The Oregon Bicycle Racing Association (OBRA), a statewide nonprofit that sanctions bicycle races, took disciplinary action Wednesday against a rider who competed at a cyclocross event on Sunday at Rainier High School.
According reports from sources who’ve reached out to BikePortland, a rider in the Category 2/3 field of the Cyclocross Crusade event wore a shirt and hat emblazoned with messages related to conspiracy theories about the vaccine, government overreach, the Holocaust, and so on. In a photo from Instagram posted by @bolognamologna, a swastika can be clearly seen.
“At this race, someone was allowed to race while displaying two hand drawn swastikas on the back of their shirt, as well as other forms of false information,” the poster wrote. “@oregonbikeracing claims that they want to provide a safe and inclusive environment for all cyclists, especially those of historically marginalized communities. These actions do not line up with these proposed values.”
Another reader who emailed us about this today said, “Our racing community has always been a cocoon and safe place we take for granted.”
One person who contacted us said they saw the shirt. “He’s been at a few [Cylcocross] Crusade races with the same weird outfits that say nonsense about vaccines and QAnon and stuff.” We’ve also heard that the same rider wore a shirt that said “Fire Fauci” at the Cyclocross Crusade race two weekends ago in Cascade Locks.
The rider (whose name I’m not going to share here at this time) is a long-time OBRA member and racer with results going back as far as 2001.
Yesterday, OBRA Executive Director Chuck Kenlan issued a statement saying the group had taken disciplinary action. Here’s that statement:
“I am writing to you this evening to discuss an incident that took place at an OBRA race last weekend. An OBRA member and racer drew a symbol of hate on the shirt worn during the race. Although this came to us without first-hand knowledge or evidence, we finally got confirmation of it this morning. I want to thank all of the OBRA community that alerted us to this and for the people that captured photos that confirmed the action. The race organizers and officials try their best but can’t always spot things like this. This action was a clear violation of OBRA’s Code of Conduct and disciplinary action was taken:
OBRA, the Cyclocross Crusade, and all of our race promoters strongly believe that our events must be places where every person feels safe and accepted. OBRA does not stand with Nazis, or other hate groups and will not tolerate hate speech or symbols at our events.
OBRA is not perfect. The organization is made up of a dedicated volunteer board of directors and a hard-working, part-time staff. We are also made up of you, our community that expects the best of us. OBRA allows you to have a say in how we are governed by electing our board of directors and developing rules to help govern racing and the administration of the organization. We are constantly striving to be better and create an inclusive environment where every person that wants to race a bike feels safe and accepted.”
This isn’t the first time Crusade officials have gotten into hot water for a hate symbol. In 2017 they briefly released, and then retracted, a new logo that some people found offensive because it looked too much like a Celtic cross that is a popular symbol for white supremacy groups.
It’s also worth noting that the organizers behind the popular cyclocross race series have worked to de-emphasize the “cross” and “crusade” aspects of their brand, given the religious connotations of both. They’ve altered their logo to make it look less like a religious cross and have changed the official name of the series from Cross Crusade to Cyclocross Crusade.
I’ve asked Kenlan for more details on the action taken and will update this post when/if we hear back.
CORRECTION, 11/12 at 9:40 am: The initial version of this story said the rider wrote “Kill Fauci” on his shirt. We’ve been given new evidence that confirms the shirt said, “Fire Fauci”. I regret the error.
UPDATE, 1:30 pm: Kenlan says, “At this point we are keeping this internal. We are working with the board, staff and DEI [Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion] committee to come to a resolution around this very serious violation of the OBRA Code of Conduct.”
UPDATE, 3:05 pm: Rick Potestio from the Cyclocross Crusade says they have sent the rider a letter, “informing him that he is in violation of our Code of Conduct and is banned from further participation in the race series. He is also banned from the two remaining venues: the Portland International Raceway and Barton Park.”