Posted by Jonathan Maus ( Publisher/Editor ) on October 27th, 2009 at 9:07 am
(Photos © J. Maus)
On Sunday, the Cross Crusade brought its legendary brand of bike racing to the Washington County Fairgrounds in Hillsboro, just a few miles west of Portland. Along with another stellar turnout of racers and spectators, Mother Nature made an appearance in the form of rain, much to the excitement of all the true cyclocross fans.
There wasn’t anything close to the steep and long climb of last weekend, but the course was still just as challenging. Unrelenting bumps and slippery mud took their toll on racers. One corner in particular became packed with spectators (as corners where people crash often do at bike races). It was an extremely tricky, 90-degree turn. The approach was off-camber and there was a short, steep pitch that had to be negotiated along with the right-angle bend.
Behold the futility:
Some took the high road, some took the low road, but it didn’t seem to matter much. Both lines produced ample amounts of mud-laden folly. As the large packs made their way through, bodies and bikes tangled. Otherwise finely-tuned athletes squirmed in the slick mud as their tires and balance failed them.
Looking back through my photos, I noticed howls, jeers, and huge grins on the faces of spectators. Were they laughing/cheering with the racers or at them? I think it was both.
After enjoying that bit of cyclocross theater, I decided to spend some time with some of the many teams that come out for the Cross Crusade. As Portland’s racing scene has grown, so too has the number and variety of racing teams — all of them with their own distinctive personality.
The first tent I came to was that of Portland Velo. A young boy riding on a DIY stationary trainer (his training wheels were propped up on a pair of shoes so he could pedal in place) caught my eye. Towering next to him was the long, thin frame of a man pedaling his own trainer (but the real, adult kind) while focusing intently on his warm up. I broke his concentration long enough to learn that the boy was his son, 7-year old Luke Formiller. His dad Paul is one of about 60 racers on the Portland Velo squad.
Also squeezed under the tent warming up were other members of the team, Sal Bondi and Matt D’Elia. Delia told me the Portland Velo team sprung from the club of the same name (we profiled them back in January 2006), which has 450 members. “They start riding with the club just for fun, and then eventually get sucked into racing.”
The next tent over belonged to the BicycleAttorney.com team. “Are you guys all lawyers?” I asked. “No” was the reply, “but we’re all bike racers in need of attorneys… and if we keep talking I’ll have to start charging you by the hour.” Very funny.
Team BicycleAttorney.com has its roots in Bike ‘N Hike, the locally-based shop where the team started way back in 1996. I didn’t get the guy’s names, but they shared how much more fun race-day is when you’re part of a team. The support they give each other. The camaraderie. Yes, even studly bike racers love getting — and giving — support.
On the other end of the team spectrum is the newly formed Filth and Fury Cycling Team. Named after the famous Sex Pistols album (which I somewhat embarrassingly had to be told after I asked where the name came from), this is the team’s first year. Member Brian Foresta said it started from a few friends who rode together. “We were just a group of mountain bikers from Portland and we wanted to set something up”. Foresta said the first step was finding a sponsor. “We asked a few people if they’d give us beer, and surprisingly, they said yes.” (In case you don’t know, you can’t really have a bike racing team in Portland without a beer sponsor. I think it’s an official rule.)
And then there’s Team Motordome. I spotted the name on Hazel Gross’s jersey. “My friend inherited a motorhome,” she said, “so we figured we’d take it to the races and be Team Motordome.” They got sponsored by Sweetpea Bakery, so the nine team members meet there for brunch on Sundays before piling into the RV and hitting the road to the next stop on the race calendar.
In the local racing scene, there’s truly a team for everyone.
See more images from Sunday’s event — including an angry bovine, a cross-racer-eating giant, amputated limbs, and a creamsicle — in the slideshow below:
— Next week, the Cross Crusade heads to Astoria for its much-anticipated Halloween Weekend edition. Expect debauchery, bonfires, lots of beer, and oh yeah, even a bit of bike racing.
— For a complete wrap of who made the podium, read Pat Malach’s report on VeloNews.com.