Posted by Elly Blue (Columnist) on October 5th, 2009 at 1:03 pm
(Photos © BikePortland/Elly Blue)
1,438 intrepid riders participated in yesterday’s Cross Crusade series opener yesterday at Alpenrose Dairy, nearly 200 more than competed last year, making it likely the largest ‘cross race (by participation) in the world.
Cyclocross — particularly the infamous Cross Crusade series — is the bike fun scene of the racing world. Though things don’t really get crazy until the Halloween race, plenty of spirit was present around the labyrinthine course, from kids waving cowbells and practicing for their own Kiddie Kross race to a woman selling hand-crocheted hats with bicycles and the Cross Crusade symbol.
Offerings along the midway included Belgian frites, hot oatmeal, free coffee from Chris King, Specialized’s new Globe commuter bike on display, and a handy fact sheet of reasons for racers to join the Bicycle Transportation Alliance. Dogs, kids, and zany bikes were in abundance, and a few costumes provided a respite from the sea of lycra.
The race itself provided a lot of variety. You could walk a quarter of a mile in any direction and see people hefting a cargo bike up a winding stairway at full tilt, a bumpy dirt road through a grove of trees, a slick, muddy uphill section, hurdles to jump over, bike on shoulder, and an actual racetrack to zoom around.
Sharing the course at various times throughout the day were various categories of women and men, unicyclists of all ages and genders, clydesdales (you have to weigh in at over 200 lbs, sans bike, to enter this category), kids, and surprisingly laid-back spectators. A few riders wore street clothes, a couple had costumes, and one rocked a BMX bike. But this is still a race, and most seemed to take it seriously — men in lycra were by far the order of the day.
Natalie and Austin Ramsland kindly drove me out to the event. “You only need two things to race ‘cross,” Austin told me on the way over. “A car, and health insurance. Even a bike you can probably borrow.” And it’s true, there was a sea of cars at the dairy, though we saw a few people ride up (including John Howe with his new wheel rack) — this is Portland, after all.
BikePortland’s coverage of the 2009 cyclocross season is generously made possible by Bike Gallery (incidentally, they have a hardcore team this year, examples here and here). Check out our Cyclocross 2009 section for more coverage.