Wicks turns the screws on the dirt road © Pat Malach, Oregon Cycling Action

Wicks turns the screws on the dirt road © Pat Malach, Oregon Cycling Action

by Josh Liberles

Although Oregon cyclists enjoy a vibrant road scene, its scope is nothing in comparison to their world renowned cyclocross events, led by the Cross Crusade. Apparently the skinny-tired folks here are nostalgic for dirt, as the last two races have spiced things up with nice gravel sections. First was the Cherry Blossom Classic stage race in The Dalles, Oregon. This is the latest creation of Chad Sperry, promoter of the Mt Hood Classic and Cascade Classic stage races, and it featured four stages in three days. Day two was a brutal, constantly undulating circuit with a 1.5-mile gravel climb, done five times.

Ian McKissick (Lenovo), who finished both the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix last year and is no stranger to dicey roads, was among the contenders. Cyclocross phenoms Ryan Trebon and Barry Wicks, Kona’s twin towers, also made the trip out for some good hard riding. Trebon went to the front of the peloton to drive the pace and get some intensity in his legs during stage 1, but ended up pulling out of stage 2 with neck and back pain. Wicks survived the brutal attrition that day to finish with the eight-man front group, but disproved the April Fools’ rumor that he was becoming a time trial specialist when he opted to eschew the next day’s TT and crit, instead making the trip to the Bear Springs cross-country race – which he won. Regional riders were also discussing the fact that he was out tearing the legs off of a local MTB training ride on Thursday, the day before Cherry Blossom started. I’d say his mission to rack up some good training over the weekend was accomplished.

But it was kiwi Patrick Bevin (Rubicon-Orbea) who took home the Cherry Blossom overall, claiming stage 1 in a solo breakaway and still having enough juice left at the end to put a stamp onthe race with a sprint win in the criterium. A lean-and-mean-looking Sam Johnson (Hagens-Berman) snagged the second step on the strength of his stage 2 win, with time trial winner McKissick (Lenovo) taking third overall. See more photos at the bottom of this page.

The Cherry Blossom also gave me a chance to quickly play catch-up via a Q&A with Ryan Trebon.

The next weekend was the Eugene, Oregon, Eugene Roubaix. While adding “Roubaix” to races’ titles (Boulder Roubaix, Barry-Roubaix, et al) typically means dirt road sections and an event that bears little resemblance to their Paris-Roubaix namesake, it does give us at Cyclocross Magazine an excuse to talk about them. It also brings the cyclocrossers with roadie leanings out of the woodwork. Carl Decker (Giant) and Molly Cameron (Portland Bicycle Studio) were mixing it up with a plethora of regional and local road and ‘cross talent. It was a breakaway composed of roadies that ruled the day, however, as Steven Beardsley (Gentle Lovers) outkicked Graham Howard (HP Chiro-Scott’s Cycles) and Rob English (Hutch’s) to the line.

Oregon Cycling Action shot this video snippet, giving a flavor of the race’s pavé :

Cherry Blossom Photo Gallery: