It feels strange to write this during a heat wave, but cyclocross season is here. And if you’re new to Portland’s bike scene, let us be the first to tell you this is a very big deal.
Cyclocross runs deep in Portland. From the establishment of our first race series in 1985 and the rise of the Cyclocross Crusade that was marked by a feature in the New York Times in 2006 (where they likened our vibrant scene to that of a NASCAR race or a college football game), to our popular after-work races on weeknights. We’ve got everything from supportive clubs for newbies to world-class level racers.
One of the greatest things about the Portland ‘cross scene is that it’s so easy to be a part of. There seems to be a team or club or event that appeals to just about everyone who loves having fun on bikes. Speaking of fun, the vibe around the team tents is fun enough to warrant your attendance, even if you never compete!
Below is a roundup of the major races and a few other tidbits to get you excited for the season…
Portland Trophy Cup
One of Portland’s two excellent weeknight race series, the five-race Trophy Cup, runs from September 3rd to October 1st. It takes place at Portland International Raceway, just north of Kenton and adjacent to a MAX Yellow Line stop. There are so many reasons why this series is great. Thanks to sponsors, all juniors and beginner women race free. Yes free! There’s also a free pre-race clinic if you need to polish your skills. To top it off, Trophy Cup organizers have adopted a very inclusive gender policy for racing categories. ($90 for the series or $20 per race.) PortlandTrophyCup.com
Blind Date at the Dairy
The southwest counterpart to the Trophy Cup, Blind Date is a five-race series that runs every Wednesday from September 4th and through October 2nd. Races happen at the infamous Alpenrose Dairy course, making this a great place to practice for the Cyclocross Crusade (see below). Their all-inclusive slate of races offers something for everyone, including kiddies and toddlers. If you’re looking for a low-stress atmosphere that’s more about training and having fun than fierce competition, look no further. ($95 for the series or $20 per race.) CrossSeries.com
Gran Prix Luciano Bailey
The GP series is a collection of five local races that boast some of the most interesting courses of the year: From the legendary sand features at Het Meer to the dizzying figure-eight madness at Ninkrossi. This year’s namesake is Luciano Bailey, a devoted racing fan who lends his commentary and announcing talents to many local races. The GP starts August 31st (this weekend!) and runs every Saturday through September 28th. ($150 for the series or $35 per race.) Cyclocross.gp
This is the one that started it all. The venerable Cyclocross Crusade enters its 26th season in 2019 and the nine race series is as strong as ever. Racing starts October 5th and runs through November 17th. This year’s schedule includes stops at Cascade Locks in the Gorge, the traditional Halloween weekend festivities in Bend, a trip north to Rainier, and a season finale at Kruger’s Farm on Sauvie Island. ($240 for the series or $35 per race.) CrossCrusade.com
Get your body ready at PedalPT
Portland-based physical therapy and bike fit provider PedalPT just unveiled your secret weapon: the Cyclocross Accelerator Program. If you can treat yourself to this special package you’ll get: a full physiotherapy assessement, a complete bike fitting, a cross-specific exercise program, “dynamic control” training, two sessions of pneumatic massage recovery booties, and a follow-up session to make sure everything’s going well. This package of seven sessions is $497. Learn more at PedalPT.com.
Practice at your local park
Cyclocross is so popular because it brings out the kid in all of us. Remember when you’d shred through the neighborhood, hopping curbs and jumping off stuff as fast as you could? Now you need to bring those skills back and there’s no better place to practice than your local park. Look for places with natural barriers to practice jumping over, flat spaces to practice starts, steep hills and stairs to practice run-ups, and tree trunks to practice sharp turns around. I can recommend Overlook Park, Dog Bowl and Pier Park in north Portland, Gateway Green in outer northeast, Powell Butte in southeast and Gabriel Park in southwest.
We can’t wait for the season to start! Hope you get a chance to enjoy it too. If you have questions about ‘cross, ask them in the comments. See you out there.
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