As the late summer dust slowly settles and the inevitable return of late season rains promise to turn it all to mud, the Pacific Northwest begins to get antsy for cycling's most spectator friendly discipline to come around once more.
Here in the Portland area CX is King, and the season's early races on the north side of the Columbia -- DDCX, Het Meer, Ninkrossi -- are traditionally hot, dry, and fast, calling for file treads and maybe a face mask for the clouds of ultra-fine grit that hang in the air of the gully at David Douglas park. As the good-natured heckling flows weekend after weekend the OBRA Grand Prix Series shakes out and then boom, before we know it, our pit boots are ankle deep in the muck of prime #cyclocross season.
Oregon is undoubtedly a hotbed of cyclocross in America, arguably the heart of it. The OBRA GP races occasionally have a celebrity UCI pro cameo (reigning World Cup Champion Lars van der Haar smoked the field at Het Meer a few years back). The sport's brightest star Sven Nys famously came all the way to Portland to race the now legendary SSCXWCXPDX just for fun. First run a quarter century ago the Cyclocross Crusade, Oregon's largest race series by participation, is also the biggest in the nation.
Washington State has a respectable CX scene as well, and collectively the cyclocross community in the PacNW is large, includes riders from diverse backgrounds, and the racing is both seriously competitive and genuinely jovial. Out here competitiveness and camaraderie go hand in hand. It is a community that we are proud to be a part of.
Beyond being a good time, PacNW CX is also a fantastic arena to test and refine the most durable, dependable, and decisively high performance bicycles and components. Here in the Upper Left the sport of cyclocross offers a laboratory-like proving ground, cramming into a handful of weeks the equivalent of many seasons worth of "general use" daily bike riding. The sport is literally built around the concept of "road" bike courses so brutally technical and/or obstructed by terrain that bikes are dismounted, shouldered, and remounted many dozens of times in the course of a single hour. A pressure washer is considered standard pit equipment.
Luckily for us CX in our back yard entails everything from high desert sand pits to component destroying temperate rainforest bogs, and from the very first day flying our flag we have had REN bikes out at races, collecting rider feedback and long-term test data from seasoned athletes in abysmal conditions.
Looking back over the results, it turns out our bikes are pretty darn good, just like we planned it. :)
Over the past 4 years we have been fortunate to have a handful of local legends proving the performance capabilities of our bikes in the sport's Elite field, riding REN bikes to podiums across Oregon, Washington, California, and Nevada, from OBRA Grand Prix Series to the Cross Crusade, from the NW CX Cup to USA Nationals.