Pando Challenge- “The longest running mountain bike venue”


 23 years ago, I competed in my first mountain bike race, The Pando Challenge  “State championships”.   I had just received a gift from my girlfriend, Marnie. It was a sweet steel, black and chrome Schwinn Sierra mountain bike with big knobby tires, flat pedals and 24 gears to choose from!  I remember that race like it was yesterday. I was 24 years old and I looked cool on the outside wearing my high top tennis shoes, t-shirt and dew rag, but on the inside I was SO nervous at the thought of racing for eight mile ( 2 laps at Pando) in the beginner class division.

The  race started near the parking lot and before you had a chance to take four breaths you were climbing straight up the ski hill. I actually had to walk up part of the hill as I remembered feeling on the verge of blacking out.


Once at the top you jumped back on your bike and continued down the rough cut single track. Through the dense woods with punchy little uphill climbs and twisty loose descending turns, you winded your way back to the start and did it all over again.   The tradition at the Pando race is to always have the finish line at the top of the ski hill, OUCH! I remembered limping in and placed 12th in my age group. That was my last mountain bike race until 2007.

Fast forward 23 years to Pando Challenge race 2013 and I’m really shocked at how much has changed in the sport of mountain biking. You see Spandex skin suits, carbon fiber everything, clipless pedals and almost no one racing in t-shirts.   The race started as usual near the parking lot and straight up the ski hill, but this year, Brent Walk decided to switch it up and we raced the course in a backwards direction. It seemed like much more climbing in this direction and for all the Founder’s team racers in the expert class, the six laps seemed like we were riding the 1990’s old steel heavy bikes.

After sprinting up the ski hill ( on my bike!)to the finish line, I felt I had a good race but had deja’vu with a 12th place finish in my age group.

My old girlfriend, now wife, Marnie took 2nd place 2:22:35

Tom “Single Speeder” Stolz 4th place 2:01:50

Matt “The Hammer” Remelts 4th place 1:59:09

Dennis “Long Haul” Murphy 10th place 2:23:00

Tim ” Lumberjack” Curtis 4th place 2:04:48

Tenner ” dew rag” TenCate 12th place 1:59:19


Founder’s Team Captain – Rick ” On the Road to Utopia” Plite

Pando Challenge 1993


rick pando


The main item consumed by most mountain bikers would have to be beer.  Specifically a crisp, hoppy IPA.  So the thought of racing and eating donuts to deduct time didn’t really bring happy thoughts to mind.  However, my brother and I have always talked about trying this race up at Klackle’s Orchard and this year it actually worked out.  I had great plans of doing this race on Saturday morning, driving to the KissCross race then doing Pando the next day.  That really didn’t go as planned.

I opted for the mountain bike race instead of the road race.  A brief downpour Saturday morning left Greenville glistening and prettier than I remember.  The race director explained how the course was laid out and the road race and mountain bike race went off together but in opposite directions.  We ended up rounding through the apple orchard and through the backyard of Walmart before hitting the first single track in Sheerer Road.  I immediately was off the front and feeling good but could tell I wasn’t comfortable with the wet conditions.  I proceeded to fall numerous times.  The final one taking be off a wet bridge.  Tom Scott (AKA BAMF) caught me and we ended up working together for the rest of the race.  We came to the first doughnut stop and ate one plain cake doughnut (no sugar, no powder just a brown doughnut).  This one took a while to get down but we were finished before anyone else got there.  We took off and raced towards the second doughnut stop while hitting most of Edwards Creek.  At the second doughnut stop Tom and I agreed to eat three.  This time the donuts were caked in sugar.  I ended up dunking them in water to get them down as quickly as possible.  I finishing pretty quick and took off before my rival.  The last three miles were excruciating.  Through an abandoned gold course,  more fresh bumpy single track and pavement I trudged.  Most of the course marshals had no idea what the difference between a mountain bike and road bike was so I had to turn around on several occasions since we had different turns at points.  
Tom ended up catching me and led us into the finish.  With Pando and cross on the back of my mind, I sat up and took second (really Tom pulled up hill into a headwind probably going 24mph and I had nothing).
After the race, I felt fine but on the drive home the doughnut effect sat in, my knee started to swell and I was cashed out for the entire weekend.  
Would I do the race again?  Maybe.  Lesson learned?  Do this race with a group of friends who agree to just ride and eat donuts while drinking some sort of cider cocktail.