Bend, Oregon – Not even her Cowardly Lion costume could slow Serena Bishop Gordon (Silverado Gallery/Sunnyside) Sunday as she followed up her Saturday Cross Crusade win with another during the Halloween doubleheader weekend in Bend. In the men’s race, local mountain bike pro Carl Decker (Giant) took the win in front of fellow Bend MTB pro and rally car partner Adam Craig (Rabobank/Giant) after finishing second to Chris Sheppard (Rocky Mountain Bicycles/Shimano) the day before.
More dry weather in Central Oregon left the course dusty and rough for the second day in row, although promoters switched things up a bit to make the best use of the same Deschutes Brewery venue that hosted the past two national championships. Adding to Sunday’s fun was the traditional Halloween costume race that brought out the usual creative cast of ghouls, goblins and God knows what.
After leading from start to finish on her way to Saturday’s win, Bishop Gordon played things a bit differently Sunday before riding off to another solo win, 33 seconds ahead of Bend’s Heather Clark (Bend Memorial Clinic Total Care), who was second Saturday as well. Corsa Concepts rider Megan Chinburg won the hole shot into a 180-degree corner and led the charge through the first part of the opening lap, while Bishop Gordon grabbed a spot near the front of the field and held on.
“Megan always starts out really strong,” Bishop Gordon said. “She’s really fast out of the cannon. So I just sat on her wheel for like the first half lap or so and then just put in the effort on the straightaways. I waited for the right moment, something (week #4 winner) Alice (Pennington) taught me: pick your moment.”
Bishop Gordon, who now has a commanding lead in the overall series competition, obviously picked the right moment Sunday, once again opening up the gap and then making her way through the traffic from the men’s Masters 35+ and men’s A field’s that started before them for the 60-minute event.
“I just put in the efforts,” she said. “In the places where I could accelerate I just kept trying to stand up and get out of the saddle. Heather (Clark) raced really well today, and I had to keep an eye on her. In the last two laps I kind of went for it, but I think it gets gets to the point where you’re thinking ‘just be careful, don’t take any risks.’ But I swear those logs on the course get a foot higher today.”
The logs may have seemed higher, but they didn’t appear to have slowed Bishop Gordon’s charge for another win. After she and Clark finished 33 seconds apart mixed in with men’s traffic, River City Bicycle’s Brigette Brown crossed the line another 1:10 down for third. Tina Brubaker (Vanilla Bicycles) and Beth Orton (Team S&M Les Femmes) rounded out the top five.
Old-School Decker Capitalizes On Alien Craig’s Trouble
The men’s race took several twists and turns before things sorted themselves out with two of Bend’s top riders grabbing the top two spots. Decker, Craig and series leader Aaron Tuckerman formed a trio at the front of the race after several circuits. Tuckerman, the former road pro, looked strong leading the two off-road experts around the course, but then he disappeared from the race near the halfway point.
“I’ve been sick all week,” he said later. “Even like two laps in I wanted to pull out even though I was leading. I just couldn’t breathe and had a headache. I felt terrible. (Decker and Craig) are here taking away series points, and they’re not going to be here for the overall. It sucks to pull out of races. You always want to win, but I need to try and get better.”
Only the best of six races count toward the overall, and the Portland transplant from New Zealand had yet to miss a race this year.
With Tuckerman heading for the team tent, Craig and Decker were free to play out their own personal duel over the last half of the race. The longtime friends and local heroes poured themselves into the course before Craig eventually grabbed a slight advantage over Decker, who trailed just behind. Donald Reeb (Cyclocrossracing.com) chased in the third spot more than a minute back.
But just when victory looked to be in hand for Craig on the same course where he secured his 2010 Singlespeed National Championship jersey, an ill-timed disaster doomed the effort.
“I flatted with two to go,” he said. “I totally had a gap on Carl. I was probably going to win, and then I flatted. Then Carl rode past right away.”
Decker seized the opportunity and turned up the watts once Craig and the rest of the field were in his wake.
“(Craig) punctured right before the pit,” Decker said. “But it was just enough of a gap. Then I twisted the knife a little bit. I was like, ‘Yeah, I think I’ll ride by myself from here on out thanks.’”
A wheel-popping Decker crossed the line 39 seconds ahead of Craig for the win. Reeb finished 1:37 behind Decker for third. Molly Cameron (MetaFilter/Portland Bicycle Studio) recovered from a rough ride on Saturday to grab the fourth spot, 2:03 off the winner’s mark. Shannon Skerritt (Corsa Concepts) was fifth, another 27 seconds in arrears.
Decker also went over well with the costume race in a getup supplied from his burgeoning racing days.
“This is all stuff I actually wore 20 years ago when I was racing as myself,” Decker said. “But I think I’m more of ringer for Paul Thomasburg actually, a local hero who’s been racing since racing was invented.”
The Bend event provided Craig with his first chance to compete in the costume race, where he opted for a head-to-toe green suit to avoid the heckling reserved for people in their unaltered race gear.
“I’ve always been somewhere else on this weekend,” he said. “But I’m happy to be here since I was able to ride my bike over. It was super fun. Rad crowd. Good hastlin’. I liked it.”
And while Craig opted for the green suit rather than the infamous jeans shorts and skateboard helmet he wore while winning his championship a year ago, riders in earlier categories broke out their own “Adam Craig” costumes for their races. Craig said he even helped them out with some Rabobank jerseys.
“They all hit me up for genuine artifacts,” he said. “So you might as well spread the love I guess.”
Moving the Halloween weekend doubleheader from Astoria to Bend proved to be a boon for the Cross Crusade and its sponsors. Oregon Bicycle Racing Association’s Candi Murray said the event drew an all-time-Halloween-weekend high of 1,940 registered competitors over the two days of racing, not including the hundreds of children who showed up each day for the two categories of Kiddie Cross. With local media on board to help promote the event, it’s safe to say the racing saw the largest number of spectators as well.
The Cross Crusade heads to the rocky confines of Barton park next Sunday for the penultimate race before the finalè on Nov. 13 at the Infield Paddock course at PIR.