“Full of Crap.” You can read that title on a variety of levels, as the third Cross Crusade race was held at an equestrian center near Sherwood, Oregon. Though Saturday’s rain storms had mixed the dirt and manure into a sticky paste, clear skies and warm weather dried the course out. Meandering through a forested area, chicanes around trees in the meadows, and a dismount section that also involved getting over a little stream, the course’s pièce de résistance or nut buster as we say in English, was a short but steep gravel climb up to the finishing stretch. Spectators lined the hill with bells, cameras and beer. Someone was offering Hamm’s, a beer not known for its quality or nutritional boost for athletes, though most racers looked like they were just trying to keep their breakfast down and keep the pedals turning.
Sean Babcock (Team S&M) wasted little time in dispatching the field in the men’s A race, leaving pseudo-teammate Erik Tonkin (Kona) and Molly Cameron (Portland Bicycle Studios) to pick up the pieces. Babcock pulled his lone cowboy impression last week at the Crusade race in Rainier, Oregon, and once again he was out on the range all alone. Behind Tonkin and Cameron, another chase group was trying to make up time including Vanilla Workshop riders’ Kevin Hulick and Shannon Skerritt along with Mike Benno (Veloce) and David Roth (Signal Cycles), and the quartet had a good chance to help break up the field and perhaps bridge. Babcock, however, looked invincible; at one point holding a minute lead on his closet pursuer. But late in the race, things began to go awry. Babcock’s wheel pressure was getting low and as S&M rider tried to make to the pits quickly, Cameron capitalized. Having caught Tonkin and riding in a good rhythm, Cameron passed Babcock, gained a decent gap and kept the pace high to keep the lead. Babcock and Tonkin stayed together and took second and third, respectively. The second chase group broke apart and Hulick pushed up towards the lead trio to finish in fourth while Roth came home for fifth.
Simultaneously, Alice Pennington (Veloforma) and Wendy Williams (Hudz-Subaru) were reenacting a Tonkin-Babcock move: quickly moving away from the rest of the women’s A field and settling in for another battle at the front of the race. While it did take Pennington a little while this time around to get to the front – due to a dropped chain – the Veloforma rider quickly caught up to Serena Bishop (Sunnyside Sports) who was trailing Williams, passed her and pounded away to take on the leader. On the bell lap, Pennington took a large dig to work her way up to and pass Williams, and the two were neck and neck coming off the final barriers. The hill, however, was the great decider as Williams pulled away to hit the final stretch first and ride in for her third Crusade win. Bishop held onto third ahead of Rhonda Mazza (Team S&M) and Erin Playman (Gentle Lovers), who were fourth and fifth.
Full results are posted at obra.org. The next Crusade race is at the Washington County Fairgrounds in Hillsboro, Oregon.