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Loamsquatch - The Hunt For Ruts And Hucks at the Pro GRT Port Angeles 1

Downhill racers get loose at the Pro GRT in Port Angeles. #USDH

Loamsquatch - The Hunt For Ruts And Hucks at the Pro GRT Port Angeles

We’re in 'squatch country. In just a 30-mile radius of Port Angeles, there have been no less than 20 sightings of the mysterious creature, 15 of which were here in Clallam county. To Northwestern tribes, there is no doubt that Sasquatch is a physical being. He is not regarded as supernatural or a spirit, he is a like any other animal or human, though his powers are that of spiritual closeness whereby he straddles the line between animal-style and human-style consciousness. Because of this, it is believed he is a messenger between Mother Earth and Mankind. For many of us, we feel that our metal steeds bring us a spiritual clarity and allow for a certain closeness to Mother Loam (often literally, when we forget that we are not superheroes, and as such, crash).

photos, story and interviews by Zach Faulkner

Searching out sneaky lines, Henry Fitzgerald kept it pinned all morning.

As I hopped out from the shuttle van, a literal U-Haul moving van, at the top of the hill, I reminded myself that today’s quest was no quest at all, as I was not hunting Bigfoot. Instead, I was relegated to the immediate proximity of the Cat 1 and Elite DH race track, attempting to capture the rapturous riding. The day was a little slow to start, riders took a some time to find their form. But, once everyone was warmed up, it was an all-out, corner-bashing and jump-hucking good time. The tight corners provided ample challenge for even the most turn-inclined, and the fresh-cut section saw the development of some spicy ruts. So notable were these dirt grooves, a special investigation unit was deployed to the scene.

It was an early start for Elite and Cat 1 riders.  Registration opened at 8am and practice started at 9am, but the wait was easily an hour for the Pre-Reg line, so most riders were feeling like Steve Walton here...
Crossing the border for a weekend of wet-weather shredding, Bas van Steebergen and Vaea Verbeek are stoked to be in between the tape this weekend.
Not everyone is here to ride.
The line was long, really long.  Max Morgan calls out

Moving day?  Nope, just headed up to the top of the track!
Andrew and I got a lift to the start, our driver was dial on the radio and gas pedal like a one-man band.

Sassy? No? The banana though...? Oh well. Also nearly as mythical and rarely sighted as Bigfoot, a port-a-jon at the top of the track is a welcome relief for many attendees.

Alex McAndrew left no time to waste, charging into the practice session right out of the gate.

This track isn't necessarily full of line choice, so it's partially turned into a rut track where the ground is soft and fresh.
The track was getting a proper beating all morning and the wear and tear was starting to show.
This just screams go faster.  When you have a rut this meaty, you let go of the brakes and just point the front wheel.
Intermient rain and hail made for a rather greasy track in places.  Thankfully, Elite practice ended right as the heavy drops started to straif the hill.

Special care is take to address problem riders, ones who are riding particularly aggressively and may cause premature wear to certain locations on the course.

Some of the ruts are hiding some rooty surprises.
Rut and Erosion Development Regulation Unit Mangers or REDRUM for short, hard at work keeping the track in check.
It's important to analysis the rider position as to best anticipate the angle of yaw the rut overhang might produce.
Specialty tools are deployed to provide precise measurements throughout the day.

Burke and Ben, Rut and Erosion Development Unit Managers (REDRUM)

With data logged and samples taken, REDRUM remount their Rutmobiles and return to the van to do more science.

Kiran MacKinnon puts the hurt on this corner and gets rowdy on the way out.

KMac finds his groove

There were hints of rain throughout the practice session, even a very brief spell of hail. On a whole, the weather held off for the first half of the day. As the session closed out and I walked off the hill eating a bagel, the sky decided it couldn’t hold out any longer. I managed to thumb a ride down the shuttle road right as the opening salvo of fat drops started to fall.

By the time I’d reached the pits, the rain was so loud on EZ-Ups, most conversations quickly turned into a game of, “What? What’d you say?” Plans for friendly catch-ups and pit bits was postponed for the pre-practice, free afternoon on Saturday. What is to come? Who knows, though perhaps Sasquatch will pay one of us a visit and impart some wisdom about PNW weather cycles so we can better predict if we should run cut spikes or dry tires.

The dudes at Lost Bikes turned a fair few heads on the forum a few weeks ago with their 29
Focus is key here in Port Angeles, as there are more corners than a Swiss Alp.  A sharp memory and sharp elbows will be a winning combo against the clock.
The corners are steep and deep up Dry Hill.  Letting the bike run and hanging on for the ride will be a rewarding game plan.
That's some legit camo, his arms really do blend nicely.

Lost Bikes - big wheels, big fun

That's a skull ring on Smokey's right hand, which is worth about +6 Speed points. On pace all day in a white T and a low-key flashy black vynal-wrapped weapon.

High and tight, sneaky lines are pretty prevelant, you just gotta earn 'em like Dylan Conte here.

Dylan Conte, sneakin'

Thing 1 and Thing 2, is that you?
All I know is that this is Big Ed.  He shreds too.
You get three guesses as to what bike he's riding.  (To be revealed to the keen-eyed in pit bits coming later!)

Quietly attacking the track, Jill Kintner is definitely riding like a local. 1/10 sec, f10, ISO 320 for those wondering.

It's easy to feel small out here on the Olympic Penninsula.
He might have taken a laps or two just to say he did, but Las Sternberg is not racing this weekend due to some still-healing hands.

Trendy before it was a trend, Luke Strobel is still blasting down the track on the Wagon Wheeler.

For someone who has never spent time in the PNW woods, all of this moss is quite novel.
This corner is either a heavy low line seen here, or a finessed high line behind the rider.  Jury is still out about which is faster.

Clearly enjoying her first Pro GRT, Ella Skalwold was on her game between the tape and making happy sounds as she zipped by.

Hard to miss on track, Brittany White simultaniously stood out and blended into the background.
I lost count of the number of corners on this track.
Timeless turn-bar action.  #hucking

Wide bars and high contrast kit meant Nik Nesteroff was the most distinguishable rider on track.

Covering the levers, but daring not to pull them, #23 plays a game of self-chicken halfway down the hill.

Party Trains were the theme of the day, and this trio was hauling freight; MacKinnon, Morgan, and Smokey.

Getting in a little more racing before the next World Cup, Vaea Verbeek is out here dialing in her speed on one of her favorite tracks.
Honing my sniping skills trackside will undoubtedly help me in capturing Sasquatch on camera.  Gotta be ready!  Vaea Verbeek, stoked.

So many riders were practicing together, you'd have thought it was a Group Rate race.

One of the staple racers on the circuit, Mikey Haderer is out here in the muck and digging the conditions.

Mikey Haderer, the Cheese Wheel

If you go to the PNW, and don't take a #lightbro moss shot, did you even go to the PNW?

Warren Kniss, prefers the rain

Charlie Harrison follows Max Morgan into the dark.

It was a little crowded at times today.
I got a little motion sick watching the headcam from this many turns.
Sometimes you hit a corner so well, you just keep on turning...Zach Gravesoning reeling things back in.

I jumped up on a stump and got up close and personal with Forrest Riesco. He's absolutely flying out here.

Is that shadow figure Bigfoot? Probably not, Sasquatch doesn't run a numberplate.

Bigger bike and a short stem seems to be the Goldielocks combo for Luca Commetti this weekend.

Luca Cometti goin' XL

Luke Strobel gets one last huck in at the end of the day for good measure.
Jill Kintner knows how to corner from years of 4x, and she's utilizing that skills to its fullest on this twisty track.

His riding is noticably more consisten and confident. But, some old habits die hard! (brake lever steez with Tommy Zula)

Tommy Zula, upside down and amped up

She rode, she crashed, she chugged, she heckled.  Shea left a lasting impression.
Without any real order of numbers, it can be tough to spot riders.  Mitch Ropolato, incognito.
Rain and hail make not for a fun time riding bikes.

Ryen Melton holdin' it down for the hungry

Focusing on execution and keeping things fun, Max Morgan was unwavering all day, consitent from start to finish.

Maximum Morgan Overdrive

Transition sent over this rad quickie vid from practice!

Luca Cometti blurring the trees with his ONE LAP from practice

Watch Vital RAW from Day 1

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