Riders stampede to Sisters
Last updated 5/31/2022 at Noon
Five hundred mountain bikers of all ages and skill levels converged on Sisters Sunday for the 13th Sisters Stampede, a nationally recognized race. The race is capped at 500 by Forest Service permit restrictions. Otherwise hundreds more would have registered according to promoters Mudslinger Events, a Monroe, Oregon-based outfit that manages a dozen biking events around the state.
Nine states sent riders, some making a 2,000-mile plus journey, given the growing reputation of the race. The main attraction is the Peterson Trail System but numerous riders told The Nugget that the ambiance of Sisters is a compelling draw. Mike Dagget is part of a group of four from Minnesota who turn the one-day event into a week-long Sisters bike fest.
They each brought three bikes, all 12 stacked or hanging on a camper van.
“We kind of look like the Beverly Hillbillies,” Dagget said. “Our bikes all added up cost more than the van, we think.”
They have run their road bikes to Dee Wright Observatory and back. Their gravel bikes racked up a good hundred miles, and their mountain rigs at least that much, they estimated.
The Stampede is divided into two runs. The short course is 15 miles with a 493-foot elevation gain. The long course measures 27 miles and boasts a 1,440-foot gain. The action actually began Saturday when race packets were collected at Blazin Saddles, one of 13 sponsors. A hearty party took place Saturday night at Three Creeks Brewing Co., another major sponsor.
The short course started at 9 a.m. with six waves, the first for boys 10-13. Numerous riders raced, men and women well into their 70s. The long course started at 11:40 a.m. with Elite Men in Wave 7, and by 12:10 p.m., the remaining 10 waves were off and running. The races began and ended on property adjacent to FivePine, the third principal sponsor.
As if ordered by the cycling gods, the weather was nothing less than perfect, or nearly so. The forecast was for rain and more rain, yet not a drop fell on contestants. Winds were mild and the track fast with little dust as a result of a good rain on Saturday.
The good conditions resulted in good times. Landon Farnworth, 23, in the Elite Men division, had the best time of the day for the long course at 1:35:17, only 24 seconds ahead of Cody Peterson, 43.
Emma Maaranen, 45, turned in 1:53:06 for the best long course ride by a woman, three minutes faster than Rachel Geiter, 32. Zane Straight, 16, was first among the junior men with a time of 1:39:48. Kevin Johnson, 68, was the most senior rider in a top-five finish, posting a time of 2:07:10 in the Men 60+ category.
Tessa Beebe, 13, rocked the short course at 54:06, a minute ahead of James Umberhandt, 13, who completed the short course in 55:13. Flo Leibowitz, 71, accomplished the short course in 1:48:08, best for the 70+ Women.
Amanda, 39, her mom Monica, 62, and daughter Caitlan, 15, of the Hayward pack from Portland, were all giggles and high fives, making the most of the intergenerational event.
“It is such fun coming to Sisters and running Peterson,” Amanda said. “The mood out there is awesome, so many good people on the course and the competition is not intense, everybody wishing everybody else a successful day.”
After the awards were presented and photos taken, emails exchanged, it was a stampede of a different sort to the town’s watering holes, particularly those with outdoor seating. Afternoon temps were in the low 50s, so firepits were cranked up as hundreds gathered to extend the merriment.
Rough calculations indicate that the economic impact to Sisters was at least $250,000 spent on food, beverages, and lodging. The Stampede is the second of three major biking events in Sisters between May 13, when the Cascade Gravel Grinder held a three-day event in Sisters, and the five-day Oregon Trail Gravel Grinder coming to Sisters June 22-26.