Gravel, Happenings, Racing

Co-Motion staffers on The Oregon Coast Gravel Epic, or How to Ruin a Perfectly Good Weekend and Keep Smiling

We bike people could be smarter.  Inexplicably, we keep signing up for these things. Shouldn’t we Oregonians know that a mid-April day in the coast range isn’t likely to be pretty? Um, yes.


Another Oregon Coast Gravel Epic is in the books. This year, it lived up to its title as it always does, but having moved from late summer/early fall to April did add to riders’ trepidation, while subtracting substantially from training time for many of us, given the record winter and early spring we’ve had in the northwest thus far.

The Oregon Coast has been exceptionally wet, with Waldport itself at 136% of the statistical average for 2017 so far. Saturday was true to form, with pounding rain and howling wind making riders earn every inch.

As always, Co-Motion Cycles participated in a big way, as one of the event’s main sponsors. We also “walk the walk”, or more aptly, we ride it. Here’s how 4 of us from the Co-Motion staff fared on the Oregon Coast Epic’s “Abomination Route”.

Rider 143, Dwan Shepard. 14/23 in 50-59 age group, 58/109 overall  -photo by Neisha Strait

Q: How was your day?

DS: Meh. I went in with low expectations, and that’s exactly what I got. I felt under-trained and never had my climbing legs.

Q: Was the weather a factor?

DS: It absolutely was, for everyone. I had to stop for a mechanical issue, and got really cold while fixing my front derailleur. It took quite a while to warm up after that.

Q: What kind of bike is that?

DS: I’ve got the granddaddy prototype for the Co-Motion Klatch model. Mine is fillet-brazed, and has S+S couplings for travel. This was its (and my…) 5th Oregon Coast Gravel Epic!

Rider 147
Rider 147, Ethan Stehley, 9/23 in 30-39 age group, 30/109 overall – photo by Neisha Strait

Q: How was your race day?

ES: I think we all battled the elements about as hard as each other.  I had a great time suffering with some like minded fools.

Q: Was the weather  a factor?

ES: Personally no.  Seems on par with the conditions of my commute to work.  Also on the same bike I used for the Gravel Epic so it felt great.

Q: How do you stay fit enough to make top 10 in your age group with your fly-fishing and skiing training regimen?

ES: The skiing helps keep the pounds off and the cardio up.    Hopped calories consumed around the fire post-fishing seems to even things out though.

Q: What kind of bike is that?

ES: Co-Motion Cascadia set up with S&S couplers.  Because sometimes not every adventure starts from your front door.

Rider 144 (2)

Rider 144, Billy Truelove, 2/24 in 40-49 age group, 7/109 overall – photo by Neisha Strait

Q: How was your race day?

BT: Well, I was able to establish a lead early on which I held until nearly midway.  Over the ensuing miles, I was caught and passed by several riders.  I didn’t have high expectations going in, so this didn’t hurt my feelings….too much.

Q: Was the weather  a factor?

BT: I don’t think the weather was much of a factor.  Certainly it changed the riding conditions from years past, making the descents a bit more interesting, but from a racing standpoint, it was manageable.

Q: You’re always a major threat in these events, and I think without exception, everyone thinks you’re destined to win it decisively every year. Having taken the win once, do you beat yourself up when you don’t come home with the trophy?

BT: Yeah, a major threat, but mostly to myself… Sure, it’s always good to win, and obviously it’s on my mind at the start, but my personal expectations are rarely based on a placing.  I had a pretty good idea of what I was capable and the final results proved me right.  I did try to give it a go early on in hopes of attaining a lead that I could hold to the end, but this was just to make the race interesting.  Ultimately the strongest usually win, and this year’s Epic was not an exception.  So, no, I didn’t beat myself up over not winning.  Not this time, anyhow.

Q: Say, what kind of bike is that?

BT: Co-Motion Camino CS3.

Q: Wait a second, isn’t the Camino a road bike?

BT: Sure, an any-kind-of-road road-bike.  This was the first bike on which we implemented the carbon seat mast and the S3 tube-set, which at Co-Motion Cycles we call the CS3 option.  When we built this bike, I was preparing for a race across Oregon, The 360-mile Oregon Outback, that followed a route along mostly dirt and gravel roads (Ed- BT won this legendary race in its second running,  2015).  With an emphasis on speed, I chose the Camino.  It allows for a 33mm tire which is plenty for me for gravel style races, has hydraulic disc brakes, and with the CS3 package it’s remarkably light considering its capabilities.

Rider 1, Clara Terrell 1/1 W 30-39 age group, #1 overall, women! -photo by Kate Lange – the sky was strangely blue for about 5 seconds…

Q: How was your race day?

CT: I had a great race day! I didn’t arrive with a goal in mind, but I felt good about the first few miles, and then just kept on a reasonable pace. I didn’t have any mechanical or nutritional issues, and I mostly rode alone, so the headspace stayed clean.

Q: Was the weather a factor?

CT: The early descending felt cold for the hands and toes, but the climbing got me warm again. A few times I had a strong tailwind on an uphill, which was really fun. I ran very low tire pressure, which was probably ultimately slower, but gave me lots of traction, so I stayed comfortable when the road got sloppy and slippery. On a warmer day, I would have needed to stop to refill water bottles, but I had enough water and snacks that I didn’t need to disrupt the rhythm with aid station stops. I won’t say the weather was pleasant, but it fell short of miserable.

Q: You keep winning these things, which is stunning, really. What’s your secret?

CT: Usually it’s not enough to show up with good fitness and the right equipment, but sometimes it is. There are so many unpredictable factors at an event like this, and success is still surprising.

Q: Say, what kind of bike is that?

CT: It’s a custom Co-Motion Klatch with Lauf fork, Rolf Ralos wheels and flat bar. Without a doubt the ideal tool for the job.