The races we’re missing: Heiser Farm

Myself in the infield, 2019. Photo by Mettle Cycling.
↑ Photo by Mettle Cycling, 2019

This weekend is the fourth after Labor Day, and also the first weekend of October. The race calendar would be full, with three or four series — and possibly some off-series races — all happening. But I think the most likely race on our 2020 calendar would have been Heiser Farm.

This is a fun course, at a lovely venue, at a perfect time of year and always a terrible, terrible race for me. Back when I Was Good (or rather: when I was in Cat C and had modestly better fitness than the competition), I still only posted 12th of 42. That was the race that made realize there are only two kinds of races:

  1. Where you fight terrible conditions (hills, runups, mud, snow, stream crossing)...in such races, before I upgraded in 2014, I could hold my own. I had just that much more grit than my compatriots, and if the conditions are chaotic enough, I might get lucky. Or rather, they might get unlucky, and crash or suffer mechanicals.

  2. Where you fight each other because the conditions are perfect. Flat, wide, clean surfaces, plenty of room to maneuver...I have never done well in such races. Those races go not to the lucky and plucky, but to the well-trained and hungry.

Despite its plentiful singletrack, Heiser is in Category 2. There is a long, fast descent that rewards good bike handlers (well-trained), and a long-but-not-steep climb (usually into the infield) that rewards strong riders (hungry).

Heiser is in a beautiful place — closer to Salem than Portland, and adjacent to a woodsy oxbow off the Willamette River. In 2013, my parents drove up from McMinnville (and my brother down from Portland) to spectate, which was a treat. It was memorable to me because I was glad to show off some skill for my father, who was in the last year of his life. The terrain here is pastoral, not wild (like Ninkrossi). It’s a farm you know? Which lends a nice Belgian feel to the venue, despite the singletrack. I usually see Matt Haughey here too (in past years I think MetaFilter was a sponsor), and seeing Matt at a race (or anywhere) is kind of like seeing a rainbow. I always have fun here even though my results are decidedly awful. (DFL in 2017! I don’t remember why I DFL’d. I stopped writing race reports in 2015.) It’s important, I think, to have something you truly love even though — perhaps because — you suck at it. Heiser Farm is my reminder of that.

Last year, Iris debuted her OBRA license here. Ada also took a warmup lap with us into the woods. Weather yesterday was warmish, would have been a great day for Ada to flex her new license (and her new CCX bike).

Year Category Result
2013 Cat C 35+ 12/42
2015 Cat B 35+ 33/41
2017 Cat 3 35+ 36/36
2018 Cat 3 35+ 28/33
2019 Cat 3 35+ 30/36