Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Twilight Criterium delivers thrills and a poignant goodbye

Posted by on August 11th, 2008 at 10:39 am

The VIP Lounge was packed as racers sped by during the Twilight Criterium Friday night.
(Photo Gallery — Photos © J. Maus)

Last Friday night, the Health Net Portland Twilight Criterium succeeded in turning bike racing into top-notch entertainment.

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The racers, which included some of the fastest pros in America, blazed through the North Park Blocks mere feet away from appreciative fans. Beer flowed freely in the packed VIP Lounge, which gave local bike luminaries like Congressman Earl Blumenauer, Mr. Chris King, and many others a front-row seat to the action.

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Post-race smiles from bike lawyer
Ray Thomas and his son Chris.

Bike lawyer Ray Thomas (who’s no slouch on a bike himself) was on hand to watch his son Chris compete in the Category 3 race (he finished 11th). Notice any resemblance?

But the tight and fast corners that proved thrilling for spectators took their toll on racers. Both of the night’s races were plagued by pile-ups.

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Barret Fishner

Barret Fishner, a member of the local Guinness Cycling Team, had his tire come unglued while rounding a corner. Luckily he wasn’t hurt too bad and he was smiling about it afterwards.

In the night’s main event, even the pros took their share of spills.

For Doug Ollerenshaw, who was going for the win on the second-to-last lap and caught a pedal in a corner, his spill was a tough pill to swallow.

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Doug at the start line.

Doug has been a hometown hero for years. A resident of Northwest Portland, the 28 year-old Ollerenshaw has raced at the sport’s highest level and made his living in bike racing for the past four years. He has traveled the world and gone tire-to-tire with the best riders in the biggest races on the domestic circuit.

But Friday was Doug’s final race in Portland. The humble and well-liked star has decided to end his pro racing career and return to school — a place where he also excels — to pursue a Doctorate degree in Biomedical Engineering.

Doug’s crash.
(Photo by Michelle Gee)

To say he wanted to take the win Friday night, in front of his hometown fans, in the city he loves, is a vast understatement. When I didn’t see him come around on the final lap, my heart sank. Here’s Doug a few seconds after his crash (as captured by reader Michelle Gee):

(Photo by Michelle Gee)

I’ve known Doug for years, ever since I covered his big win at the Sea Otter Classic back in 2005. Since then, I’ve joined him on a ride around Sauvie Island and covered his ups and downs.

Last October, on the night after the Tracey Sparling tragedy, I went to the fateful intersection at W. Burnside and 14th to try and collect my thoughts. Doug’s apartment is just a few blocks away and we met for drinks and conversation at Ringler’s, in a booth within sight of Tracey’s intersection. In addition to being a big time bike racer, Doug also cares deeply about bike advocacy and about making cities safer for bikes.

Doug at the finish line,
forcing a smile.

On Friday, when he came limping through the finish line I knew what happened.

Looking at me through watery eyes, he said, “You don’t know how bad I wanted that.” I told Doug that it was better to go out by giving it everything, than to be hesitant, and not get the win. But even so, my heart went out to him. As a former competitive racer myself, I’ve gone down in similar circumstances, and the pain is far beyond physical.

Doug and his wife Adrienne have already moved to Atlanta, where he’ll attend a joint program at Georgia Tech and Emory University. “The hardest part isn’t leaving racing,” said Doug, “it’s leaving Portland.”

Good luck in your future pursuits Doug. You are a shining example of what a professional athlete should be and it’s been great following your career.

— See more of my photos in the Twilight Criterium Photo Gallery.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

  • Metal Cowboy August 11, 2008 at 10:48 am

    Great piece of writing, Jonathan. That\’s a heartbreak ending to Doug\’s pro career, but you showed us the heart of a champ and the soul of Portland.

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  • jeff August 11, 2008 at 11:02 am

    Doug will always be my hero 🙂

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  • nuovorecord August 11, 2008 at 11:16 am

    Doug, you did us proud. Congrats on a great career. (But I\’ll bet you won\’t miss that fugly Rock Racing team kit at all!) 🙂

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  • bahueh August 11, 2008 at 11:28 am

    the \”fugly\” rock racing kit allowed him to ride with some of the best riders in the world as he was traveling around it…
    I actually bet he will miss it quite a lot.

    You\’ll be missed around here, Doug. Come back and visit when you can.

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  • Crash N. Burns August 11, 2008 at 11:29 am

    Missed it again this year…arrgghhh!! Looks like such a fun event – best wishes to Doug.

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  • Donald August 11, 2008 at 11:53 am

    Nice stuff, Jonathan. I don\’t know the guy or even claim to have known of him. Wish now I would have.

    We did make it down to watch the 3s with our two young ones.

    There\’s a fellow (and I say this lightly and with angst) who races with PSU kit and he\’s not the tallest guy in the world. We\’ve watched him ride at Mt. Tabor and PIR this year and he\’s my boy\’s favorite.

    From our vantage point, he disappeared about midpoint. Anyone know what happened? Crash? Lapped? Name?

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  • FredLf August 11, 2008 at 11:53 am

    Being a pro-cyclist is a tough gig in this country. Lots of expenses, lots of hard time in the saddle, not much income. Good luck to Doug in his future endeavors. (And nice story, Jonathan.)

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  • rafa August 11, 2008 at 12:25 pm

    Great pics!

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  • Kronda August 11, 2008 at 1:37 pm

    Doug, you\’ll always have the Urban Assault Ride (and that sweet New Belgium cruiser…)
    It was a great race to watch, and he did himself and Portland, proud.

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  • Paolo August 11, 2008 at 2:10 pm

    Donald his name is: James Ceccorulli
    Not sure what happened

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  • Donald August 11, 2008 at 2:19 pm

    Thanks, Paolo!

    Let us know if you find anything out.


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  • spotter August 11, 2008 at 3:27 pm

    Donald/Paolo —

    James was in a group that was off the back and thus pulled as the race entered it\’s final laps. James and I were on the same club together in Maryland (although I\’m many years his senior). He\’s a great guy with a huge heart and it\’s been great to watch him and Tyler upgrade to Cat 3 this year and continue to kick butt.

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  • Tim Roth August 11, 2008 at 5:42 pm

    Hey Doug,

    I\’m moving to Atlanta to go to Emory too!

    Let\’s go on a bike ride…

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  • Donald August 11, 2008 at 6:36 pm

    @ spotter


    Next time you see him, tell him he has mini fan club in NoPo.

    He seems to always be in the hunt and is a gas to watch. His riding reminds me of one of my all-time faves: El Diablo, Claudio Chiappucci (doping baggage aside)

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  • jordan August 12, 2008 at 12:49 pm

    I was rooting for him the whole way but didn\’t see him on the last lap. I was wondering what happened to him. Good luck Doug and sorry things didn\’t turn out better at the Crit.

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  • Hillsons August 13, 2008 at 1:14 am

    I thought the same thing. When I didn\’t see Doug on the last lap I was confused for bit, then reality sank in. Good luck Doug!

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