(Photo Gallery — Slideshow below – Photos © J. Maus)
At an event that culminated Sunday in Maryhill, Washington, Portland’s Team Zoobomb showed they can ride bikes downhill as fast as anyone in the world.
the gravity biking scene.
(L to R: Chuck Bridge, Aaron Truman, Gabe Tiller)
The trio of Chuck Bridge, Gabe Tiller, and Aaron Truman capped their quest to become the world’s fastest gravity bikers by taking two of the top three spots: Tiller brought home the silver medal and Bridge followed him for bronze.
The event was run on Maryhill Loops Road, an historic, 1.9 mile stretch of serpentine road just a stone’s-throw from the Columbia River Gorge and the first paved road in the Pacific Northwest. The road was built in 1909 — but don’t let it’s age fool you. It’s closed to cars for most of the year and it had just received a fresh coat of asphalt.
At speeds nearing 40 mph and a time of just over three minutes, only Australian Brett Phillips proved faster than the two Zoobombers. Phillips came from Melbourne to compete with his custom-fabricated bike that was the envy of other competitors. During qualifying and practice runs, Phillips and Tiller ran neck and neck; Tiller even beat Phillips in the semifinal heat.
But in the final run, Phillips was just too fast. “I had him for the first third of the way down,” recalled Tiller, “but then he just blazed past me on the inside.” Tiller says he’s more than happy with second; “It was way better than I thought I’d do, when I got here and saw the competition.”
Besides Phillips and his envy-inspiring, custom-fabricated bike, Team Zoobomb faced competition from perennial favorite and course record-holder Mike McIntyre. But McIntyre made an ill-timed mistake — running off course during a semifinal heat — and did not get a spot in the four-man final.
After his gold-medal winning run, I asked Phillips if victory might inspire more folks in Melbourne to take up the sport. “Heck yeah,” he replied, “they’ll be into it for sure… next year we’ll hook up with the Zoobomb crew and hit the hills.”
The “Zoobomb crew” he referred to included not just the riders, but a large number of supporters who made the trip to Maryhill to cheer the team on. By far the largest contingent at the event, the Team Zoobomb supporters (who helped raise over $2,000 to get the team here) showed that Portland not only has some of the most talented downhill racers in the world, but we’ve got an entire community to back them up.
Chuck Bridge says he’s not sure what’s next for Team Zoobomb, but he’s got his eyes on another gravity event this spring in California. “I’m going to ask and see if the guys feel like keeping this thing going.”
I hope they do. Team Zoobomb now has a gravity-biking reputation to uphold.
Check out my slideshow from all the action on Saturday and Sunday (72 images):