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And they’re off! Racers speed along Portland waterfront

Posted by on May 14th, 2008 at 9:23 am

Mt. Hood Cycling Classic - Stage 1-9.jpg

A rider leaves the start ramp.
Waterfront Park is in the background.
View the Stage 1 Photo Gallery
(Photos © J. Maus)

The Mt. Hood Cycling Classic got off to a fast start in downtown Portland last night.

It was a surreal sight. All the northbound lanes of Naito Parkway were closed and lycra-clad pro bike racers sped down the road while rush-hour traffic sat in a gridlock all around the course.

227 of America’s fastest cyclists (143 men and 84 women) went through the start ramp — which was located right in front of Salmon Street Fountain. They tested their bodies and machines against the clock in front of hundreds of appreciative fans.

Mt. Hood Cycling Classic - Stage 1-28.jpg Mt. Hood Cycling Classic - Stage 1-26.jpg Mt. Hood Cycling Classic - Stage 1-30.jpg Mt. Hood Cycling Classic - Stage 1-1.jpg

– View more photos in the Stage 1 Photo Gallery

The fastest time of the day came from Benjamin Jacques-Maynes who rides with the Bissell Pro Cycling Team. Jacques-Maynes completed the 1.7 mile course in just 2 minutes and 45 seconds — an average speed of over 37 mph (!) only four seconds ahead of his brother Andy. Local pro Doug Ollerenshaw finished in 17th place, a mere six seconds behind the winner. Only six seconds separated the top 20 finishers.

Mt. Hood Cycling Classic - Stage 1-16.jpg

In bike racing, there is
no glory without pain.

With full-body “skin-suits” and teardrop helmets, some of the riders looked like alien life-forms, dropped onto Earth just to compete. The craziest outfit of the day went to 3-time US Pro Cycling Champion “Fast” Freddie Rodriguez. Check him out:

Mt. Hood Cycling Classic - Stage 1-25.jpg

Please note: You can only wear stuff like this when you’re a
3-time US Pro Champion and your nickname is “Fast Freddie”.

On the women’s side, the fastest time was turned in by New Zealander Joanne Kiesanowski who completed the course in 3 minutes and 8 seconds. [Note: I did not arrive in time to photograph the women’s race.]

The racing action continues in Portland today with a criterium/circuit race around a hilly course in Mt. Tabor Park. The Pro Women’s field starts at 3:00 and the Pro Men start at 5:00. From there, the race heads inland for the final four stages.

See my Stage 1 Photo Gallery (31 images).

More info at MtHoodCyclingClassic.com.

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36 Comments
  • J May 14, 2008 at 9:36 am

    I really wanted to watch but I was stuck at work…these events start too early in the day for me unfortunately 🙁

    Any estimates on how many spectators turned out? Just curious.

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  • Ron May 14, 2008 at 9:44 am

    I watched last night, the Men anyway. I would guess, not counting the forced spectators (cars stuck in traffic), maybe as many as 1000 people lined the course.

    It was enjoyable, and I expect the Mt. Tabor event to be pretty exciting tonight.

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  • Bob May 14, 2008 at 10:05 am

    It was awesome watching these guys and gals race. If you have never seen high caliber racing before I urge you to watch tonight at Mt. Tabor. The only negative thing I saw on Naito was the utter disregard some pedestrians and cyclists had for the competitors. A couple of times racers had to break or swerve out of the way of people trying to cross the street. Something really dangerous could have happened out there.

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  • Qwendolyn May 14, 2008 at 10:08 am

    Fast Freddie, you bring joy to my heart.

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  • Russell May 14, 2008 at 10:35 am

    I\’m really bummed I won\’t be able to make the Mt. Tabor crit tonight. Two of my friends are racing. Oh well, might have to make a trip to Hood River on Sunday . . .

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  • Pete May 14, 2008 at 10:40 am

    Good pics Jonathan! I notice a lack of shots of the women\’s categories, though, but assume it\’s because you couldn\’t get there early enough (we barely caught the tail end). Girls\’ racing is every bit exciting but overshadowed by the guys IMHO.

    One of my favorite parts was the Rock Racing mechanic changing a racer\’s rear wheel ten seconds before his start. Kudos to that guy!

    I heard the Giro overlaps so there\’s a bit of top talent missing, but that\’s hard to tell. I\’m torn between watching the head-to-head action at Mt. Tabor tonight or hitting the gym to better my speed in the VBC Thursday night TT (yeah, not quite as exciting ;). I doubt I\’ll average 37 MPH like these guys did!!

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  • Jill May 14, 2008 at 10:40 am

    I couldn\’t stick around for the men, but was awesome watching the women!
    Thanks to everyone who helped out- it was a scramble getting everything set up when they didn\’t close the road down until after 2pm. We were still hanging banners and placing barricades as the first riders started. Still, a great time and the rain even stopped so the pavement dried up for the later riders.
    Wish I could see the Crit tonight, but I\’ll get see them all in Hood River the rest of the week!

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  • Pete May 14, 2008 at 10:49 am

    Make the trip Russell! The Hood River crit is always exciting, with that NASCAR-esque thrill of waiting for a wipe-out or even massive pile-up at the Industrial Loop S-turn! We don\’t really want something bad to happen, but yet we wait, baited in anticipation…

    And if that\’s not incentive enough there\’s another good brewery downtown this year (but they don\’t sponsor this event so I better keep quiet! ;).

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  • Matt Picio May 14, 2008 at 10:51 am

    \”You can only wear stuff like this…\”

    Brilliant. Simply brilliant.

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  • Laura May 14, 2008 at 10:52 am

    I watched a group of racers of both genders scoping out the Tabor course yesterday morning. Gonna be some more fast fun today.

    Go Doug!!!

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  • Carl May 14, 2008 at 10:54 am

    I had never seen anything like this before. I\’m so proud of Portland for hosting this DOWNTOWN. It felt like a little sliver of Monaco, where the city is such a part of the race. And MAN were those riders fast. I hope our Hawthorne bridge commuter racers don\’t get any ideas.

    Speaking of running over pedestrians…

    The course marshals, or whatever you call the fellas with the orange vests monitoring the cross streets and directing traffic, were total disasters. I watched two guys\’ races dangerously ruined as a result of their inattentiveness. First, a marshal failed to stop this oblivious woman from just riding her bike across Naito, around a barricade, past the marshal, and directly into the path of a racer who went down HARD and cracked his frame very visibly. Then, from a block away, a group of us watched in horror as another marshal actually directed a guy walking his bike out in front of another racer who, luckily, jumped on the brakes, and swerved. He was furious and yelled, \”That was my race!\” It was horrible to watch. I couldn\’t take the anxiety brought on by their ineptitude any longer so I left. The intersections were so badly controlled, it was like watching a non-stop train wreck. Chad should invest in with-it staff and metal pedestrian barricades next year.

    That won\’t stop me from checking out tabor this evening, though!

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  • BURR May 14, 2008 at 11:09 am

    seems kind of insensitive to snarl rush hour traffic and even worse block pedestrian access to waterfront park for what at best is one of the least appealing aspects of cycling.

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  • […] winner finished it in just over 2:45….that’s an average of 37mph! Talk about hammering. (bikeportland write-up) They’ve got a hilly crit tonight at Mt Tabor, a local park that is a dead volcano that […]

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  • Donald May 14, 2008 at 11:14 am

    The kids race was EPIC!

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  • Brian Johnson May 14, 2008 at 11:24 am

    Jeannie Longo is here for the Mt. Hood Cycling Classic!!

    That\’s kinda like Madonna showing up for a PDX music fest. A big deal!

    I grew up reading about her in the bike mags. She\’s got 51 victories– totally kicks ass. I\’m sorry, but who\’s Lance Armstrong, again??

    http://www.velonews.com/article/76247/mt-hood-the-prologue-to-the-prologue

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  • Pete May 14, 2008 at 11:39 am

    Carl (#11) – so that\’s what happened? I think he cracked more than his frame on that fall.

    Good feedback – the \”marshals\” are untrained volunteers, and a growing event of this size needs more. I\’m hosting riders and providing transit but didn\’t volunteer this year, and can tell you in past years have had disrespectful people push past me onto the course saying we didn\’t have the right to close the streets (ORS says we do with proper permits).

    BURR (#12) – ped/bike access wasn\’t blocked, just gated (apparently not very well as Carl points out). That time trials are the \”least appealing aspect of cycling\” is a matter of opinion (and when you can hold 37 MPH for 2 miles with no hills or tail wind I\’ll respect your opinion a lot more! 😉

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  • Moo May 14, 2008 at 11:54 am

    Sure wasn\’t any effort on promoting it to the public. The bike series fans had the inside scoop and more info. than a probable new or interested fan did… and still not much mention in today\’s Oregonian, not even a start time for today\’s Mt.Tabor race in the events section. I just happened to stumble on it on Naito yesterday, like (I guess) about half the others did. Big foul!

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  • jeff May 14, 2008 at 11:58 am

    Brian – Longo won 51 French and World Championships. Her total number of victories is probably too many to count. Completely dominent. And she\’s 49 years old.

    Tabor tonight will be off the hook! I do fear for pedestrians and dogs and such. If you\’re out there, pay attention and keep an eye on those who aren\’t!

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  • Mark C May 14, 2008 at 12:50 pm

    If you think the green Rock Racing kit is something, you should check out the orange monstrosities they were wearing at the end of the Tour de Georgia. Almost makes the green ones look tame!

    I was down there for both the men and women and I agree that the race could have been better publicized. I was hoping for a bigger crowd – especially in a platinum bike city.

    I don\’t think BURR was referring to just the TT. He was taking a shot at the whole racing/spandex scene. I was waiting for someone on this site to disparage bike racing. Why can\’t we enjoy all aspects of cycling instead of congregating in our little narrow subgroups?

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  • Pete May 14, 2008 at 1:02 pm

    So Mark, you\’re saying he probably doesn\’t shave his legs? 😉

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  • Jill May 14, 2008 at 1:04 pm

    This was the first time any part of the race was held in Portland and the course marshals are all volunteers. It was indeed pretty chaotic. (AND, most of the volunteers I saw were from Hood River- our little town of 8,000 provided more vols for the Portland events?)

    Races are always stressful, especially with pros who are so focused on their race that they don\’t/can\’t think about anything else. Add downtown rush hour traffic, a short course where every milli-second matters, and spectators who don\’t know what\’s going on (e.g. there\’s another rider on the course every 30 seconds), and there\’s bound to be some problems. I am not excusing any blatant safety errors, but a certain amount of chaos is part of the challenge.

    I hope any glitches get worked out for tonight at Tabor- it will be epic! Watch out for off-leash dogs!

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  • woop May 14, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    Turns out you shouldn\’t wear that even if you’re a 3-time US Pro Champion and your nickname is “Fast Freddie”. And Jay-Z called – he wants his escalade back.

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  • Doug Ollerenshaw May 14, 2008 at 1:45 pm

    Thanks to everyone that came out last night and cheered us on. All of the riders I\’ve spoken with were extremely impressed with the energy out there. I\’ve been telling them that they haven\’t seen anything yet. I hope lots of you can come out and make it loud and crazy up at Mt. Tabor tonight. It should be a good show.

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  • stan May 14, 2008 at 1:58 pm

    the race was awesome!!

    thanks volunteers, sponsors and race organizers… it can\’t have been easy when the entire city didn\’t know the event was going on.

    i give te PR team for this event an F- however. 1000 spectators? i\’d say about 250. 175 at the start/finish, 50 at the turn, and about 25 scattered along the sides. or about 1 every 100 feet.

    the village was empty. by the setup of the circle of tents, it looks like they were expecting thousands.

    this event should have been hyped like crazy. blown opportunity.

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  • bahueh May 14, 2008 at 3:33 pm

    Pete..just so you\’re clear..the talent at the Giro de Italia and the talent at the Mt. Hood stage race….

    two VERY different levels of talent..no riders who are attending this event would be at the Giro..or vice versa.

    National vs. International…sometimes very different pro scenes…

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  • bahueh May 14, 2008 at 3:36 pm

    Very cool …

    I was riding down the Waterfront on the way to PIR last night to race myself..

    I somehow got behind Freddy R. just strolling down the watefront in full TT gear for a good 1/2 mile or so..#33 kills it!

    Tabor should be fun tonight..hopefully they\’ve taken care of the construction issue..

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  • jeff May 14, 2008 at 3:56 pm

    \”two VERY different levels of talent..no riders who are attending this event would be at the Giro..or vice versa.\”

    Aaron Olson is racing Hood this year, and raced and finished the Giro last year…

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  • Pete May 14, 2008 at 4:06 pm

    bahueh – understood. The racers staying with me said they (BMC, and other represented teams) had people over there but maybe mainly were talking about their support infrastructure. They consider this \”training\” for an important race coming up in Philly(?). I just continue to be impressed by cycling talent around here.

    I recently watched a documentary called \”The Hard Road\” about NetZero in 2001 (which you can borrow from the WA County library system). Maybe not an Oscar winner, but pretty informative about racing hardships.

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  • Bryan May 14, 2008 at 4:09 pm

    I only made it to the start/finish line. I was curious how they were turning around at the end?

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  • Bobcycle May 14, 2008 at 5:11 pm

    Although I was very impressed with the speed of these racers I was a little turned off by Rock Racing team vehicle which was a BIG SHINY BLACK CADILLAC SUV. Having that pass me on some narrow Portland streest would scare the *)@*&^ out of me. Can\’t they just cruise in something a little more mellow, say an early 70\’s VW bus? Just goes to show not all bikers are biking for the same reason. 🙂

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  • Laura May 14, 2008 at 6:22 pm

    A comment about course control and volunteers for the organizer:
    There are lots of experienced bike and running race course monitors here in town, but we need more than a couple of days notice in a \”call for volunteers\”. How about posting it to BikePortland and some of the running sites a month before the races.

    Also, any chance to run the races a bit later than 3 and 5, like 5 & 7? We have plenty of daylight and it would be easier to get spectators and volunteers if they aren\’t ditching out of too much work time.

    The women\’s Tabor race was awesome. Go Jeannnie!

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  • Bobcycle May 14, 2008 at 9:48 pm

    My brother sent me a link to Velo news which is covering the Hood Classic but one of their course descriptions leaves me wondering… \”Thursday, May 15: Cooper Spur Circuit Race Each 18.7-mile lap of this circuit race, which starts at the foot of Mt. Hood, includes 1750 feet of climbing, at elevations between 7150 and 9000 feet. Men do 4 1/2 circuits and women do 3 1/2.\” So are they grabbing their Mountain bikes and racing around Eliot Glacier? Where is there a road race course that will take racers to 9000 ft.? Timberline is about 6000 feet. so are there higher roads than that clear of snow? Just curious. I telemark ski in the winter and can\’t think where this would be… any thoughts?

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  • Zaphod May 14, 2008 at 9:48 pm

    Rock Racing is a huge departure from the traditional road team. It\’s full of ego and rock star type ethos. So rolling in Black Escalades is part of the gig. It\’s lame but they do inject lots of energy into the sport. The tabor race was really fun to watch.

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  • Marc May 14, 2008 at 10:02 pm

    not to pile on here but the course monitors i saw were paired up on the same side of the road mostly talking to each other. i witnessed the crash/cracked frame and it was a direct result of the monitor not making sure her banners were tied off and not being forceful enough to warn people of the danger. the lady that caused that crash was VERY lucky she did not end up in the hospital. also the monitors needed whistles or something else to get people\’s attention because they sure weren\’t using their voices.

    i agree with bumping the races an hour or so back – if they had i could have volunteered.

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  • Brandon May 15, 2008 at 12:47 am

    #32 velo news is mistaken. The total elevation gain for those stages is either 7150 or 9000 depending on race distance, which depends on category or men or women. Snow has unfortunately canceled the wy\’east road race and forced the race to take an alternative route. should be interesting as that one I hear has 11000 feet of gain!

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  • […] 2008, the opening prologue (which took place on Naito Parkway) and Mt. Tabor circuit race stages drew large and enthusiastic […]

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