The Cross Crusade series opens in style and sets a new record

Posted by on October 5th, 2009 at 1:03 pm

Cross Crusade #1 at Alpenrose 2009

An obstacle course of tight curves and hurdles around the Alpenrose track.
(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.

Cross Crusade #1 at Alpenrose 2009

The infamous staircase hurdle.

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.

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Cross Crusade #1 at Alpenrose 2009

Waiting for the kids race to start.

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.

The race results are in and our photo gallery is up.


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.

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Boneshaker
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Boneshaker

Fun stuff for sure.

dutch
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dutch

I think cross is awesome, but I do think its sad that the two things that are needed, are two things that many cyclists (and many other poor people), dont have.

Bahueh
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Bahueh

dutch..cycling/racing is an expensive sport. always has been. always will be.

CX is about as cheap as it gets for racing however…extremely lienient starting criteria, most any bike, most any clothes, most any gear will do to start with..

chad
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chad

when we got home the kids continued cross racing…first in the backyard, then running around the house during storytime pretending they were on bikes, and then I’m sure many of there dreams were filled with cross fun.

Family fun at it’s best.

(and thanks to Cross Crusade for the ribbons…I thought my kids’ smiles would get too big for their faces 🙂 )

eric
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eric

@ dutch
hahahaha

Bike racing is a little expensive. Car racing is a lot more expensive. Of course, you can have your own races for free, just don’t expect to have a closed course or liability insurance. These races are called “alleycats”, and often include some features of cross racing, like getting off your bike occasionally, and beer.

BURR
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BURR

pretty sure dutch already knows what an alleycat race is, you can quit being so condescending anytime

joel
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oh come on! i manage a pretty full cross season without owning a car or having health insurance… helps to have friends who drive, or a car you can borrow, for the further away races, but alpenrose, washington county fairgrounds, pir, and krugers are all easily bikeable/transitable – and riding to the rest of the crusade, excepting astoria and maybe rainier, is totally doable, depending on your abilities.

Brad Ross
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Chad,

Glad the kids had fun. Keep bringin’ them and the ribbons will flow.

For all you car free crossers out there. Keep up the good work, we’ll throw another log on the fire for each of you.

Dan Kaufman
Guest

It’s easier to get to than burning man and almost as fun (some might argue more fun).

Kirsten and I had a great time bringing down our big boyz for the Kiddy Cross full lap!!

We also did some live webcasting the race on Sunday. Next time we’ll find a more conspicuous spot for our camp – but big thanks to all the friendly folks nearby who shared the fun and their grill.

We had over 8000 live viewers during the day!

I also got a chance do some “real” shooting during the final race and I will premiere the video tomorrow at noon during my regular live show on CrankMyChain!TV.

I might also have another Alpenrose race video to premiere, during the show. Of course we’ll post them on the podcast, youtube, etc later.

beth h
Guest

I have embarked on my first season of bicycle racing (short track and now cyclocross) and I am having the time of my life.

I am the primary breadwinner for a family of two where the other person has been out of work for over two years. I make an hourly wage and have not owned a car in nearly two DECADES. To accommodate both my work schedule AND my lack of car ownership, I pre-registered for only those races that are transit-accessible.

I solicited “sponsorships” (in the form of money, box lunches and a cheering section at as many races as possible) from friends and family. As a result entry fees for nearly half my season are being paid for by family and friends; and one friend is making sure that when I complete my final Cross Crusade race in November there will be a CATERED (!!) hot lunch waiting for me when I’m done.

My racing bike is a mountain bike that I got in trade for singing at someone’s wedding last winter. I took that very rusty bike home, overhauled it myself and rebuilt it as a singlespeed in order to save money and reduce risk of future costly repairs (due to crashes which I was sure to have as a beginner!). I rebuilt it with used parts scored on Craigslist and elsewhere and while it isn’t fancy it works just fine.

I joined a national grass-roots, non-profit womens’ team (Velo Bella) whose sole purpose is to encourage more women to try racing; they do not charge membership dues, they only ask that you try at least one race a year and write up a report for the team Web site afterwards. Two members who learned that I did not have team kit helped me to obtain used team kit from a previous season; it doesn’t fit perfectly (the jersey’s a tiny bit tight and I had to fix a couple of torn seams in the shorts) but it is totally servicable and works just fine for my purposes.

As far as a “training program”: Velo Bella team-mates offered helpful tips (for FREE); I took advantage of low-cost instruction at clinics and free instruction from friends in local parks; and since I lack a gym membership all I did was rep of curls every other night at home and one or two interval sessions a week on my morning bike-commute. That is the ONLY “training” I have done.

To ANYone worrying that racing is unaffordable: Bicycle racing CAN be done on the cheap, but it takes resourcefulness and a willingness to dream bigger that the edge of your armchair. If you’re thinking about trying it, DO IT! It’s TONS of fun and you will not regret giving it a go.

We are blessed to have a VERY welcoming, friendly race scene (especially off-road) in Portland. Take advantage of it! See you at the races…

dutch
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dutch

I think the comment just struck a nerve, as I know lots of cyclists who are far priced out of cross. Thats not to say they couldnt do it if they really set their mind to it, but the accessibility is definitely lacking to a large section of population who would probably love to race cross.

I understand fully why it is the way it is today, and it seems to be going great for the people who are participating.

I do gotta think back to an article here that talked about potentially putting bike racing/cross facilities INSIDE portland, in a permanent facility that would enable whole new types of people to enjoy a great sport on their bicycle.

suburban
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suburban

When it gets too big and top heavy, the kids will create “new-cross” and leave all the dinosaurs and well kitted property owning persons in the annals of history. New-cross is very much like cyclocross, but with a twist you will not understand or respect. PLeeeeeeeeeease don’t gripe about parking your car.