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Cyclocross in the city! Buzz builds around new event at Oaks Park

Posted by on November 15th, 2019 at 8:27 am

Official event logo.

The dream of a cyclocross race in the heart of Portland has come true.

The venue is just two miles from Portland City Hall and right off the Springwater path.

Sellwood Cycle Repair owner Erik Tonkin has announced plans for a race at Oaks Park. Bridge City CX is scheduled for Sunday, November 24th. That puts it one weekend after the final Cyclocross Crusade race and three weeks before the 2019 Cyclocross National Championships coming to Tacoma, Washington December 10-15th. Tonkin has made Bridge City CX a USA Cycling event so local racers can earn valuable points toward their nationals campaign without traveling far to do it.

In a phone call Wednesday, an enthusiastic Tonkin said he’s been working on the Oaks Park venue for about seven years. “It started as just trying to find another ‘cross venue; but I really started to work on it when the whole Alpenrose thing started up,” Tonkin shared. He was referring to the sale of Alpenrose Dairy and the possibility that the important venue (that doubles as a storage space for Oregon Bicycle Racing Association (OBRA) equipment) would be lost forever.

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“People are excited to have something new and different on the calendar.”
— Erik Tonkin

“I’ve always wanted a cross race close-in to Portland. This is such a rare thing and I’m pretty excited about it!”

Yes we have races at Portland International Raceway (PIR) and Alpenrose, but those venues are at the fringes of the city compared to Oaks Park, which is a stone’s throw from the bike-loving Sellwood neighborhood and just two miles south of Portland City Hall. According to Tonkin, the last cyclocross race at a close-in venue similar to Oaks Park was at Creston Park (SE Powell & 43rd) in 1992.

What makes the Oaks Park venue even sweeter is that it’s located directly adjacent to the carfree Springwater Corridor path. While Portland has several great parks that would be perfect cyclocross venues, most of them are owned by the Portland Parks and Recreation, an agency that has been inexplicably resistant to giving permits to cyclocross events. Oaks Parks is privately owned, and Tonkin says they’re eager to host the event.

Tonkin said he wants this race to attract a big crowd of spectators, similar to the what we used to see at the Twilight Criterium when it was held at the North Park Blocks.

One of the course features Tonkin is most excited about is the massive outdoor tent that will house a beer garden. Tonkin plans to run the race course right through it.

Adding to the buzz about this event is its icon-filled location. Oaks Amusement Park is a local institution and one of the oldest amusement parks in the country. The nearby Sellwood Bridge is a revered local landmark that was replaced in 2016. It features prominently on the official race logo and flyer — something that has stoked pride in local residents. “That bridge was such a big deal down here,” Tonkin said, “And there’s very little representation of the new bridge locally. People definitely saw our logo and noticed it was the new bridge. With very little marketing, word has spread quickly throughout the community.

One of the title sponsors is Sellwood-based Tom Dwyer Automotive Services. Tonkin said they jumped at the chance to sponsor an event during the usually quiet off-season. “People are excited to have something new and different on the calendar,” Tonkin shared. “And this is a creative use of a place that we all know like the back of our hand.”

Speaking of which, while a detailed course map is still being fleshed out, Tonkin said we can expect a “dynamic” track that will include off-camber hills, a bit of pavement, and even a few sections that will bring racers close to the iconic roller coasters and rides at the amusement park. And don’t forget the section through the beer tent.

For registration links and more info, check out BridgeCityCX.com.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
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12 Comments
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    Allan Rudwick November 15, 2019 at 9:08 am

    Man this article got me excited and I haven’t even raced cross in 4 years. Sounds super-fun

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  • biciclista.us
    biciclista.us November 15, 2019 at 9:45 am

    Can’t wait to try this new course. Tank you Erik for organizing this event in town!

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    rain panther November 15, 2019 at 9:56 am

    Hot diggety dang skippy disco duck buckets! So much excitingness my wordsaying circuits are crisscross applesaucing!

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    SilkySlim November 15, 2019 at 10:02 am

    I’ve fantasized about having course down there for years. Well, my dream course actually is a big ole’ loop that also touches the riverfront park (using the multiple staircases and the beach of course) and sellwood park up on the bluff. There are so many interesting features that could string these together! Certainly would be longer than the standard CX loop, but truly epic.

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    Brian November 15, 2019 at 10:05 am

    I, too, am really excited about this race. I’m looking forward to heading down by bicycle to spectate. I hope it’s successful and leads to a new, in-town option for short track mountain bike racing somewhere. “Ride to Where You Race.”
    A huge thanks to Tonkin for his continued work to improve the local race scene.

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    Chris I November 15, 2019 at 10:10 am

    Awesome. This is a great way to use the space during the low-season. Things are really quiet down there in October and November. Excited to bike out there with my kids and have them give it a go.

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    Paolo November 15, 2019 at 1:09 pm

    Can’t wait! Thanks Erik!

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    jered bogli November 15, 2019 at 4:59 pm

    STOKED ON THIS!!

    Fringe of Portland depends on where you live. I live near mississippi and alberta, I can ride to PIR far faster than Oaks Park. All my maps just show a blank spot south of Division that says “here be dragons” I pack a lunch and emergency flares anytime I head way down that way…

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    ken nichols November 15, 2019 at 8:04 pm

    love this idea at Oaks Park

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    Danny November 15, 2019 at 8:20 pm

    I’m excited about the new venue and the beer tent — now we just need some Belgian-style beer and frites with mayo in that tent! I’m a bit perplexed at Alpenrose being on the “fringes” of the city, though…

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      Chris I November 16, 2019 at 5:53 pm

      It is, literally on the Fringe. The property just west of it is not Portland.

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    GlowBoy November 21, 2019 at 12:41 pm

    Anyone can go into Google Maps, type in “Portland, OR” (or any other municipality in this country) and see exactly where the city limits are. Alpenrose is right up against the boundary. Pretty much qualifies as the fringe of the city by any objective definition.

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