beautiful, competition was tough.”
The Cascade Gravel Grinder stage race kicked off on Friday with a gravel time trial, 6.6 miles with 795 feet of climbing. Saturday’s ‘Bust your Butte’ stage was 60.6 miles with 3,702 feet of climbing. Half was gravel. The event ended on Sunday with the big ‘Three Creeks’ day: 84.8 miles and 6,821 feet of climbing on 90 percent gravel.
In addition to the three-day stage race, Sunday could be raced as a stand-alone event, with three distances to choose from.
A small but deep group of riders battled for the top position each day in both the men’s and women’s races. Each stage had a different winner across both races.
Molly Cameron won Friday’s opening time trial stage. On Saturday, Bend locals (and talented skiers) Sarah Max, Serena Bishop Gordon, and Rebecca Fahringer kept it cool through stage two’s many technical snow sections, with Max winning on the day. Oliveira Parks wasn’t far behind in third, and on Sunday, the former pro roadie had the best legs during the long gravel stage.
Max was second and Bishop Gordon third on the overall podium.
Although Ian Boswell, Kiel Reijnen, and Pete Stetina were pulling double duty as dads over the weekend, they were racers during the day. Rob Britton came down from Canada to keep the pressure on, taking first in the TT, second on stage two, and third on stage three for third overall.
Everyone went out hard on Saturday, with Britton setting the pace early and Reijnen sailing through the snowy sections. It was Boswell, Stetina, and Britton alone on the road after the snow, with Boswell throwing in the occasional attack “to keep things spicy,” he said.
Stetina won that day, followed by Britton and Boswell in second and third. His second place finishes on Friday and Sunday landed him with the overall win, followed by Boswell and Britton on the podium.