Short track racing long on fun

Posted by on July 25th, 2006 at 8:58 am

Short track MTB racing

I’ve been without an off-road bike in my stable for way too long. This is a big deal to me because back in the day I used to eat, sleep and breathe mountain biking.

So last week, when my neighbor dropped of his old Kona MTB on my porch (he got something new and didn’t want it) a light went off in my head.

Why not just hop on it and race some short track out at Portland International Raceway (PIR)?

So last night I threw my hat in the ring and joined the Sport class race at Kris Schamp’s Mountain Bike Short Track Race Series. Kris puts on a great 6-race series that combines the woops and thrills of a motorcross track with technical singletrack in the infield of PIR.

Short track MTB racing

I showed up to race with my 15-year old, fully-rigid, entry-level Kona. Kris took pity on me and offered up his brand new Gary Fisher 29-er. I’d never ridden a 29-inch wheeled bike or used disc-brakes but I jumped at the chance. Serendipitously, Kris’s bike fit me like a glove…I didn’t even have to change the saddle height.

I hopped on it, warmed up for a few minutes and then got to the starting line.

Short track MTB racing

[Race promoter
Kris Schamp.]

Not sure what to expect, I started in the back of the pack and thought I would play it cool and see what happened; but as soon as I started rubbing shoulders and tasting the dirt the gloves came off and it was just like the good old days.

I was mixing it up and moving up through the field, completely focused on the task at hand (don’t blow up and pass as many people as possible). I don’t know what I liked more, the almost zen-like frame of mind I was in or the actual riding itself.

The course was out of this world (then again, I haven’t been on a mountain bike ride for over a year so it wouldn’t have taken much to get me excited). There were woop-de-doos, sharp corners, steep uphills, very tight singletrack, and of course a few muddy sections.

[Entering the singletrack.]Short track MTB racing

Race promoter (and marketing guy for Bike Gallery) Kris Schamp knew it would be hot so he contacted the motorcross track crew. They came out and created a great mud pit and even turned on the sprinklers! Each lap, the burst of cool water provided a much needed shower.

Short track MTB racing

[Back in the
saddle again.]

At the end of the race I didn’t want to stop…I just rode around the pit area with a huge grin on my mud-soaked face ;-).

Big thanks to Kris for the bike and for my very own, personalized number plate.

The Short Track Series continues each Monday night through August 13th. Check out the website for more details.

For more photos, including this one of Pro/Elite class winner Shannon Skerrit, check out my Short Track Racing gallery.

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brianCarolinegabrielamadeusGrahamBrian Ellin Recent comment authors
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That course was super confusing at first, but once the first lap was done it was good clean fun. And the mud & sprinklers definitely made for a nice cool break right when you were really feeling the burn.

Dan Porter

Last nights course was the best one yet. I DNF’d do to a mechanical during the 2nd to last lap in the single speed race, but still had a super duper time. I can’t wait for next week!

Great work Portland Racing!

Brian Ellin

I even saw Jonathan catching air off some of the whoop-de-doos. Sweet!


Watch out…mountain biking can be infectious!


I emailed kris about this too, but I was wondering how many laps are done, if it’s different for each class, and what’s the total milage? It’s been a few years since racing, and I don’t want to fall in over my head!


I wish I had of recognized you out there on your bike – I would have given you some loud cheering! That was a fun race! Mmmmm..ud!


No worries gabrielamadeus. The race is timed like cyclocross so that beginners end up doing about 20-25 minutes, sport ~25-30 minutes, pro/expert ~30-35 minutes. The object is to cram as many laps as possble into that time, but you can go as fast as you feel up to.