Cross Crusade #2, 2009, Rainier

Williams nips Studley at the line for the women's race. © David Roth

by Stephanie Chase

October 12, 2009, Rainier, Oregon – The Kona flag was flying high at the second race of the Cross Crusade series, as Erik Tonkin (Kona) battled it out with his own shop’s racer, Sean Back (Team S&M) in sunny Rainier, Oregon at the second race of the Cross Crusade series. With Kona compatriots Ryan Trebon and Barry Wicks absent this weekend, Tonkin and Babcock took a page from the two tall riders and made it a two man race. Wendy Williams (Hudz Subaru Cycling Team) went toe-to-toe with Washington’s Kari Studley and bested the Velo Bella rider in a sprint finish to go two for two in the Crusades.

After a sadistic start that featured a long, pitched climb, 1200 racers had a series of dirt track, sloping off-camber turns and one steep (but short) run-up to contend with before hitting the beastly climb again. Starting on gravel for a hundred meters or so, the pitched grew steeper as the incline moved onto pavement and mellowed into a false flat before continuing upwards for another two hundred or so meters. Babcock and Tonkin pulled what might become their signature move: fast accelerations that quickly dispersed the rest of the field and left everyone chasing for the majority of the race. Babcock even distanced himself from Tonkin, who still had a comfortable gap ahead of any challengers.

Adam McGrath (Thule) followed behind for third, Ben Thompson (DeSalvo) was fourth and Vanilla made their only appearance in the top ten with Shannon Skerritt taking fifth for the second week in a row. Ian Brown (Tonic Fab), Eric Sheagley (Veloce/Felt), Spencer Paxson (Team S&M), Davy Yeater (River City) and Aaron Tuckerman (Land Rover – ORBEA) rounded out the top ten.

In contrast to the men’s race, while Williams and Studley moved away from the field, Veloforma’s Alice Pennington stayed within striking range. Studley had the advantage hitting the hill first, but Williams took her draft on the pavement and pulled around her at the line for a classic road race finish. Pennington wasn’t able to close the gap, but took third ahead of William’s teammate Emily Van Meter.

Rhonda Mazza (Team S&M) put in another strong showing in fifth place, followed by single-speed rider Megan Faris (River City) who managed sixth on a hilly course. Erin Playman (Gentle Lovers), Serena Bishop (Sunnyside Sports), Abby Jenkins (Super Relax) and Bridgette Brown (River City) filled out the top ten.

For full results, visit  crosscrusade.com. The next race is October 18 at the Sherwood Forest Equestrian Center.

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