by Laura Winberry and Josh Liberles
Barton, Oregon – A fine mist covered the final event of the 2010 Cross Crusade Series, settling into gravel and river stone, rolling country road and tire-tracked earth. After two years in Oregon, I guess I’m still new to the nuances of mud-types, and I can’t help but make hackneyed comparisons to the urban legend about the Eskimos’ 200+ words for snow. The off-and-on light rain throughout the day had everyone’s kits covered in brown kicked-up course early on, but the lack of clay in the soil meant the runny slurry ran off of drive trains and, despite twisty turns and sphincter-tightening descents, made for a less technical affair by this year’s Cross Crusade’s standards. Power and flat-out speed were largely the requisite qualities, and Wendy Williams and newly-crowned Canadian national champ Chris Sheppard proved they had the most of both in claiming the wins in the series finale.
Wendy Williams Best at Barton, Wins Overall Series
With out-of-the-ordinary-warm November temperatures in the mid-50s, the Elite women’s race kicked off in its final Crusade hoorah, moving from a short flat and into pocked, paved downhill. Everything seemed to unfold in fast forward, as Brigette Brown (River City Bicycles), Meghan Chinburg (Veloforma), Serena Bishop (Sunnyside Sports), Tina Brubaker (Vanilla Workshop) and Laura Winberry (Cascade Couriers/Elite Endurance) formed a well-oiled train into the first of many gravel and soup-spewed sections. Chinburg held solid, fast lines through the brown waterways with Brubaker and Winberry still in tow, the three almost in synch during the first 3/4 lap. A few changes arrived with the second run-up, as Winberry shouldered her rig and engined around Chinburg, slotting herself behind Brubaker, Bishop, and Brown. A few more rutted turns and series leader Wendy Williams (River City Bicycles) was quick to join Bishop and Brubaker, especially after Brown suffered a dropped chain and had to stop to get things going again.
“Brigette went off the front early. We clawed her back, then she dropped a chain,” said Williams “Then Serena and I rode together for a while; after a while, I left her and just kept trying to put time on her.”
Two laps into the eventual seven total, and Williams, Bishop, and Winberry maintained a spaced one, two, three, respectively, with several others fighting hard to close the gap. Lap six brought Brown back into the action, at which point Winberry took advantage of drafting tactics on the back road portion, trading back and forth with Brown until the last lap when Brown opened things up a bit.
Williams, Bishop and Brown would claim the podium steps in that order, with ample space between them. “Battling with the River City girls is awesome – fitness is one thing, mental toughness is another,” commented Bishop. “Today I had the mental toughness I had been looking for all season. Barton was a great finale to the Cross Crusade, but also a great opener for Nationals preparation.”
With half a bell lap remaining, Brenna Lopez-Otero (Bend Memorial Clinic) and Anne Davis Usher (Bridgetown Velo) also picked up pace, just enough to nab fourth and fifth, with Winberry 15 seconds back in sixth.
“I loved the course, the fine mist all around, and the watery mud. I felt strong, clipped into a fast start, and was on top of my game,” said Winberry. “I wanted a top-five, but just missed it. Like everyone else I worked hard, which is all I can ask for. I am against excuses, but a recent return of childhood asthma was definitely a limiting factor.”
“I’m still picking the mud out of my eyes. Barton throws a little bit of everything at you,” said Bishop later the night. “There weren’t many chances to rest, you had to pushing it the whole race.”
As running ‘crossers throughout the day attested, the key to the day was not flatting. Barton Park is a notoriously rocky venue, and the mud and deep puddles just added to the peril. “I guess the biggest thing was just trying not to flat – it was pretty rocky, and you couldn’t see it, so you had to pick and choose where to put your wheels,” said Williams. “There were so many flat sections that you’d want to draft, but you couldn’t really, because you’d get sprayed in the face and eyes.”
To help limit the danger, Williams ran a high-for-her pressure of about 30psi and was able to withstand the hour of racing without a bike change. The win was icing on the cake for Williams, who has also repeated last year’s performance by sealeing the overall Cross Crusade series. Her closest rival in the series, Alice Pennington (Team S&M), was busy scoring impressive results in the New Belgium Cup USGP this weekend, with a sixth place on Saturday and 10th on Sunday.
The Sheppard Show
After sprinting himself into a maple lead jersey at last weekend’s Canadian National Championships, Sheppard returned to the Cross Crusade lineup for the series finale. Sheppard had already won three Crusades and had taken second behind Ryan Trebon at the Sherwood Equestrian Park. Thanks to consistency and a double-win weekend in Astoria, Oregon, Shannon Skerritt (Corsa Concepts) had solidified an insurmountable lead in the series the week prior in Hillsboro, but was looking to finally beat Sheppard in a head-to-head duel.
After just over a lap as Skerritt’s front tire started squishing around, he realized that his battle at the front was over, and he had a long trudge to the pits. By the time he was up and running again, he was at the back of the field and had plenty of ground to make up to climb back up into the results. Although he never got further than 11th, where he’d finish, he made short work of rocketing past 40 riders over the next six laps.
The course featured a long paved section as well as flat off-road power stretches where riders could open it up. The result was bunches of riders clinging together for drafting, but that didn’t prevent a few from digging deep to go it alone.
Sheppard hit the gas early, and almost instantly had a gap from the race’s start. Aaron Tuckerman, Skerritt’s Corsa Concepts teammate, set off in pursuit, with Donald Reeb (Rocky Mountain) trailing behind. When Tuckerman reached the first of the course’s two steep, rocky run-ups he hit his front wheel into one of the several prominent rocks, piled up, and got a minor abrasion on his lower leg to go with it.
“A group caught back up to me then with Ian Brown (River City-Specialized), Ben Thompson, Reeb, Michael Gallagher (Cyclocrossracing.com), Damian Schmidt (Sunnyside Sports) and Skerritt,” said Tuckerman. “I knew the Rocky Mountain guys weren’t going to chase, so on the back side I attacked and tried to bridge. I got a gap, held it until the last lap when Ian Brown caught me on the first run-up. From there, I stomped on the pedals and got away before the finish. I really wanted to be out front and picking my own lines, able to see what was out there.”
Tuckerman’s result marks his best-ever in a Crusade race, and has further stoked his cyclocross fire. “Cyclocross will be a focus for next year, it’s a bunch load of fun and easier to squeeze in with work than a full-on road season. The Corsa Concepts team got first and third in the series with Skerritt and me, which is pretty sweet for the team’s first season.
“I’m getting used to going hard for an hour – before, that meant crit racing, and I was more used to that stop/go style,” continued Tuckerman. “And I’m also just getting better as a cyclocross rider. This course suited me too; the big, long fast sections allowed me to get on top of a gear and hold it.”
Sheppard soloed in for the win with about a minute buffer over Tuckerman. Brown came in alone about 20 seconds later to secure another podium finish.
Photo Gallery by Dave Roth:
|Pl||Num||First Name||Last Name||Team||City||Age||Laps|
|3||52||Ian||Brown||river city bicycles/tonic fab||Portland||31||8|
|4||7||Ben||Thompson||Rocky Mountain Bicycles P/B Shimano||Bend||34||8|
|5||28||donald||Reeb||Rocky Mountain Bicycle p/b Shimano||Keiser||36||8|
|7||13||Brett||Luelling||Buy Local Cycling||Salem||29||8|
|8||46||Patrick||Jackson||Buy Local Cycling||Bend||31||8|
|9||49||michael||gallagher||cyclocrossracing.com p/t Blue||Portland||37||8|
|10||111||Ross||Brody||Buy Local Cycling||Salem||31||8|
|15||8||Benjamin||Kubas||Therapeutic Associates Cycling/GENR8||Eugene||34||8|
|16||38||Scott||Bradway||Team S&M/Sellwood Cycle Repair||Portland||39||8|
|19||39||Steven||Hunter||Embrocation Cycling Journal||Portland||30||8|
|22||1||Seth||Patla||River City Bicycles||Hillsboro||33||8|
|23||53||Ryan||Weaver||River City Bicycles||Portland||33||8|
|24||173||Jake||Salcone||Ridemore Wear Less||8|
|27||174||Trevor||Spahr||Ironclad Performance Wear||8|
|30||6||Dave||Messenheimer||Team Oregon presented by Laurelwood Brewing||Portland||30||7|
|33||171||Grant||Cutter||Stanford University Cycling Team||7|
|36||138||Brent||Mattison||Team Lazy Tarantulas||Bend||27||7|
|39||117||Spencer||Moersfelder||River City Bicycles||Portland||35||7|
|40||139||James||Ceccorulli||Team Dirt/Mudslinger Events||Portland||23||7|
|41||23||Chad||Swanson||Team S+M||The Dalles||33||7|
|44||33||Ira||Ryan||IRA Ryan Cycles||portland||34||7|
|46||161||alex||wentz||Team Oregon presented by Laurelwood Brewing||7|
|47||169||Timothy||Lang||Portobello Bicycle Racing||7|
|49||106||Nat||Johnson||Green Submarine Records||Portland||32||7|
|DNF||5||Davy||Yeater||River City Bicycles||Portland||30||4|
|DNF||164||Matt||Cline||Portobello Bicycle Racing||1|
|Pl||Num||First Name||Last Name||Team||City||Age||Laps|
|1||928||Wendy||Williams||River City Bicycles||Portland||41||7|
|3||903||Brigette||Brown||River City Bicycles||Portland||35||7|
|4||908||Brenna||Lopez-Otero||Bend Memorial Clinic Total Care Racing Team||Bend||41||7|
|5||921||Anne||Davis Usher||Bridgetown Velo||Portland||62||7|
|7||925||Heather||Clark||Bend Memorial Clinic Total Care Racing Team||Bend||32||7|
|10||932||Nissy||Cobb||River City Bicycles||Portland||24||6|
|11||915||Lindsay||Jones||Team Dirt/Mudslinger Events||Eugene||30||6|
|12||926||Becky||Bjork||Bend Memorial Clinic Total Care||Bend||40||6|
|13||913||Anona||Whitley||Ironclad Performance Wear||Portland||25||6|
|20||916||Karen||Oppenheimer||Bend Memorial Clinic Total Care Racing Team||Bend||42||4|
|DNF||918||Heather||Wills||Embrocation Cycling Journal||Portland||36||2|