Cyclo-cross racing hits Hood River

A unique sport with roots in cycling’s history comes to Hood River Valley High School

September 28, 2005

According to the history books, cyclo-cross racing is a sport that began in the early 1900s as a way for European road cyclists to train during winter months.

Racers, training in cold off-seasons, would hop off their bikes and carry them while running to warm up their feet and negotiate obstacles on the roadways.

A hundred-plus years later, 259 cyclo-cross racers from around the Northwest converged at Hood River Valley High School Saturday afternoon to hit the pavement, dirt, grass and trails surrounding campus in the first race of the Oregon Bicycle Racing Association’s 2005 Cyclo-cross season.

From Hood River, the following racers competed:

Matt Botti, Karl Mikkelson, Michael Jones, Mike Colesar, Malcolm McCurdy, Kristen Dillon and Karen Harjo.

Highlights from the local group of racers include Harjo’s first place finish out of 21 in the Women-B division, Jones’ sixth place finish in the Men Masters division and McCurdy’s 16th place finish in the Junior division.

Cyclo-cross basics:

Cyclo-cross season is typically in the autumn and winter months. Races consist of many laps on a short (2-3 km) course that features pavement, single track, wooded trails, grass, steep hills, and obstacles requiring riders to dismount, jump over barriers and remount. Races are timed and usually run for about an hour per division.

Cyclo-cross racing has some obvious similarities with cross-country racing and many of the best cyclo-cross riders are also elite mountain bikers. Cyclo-cross bikes are similar to street bikes, with lightweight, narrow tires. Compared to other forms of racing, cyclo-cross tactics are fairly straightforward, with emphasis on rider endurance and bike-handling skills.

Races consist of many laps over a short course, ending when a set time limit (usually an hour) is reached. Generally each lap is about 90-percent rideable and 10-percent obstacles. Courses consist of a variety of terrain, ranging from roads and paved trails to grass, mud, and singletrack. Every course has sections where riders are better off dismounting and running with their bike. Obstacles can range from steep, muddy banks to man-made objects like steps and plank barriers.

To find out more about Cyclo-cross racing and the Oregon Bike Racing Association, visit www.obra.org

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