Kenny’s Cascade Cream Puff Race Report

07.10.2007 | 9:16 pm

A Note from Fatty: Last weekend, Kenny and Chucky did the Cascade Cream Puff, one of my very favorite races — its incredibly climby uphill (around 18,000 feet of climbing) is matched only by its awesome singletrack downhill. I didn’t get to go this year, so was anxious to live the race through Kenny. As usual, Kenny does not disappoint.

I’ve wanted to do the Cascade Cream Puff ever since Fatty told me about
doing it about 4 or 5 years ago. Don’t let the name fool you, this race has
it all. Eighteen thousand feet of climbing and singletrack descents that
last over an hour.  This course is by far my favorite endurance course I’ve
ever attempted. 

The race fills up fast because they only allow 130 riders. The race directors feel that anymore than this would be too damaging to the trail.   It’s refreshing to see someone put on a race whose sole objective is not to make money. For our entry fee we got three meals, free camping, a raffle with lots of cool swag, great aid stations with lots of helpful volunteers and a finisher’s hat. Not bad at all.

A Little History
Last year, I signed up for this race with my friends Chucky and Brad. Two weeks before the race, I was following one of the kids I was coaching off a small kicker, came up short, turfed it and suffered a compression fracture in my spine. Besides being really embarrassed and hurt, I was bummed that I missed the race, so I made sure that it was top priority on this year’s race schedule. 

And so, naturally, this year it was Brad’s turn to suffer an injury, with a hurt
knee, so it ended up being just Chuck and me driving up to Oregon for the big race.  

Side note:  If you ever want to become faster or more skilled on a bike, find the fastest cyclist you know, become his friend and ride with him as much a possible. For me this person is Chucky. He’s taught me more about bike racing, off season training, and all around biker lifestyle than anyone.  Even though he’s more than a decade younger, I look up to him as my biking mentor.

Fancy Pro Guys
We pulled up to the school – where everyone was camping – in the Gary Fisher/Subaru team car.  It was pretty cool because everyone was looking at us like we were factory pros showing up to kick some butt.  After pre-riding some of the climb we went to the mandatory race meeting/dinner/raffle. 

We filled our bellies with as many calories as humanly possible and I scored the coveted prize with my raffle ticket; a red pair of Chris King disc hubs. I’m still torn on whether I should build up some wheels with them or sell them on ebay. I think they’re worth about 600 bucks. [Note from Fatty: If you sell them on eBay, you suck.]

The race started at five in the morning, in order to give everyone as much daylight as possible to do the race in.  Once it’s dark they don’t allow anyone on the course.

Let’s Go
The pace started out fairly slow…which is great when you’re riding a single speed on a flat road.  The pace gradually quickened as the road got steeper.  I found I was able to stay with the lead group of about 5 or 6 for the first hour.

I felt good.

No, scratch that. I felt fantastic. 

I was hammering the pedals and my legs felt strong.  I wasn’t going anaerobic and I was keeping pace with the race leaders.  I started checking out the competition.  There was one single speed rider just behind me and I was pretty sure there was one up front, by the slower cadence he was turning.  I looked around and Chucky was nowhere to be found.

That was strange. 

I knew he was well-rested and ready for this race.  I supposed he was just being smart and saving himself for the next two laps.  This was a ten hour race, after all.  Nobody wins in the first lap. It’s all about the last lap. 

About a half hour later, Chucky and one other rider came up on my left and passed me.  He seemed great, chit-chatting with me and the other rider as he went by.  I had slowed my pace a bit, but still had the lead group in my sites. I thought about holding Chuck’s wheel, but decided that I had to race my race.  My pace felt right, and Chucky belonged in front of me anyway. 

At the top of the long dirt road, the singletrack climb started.  I was loving it. The trail weaved in and out of some of the biggest pine trees I’ve ever seen.  The dirt was soft, but not too dry or powdery.  It was cooler in the shaded forest with huge patches of moss covering downed logs.  I kept expecting to see those Sesame Street teddy bear aliens from Return of the Jedi [Note from Fatty: Uh, those are called "Ewoks," Kenny], with their stupid leather hats and their squeaky voices. 

What I did see were 5 or 6 riders whip past me as I tentatively descended the slightly technical down hill.  I consider myself to be pretty good at descending, so this was a surprise to me.  Maybe I was being overly cautious. Or maybe I was just getting schooled by the local boys.

Lap 2: I Am Invincible
I finished my lap, rode into aid station 1, chugged a protein shake, grabbed
three more packs of shot blocks two new water bottles and headed out for my second lap. 

I started climbing and realized, as I passed everyone back who had just showed me up on the DH, that I felt great. 

In fact, I felt like Superman. 

Towards the top of the second lap, I passed the single speeder, who was riding first in my category.  I must have been about 6th place overall, and still Chucky was where he was supposed to be, somewhere ahead of me.

It wasn’t until about hour 6, somewhere on the single track before a big grassy field that I saw a tall rider wearing red.  I hoped it wasn’t Chuck, but as I got closer I could make out the Felt logo on his jersey and shorts.  I said, “Are you hurting?”

“Yeah, you go Jones,” he said, encouraging me as I passed.  I knew his back had been bugging him from lifting something at work. I figured it must have really started hurting him on that last climb.  I was bummed for Chuck, but I was having the best race of my life.  I was in first place in my category and I still felt great. 

I descended much better my second time down and only got passed by one rider — the other single speed guy.  I wasn’t worried. I was confident that I was climbing better and would be able to pass him with enough time to put a lot of distance between us before the last descent to the finish.

One More Time
I rode into aid station 1 and did my routine; Shot Bloks, protein shake, new water bottles.  Everything seemed the same as lap two, but it was slightly hotter.  I was climbing at a strong pace, but not too fast. 

I was on the hunt for one guy, but it seemed like I was in a race by myself. There was no one in sight.  I started darting from one side of the road to the other–whereever there was shade.  I realized my top tube on my bike was covered in the sweat, dripping off the top of my helmet.  At last I spotted the rider I was stalking. With each turn I was a little closer.

As I passed he said, “Dude you’re a motor.” This in mountain bike lingo means “You are climbing very well.”  I think he expected me to catch him. 

I was feeling confident. I was where I wanted to be.  I had completed about a third of the climb on the final lap and had a lot more climbing that I could put distance between us before the downhill. 

It was a rush.  I was going to win.  I knew it. 

Head Games
I continued to climb at about the same pace that I had been.  My plan was working. I got ahead a little bit.  If I could just get out of sight, it would be harder for him to keep going.  I needed to make him crack while trying to keep up. 

I increased my effort. 

As I went around a couple turns I looked back, expecting to be alone. 

I wasn’t.  He was keeping pace. I tried to go a little harder, but he was actually gaining ground. All of a sudden, he was on my wheel and then I was on his wheel. 

Wow, he was turning the tables on me. 

He started to pull away, and I realized I was cooked.  I had nothing in the tank. 

I tried to push the pedals and the power was gone. This transition was amazing.  I went from “I’m going to win this race!” to “Am I going to be able to finish this race?” all in a matter of minutes. 

To make things worse as we rode by the water tent, the volunteer gave a full water bottle to the current leader and when I came by right after he said, “wait, I only had one, I’ll fill one up for you.”

Foolishly, I didn’t wait; I was too worried about getting dropped. Well, I got dropped anyway and I ran out of water for about a half hour before the next aid station. 

At this point my goals changed. 

I just needed to keep rolling and try to get a respectable finish.   I suffered through the next hour of climbing, then started the huge descent.

Descending while you’re totally bonked feels like someone is hitting you in the back of the neck with a big stick on every little drop or bump.  My vision was foggy. I stopped briefly for some peanut M&M’s and a glass of cold chocolate milk, which I pretty sure got me to the finish line.  While I was stopped however, I got passed by some more riders, one of which was in my class.

It seemed like the downhill section of the course was twice as long as the last two times I came down it.  As I finished, the race promoter, Scott, gave me my finisher hat and a wall clock with “3rd Place Single Speed” printed on it. 

Where’s Chuck?
I rode back to camp, thinking I’d find Chuck there asleep in the shade, but he was nowhere to be found. 


I showered, packed up the car and went back to the finish line.  I waited for awhile.  When Chuck still hadn’t finished, I decided to talk to the time keeper in the finish tent.  I asked him if Chucky Gibson had DNF’d.  He said that he had pulled himself out of the race after two laps. 

Scott, having over heard the conversation, laughed and said, “No he didn’t.”  he explained how Chucky had quit, went back to camp, showered, took a nap and had come back two hours later and gone out for his final lap. 

We all chuckled about that and I settled in and waited for Chucky to finish. 

He came in shortly after in really good spirits.  He said he woke up from his nap and just had an epiphany. He thought, “This is stupid, how can I quit after all this preparation and travel?  I’m not so good that I can’t finish 50th place.”  So he put on his biking clothes and finished the race.

I’m not sure, but I bet he was about 50th place — about midpack — after a
shower and a two hour nap. I was super impressed that he would make that decision after going through the emotional roller coaster of quitting. 

On the way home, he kept saying over and over what a great race it was and we have to come back next year.  I asked him, “Why do we do this?”  He said that for him it was a cure for boredom. What else can you do that in the course of 12 hours you can feel so many highs and lows? 

That’s as good an answer as any, I guess.

I teased him by saying, “Now that I’m faster than you, is there anything I can do to help you be better?”  I told him I would be posting the results at the bike shop and then I repeated what he always says: “You’re only as good as your last race.”


  1. Comment by spbarnes | 07.10.2007 | 9:38 pm

    awesome race…awesome story. It really is all about the highs and the lows,
    isn’t it? The tougher the lows are, the more we appreciate the highs.

    Congratulations to you both!

  2. Comment by buckythedonkey | 07.11.2007 | 1:28 am

    Chris King hubs? Blimey, if I won those I’d build an entire bike up around them. Please don’t sell them!

    Great post.

  3. Comment by cheapie | 07.11.2007 | 4:33 am

    red CK disc hubs??? i’ll make you an offer! i’ve been wanting to lace up my current wheels with some of those!

  4. Comment by MAJ Mike | 07.11.2007 | 5:21 am

    Great race, great story.

    I wish we had somewhere to mtb around here.

  5. Comment by Born 4 Lycra | 07.11.2007 | 5:36 am

    Just like being there – great stuff – great story. This running a blog job is easy when you got mates writing this calibre of stuff for you.
    Don’t know about the rest of year but I am really enjoying the TDF so far. Some astonishing stories and different finishes. I reckon pro cycling is on the way back.

  6. Comment by Born 4 Lycra | 07.11.2007 | 5:37 am

    I should check my work first before submitting – year should be you

  7. Comment by Boz | 07.11.2007 | 5:54 am

    Kenny, I’m going to lie to the boss and go home sick and ride the rest of the day. If I get busted and canned, it’s your fault. Great story.

  8. Comment by hades | 07.11.2007 | 6:30 am

    Nice race report – unfortunately I had read before reading it, so the suspense was a little ruined for me (only a little though, the writing kept me involved – I kept wondering how things would possibly go wrong ;)
    Racing for me always involves being mid pack and back since racing for me always involves “adult beverages” as well… I just can’t take it seriously or I’d kill myself with effort (if I can tell myself I’m not trying to win, and then make it so that there is no way that I would win, I have more fun. I don’t advocate anyone else doing this though, ymmv, don’t do what I do, etc.).
    I understand about the CK hubs – uber-sweet, uber-bling, but not SS – what would you use them on? – you could buy a whole back up SS bike for what you’d get on ebay for ‘em; I’d think fatty might understand the SS addiction by now.

  9. Comment by Bob | 07.11.2007 | 7:25 am

    Nice writeup, Kenny. It sounds like calling that race the Cascade Cream Puff is like calling a bald guy Curly. 18,000 feet of climbing in a mountain bike race? Wow.

  10. Comment by Rick S. | 07.11.2007 | 7:43 am

    Nice one Kenny and Chucky. I still remember watching Chucky prepare for the Brianhead 100 a few years ago by packing left over cold pizza into zip lock bags and using those for his drop bags. I think he placed first by a lot….like almost 30 minutes or so.
    I don’t even comprehend how fast you and Chucky (and Brad) are. Sick fast.

  11. Comment by Demonic1 | 07.11.2007 | 7:48 am

    I did build a bike around a pair of purple King hubs- it was awesome. I can’t believe you would sell a pair of the lightest hubs on the market- just putting them on your SS will make you faster. you won’t even need rims!

  12. Comment by Al Maviva | 07.11.2007 | 2:58 pm

    Well, that was a cool writeup… Now I realize how bad I suck on the bike.

    Thanks Kenny. I’m going to go out and steal an old black painted Raleigh three speed, get a pork pie hat and a tweed jacket, wear my wingtips and cruise around slowly, smoking a pipe and hauling a small trailer filled with groceries, wet leaves and a Water Spaniel from now on.

    Really. Seriously. For a while there, I almost thought I could race. Holy crap, I’m not in the same universe as people who can race. I need to lay off the crack, stat. Either that, or start smoking a whole hell of a lot more of it. That shattering noise? Oh, nothing. Just my glass ego falling off the top of the Petronas Towers and hitting the ground hard enough to turn into dust. Thanks for helping me realize I was freaking delusional thinking I could ride. Thanks. Really. I mean it.

    And you’re ambivalent about what to do with a set of King hubs. Eh, who needs em’? All my bling? Worthless. Bring on that old Raleigh with the rusted Sturmey-Archer hub. Hopefully it’s rusted into the smallest gear, so I can pedal up the tiny false flat near my house. Slowly. So that the creaking from the crap bike hides the sound of my teardrops hitting the tarmac.


  13. Comment by Kathy | 07.11.2007 | 4:38 pm

    Awesome report, Kenny. How about a first-person account from Chucky? I’d like to read about that emotional roller coaster.

  14. Comment by Dave Nice | 07.12.2007 | 3:32 am

    cool nice write up!!

  15. Comment by David D | 07.12.2007 | 9:36 am

    Great story, and congratulations on a great race. This was my favorite part…
    “My vision was foggy. I stopped briefly for some peanut M&M’s and a glass of cold chocolate milk” I am imagining a glass of C. milk and a bowl or peanut M&M’s conventiently sitting on a rock next to the trail.

  16. Comment by MTB W | 07.12.2007 | 12:33 pm

    Loved the story! I don’t know how you and Chucky can do 18,000 feet of climbing and act like its no big deal. I am torn between Al’s comment (“jerk”) for making me feel, shall we say inadequate, and dumb struck awe. I felt like I was in the race (while sitting comfortably in my chair), going thru the highs and lows, cheering you and Chucky on. OK, you have inspired me – I can’t wait to hit the trails as soon as I get out of work.

    BTW, I wouldn’t worry about getting older and still racing. Example No. 1: Ned Overend won the Crankworx XC race at Winter Park last weekend, beating pros half his age (Ned “the stud” is 51 years old). He beat second place by 7 minutes! Ned also won the road hill climb at Vail’s teva games in June, beating second place by more than a minute with a time of 27:29 (beating Floyd Landis in the same race). In doing so, Ned bested his time from last year, when he also won. Thus, he actually got better the older he got! Fatty, remember that at Leadville when you crank out a sub 9 time.

  17. Comment by Mike from Melbourne | 07.12.2007 | 9:29 pm

    Great report Kenny, it was a great read. Sounds like a very nice race and very tough too. I built myself a singlespeed roadbike earlier this year and love riding it. It has become my commuter of choice. I keep looking at my MTB and thinking another project could be on the cards. Can I ask what gearing you ran for the race ?

  18. Comment by Bill F (Kenny Groupie) | 07.12.2007 | 10:03 pm

    I was hanging on each word. Great write up. I was so emotionally involved, I feel like actually rode the race. I can now check that one off my list. THANKS

  19. Comment by kenny | 07.13.2007 | 6:40 am

    Mike, I usually run a 34×19 on my 29er which calculates to 51.9 gear inches. The CCP has a lot of climbing and descending with very little flats. I ran 32×22 or 37.8 gear inches. Be careful. Single Speeding is addicting. People will make fun of you. They’ll call you stupid or they’ll call you super human. It’s all the same, just a different way to suffer.

  20. Comment by Beth B | 07.13.2007 | 8:56 am

    Fun stuff. We could use the humor and great writing at’s community site. Lots of traffic there and you can link back to your blog. Would love to hear your voice in the mix.


  21. Comment by Clydesteve | 07.13.2007 | 9:47 am

    Kenny – Great writeup! Congrats on the good result. Sure, you were in 1st/2nd of your catagory and ended up in 3rd, but if you run strong most of the race and get fried, but still muscle it in on chocolate milk, it is a great result.

    This was a fun race report for me to read – Oakridge is practically in my back door, and the people up there have really worked hard to make it a good MTB area.

    About SS gearing changes – I see that you switched both cog & gear wheel when you made a change. Is this so you can keep the chain length about the same?

    best, Steve

  22. Comment by kenny | 07.13.2007 | 10:03 am

    Yeah,… my eccentric BB only allows for small changes. I never break my chain to make adjustments. The last think you want when pushing a big gear up a hill is a chain with a bunch of weak links in it. I have a few scars from my knees from hitting the stem, before I learned that lesson.

  23. Comment by mark | 07.13.2007 | 12:30 pm

    Chocolate milk is my recovery beverage of choice. I’ve never used it during a ride, but sometimes the feel good factor of food is more important for performance than how efficiently your body uses it. Case in point, Chris Horner told the team chef to skip the pasta and green beans and give him two bowls of ice cream, pizza, and cheeseburgers after racing. His results immediately improved.

  24. Comment by Born 4 Lycra | 07.13.2007 | 4:13 pm

    Shadow – my daughter enjoys the cartoons and was wondering if there is any interesting story behind your name Shadow Scythe ?

  25. Comment by Rocky | 07.13.2007 | 8:31 pm

    Nice work Mr. Jones and Mr. Gibson. You make it look easy.

    Two water bottles, eh? If I had a single wish for my own mountain biking abilities, it would be that two water bottles would suffice for me for a 33 mile lap.

  26. Comment by Rider 19 | 07.15.2007 | 5:24 pm

    Nice Job Kenny, way to represent SGF. You almost have me convinced to come do this next year. Perhaps with some coaching I’ll be more commited. You are an inspiration.

  27. Comment by Rider 19 | 07.15.2007 | 5:24 pm

    Nice Job Kenny, way to represent SGF. You almost have me convinced to come do this next year. Perhaps with some coaching I’ll be more commited. You are an inspiration.


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