by Pat Malach
RAINIER, Oregon – Aaron Tuckerman (Corsa Concepts) and Serena Bishop Gordon (Silverado GalleryeSunnyside Sports) both took their first-ever Cross Crusade Elite wins Sunday as the eight-race Oregon series headed north to Rainier.
With the likes of Trebon, Sheppard, Babcock, Butler and Pennington battling at the USGP New Belgium Cup in Fort Collins, Colorado, over the weekend, the podium’s top rungs opened up to a new set of contenders for series race number two.
The course at Rainier High School featured one significantly long climb that tested riders with at least three false summits. Add to that a couple long, fast descents and fewer technical sections, and the racing favored powerful riders who could lay down the watts.
Tuckerman’s years on the road paid off as the former pro from New Zealand simply rode away from the competition on the big climb, which started out as gravel, transitioned to pavement and then continued climbing through a grass field to some small woods at the top of the course.
“Every time up the climb I could just keep it in the big ring and stay on top of the gear,” Tuckerman said. “Even on the first lap I felt like we weren’t going quick enough, so I just went to the front.”
Tuckerman’s early lead was wasted after he crashed on the first lap and was back in the group by the time he got going again. But his good form quickly catapulted him into the lead one lap later as the course conditions allowed him to pour on the coals.
“Again on the climb I just had enough in the legs,” he said. “The big grass section down by the pit was just dead, so you could stand up on the gear and sort of power through it.”
The chase behind Tuckerman quickly separated into individual riders, with Molly Cameron (MetaFilter) hanging about 30 seconds behind at the halfway point, and Tuckerman’s teammate Shannon Skerritt about the same distance behind Cameron. But Tuckerman was firmly in control of the race and was setting a pace on the front that showed no signs he would be willing to let go of the win.
“It’s just getting in a rhythm,” he said of his effort. “I’m used to doing that from time trialing on the road and doing uphill time trials. You just get into that rhythm, and if you’re in the right rhythm it’s hard to catch you. It can change every week, though, so next week it could be a different story.”
Tuckerman took the win with a final margin of 50 seconds over Cameron. Skerritt trailed in for third 1:10 behind the winner, followed by Ross Brody (Buy Local Cycling) and Seth Patla (River City Bicycles).
Today’s result also puts Tuckerman in the overall lead for the series, which is based on the best seven of eight results.
Bishop Gordon Cruises to Women’s Win
Serena Bishop Gordon (Silverado Gallery-Sunnyside Sports) seized the day to add a Cross Crusade Elite race to her resume. The Bend rider, who finished third last week at Alpenrose behind Sue Butler (River City Bicycles-Ridley) and Alice Pennington (Team S&M Les Femmes), quickly made her way to the front of the field in Rainier and started building an advantage.
Like Tuckerman, Bishop Gordon repeatedly powered her way up the major hill, adding several seconds to her lead every lap and then taking as few chances as necessary in the off-camber grass and technical sections.
“Just riding smooth and not making mistakes was the key,” she said. “Sue and Alice are in Fort Collins, so I’m kind of bummed because I wanted to race against them, but this year there’s a lot of depth in the women’s field, and it’s sweet to get the win.”
The difficult course at Rainier blew up the women’s field just like with the men’s race, leaving Tina Brubaker (Vanilla Bicycles) chasing in second about a minute behind Bishop Gordon and Brooke McDermid (bicycleattorney.com) in third more than two minutes off the lead. Brigette Brown (River City Bicycles-Ridley-NoTubes) followed close behind in fourth, while Jill Hardiman (Team S&M Les Femmes) rounded out the top five nearly four minute in arrears by the end of the 60-minute race.
Bishop Gordon finished among mixed traffic from the Elite men and Masters and was obviously satisfied with the reward for her effort.
“This is the first time I’ve won a Cross Crusade,” she said. “So I’m pretty stoked.”
Bishop Gordon now leads the overall series as well.
The Cross Crusade heads to Portland International Raceway next Sunday for race #3 on the Heron Lakes course north of the racetrack.
RESULTS Cross Crusade #2: Rainier, Oct. 9, 2011
1. Aaron Tuckerman (Corsa Concepts) 1:02:25.0
2. Molly Cameron (MetaFilter) 1:03:15.0
3. Shannon Skerritt (Corsa Concepts) 1:03:35.0
4. Ross Brody (Buy Local Cycling) 1:03:58.0
5. Seth Patla (River City Bicycles) 1:04:01.0
6. Donald Reeb (Cyclocrossracing.com) 56:37.0
7. Michael Benno (Veloce Racing) 57:31.0
8. Cary Miller (Gentle Lovers) 57:57:44.0
9. Patrick Means (Team S&M) 57:45.0
10. Leland Gilmore (River City Bicycles) 57:45.0
1. Serena Bishop Gordon (Silverado Gallery/Sunnyside) 58:47.0
2. Tina Brubaker (Vanilla Bicycles) 59:53.0
3. Brooke McDermid (bicycleattorney.com) 1:00:50.0
4. Brigette Brown (River City Bicycles/Ridley/NoTubes) 1:02:03.0
5. Jill Hardiman (Team S&M Les Femmes) 1:02:37.0
6. Beth Orton (Team S&M Les Femmes) 1:02:50.0
7. Sara Fletcher (Therapeutic Associates) 1:03:01.0
8. Sarah Rawley 1:03:04.0
9. Alexandra Burton (Upper Echelon Fitness) 1:03:32.0
10. Susan Grandjean (Showers Pass) 1:04:36.0