A taste of American cyclo-cross, part 3

Alpenrose Bike Challenge: hardcore grassroots

For part 3 of our 7 part series on domestic cyclo-cross races we head across the country to the Pacific Northwest, a region that embraced ’cross early and has done its part to Americanize it. The Alpenrose round of the Cross Crusade is historic and best described as hardcore grassroots.

Here you’ll find costumed fans, hot tubs and scantily clad racers on course. The weather is always traditional; cold and wet, but that has little affect on anyone. The area is also home to a thriving single-speed scene that’s as much party as it is competition.

Alpenrose Cross Crusade: hardcore grassroots

The 12th annual Alpenrose ’cross is the first event of the Cross Crusade's eight-round series held on October 3 on the western seaboard in the city of Portland, Oregon. It is famed for being one of the only cyclo-cross circuits to include laps of a track at the Alpenrose Velodrome, where the race starts and finishes.

"This race feeds off itself," said Cross Crusade director Brad Ross. "The more popular it gets, the more popular it gets. It's run on dairy cattle land in downtown Portland but there are no cows there anymore."

Cross Crusade was born in 1990 and was once America's largest cyclo-cross series. Several of its races have graced the UCI calendar. Alpenrose was also the final event of the more recent USGP series for the first three seasons. Although it is no longer an UCI-sanctioned event, diehard cyclo-cross lovers continue to flock by the masses. In 2009 the race capped out at 1,390 participants and it is expected to exceed that number this year.

The men tackle a run up (Erik Tonkin, center; Barry Wicks, left)

"My favorite ‘cross race of all time is the Alpenrose in Portland," said Barry Wicks (Kona-FSA). "It is where I did my first ever ‘cross race and has been the site of Super Cup races, USGP events and countless Cross Crusade races. The venue is very small and intimate. It almost always incorporates the legendary and fearsome 43 degree banked Alpenrose Velodrome and it is usually muddy as hell.

"All those things combined along with massive numbers of spectators, lots of beer and waffles and cut throat racing makes it my all time favorite cyclo-cross race."

2009 USGP champion Ryan Trebon (Kona-FSA) and Wendy Williams (Hudz-Subaru) won their respective events last year.

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