(Update: adding video, info, comments from race creator, competitor)
Dubbed most unique endurance bike race in North America
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The Best of Both bike race is back on west of Bend this month, after taking a year off because of the pandemic. The mixed-terrain, 90-mile course is referred to as the most unique endurance bike race in North America.
"It's just really about getting back on the horse, and figuring out how do we make it a good experience for people,” said Dominic Phipps, the race director, promoter and creator.
Phipps told NewsChannel 21 Thursday the idea for the race began as a simple way to settle a debate.
"Riding back in England, I'd ride with the British Army team, and they had road riders and mountain bike riders,” Phipps recalled. “There was a big rivalry there, and a constant debate about who was the faster, who was a fitter rider."
Phipps was never able to create a competition overseas, but he brought the idea with him to Bend. In 2018, he started the Best of Both race.
"The format really was founded with being able to ride more than one bike,” Phipps said. “You ride a road bike on the road, you come to a transition point, you change to a mountain bike and then race on the trails."
Competitors climb more than 6,000 feet in elevation over the course of a 90-mile race, which starts at Seventh Mountain Resort, goes around Mt. Bachelor, then back to the resort.
The race has grown in popularity every year, from 170 cyclists in 2018 to 270 expected this year.
Dillon Caldwell, who now lives in Tucson, Arizona, was in that inaugural race, and he plans on participating again in 2021 with his wife. They, like many cyclists, are drawn by its unique format.
"Being able to challenge yourself not just with one race, but several races in one day,” Caldwell told NewsChannel 21. “The transition element is really fun."
Of course, the location doesn't hurt either.
"Bend is our playground, it has been our whole life,” Caldwell said. “We're excited to make the most of it."
There’s still have time to sign up, but the window is closing. ‘Best of Both’ will take place next weekend, on June 19th and 20th. It costs $125 for solo riders, and $170 for a group relay. This year, a junior division has been added.