The dream of a cyclocross race in the heart of Portland has come true.
Sellwood Cycle Repair owner Erik Tonkin has announced plans for a race at Oaks Park. Bridge City CX is scheduled for Sunday, November 24th. That puts it one weekend after the final Cyclocross Crusade race and three weeks before the 2019 Cyclocross National Championships coming to Tacoma, Washington December 10-15th. Tonkin has made Bridge City CX a USA Cycling event so local racers can earn valuable points toward their nationals campaign without traveling far to do it.
In a phone call Wednesday, an enthusiastic Tonkin said he’s been working on the Oaks Park venue for about seven years. “It started as just trying to find another ‘cross venue; but I really started to work on it when the whole Alpenrose thing started up,” Tonkin shared. He was referring to the sale of Alpenrose Dairy and the possibility that the important venue (that doubles as a storage space for Oregon Bicycle Racing Association (OBRA) equipment) would be lost forever.
“People are excited to have something new and different on the calendar.”
— Erik Tonkin
“I’ve always wanted a cross race close-in to Portland. This is such a rare thing and I’m pretty excited about it!”
Yes we have races at Portland International Raceway (PIR) and Alpenrose, but those venues are at the fringes of the city compared to Oaks Park, which is a stone’s throw from the bike-loving Sellwood neighborhood and just two miles south of Portland City Hall. According to Tonkin, the last cyclocross race at a close-in venue similar to Oaks Park was at Creston Park (SE Powell & 43rd) in 1992.
What makes the Oaks Park venue even sweeter is that it’s located directly adjacent to the carfree Springwater Corridor path. While Portland has several great parks that would be perfect cyclocross venues, most of them are owned by the Portland Parks and Recreation, an agency that has been inexplicably resistant to giving permits to cyclocross events. Oaks Parks is privately owned, and Tonkin says they’re eager to host the event.
Tonkin said he wants this race to attract a big crowd of spectators, similar to the what we used to see at the Twilight Criterium when it was held at the North Park Blocks.
One of the course features Tonkin is most excited about is the massive outdoor tent that will house a beer garden. Tonkin plans to run the race course right through it.
Adding to the buzz about this event is its icon-filled location. Oaks Amusement Park is a local institution and one of the oldest amusement parks in the country. The nearby Sellwood Bridge is a revered local landmark that was replaced in 2016. It features prominently on the official race logo and flyer — something that has stoked pride in local residents. “That bridge was such a big deal down here,” Tonkin said, “And there’s very little representation of the new bridge locally. People definitely saw our logo and noticed it was the new bridge. With very little marketing, word has spread quickly throughout the community.
One of the title sponsors is Sellwood-based Tom Dwyer Automotive Services. Tonkin said they jumped at the chance to sponsor an event during the usually quiet off-season. “People are excited to have something new and different on the calendar,” Tonkin shared. “And this is a creative use of a place that we all know like the back of our hand.”
Speaking of which, while a detailed course map is still being fleshed out, Tonkin said we can expect a “dynamic” track that will include off-camber hills, a bit of pavement, and even a few sections that will bring racers close to the iconic roller coasters and rides at the amusement park. And don’t forget the section through the beer tent.
For registration links and more info, check out BridgeCityCX.com.
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and firstname.lastname@example.org
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