Photos by Jordan Reid
The cyclocross season tiptoed, vaulted, tripped and crashed its way into action last night at the first Portland Trophy Cup race. The seven week race, put on by Mr. Clint Culpepper and Will Laubernds — with only one season under it's belt — has become one of the most effective (read: fun) weekly training races that the Portland area has to offer. With its speedy, ever changing courses, its use of the Portland International Raceway's motocross lights, and a growing spectator section the race has everything you could reasonably expect in a mid week race. Well, that and three sets of barriers. I never expected that. Especially that last one after the long straightaway.
The best thing that I heard all night - besides when Jake Tong screamed so loud in my face at the top of the run-up that I winced in physical pain - was something that Molly Cameron told one of her riders at the finish of the race. Everyone who had just finished pouring most of their guts out over the course for the past hour was standing near the finish line — as they are wont to do. It is a place to reminisce about the misgivings of what had just happened, a place to complain really. This small paddock of riders is filled exclusively (and I'm no exception to the rule, believe you me) with extremely fresh wounds. Things like:
"What the shit were you doing trying to pass RIGHT there?" and "I swear to god he's never pedaled a bike before in his life" or possibly "I could have beat him if it wasn't for that donkey and his flailing through the sand pit!" And the complaints aren't squarely aimed at other riders either. "My cleat came off half way through the last lap" (that was me) and "the legs, they just weren't there today" has been uttered more than once in these little gaggles of post race people.
Molly's comment was spot on when greeted with some of these last night. Her wisdom hit an all time high when she turned to one of her complaining racers and said with a shrug "Well, that's why we come out here on a Tuesday night and do this, to work out the kinks." Boom. My work here is done. Minds have been blown all around the country! The world!
And that was all it took to defuse a post race brain situation and turn it into a learning experience.
Ok, I digress. There were plenty fun and interesting moments out there last night.
I know, I know, every time I write one of these about the Trophy Cup I talk about the courses. But, it is almost like they have been built each time by people that race bikes. And do you know how good this feels? To race a Fat Marc Vanderbacon - Adam Myerson - Pete Webber - SpinArts - Tony Kic - course is to know that you are in (relatively speaking) good hands when it comes to pulling together a course that has some flow, that uses natural features, and that has a nice old fashion sprint to the finish. Well, I'm here to say that Clint's courses have all this.
Ugh, the gear. It is everywhere and what makes this scene and photos like Cycloboredom's #CXpracticeyardsale all the more poignant. It is the green tinted "tyres" that Mike Heenan already has impeccably glued to his deep (and I mean deep) carbon rims. It is that new helmet that you've been lusting after because of it's aero capabilities (do those exist for cross?) it is the skinsuit that you've been itching to break out (you might break out) after its stint at the bottom of your kit closet all summer. Those bright yellow shoes! They're ready for you. Sure, the cleats may fall off with one to go, but you know what? You got to use them! (Ps - where are my clear lenses and my toe spikes? I'm going to need them soon enough).
We even had a little fun updating the Trophy Cup numbers with a little "art" on the backside. Turns out not everyone loves it when we put a little "fold here" at the base. Because not everyone folds their numbers? Tommy learned the hard way. And that fun didn't end with the numbers either as we pulled in Matt Hall to help update the T-shirts. More on that later, but we're thinking that you'll be able to get a few of them here if you really want them.
Sure, re-learning how to get back on your bike can be a treat. A sort of bruised apple treat, but those are the ones that are best turned into smoothies anyway. This is far and away one of my favorite parts of the Trophy Cup and what it does for the skillz department. Because the courses are technical and short (relatively speaking) it gives you the time to learn and adjust to them over the span of an hour. And to be a thinking cyclist is why we do this right? Right? So, I have no idea why I would tank out my rims on the same pothole on the third or fourth sharp turn in the back section, but I'll get over it. It's not you, it's me.
The Race Face
It's everywhere. But, nowhere is it more present than right here with our lovely teammate Abby Watson racing through the dark. Jordan did an awesome job of capturing the races from start to finish last night but when he said "this one is my favorite" we had to agree. Here's to more Portland Trophy Cup and more racing in general.