Posted by Jonathan Maus ( Publisher/Editor ) on December 1st, 2008 at 1:55 pm
It was a banner year for cyclocross in Portland.
According to official statistics compiled by the Oregon Bicycle Racing Association (OBRA), the Portland-based River City Bicycles Cross Crusade series grew an average of 25% each event compared to last year (from 836 participants per race in 2007, to 1045 in 2008). The numbers solidify the Crusade’s place as the largest cyclocross race series of its kind in the world (based on participation).
One of the series’ founders, architect Rick Potestio, says one of the many bright spots this year were the crowds of teams and families that hung out and enjoyed the atmosphere at the race venues. Potestio says they’d always dreamed of a “festival”-like vibe to the races and that this year, they achieved it.
“I can say most Mondays,” recalled Potestio, “my face hurts more than my legs as I’m in constant laughter at all the lunacy that transpired.”
The explosion of participation could be seen in nearly every category — even in the Kiddie Kross field. Regularly numbering over 100 kids, Potestio says next year they’ll have to create separate categories for the kids.
OBRA executive director Kenji Sugahara says 2008 was a “watershed year for Cyclocross in Portland and in Oregon in general.” He added that he’s most pleased with the increase in women racers; “A large number of women is a sign of a healthy racing community.” Sugahara hopes the hundreds of new riders that cyclocross brought into the sport “try their hand at the many other types of racing” (like mountain bike, track, and road racing).
Candi Murray, who was inducted into the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame earlier this year, is OBRA’s former leader (and beloved volunteer). She said going into this season she was “worried” they wouldn’t keep up the pace of last year’s growth. Murray was also not looking forward to trying to tally and keep track of over 1,000 riders.
But by the end of the season, she says it became “no big deal,” and adds that, “It was so much fun, I am really sad to see it end.”
To celebrate the season, Cross Crusade organizers are throwing a party. The annual awards ceremony, celebration and “Prom” will happen on Sunday, December 7th. Full details at CrossCrusade.com.
Also, the final cyclocross race of the season goes down this weekend out at Portland International Raceway. The Portland Cup is the final stop on the national Gran Prix of Cyclocross circuit. Some of the sport’s biggest names will duel for the national crown.