Oregon Cyclocross Scene
Oregon has a vibrant cyclocross scene and in particular there are several series that run in the Portland metro area.
The season kicks off with the Grand Prix series, labor day weekend. This series is typically named after a local celebrity of the race community. This year we’re celebrating the involvement and impact that Candi Murray has had in our race community. Therefore the Grand Prix series is aptly named, Grand Prix Candi Murray or GPCM for short. (#GPCM).
This year the series has expanded to 7 races. Information can be found here. Typically races cost $30 if preregistered. The races are always on weekends. These are full day events, typically held at a park with food, a playground, kiddie cross…its a great way to spend a day.
What I love about these races are that the weather is still summerish. The sun is shining, and at least half the races are dry conditions. This makes for a great entry into the cross season for someone that is just starting out, or for someone that is needing a few extra weeks to race into fitness.
The second thing that I love about the races is that they are not hyped and as heavily attended as the “other” series. Quantity of racers is dependent on category racing but in general the categories are 20-50 riders which I believe makes for good competition without clogging up the course.
Cross crusade is the big daddy of all the series. It starts in October and runs for 6 weeks but 8 races. It typically will kick off at Alpenrose with weekend of racing. The Cross Crusade can be viewed more as a regional race. People will travel from all over Oregon and some of Washington to race in the series. It is not uncommon for some of the race categories to have 75+ racers.
Cross crusade used to have a focus on bringing pro races to Portland but over time moved more towards the “party” series where fun was the focus. Now it looks to clean up its party image again and bring back some hardcore cyclocross racing to Oregon but we will see if this happens or not.
The series also makes a trip to Bend, OR for the infamous Halloween weekend. The second race of the weekend in Bend is the costume race where everyone dresses up and races bikes. I have never been because I have young kids but this year I have made arrangements to go with my wife (also races) and we are really looking forward to it.
There are a few things I like about Cross Crusade; the first is the atmosphere. There are more people (even people that don’t race will show up to watch) than any other races of the year and this means more fun. There is more cheering, more prizes, more heckling, more vendors…just more. It really makes you feel like you’re at some sort of pro race series.
The other thing I like is the challenge and if you do well the recognition. Like I said, there are a ton of people that race from all over the region. This brings a lot more talent to mix and so you know if you do well, you’re doing well among the best in your category. Further to the challenge is that typically the weather will start to change. The conditions get worse and bike handling becomes a huge factor. If you can win a cyclocross race in the worst conditions, against 100 other people, it feels like you’ve won a freaking war.
Cross Crusade info is here: http://www.crosscrusade.com/ Typically these are the more expensive races but you also have the opportunity for free swag, and food/drink such as red bull, cliff bars, bobs red mill oatmeal, coffee, etc.
Trophy cup starts up right after labor day. The kids are in school and you’re getting back into the work/school schedule. You want to make sure that if you’re in the area of Portland proper that you cruise over to Portland International Raceway on Tuesdays to race your bike. The series runs 6 weeks and what is cool is that lights get setup and towards the end you will be racing more or less in the dark. The atmosphere is super cool and there is beer there as well. I will discuss the course a bit in another post but it is characterized to be more flatter, faster. Key skill is being able to accelerate out of corners. Cost is only $18 and further info can be found at https://portlandtrophycup.com/ or @pdxtrophycup on instagram.
Blind Date at the Dairy
Blind date is a series at Alpenrose Dairy. This is a great location for those on the west side that just don’t want to spend an hour getting over to PIR on Tuesdays. Not to compete with Trophy cup though; Blind Date is on Wednesday night, the perfect night to get a little intensity in your legs yet have enough time to recover for the weekend races. The race series is 6 weeks and is much more demanding in my opinion. Alpenrose features some hills which are rideable or not depending on the conditions. There are stairs as well and this year it looks like maybe even a nice berm. The blind date races always are the most difficult for me…my heart rate is super high. The course is great to spectate and includes a trip through the velodrome! More info can be found http://crossseries.com/
Alpenrose and Trophy Cup are good experience for Cross Crusade.
Other weekly series:
Twilight CX – Eugene
BrewHaus – Medford
MBSEF Thrilla – Bend
In the midst of these series there are other races which you can attend. The races are less known because they aren’t attached to a series. Attendance is usually the lowest of the races. However, they are still great races to go to! If you are afraid of large groups of riders or want to ease into cross without a ton of spectators then these races are great. Some of the races have perks like granting top3 finisher callups at cross crusade. Others, have no perks and are just there for fun and community.
Corn Cross 1 & 2 – really cool venue and course to race on. Full bear garden, food, kiddie and doggie cross. Corn Cross 1 had a full buffet too!
Battle at Barlow – last year this will run, callup for Cross Crusade.
Crossword CX – a great natural race course to enjoy the fall colors, secret beer tent.
Washougal CX – now a part of GPCM but this race will take you into the dirt bike park
Cross on the Mountain – new this year, racing on Mt Hood at Cooper Spur
There are many more races to explore and enjoy. This list is not meant to be the end-all but only a brief overview. Visit OBRA.org for a complete schedule and all your race details including membership.