Cross Crusade, hosted by Portland-based River City Bicycles, returns for a fourth year to Bend this weekend for two days of cyclocross with hundreds of competitors and the spectrum of costumes—preferably without capes (um, spokes, chains, loose clothing—bad idea).
Most bikes are legal in this event—mountain bikes, 'cross, cruisers, unicycles, etc.—but the course clearly favors the crosscycle breed, the harrowing yet pleasing discipline of road bikes on mountain biking terrain. Fixed gears and bikes with bullhorns or bar ends are discouraged.
Complementing Bend's growing cyclocross culture, River City is hosting the event on common grounds at the Old Mill District's Deschutes Brewery from Oct.31 to Nov. 2. Designed as the perfect spectator venue, it comes complete with a staircase for climbing, abutting the brewery, and, if Mother Nature allows, a mud-filled course.
"Here in Portland, cyclocross has gone absolutely ballistic," says River City Bicycles Race Director Brad Ross. "Cyclocross includes a lot of different groups coming together, a very community-oriented sport. You can see a lot of the course and it's not like mountain biking courses where everyone is gone for two hours. It's a circuitous convoluted course."
Built from an eight-race series in traditional Portland-based cyclocross fashion, Cross Crusade hosts race venues from the Oregon coast to the high desert of Bend, the latter in prime late-season conditions when the road racing and mountain bike seasons are winding down and the cyclocross season is wound up. And all the better, if mud, gravel, and snow are involved.
Cyclocross racing embraces the serious athlete who might want a vacation away from miles on the road and mountain bike summer circuit, but still holds true to a community-oriented spirit, and sometimes freak-ish nature.
"It's a time when people get together and all have common interest, all levels and sexes," says Ross. "It's also about baggy shorts and beer bellies."
For local Boneyard Cycling race director Adam Carroll and the team, late fall is the heart of the season and the Cross Crusade is the grand prix.
"It's the race that everyone on the team is most fired up for, shear quality and quantity," says Carroll. "We spend a lot of time driving to Portland [for competing] but this is Cross Crusade coming to us."
Carroll adds that last year's Cross Crusade fell on a particularly cold day in December—five below to be exact—but not a game ender. "It was stupid, stupid cold," he says. But such is the vivacity of the cyclocross rider.
Far from the jungle, but jungle-like in diversity and rarity all the more, cyclocross racers are asked to dress apropos on Sunday for the Jungle theme.
"Unless you want to be heckled into ground, costume is part of the cyclocross culture," say Carroll. "It's an opportunity to let your freak flag fly. You have the whole circus and the noise that keeps you going when it's 45 degrees and raining, it will get you angry or make you laugh, and if your only costume is your cycling gear, you're going to get heckled."
Best costume advice for the race (and, aptly referencing The Incredibles): No capes.
"It's a tough decision as to whether you want to wear a costume that still allows you to be competitive, or if you want to wear something ridiculous and just have fun," says Boneyard team rider Jeff Johnstons. "If you pick the latter, it's a lot easier to have a few more beers on Saturday night."
$5-$30 to compete; free to watch
Find full details here