Adam Craig successfully combines cyclocross with facial hair. by Cyclocross Magazine

Adam Craig successfully combines cyclocross with goofy facial hair. by Cyclocross Magazine

by Josh Liberles

Bend, Oregon, may have grown too quickly, only to be subsequently hit particularly hard by the downturned economy, but the town seems to have found a focus to try to turn things around: event promotion. We cyclists are well aware that Bend is hosting the USA Cyclocross Nationals for both 2009 and 2010, as well as the Elite/U23/Junior Road Nationals for 2009 and 2010. They’ve also just recently landed Masters Road Nationals for 2011 and 2012. The Cascade Cycling Classic is a long-running road National Road Calendar stage race, with amateur categories as well, that visits the town every July. Bend’s event hosting isn’t limited to bike events, either. This summer, Bend will host USA Track & Field National Championships for both the 50k Trail Running and Half Marathon trail running races. Is that enough for you super-active busy bodies? Well, turns out the XTerra Trail Running National Championship heads to Bend in September 2010, too. There is a less aerobic championship coming to town as well, but more on that in a minute.

As a Bend multi-sport athlete, you’re looking at some serious home court advantage in several sports. All residents, at the very least, will be treated to some pretty cool spectating.

It’s not just dumb luck that has led to Bend’s monopoly of every championship event known to man – Visit Bend, an economic development organization focused on tourism, has put forward a concerted effort to attract organizations and their competitors. Unlike many cities and towns, where convincing the powers that be that hosting an event and bringing thousand of out-of-towners in can be an economic windfall for a community is an uphill battle, Bend actually gets it. They’ve done their homework in the aftermath as well and have the numbers to prove the economic impacts of the cycling events. They even offer a $5,000 charity donation in the name of any local group that brings their national organization’s event to town.

In my purely unscientific, verbal poll of competitors at the 2009 ‘Cross Championships, Bend was a near-unanimous hit among competitors. The course was close to amenities, the number of quality secondary events going on during Nationals was mind-boggling, and it was just, generally, a good time had by all.

Geoff Kabush, another cross-over candidate, could represent Team Canuck. by Cyclocross Magazine

Geoff Kabush, another cross-over candidate, could represent Team Canuck. by Cyclocross Magazine

Maybe you did ‘Cross Nats last year and you’re looking for an excuse to pay a visit in the warmer “offseason,” when fields aren’t covered in ice and snow. You’re likely looking for an activity to fill the void between ‘cross seasons, too. Sure, you could go the traditional routes that many take – road or mountain biking. Heck, any of the events coming to Bend sound pretty cool, but they also sound like a heck of a lot of work. Fear not: Visit Bend recently announced a summertime national championship that’s just the ticket and will well complement your cyclocross preparation.

Although April 1st may be quickly approaching, don’t let that fuel your doubts as to this event’s legitimacy (check the PDF press release here). I’m thinking local Bend resident / mountain bike Olympian / cyclocross rocket ship / rally car racer / and well-known facial hair sculpture needs to get a little more serious and competitive in that last department, lest Kabush and his Luke Perry-inspired scruff bring a threat from north of the border.

BEARD TEAM USA SELECTS BEND TO HOST NATIONAL
BEARD AND MOUSTACHE CHAMPIONSHIPS

As many as 400 participants expected to compete on June 5, 2010 for national championship titles and $5,000 in prizes.

Bend will host the first-ever National Beard and Moustache Championships at the Les Schwab Amphitheater on Sat., June 5, 2010. The event will take place in conjunction with the Balloons Over Bend festival.

Beard Team USA, fresh off its stunning victory over Germany at last year’s World Beard and Moustache Championships, selected Bend from a group of more than 25 bidding cities, resorts and hotels. The event promises unique family-friendly entertainment for young and old, bearded and clean shaven, dedicated fans and newly curious.

“We chose Bend to host the Nats because of the community’s love of beards and beer, two things we hold in very high regard,” said Phil Olsen, the Founder and self-appointed Captain of Beard Team USA. “Through our meetings with the folks in Bend, we were convinced that despite their lack of facial hair, they were committed to hosting a world-class event and welcoming America’s elite beardletes, their friends, and fans with open arms and delicious Bend beer.”

“It’s an honor for Bend to host America’s facial hair gifted from across the country,” said Doug La Placa, President and CEO of Visit Bend, the organization that courted Beard Team USA to Bend. “While Bend is typically known for its breathtaking scenery and unparalleled outdoor recreation, we’re looking forward to showing the World that our beards and beer are second to none. Already many new beards are sprouting on the faces of normally clean shaven Bendites in anticipation of the big event.”

Beard Team USA, whose motto is, “growing beards for America,” was founded in 2003 to represent the United States at the biennial world championships, long dominated by European groups, especially those from powerhouse Germany. America’s team now boasts over 1500 members nationwide and over 50 local chapters.

This will be the first national championship event held in the USA. The competition is open to everyone, regardless of age, nationality, or team affiliation. Already, Beard Team Canada has announced plans to attend. Other international groups may come too. Moreover, unlike other prestigious athletic events, there will be no annoying gender testing.

The Competition will take place in four categories, with the winner in each category walking away with $1,000. So that every competitor gets a shot at the prize money, a fifth $1,000 prize will be awarded to a contestant selected at random. Additionally, a locals’ category for Deschutes County residents will be incorporated into the festivities. Official categories include:

  • Best Moustache: Beards are allowed in this category, but contestants will be judged on their moustaches only.
  • Best partial beard: Includes goatees, Van Dykes, sideburns, musketeers, etc.
  • Best full beard: Styling aids are permitted.
  • Freestyle: Anything goes… Anything. Be creative.

Beardletes will be able to register online at www.beardteamusa.org. Onsite registration will also be available on the morning of June 5 at the Les Schwab Amphitheater. Details and additional information on the National Beard and Moustache Championships can be found at www.beardteamusa.org.