News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Sisters Stampede 'nothing but fun'

After weeks of below-normal temperatures and incessant winds, Sunday was a picture perfect spring day. And it was the backdrop for the 15th running of the Sisters Stampede, an annual Memorial Day weekend mountain bike race for 579 riders, nine to 70-plus.

"I don't know why they call it a race," said MJ Miller of Vancouver, Washington, making her fourth appearance, this time with her brood of three - ages 12, 10 and 7. "This is nothing but fun. I know there are some who are here for time and to win, but look around. This is more like 'let the good times roll.'"

She wasn't alone in her assessment. Tee Baker of Boise, Idaho, told The Nugget "I'm here just to have a good time. I guess somebody will tell me my time, but who cares? I'll be with my friends from Bend and Corvallis. It's just a party on wheels for us."

You could separate the serious entrants from the casual riders wanting to take it up a notch by the smiles and laughter, the latter easily outnumbering the former. Indeed on the course, a majority of riders rode side-by-side whenever doable, and at a pace that allowed conversation and even a quick stop for an occasional photo.

There were two courses, short (14.5 miles) and long (25.3 miles). The first pedaled off at 9 a.m. and the long riders at noon. Both races started and ended on W. Washington Avenue, behind Blazin Saddles, the event co-sponsor, along with Three Creeks Brewing.

Both races traversed over the Peterson Ridge Trail system a major draw for cyclists from a four-state region. The course on Saturday was full of folks wanting to scope it out and get in an extra dose of the highly acclaimed trail. "It was perfect," riders reported. "Nice and tacky."

By Sunday, race day, some of that grip from the day before dried up and the course had a bit more slip especially in the tight turns. There were zero complaints however, and a chorus of whoops and gleeful shouts as riders zipped around the mostly single- track run. Dust rose but a few inches as compared to some years when it was waist high.

The economic impact to Sisters was obvious. Fewer than 10 percent of entrants were from Sisters. The largest number were from Portland, and a heavy percentage listed Bend as home.

It was a three-day event for the majority as they filled campgrounds and lodges. It began with a block party Saturday held at Blazin Saddles with food trucks, a beer cart, an aqua cold plunge and later a Rascal Round-Up for kiddos at Bike Park 242.

When you add in family members and friends who accompanied the riders, some 1,500 visitors filled eateries and packed watering holes, with a recognizable amount of shopping thrown in.

The Stampede, one of 13 promoted by Mudslinger Events, is always one of the fastest to sell out, proof of the draw to Sisters, promoters say. Prices to enter range from $45 to $75.

Winners in the Short Course include Porter Younkin from Medford, in the 9-13 category with a time of 0:59.09.7, and those over 70 saw Tom Heywood from Wenatchee, Washington, came in at 1:09:41.7. Flo Leibowitz from Corvallis clocked 1:45:23.2 in the women 70+ category. Overall best time in the Short Course went to Jacoby Babcock of Philomath, (14-18) with a time of 0:56:57.1.


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