Brainfreeze 6hr AR- Kellen's Recap
Updated: Nov 5
Race: Brain Freeze Winter AR
Location: Bend, Oregon
Time: 4 hr 44 min
Distance: Approx. 15 mi
Team: Dusty Caseria, Emily Caseria, Kellen Oetgen
Disciplines: Fat biking, snowshoeing, orienteering
Results: 1st overall
Dusty, Emily and I traveled south for the Bend Winter AR with a variety of expectations. Dusty and Emily were looking forward to winter racing after designing the course for the Krank Winter AR, Emily was determined to try and win one of the coveted custom race champion mugs, and I was looking forward to fat biking as that had proved to clearly be faster than cross country skiing during the Krank race when Team Quest came up short. We heard both Krank and Yogaslackers weren’t fielding teams, but knew we’d be up against some solid locals. The race was split into fat biking and snowshoe orienteering, and while the checkpoints for the fat biking section had to be collected sequentially, the snowshoe ones could be found in any order. We planned our route as direct as possible while trying to minimize the number of uphill climbs (we expected 3k of gain and when you live at sea level, that plus a starting elevation of 4000 ft isn’t easy).
“100% Rideable”: The race director, Jason, told us at the pre-race meeting that the fat biking was “100% rideable” and among the most fun courses he had designed so naturally, we were excited for some fun descents. Unfortunately, it snowed about 6” at the higher elevations overnight so once we’d finished climbing the trail wasn’t packed down enough to ride. That left us post-holing and pushing our bikes to the final checkpoints where we caught up to the soloist leader Dan, the navigator for the Yogaslackers, who’d broken trail ahead of us.
Once getting those we looked for the quickest route back down to the road. Still not able to ride we chose the most direct route down the steep mountainside, which involved bike glissading and around 20 minutes of carrying our bikes and bushwhacking through dense manzanita groves. The bike glissading? Extremely fun. The manzanita bushwhacking? Awful. Just awful. The windy roots kept getting stuck in our wheels and drivetrains and left a few nice indentations on the shins for good measure.
Creek Crossing and Hill Climbing: Heading into the snowshoe we were about 10-15 minutes behind Dan who pulled away after taking a different path through the manzanita. We knew we had to push. We didn’t bat an eye when we had to cross a knee deep creek along the way. A couple steep sustained climbs (up to 50%) that felt like they’d never end and some aptly called “good views” later thanks to Dusty’s expert navigating, we’d found all the checkpoints and got to enjoy the final perk of our route: snowshoe running down around 700 ft back to the finish. Somehow we managed to not see any other teams during the trek, which was very surprising to not even cross paths once. And kept the pressure high to keep pushing not knowing how close the other teams were.
Waiting for us at the finish were refreshments and a buffet of breakfast tacos to refuel. Race directors take note: breakfast tacos? Always. We were exhausted, but fast enough to earn Navigation cups and Race Champion mugs (we’ll be back for the Endurance pint). Thanks to Bend Racing for hosting and designing such a fun course! Team Quest is looking forward to coming back for more!