Monday, October 05, 2009

Alpenrose Cross Crusade report

I was very fortunate to be able to score a bike to race instead of just watching the legendary Cross Crusade while visiting Portland. Thanks to ErikV for the hook-up! From our rental in northwest I biked up and over the west slope, which made a perfect warm-up. A bit of a feat with a singlespeed actually.

The venue, as expected, was huge. There were 1400 racers, and even more fans, family and friends of all ages and species. A huge expo with Belgian style pommes frites, coffee, pastries, etc. either as part of various fund-raisers or given away by sponsors. Absolutely a huge event.

Sascha and I met up with some of my friends who had set up, along with many others, the night before with a big tent, a grill, some outlaw beer, etc. I finally queued up with the B and singlespeed racers.

With such massive fields, the call-ups for the first race of the series was randomly by the last number of your race number. Unfortunately I was second to last to queue up. The very last group to be called up had the consolation of free Bridgeport beer! Alas. Good thing I wasn't taking it seriously. The course was over 2 miles long, which is good considering the number of people. The singlespeeders started first, then the rest of the B racers. From then it was a matter of working my way up through the field.

The course was similar to when I raced it when it was part of the USGP series a few years ago. The runup was shorter, and there was no peanut butter mud like there was then, and they added the famous stair climb out of the velodrome. The singlespeed was the weapon of choice, as I passed many people dropping chains on the bumpy parts. Other than runups the course was fairly flat. In the end, I worked my way up to pretty much exactly in the middle of the 127 singlespeed racers.

Cross Crusade races are a lot of fun. People enjoying themselves, making mayhem (but always respectful), always family-friendly, some fun outfits, big name racers (Trebon and Wicks as well as Erik Tonkin, Molly Cameron and Shannon Skerritt). Interestingly, the dollar handups seems to be a midwest thing, as that wasn't happening on the runup. There was plenty of cheering and heckling though.