Cycling's growth industry

Oregon has the cyclocross numbers that bring the nationals
By Cliff Pfenning,

When Katarina Nash stepped off the podium after winning the US Gran Prix of Cyclocross Stanley Cup of Portland Sunday, she took time to speak about the weather during the two-day event.

She talked about being unhappy with the weather.

“It’s usually a lot tougher here,” she said. “And, I like it like that, so it was a little disappointing.”

Nash and the rest of the tour veterans mostly got cold, something that’s definitely expected this weekend when the U.S. National Championships descend on Bend, which got four inches of snow during the weekend.

Of course, as a native of the Czech Republic, Nash isn’t able to compete and won’t be in Bend to battle the cold.

The national championships run Thursday through Sunday, returning to Oregon after two-year stops in Rhode Island and Kansas.

The national championships were held in Portland in 2003-04 and will be in Bend again next year.

Oregon was an easy selection for USA Cycling, which sanctions the event. Portland has a thriving cycling community, Bend features a fabulous downtown location for the track as well as national champion Ryan Trebon and Oregon has, well, cycling crusaders.

The Cross Crusade, sponsored by Portland’s River City Bicycles, features more than 1,000 registered riders and allows series promoters to call it the largest cyclocross series in the world.

No one argues.

The eight-race series started with more than 700  riders at Alpenrose Dairy and moved to courses in Hillsboro, Astoria, Sherwood, Rainier and back to Portland. Cross Crusade founder Brad Ross is the director of the national championships, having created the course next to the Deschutes Brewery - the chief sponsor of the event.

Having the final Gran Prix stop in Portland helped keep plenty of out-of-state competitors in Oregon, one of the reasons the championships have more than 2,100 riders registered.

Cyclocross has developed enough that it’s been linked to the Olympics - the Winter Olympics, but as a companion to the biathlon, which would involve riders carrying rifles and shooting targets at regular intervals.