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The Oregon Trail Gravel Grinder is a five-day stage race in the Cascade Mountains near Bend, Oregon. Each day a pro cyclist will be reporting to VeloNews from within the event.
The first day of the Oregon Trail Gravel Grinder stage race began with a bang.
Some 160 riders set off on the first day of their multi-day journey through the Cascades, riding 65 miles and taking in over 5,200 feet of climbing.
Climbing out of Sisters, Oregon, riders made their way up and over the Cascade Range along the old Santiam Wagon Road. The road is a highlight of the race, tucked into a landscape of decomposing lava rock and presenting miles of frustratingly deep sand.
After dropping into the McKenzie River canyon, riders climbed up again to witness the dramatic views of the snow-capped volcanoes of the Cascades.
In yet another ecological twist, the final miles of the stage rewarded finishers with a lush forest descent that included a few sneaker climbs on roads soggy from recent snowmelt.
In the women’s race, Sofia Gomez Villafañe continued to show her phenomenal form as she separated herself from the rest of the women’s field throughout the day. Sarah Sturm and Sarah Max followed in hot pursuit.
Coming off the lava section, Sturm took advantage of a small mistake by Max and created and held a gap to the finish line. Caroline Dezendorf, Ellen Campbell, and Max had a three-way sprint for third, finishing 3,4,5 respectively.
Short-track world champion Christopher Blevins outsprinted Pete Stetina for the win in the men’s race. Howard Grotts followed in third. Insiders say Stetina had some skills in the sand trap section at the top of the big climb and put the hurt on his competitors, narrowing the field to the top few male riders.
Tomorrow’s “moderate” stage 2 takes riders from Blue River to the mountain bike mecca of Oakridge. The stage is 61.6 miles with 5,970 feet of climbing.
Stage 1 full results can be found here.
Serena Bishop Gordon races gravel and XC MTB for Liv Factory Racing. She is also the founder of the Special Blend Gravel camp. She lives in Bend, Oregon.