Sheppard has found a sweet draft © Dave Roth

Sheppard has found a sweet draft © Dave Roth

by Robbie Carver and Josh Liberles

Sherwood, Oregon – You never can tell what the weather will be like in Oregon. Participants in last week’s Cross Crusade, for example, waded through a post-deluge muddy slog, while those 1,200 strong who lined up for today’s Crusade in the Sherwood Equestrian Park were more concerned with overheating and seeing through the clouds of dust on the sunny, dry day.

The long, challenging course began with a fast, descending start as racers navigated a 180-degree turn into an s-dive down the staging hilltop. Following the descent came a steep, tacky run-up, which only a handful of Elite racers could ride. As racers crested the hill, a dry double track took them alongside wheat fields and through oak groves, down a screaming, tire-rolling descent and then up to a set of barriers, through another grove and across a barrier-plus-ravine dismount. “Every time I thought I’d go flying off the road and into the ditch,” said winner Ryan Trebon of the corner preceding the barriers. Though many racers would have been happy with this much challenging course, they still had to climb the longest ascent of the series so far: a gradual, two-hump gravel climb that sapped all remaining strength from the legs.

In the women’s race, Alice Pennington used her toughness and climbing prowess to distance all challengers and establish her lead at the top of the series. This marked Pennington’s first Crusades victory of the season after hard-fought battles to claim the second step the past two weeks.

Alice Pennington was in a league of her own today © Greg Hudson, Corsa Concepts

Alice Pennington was in a league of her own today © Greg Hudson, Corsa Concepts

Brigette Brown (River City Bicycles) was the next closest rider – she finished in second place, almost two minutes behind the on-fire Pennington. Bend, Oregon, resident Serena Bishop (Sunnyside Sports) rounded out the podium. Local phenom Sue Butler, who stomped the opening Alpenrose Cross Crusade, was busy mixing it up in the World Cup in Aigle, Switzerland.

“The course today was pain cave land,” said Pennington. “I was pretty thankful to get lapped (again) by Ryan and not have to take another lap up that damn hill.” [ed. the Elite men and women race concurrently, and both for an hour]

“I just used roadie fitness to pedal away on the first lap. There was a bunch of pedaling and not many recovery sections,” continued Pennington. “I raced with water too, which helped morale on that dusty hill.” When asked about the variation from the wet mud that Oregon cyclocross is known for, she replied, “I like the mud. It’s just cool to mix it up. I’m pretty stoked on the variety we get in Oregon. Mud brings out finesseful bike skills; courses like today bring out the being fit part more, but it’s all hard and gives different people a chance to capitalize.”

Lining up alongside the men’s Crusade series leader Chris Sheppard (Rocky Mountain Bicycles) was the tall guy from Kona, Ryan Trebon, as well as local favorites Molly Cameron (Portland Bicycle Studio), Aaron Tuckerman (Corsa Concepts) and Trebon’s teammates Erik Tonkin and Sean Babcock.

As the gun went off, the front line surged ahead and quickly established that this would be a strung-out, every-rider-for-himself type of race. Shannon Skerritt (Corsa Concepts) took the hole shot on his mountain bike. He came into the race sitting in second overall in the series, and opted for his hardtail MTB in the hopes that it’d smooth out the bumpy terrain – which it did, nicely – but he quickly realized that the weight of his steed proved too much for the demands of the course. Skerritt would end up in eighth on the day.

A group negotiates the fast off-camber turns © Dave Roth

A group negotiates the fast off-camber turns © Dave Roth

“At the beginning,” said Trebon, “I was trying to ride up the steep uphill and got tangled up with someone, and took out some spokes in my front wheel. It was making all these crazy-ass noises, so I had to stop and twist it around another spoke. I didn’t bring anything spare. It’s not bad, it’s just one spoke, but it’s pretty out of true. It made it flexy too, those turns were really fast and the front wheel was kind of folding – so I was saying, oh God, please stay together.”

Stay together it did, and after a few laps Trebon had taken the lead alongside Sheppard, and the two would progressively increase their command of the race over third place Sean Babcock and fourth place Molly Cameron. “Those guys are just at the real-pro level,” said Molly Cameron.

“It started off pretty fast,” said Babcock, “Just trying to get to the front of the race, and halfway through the first lap, a little gap opened up behind me. I was hoping to create a gap and maybe Ryan would bridge up to me and give me a free ride for a while. Instead Sheppard caught up to me and it was just two of us. We were together for two or three laps, then Ryan caught up to us and rode right through us. On the fourth lap, Sheppard gapped me on the long gravel climb.”

Shannon Skerritt leads the first time up the climb © Dave Roth

Shannon Skerritt leads the first time up the climb © Dave Roth

By lap eight, Trebon began to slowly distance himself from Sheppard, showing why he is one of the best in the country. “That was awesome,” said Sheppard, “No excuses, I felt pretty good. I pre-rode with my cast on and couldn’t get a good grip, so I taped it, and got it so it wouldn’t move [Sheppard recently broke his thumb]. I followed [Trebon’s] lines, led for a little bit here and there. It came down to the climb—I was running it. Wrong gearing, but no excuses, I don’t think I would have ridden it anyways. Running it was fast, but after 10 laps it wasn’t that fast.”

“I feel pretty good, I was just kind of saving it for the last couple of laps,” said Trebon when asked if he was worried with Sheppard sitting on his wheel. “I was riding that steep run-up, and he couldn’t quite get the gear going over the top of it and was running; that’s where I got the gap every lap.”

“I was pretty tired this week, I did 10 races last month and three last weekend, and I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to come out. But I took three days off this week; this is the only Crusade I’ll be able to make, and it’s nice to at least do one per year. I’d like to do more, but the schedule’s so busy, you gotta pick and choose your battles,” Trebon said.

“Last week we did three races in a row and they were all hard, [Jeremy Powers and I] were just beating up on each other every day. It was close, within two to three seconds every day. We hit Louisville, then the UCI races in Colorado and California, then finish the USGP and do Nationals. It’d be nice to try and win Nationals again this year,” he continued.

When asked about his plans after Nationals, Trebon replied, “I plan to race in Europe for two weeks in December, then come back home, I hope to do the European Christmas holiday block, although it’s not scheduled yet.”

Extra incentive on the long climb © Dave Roth

Extra incentive on the long climb © Dave Roth

Babcock has been learning from super-experienced cyclocross guru, and now teammate, Erik Tonkin, who finished in sixth on the day, just behind Aaron Tuckerman (Corsa Concepts). “We train a lot together, he’s a pretty good friend and mentor to have, he’s got quite a bit of experience,” said Babcock of Tonkin. Babcock’s upcoming target events are similar to Trebon’s: “I’m hoping to get into the top 15 in the Category 1 race in Louisville on Saturday. Top 10 would be really cool, but that would require a pretty solid race with no mistakes and getting into the right group. I’d like to be top 15 in the USGP series, and a top 10 at Nationals, then maybe go over to Europe for some racing,” he said.

By the end of the race, the top five were spread out in 15-45 second intervals, with Trebon taking the win, Sheppard second, followed by Babcock, Cameron, and Tuckerman. The racers came in caked thick with dust plastered by sweat, tired but happy they didn’t have to hose down their bikes or quickly escape the rain. Lingering in the sun, rather, seemed just fine.

Photo Gallery:

Full Elite Results:

Women’s Results

Pl Num First Name Last Name Team City Age Laps Time
1 911 Alice Pennington Team S+M Portland 29 8 01:02:09.00
2 903 Brigette Brown River City Bicycles Portland 35 8 01:03:56.00
3 917 Serena Bishop Sunnyside Sports bend 31 8 01:04:38.00
4 908 Brenna Lopez-Otero Bend Memorial Clinic Total Care Racing Team Bend 41 8 01:05:32.00
5 906 Abby Watson Embrocation Cycling Journal Portland 27 8
6 920 Julie Browning Cyclepath Racing Portland 41 8
7 923 Tina Brubaker The Vanilla Workshop/Speedwagen Racing Salem 42 8
8 926 Becky Bjork Bend Memorial Clinic Total Care Bend 40 8
9 927 Laura Winberry Elite Endurance Bend 26 8
10 938 Karen DeWolfe 8
11 905 Rachel Bagley Motor Dome Portland 32 7 01:00:47.00
12 932 Nissy Cobb River City Bicycles Portland 24 7 01:01:10.00
13 931 Megan Chinburg Veloforma Portland 32 7 01:01:20.00
14 910 Colleen Mcclenahan Sorella Forte Portland 45 7 01:02:02.00
15 916 Karen Oppenheimer Bend Memorial Clinic Total Care Racing Team Bend 42 7
DNF 925 Heather Clark Bend Memorial Clinic Total Care Racing Team Bend 32 6
DNF 913 Anona Whitley Ironclad Performance Wear Portland 25 2
DNF 936 Lana Atchley 1
DQ 937 Emily VanMeter 3

Men’s Results

Pl Num First Name Last Name Team City Age Laps Time
1 3 Ryan Trebon Kona Bend 29 10 01:01:57.00
2 124 Chris Sheppard Rocky Mountain Bicycles P/B Shimano Bend 37 10 01:02:21.00
3 15 Sean Babcock Kona/Team S&M Beaverton 27 10 01:03:55.00
4 131 Molly Cameron Portland Bicycle Studio Portland 34 10
5 10 Aaron Tuckerman Corsa Concepts Portland 27 10
6 58 Erik Tonkin Team S+M Portland 36 10
7 52 Ian Brown river city bicycles/tonic fab Portland 31 10
8 4 Shannon Skerritt Corsa Concepts Portland 39 9 01:00:38.00
9 29 Graham Howard Rocky Mountain Blues portland 25 9 01:01:05.00
10 38 Scott Bradway Team S&M/Sellwood Cycle Repair Portland 39 9 01:01:10.00
11 13 Brett Luelling Buy Local Cycling Salem 29 9 01:01:47.00
12 14 Damian Schmitt Sunnyside Sports Bend 32 9 01:01:52.00
13 42 Michael Benno Veloce Racing Portland 42 9 01:02:08.00
14 23 Chad Swanson Team S+M The Dalles 33 9 01:02:09.00
15 19 Ian Leitheiser Cyclepath Racing Portland 39 9 01:02:24.00
16 125 Steve Carwile Beaverton 28 9 01:02:28.00
17 8 Benjamin Kubas Therapeutic Associates Cycling/GENR8 Eugene 34 9 01:02:35.00
18 102 Matt Fox Sunnyside Sports Bend 32 9 01:02:49.00
19 105 Jeff Curtes EMBROCATION/Speedvagen Racing Portland 41 9 01:02:51.00
20 108 Landon Masterfield Embrocation Cycling Journal portland 27 9 01:03:18.00
21 26 Matthew Wills Courage Cycles Portland 30 9 01:03:51.00
22 139 James Ceccorulli Team Dirt/Mudslinger Events Portland 23 9 01:04:01.00
23 143 Will Ross 9 01:04:02.00
24 126 Doug Wilmes Portland Bicycle Studio Portland 30 9 01:04:11.00
25 41 Jeremy Dunn Embrocation Cycling Journal Portland 30 9 01:04:19.00
27 6 Dave Messenheimer Team Oregon presented by Laurelwood Brewing Portland 30 9 01:04:26.00
28 36 alex wentz Team Oregon presented by Laurelwood Brewing Portland 22 9 01:04:31.00
29 117 Spencer Moersfelder River City Bicycles Portland 35 9 01:04:47.00
30 118 Tim Joslin Cyclepath Racing Portland 34 9 01:04:51.00
31 21 Jonathan Myers Team S+M Portland 43 9 01:05:11.00
32 57 Joshua Liberles Corsa Concepts Portland 37 9 01:05:13.00
33 106 Nat Johnson Green Submarine Records Portland 32 9 01:05:19.00
34 147 Justin Finn 9
35 32 Mathew Hall Ira ryan Portland 32 9
36 46 Patrick Jackson Buy Local Cycling Bend 31 9
37 43 Tony Kic Gentle Lovers portland 32 9
38 138 Brent Mattison Team Lazy Tarantulas Bend 27 9
39 110 Mike Kath Sprout Cycles portland 32 9
40 1 Seth Patla River City Bicycles Hillsboro 33 9
41 101 William Warburton Therapeutic Associates Cycling/GENR8 Bend 30 9
42 148 Mark Hanson 9
43 16 Andy Redden NoLimitz/ICE White Salmon 28 9
44 109 Andrew Bennett Team Redline Eugene 18 9
45 40 joel madrone Courage Cycles Portland 35 9
46 145 Chip Sloan 9
47 146 John Walrod 9
48 144 Clint Culpepper 8 01:00:52.00
49 113 Ross Bowden Portland 25 8 01:01:02.00
50 27 Andrew Willis Ironclad Performance Wear Vancouver 28 8 01:03:31.00
DNF 20 Cary Miller Team S+M Portland 38 7
DNF 39 Steven Hunter Embrocation Cycling Journal Portland 30 7
DNF 47 Colin Rowan Corner Cycle Portland 28 6
DNF 45 Neal Bibler Team S+M Milwaukie 32 4
DNF 65 Eirik Schulz Specialized River City Bicycles Portland 39 4
DNF 120 Brennan Wodtli Hutch’s Bend 22 4
DNF 123 brad winn Primal-First Bank portland 27 3
DNF 28 donald Reeb Rocky Mountain Blues Keiser 36 2
DNF 121 Patrick Means Team S+M Bellingham 27 2
DQ 53 Ryan Weaver River City Bicycles Portland 33 9 01:04:24.00