This weekend, cyclocross racing will put Portland in the national cycling spotlight when the finale of U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross comes to town.
Along with the nation’s best amateur and professional ‘cross racers, the two full days of racing at Portland International Raceway (PIR) just minutes from downtown Portland is sure to attract national media and industry attention.
Chris Distefano, marketing director for local bike parts manufacturer Chris King Components and former PR guy for Shimano America, says Portland’s reputation will draw a large contingent of bike industry insiders, companies, and racers,
“People will come to this because it’s Portland. You may not do the GP [Gran Prix] in other cities, but you’ll come here for ‘cross because Portland’s like Pebble Beach or Augusta [for golf]…we’re known for our ‘cross scene.”
He also says Portland’s infamously wet and cold winter weather is a draw for those seeking the “true cyclocross experience”.
Race director Brad Ross, who’s also in charge of the Cross Crusade says the event will be, “like the Cross Crusade times ten.” Ross adds that there will be “a gargantuan expo area” with companies like Shimano, SRAM, Cannondale, Mavic, Selle Italia, and a host of others planning to attend.
It all starts on Friday afternoon with a kids clinic out at the race venue (from 3-4:00) taught by World Championship silver medalist Danny Summerhill and Team Clif Bar’s Ben Turner.
Then, beginning at 6:00 on Friday the public is invited to a “Meet the pros” open house/media event/kickoff party at River City Bicycles (706 SE MLK Blvd.). Hosted by the USGP folks, this will be a great chance to meet top pros like recent World Cup race winner Katie Compton (she won the National Championships at PIR back in 2004) and perennial favorites Tim Johnson, Todd Well, Ryan Trebon, and others.
The ‘cross love continues into the weekend with two full days of racing on Saturday and Sunday (action starts at 8:30 with elite races later in the day) followed by the Cross Crusade’s annual season-ending awards party from 6:30 to 11:00 at Audio Cinema (226 SE Madison — break out your cheesy suit and prom dress!).
Following another wildly successful Cross Crusade series and the Single Speed World Championships earlier this month, this weekend’s ‘cross events leave little doubt that Portland has become the epicenter of American cyclocross.
For more details check out the official USGP event website and stay tuned for more coverage.