Some Oregon riders have been complaining about the lack of mud for the 2009 season. These people feel that “true” ‘cross races require rain, at least six inches of mud, slop and puddles. These people also feel that if the kit is clean you didn’t race hard enough and your bike should resemble swamp thing after a race. Well, to each, their own. Some people also enjoy the musical stylings of Yanni and drink Molson Ice, but I’ll refrain from judging and let them clean out my derailleur.
This past weekend “these people” got their wish. It rained and softened up the Washington County Fairgrounds providing a good variety of muds for the cross connoisseur. Organizers even included a mud bowl for the later categories, just shake things up. For those of us – including the author – who pre-rode the course earlier and missed the mud bowl, all the start line whisperings of what was on the backside remained a mystery until we the deep, tacky pit on the first lap. There were no good lines in the mud bowl.
While some of us struggled in the mud, the men and women A racers blew the mud bowl apart. With teammate and series’ leader Wendy Williams (Hudz-Subaru) absent, Emily Van Meter went to the front and flew the team colors. Holding a comfortable gap over chaser Alice Pennginton (Veloforma), who in return had a comfortable gap over the rest of the field, Van Meter didn’t give anyone much chance to contest her lead. Serena Bishop (Sunnyside Sports) continued her strong showings and took third, while River City’s Bridgette Brown and Vanilla’s Tina Brubaker rounded out the top five.
I could copy and paste this sentence from last week: the men’s’ A race began and usual suspects assembled at the front. Tonkin (Kona), Babcock (S&M) and Cameron (Portland Bicycle Studio) were the main contenders who gapped the rest of the field and left everyone to sort out the chase. But the mud shook things up.
As the race wore on, Tonkin fell out of the lead group, and Michael Gallagher (C3 Athletes Serving Athletes), Brett Leulling (Capitol Subaru) and Mark Blackwelder (Gentle Lovers) filled into between Babcock, who was now chasing Cameron and the Kona rider. Gallagher gave Babcock a run for his money after Cameron took off, but the S&M rider was able to drop Gallagher for second.
Cameron at one point had a forty second gap over Babcock, and kept the lead until the end. Having raced and won the most aggressive rider award at the USGP in Kentucky on Saturday, Tonkin quickly returned to Portland for the Crusade race and despite not having as strong as showing as in previous races, still finished sixth. Though Cameron trailed Babcock in the series’ lead by sixteen points, Sunday’s win, her second in a row, will put her within striking distance of overtaking the lead at next weekend’s Halloween double-header in Astoria, Oregon.