Zero Covid cases so far, say Oregon bike racing officials after four large events

Masked racers roll out at the Shasta Gravel Hugger race that kicked off the season on March 6th.
(Photo: OBRA)

It appears bike racing — even mass start events — can happen safely despite the lingering presence of Covid-19 and its variants.

The Oregon Bicycle Racing Association announced this week that after hosting four large bike races so far this year, they’ve had zero reported cases of the virus.

“It has been inspiring to see how much work our professional race promoters put into their events to make them safe while maintaining the raw excitement and energy we all feel at a bike race,” OBRA Executive Director Chuck Kenlan said in a statement Thursday.

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Two scholarships available for ‘Girls AllRide’ program in Bend

(Photo: Ladies AllRide)

The Oregon Bicycle Racing Association just announced a partnership with Girls AllRide that will give two young girls the chance to attend a mountain bike camp in Bend this summer.

Here’s more from OBRA:

OBRA and Girls AllRide are offering these scholarships to help more young women feel comfortable in the sport of mountain biking.

Girls AllRide has a mission to use mountain biking as a tool for youth to build community, discover potentials and strengthen themselves – inside and out. The main goal is to help girls develop their mountain biking skills and have fun, while also helping them learn how to face fears, believe in themselves, and think positive, logical thoughts instead of reacting with fear.

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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.

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Oregon Bicycle Racing Association will allow e-bike events in 2021

A Class 1 “Talon” e-MTB from Giant.

It’s been one year and one day since Portland hosted its last sanctioned, competitive cycling event. In many ways, 2020 was a lost season for local racers, but 2021 will look a lot different — not only because we are likely to emerge from the Covid cocoon, but because electric bikes will be welcomed into the racing scene for the first time.

In a statement today, Oregon Bicycle Racing Association Executive Director Chuck Kenlan announced that the 2021 season is already coming into focus. Weekly racing is slated to re-start in April and May’s schedule is filling up. “We are approaching the race season with caution and expect the earlier races to run using modified formats that follow the state guidance for outdoor recreation,” Kenlan shared. “Our plan is to work with promoters to help them make their races as safe as possible and still allow for a fun competition.”

Kenlan also said OBRA’s new liability insurance policy will cover events that include a category for “Class 1” electric bikes.

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Oregon’s first sanctioned bike race since March will happen this weekend

(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

It’s been 116 days since the last officially sanctioned bicycle race happened in Oregon.

The coronavirus crisis forced the Oregon Bicycle Racing Association (OBRA) to cancel all races on March 12th. What was expected to be a four week hiatus turned into nearly four months. Dozens of events have been cancelled statewide, resulting in a major blow to OBRA’s finances, a hit to promoters’ pocketbooks, lots of frustrated athletes, and a loss of tourism dollars for the many cities and small towns that host races.

That sad streak will be broken this Sunday when racers show up to Blodgett, Oregon (just east of Corvallis) for the 33rd annual Mudslinger cross-country mountain bike race.

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Oregon Bicycle Racing Association wants to increase participation of Black riders

(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

The Oregon Bicycle Racing Association, our state’s official sanctioning body for competitive cycling, knows it isn’t doing enough to support participation of Black, Indigenous and people of color. And they’ve taken a first step to do something about it.

In a statement shared with the group’s 4,500 members yesterday, OBRA Board of Director members Stacy Westbrook and Christy Hawkins wrote, “The events over the last few weeks have shone a spotlight on the systemic racism prevalent in our communities. OBRA recognizes that the cycling industry, and the sport of cycling, has contributed to this.”

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Inga Thompson has resigned from the OBRA Board of Directors

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

The Oregon Bicycle Racing Association says controversial board member Inga Thompson has resigned. The move comes less than a week since the organization voted to keep Thompson on their board following calls for her removal from some OBRA members. Thompson has attracted concern because of her advocacy around transgender athletes.

OBRA Executive Director Chuck Kenlan announced the resignation in an email to members on Thursday. “I pledge to you, our passionate membership, that OBRA will continue to strive towards fulfilling our mission of inclusiveness in the sport of bicycle racing and adhere to our statement of diversity, equity, and inclusion,” Kenlan wrote, “We are imperfect, and recognize that there is so much more to learn.”

According to the Willamette Week, Thompson’s resignation came after the OBRA Board found her in violation of their confidentiality agreement. “In a Dec. 11 email to Thompson obtained by [Willamette Week], Kenlan wrote that due to statements made to BikePortland and on Twitter, the board determined that Thompson “violated the confidentiality of the executive session’.” (Some of those tweets can be found in the screen grab at right.)

The OBRA Board was going to vote to remove her and before doing so gave her the option to resign.

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