Alright, let’s do this for fuck’s sake. We arrived in Eugene pretty late, sort of dawdling on our drive down from Kennewick. Justin was rad and drove that whole leg. I was a bit shot from the drive to Salmo, only an 8hr leg but it was foggy and a bit icy and I did it after work.
Nice to meet you, Eugene.
I had no idea what to expect in Eugene as far as the racing is concerned. The town is pretty cool, even though we didn’t really get a chance to check out too much of it. It’s the home of the University of Oregon and so there’s lots of activity and energy all the time. We found a great grocery store and stocked up on some stuff then hit the sack to get some zzzz’s. We wanted to spin our legs out after being in the car for two straight days – 22 fricken hours since I left Calgary – but it was too late to get kitted up and go out in the rain so I just opted to stretch and sleep.
ORBA Champs. B? C? Clyde? Beginner?
Morning came pretty quick but we were psyched, and nervous, about getting out to race. I opted to race in the Clydesdale category as I had a lot of fun doing that one at Washougal Wintercross in 2011. I wasn’t sure if I would be C or B if it wasn’t for the Clyde category. Oregon has a beginner category, too. I thought that since I raced in the lowest category in AB, and was typically middle of the pack on a good day, that I might also be beginner in OR. It was good to see the other racers in Eugene because it made me decide on C for the Washougal race the next day. I could’ve done Clyde in Washougal as well, but it was two hours earlier so I opted for the later race as we still needed to drive to Portland and get settled after the Saturday event. In hindsight, after looking at the lap times, I could do C and be in the top 15% or do B and be in around the middle mark. Next time I will do B if there isn’t a Clyde race to do. The dearth of categories is an indicator of just how strong the cx community is in Oregon. A guy I met in Bend, Terry, was telling me that the Master C 35+ group gets 200 (!) guys in a Cross Crusade race. C-razy!
Justin had talked to the ORBA rep about what category to enter and the rep suggested C. Despite that Justin opted instead for B, which is a good thing as he won the race by a pretty respectable margin. He would’ve killed C. I think it was a pretty fair assessment to go into B as he’d only ridden one ‘cross race before in his life. I’m sure some of the local guys will think he’s some Canadian sandbagger but, for real, he’s pretty new to ‘cross. This is my third season and I’m still in Sport in AB, with no upgrade points. Some of us are tuned a bit differently and you just never know!
Bike Racing, F-Yeah!
My race was a total blast. Right off the start it looked like it was going to be a battle between 5 or so more avid racers. There were only around 10 guys in the category which was a little disappointing, I had read that the Clydesdale CAT gets over 50 at Cross Crusade and thought that it would be a bigger race ’cause it was State Champs. I even thought there’d be some normally A or B guys that were bigger dudes that would do the Clyde race just ’cause of that. But anyway, once you’re racing its only ever a battle between you and 2-3 other people anyway, which is how it turned out. I ended up in front over the barriers and just decided to stay there even though I hadn’t pre-ridden the course. I felt pretty good despite the 22 hour drive and that this was the first time I’d been on my bike since getting out of the car. I led for about 2 laps, I think, and then one of the other guys easily rode passed me. I knew there was no way I could stay with him so I concentrated on holding second for the last 3 laps but crashed coming off of a fairly easy off camber turn and was passed. My seat twisted about 30 degrees and I had to jump off of it and punch it into place. That was it, no way I could catch 2nd again. The guy in 4th was getting closer and I really wanted to keep that spot so I laid down an attack on this really rocky riser and it was enough to keep the space.
The course was absolutely killer. I encourage every Albertan, or anyone, to take a trip there to do a race or two in Oregon. The scene is amazing, the people are incredible and the courses are brilliant. Mud, run ups, water, stutter sections, rocks, roots, single track, fans, cowbells, cupcakes, waffles, beer, kids, the works. So cool. A huge near lake had formed in one area and you had to choose between riding on the side of it and staying dry, or arcing your turn right through the heart of it – the fastest line but way, way more water. On the first lap, I immediately charged right through the middle, no hesitation. On subsequent laps I would build speed on the narrow line between the lake and the course tape and then apex my turn right through it. People were yelling and cheering, “Yeah, Clyde!”
Boooom! Justin had a great race. I had no idea how he would do so I was surprised as anyone when he rode up to me after my race and told me he’d won. They started his group five minutes ahead of mine so I had no chance to see how he was doing. After the race we chatted with Carl, the second place finisher. He’s a senior tech guy with Felt and was sporting the Parrallax hydraulic brake set up that Ben Berden has been sporting. Pretty cool to see it in person and hear him talk about how it all works.
Race 1 in the books and we both had ourselves a souvenir.