Race young man! Race free!
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)
Here on BikePortland we often talk about removing barriers to bicycling. When it comes to racing, the barrier is often a finanical one as equipment costs and race entry fees can quickly make the sport inaccessible too all but the most well-heeled.
That’s why we were happy to see that the Portland Trophy Cup, a five race series that starts tonight at Portland International Raceway (just north of the Kenton neighborhood), is letting everyone 18 years and under race for free. For everyone else each race entry costs $18 a week. That might not seem like a big deal, but for some young racers it might be the difference between staying at home or showing up.
Trophy Cup organizer Clint Culpepper tells us it’s all about trying to get more juniors to the races. “We really haven’t had great junior turnout at the Trophy Cup races in the past,” he said. “I would chalk most of this up to demographics. We attract mostly folks that live in north and northeast Portland and while I think we’ll see a big bump here in the next few years, many junior racers are coming from the westside.” Portland’s other weekday cyclocross race series, Blind Date at the Dairy, which kicks off Wednesday, has had a solid junior turnout.
The free racing was made possible by Portland-based Inhabit Real Estate. The company’s owner Eric Hagstette is a racer himself and said he’s always looking for ways to support meaningful things in the community. “I’m psyched to sponsor the juniors,” he shared with us via email last week. “It is a prerequisite of mine that my sponsorship dollars go toward a meaningful purpose and not just for company exposure. I couldn’t think of a better way to help out.”
Culpepper says while some juniors are supported by parents, many rely on teams to subsidize the cost of race entry. With bikes and accessories that can easily add up to a few thousand dollars, Culpepper’s longer-term vision is to create an afterschool program for young people similar to the Community Cycling Center’s summer bike camps. “Instead of exploring the city by bike and learning about maintenance,” Culpepper explains, “we would focus on getting kids bikes and getting them to the races.”
Also at tonight’s race is a free skills clinic hosted by the Gladys Bikes ‘Cross Curious Club. Learn more about the Oregon Bicycle Racing Association’s junior racing program here.
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