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OBRA sees light at end of Covid-induced racing blackout


Bridge City CX, which debuted in 2019 and was cancelled in 2020, hopes to make a triumphant return as a championship race this season.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

If all goes according to plan there will be robust cyclocross season this year.

That was just part of the good news shared by Oregon Bicycle Racing Association (OBRA) Executive Director Chuck Kenlan in a letter to members on Monday.

It has been a roller-coaster of a year for OBRA, Oregon’s sanctioning body for bike racing. When the reality of the pandemic hit last March the organization laid off staff and cancelled dozens of scheduled events (their main source of revenue outside of membership fees). Now as Covid-19 vaccinations work their way through the state, the hibernation of competitive cycling might come to an end before the end of this year.

OBRA is now on a solid financial footing because so many people stepped up to donate, renew memberships, and sign-up for new ones.

As for the 2021 racing season? “We are hopeful that we may see some more ‘normal’ racing opportunities later in the year,” Kenlan said.

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Two races on the calendar this month — Echo Red to Red in eastern Oregon and the Shasta Gravel Hugger in northern California — are both off-road and in very low population areas where competitors will be very spread out. As we reported last year, promoters had to get health plans approved by OBRA before getting a green light.

It’s the cyclocross season that holds the most promise for OBRA this year. After a meeting with ‘cross promoters last week Kenlan said, “I think this could be one of OBRA’s most exciting CX calendars in a while.”

“I know many will miss that fantastic finish on the velodrome. But it is the community and the culture that makes these races special.”
— Chuck Kenlan, OBRA

In addition to traditional favorites like Corn Cross and the Cyclocross Crusade series, there will be a few new races this season. One of the new races, Can Chaser CX, has a course designed by infamous promoter Brad Ross and will take place on a rodeo arena and horse stables on the Deschutes County Fairgrounds in Redmond. Closer to home, the new Vanport CX from Trophy Cup promoter Clint Culpepper will be a nighttime affair. We’ll share more details about these events as they are released.

The other big cyclocross news is that the 2021 OBRA State Cyclocross Championships be the Bridge City CX held at Oaks Park on October 9-10th (yes, a two-day affair!). Bridge City CX became an instant classic at its 2019 debut behind the community-oriented promotion of Sellwood Cycle Repair owner and racing veteran Erik Tonkin.

This racing news will come as a salve for fresh wounds about the loss of the beloved velodrome and race venue at Alpenrose Dairy, which closed permanently late last month. “I know many will miss that fantastic finish on the velodrome,” Kenlan said in his letter yesterday. “But it is the community and the culture that makes these races special.”

Check out the OBRA calendar for all upcoming race details.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
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