FROM FRINGE TO FRUITFUL-Local Race Series Makes Charity A Priority

Festive Ladies of Alley Cross Two

Festive Ladies of Alley Cross Two

We are not strangers to dressing silly and racing cyclocross bikes around these parts. But this year gave me (and teammate Remy) an opportunity to try a new type of cyclocross race and donate to charity all in the same day. ALLEY CROSS is a three race series that was created by local racer Daniel Carter in 2012 and has garnered enormous support from local sponsors this year.

Remy, Julie, Stephanie, Jericho & Mielle

Remy, Julie, Stephanie, Jericho & Mielle

Daniel and Justin post race

Daniel and Justin post race

Unlike most cyclocross races that take place at a known venue, Alley Cross combines the unsanctioned street racing found in Alley Cat races with laps on a mystery cyclocross course set up in various Portland parks. I was so inspired by the community giving aspect of Alley Cross  that I decided to check in with Daniel on how the Alley Cross series came to be. 

Go Pro video of  the Alley Cross 2  race by Paul Laak

http://vimeo.com/82521259

After breaking his ankle at the Kruger’s Crossing race Nov. 2012, Daniel missed the final cross races of the season but wasn’t ready for the season to be over. A lover of both Alley Cat races and cyclocross, he and his friend, Beer Mongers teammate Justin Bruaner, saw an opportunity to take advantage of the amazing local parks they used for training and transform them into a very temporary race course.

Daniel-left, Justin-center front-Volunteers Photo

Daniel-left, Justin-center front-Volunteers Photo

But there is so much more to it than that. When asked what the motivation behind starting this series was, Daniel said,  For me personally, I need to attach more meaning to the things I do than merely self improvement”.

As a Juvenile Custody Services Specialist at the Multnomah County Juvenile Detention Center in Portland, Daniel works with youth that are sometimes homeless and often from low-income, undereducated minority families struggling to get by. I see these issues every day, but many people are more or less oblivious, so this (Alley Cross) is a fun way to help this population and raise awareness.”

Of the six charities the Alley Cross series has donated to, only two were coordinated with before hand, including Outside In, the series finale’ charity on January 11th, 2014.  Daniel admits that he usually just shows up on the doorstep of the charity with food or clothing in hand, but future races will include much more of the charity’s involvement ahead of time. In a few years, the Alley Cross crew hopes to expand and be part of a bona fide Non-profit Organization.

Podium-Kristi 2nd, Mielle 1st, Heather 3rd

Podium-Kristi 2nd, Mielle 1st, Heather 3rd

For the race participants, there is a very long and impressive list of prizes donated by local companies and bike industry shops including Sellwood Cycle Repair, Bob’s Red Mill, Retroshift and Fort George Brewery.  

Piles of Donations

Piles of Donations

Peter Koonce/Team S&M picks his prize

Peter Koonce/Team S&M picks his prize

Race 1 –Cross Dress, asked for warm kids clothing(donated to Janus Youth Access Center and New Avenues for Youth in Portland) and offered amazing prizes for top 3 men, women and kids. A DFL award also given for the very last man, woman and child to cross the finish line. Everyone was encouraged to ‘cross dress’ but the ladies were the only ones daring enough to dabble in dude dress this year. I went as Erik Tonkin, owner of Sellwood Cycle Repair. But funny enough, Chris Brannen(Alley Cross Crew & Team S&M member) and I wore the same outfit.

Mielle giving dudes beard envy

Mielle giving dudes beard envy

Race started  and finished at Normandale Park on 52nd and NE Halsey. We were told moments before the start that our cross course was set up at Rose City Park on 62nd and Thompson. Get from park to park any route you want, then 4 laps on the cross course and race back to the start. 

Mielle on the Rose City Park stairs

Mielle on the Rose City Park stairs

Race 2-Alley Cross 2 asked for canned food items that would be donated to St Vincent DePaul.  Race started at Overlook Park across from Kaiser Permanente in North Portland and there were two mystery locations. We had to find a dog park on Willamette Blvd., hike-a-bike to the bottom of a steep, muddy trail to get a plastic egg containing the address of the cross course. We ended up racing through the streets back to North 7th and Fremont for a course set up in Irving Park, then back to Overlook for the finish. This was way more road racing than the first race. 

Remy at the Irving Park sand pit

Remy at the Irving Park sand pit

Wish List Items

Wish List Items

I asked Daniel how he determines if a race is successful. Every race is successful. Each event spreads the word to more bike shops, more racers, sponsors, volunteers and more bystanders just happening by. I guess the day nobody shows up to race is the day it’ll be unsuccessful.”

Race 3-Alley Cross 3 will take place at NOON on Saturday January 11th, 2014 at Creston Park in SE Portland and entry is 5 items off the Outside In wish listPost race party at Velo Cult 3-5pm. Check out the Alley Cross Three! Facebook page for info and photos from the events. 

Racers and Volunteers

Racers and Volunteers
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From Farm to Desert-3 Tough September Courses

Cross Vegas Baby

Cross Vegas Baby

Our neo pro Beth Ann Orton started her early season elite races with a trip to Starcrossed in Seattle,Wa Sept.14th and Las Vegas, NV for the world renowned Cross Vegas race on Wed. Sept 18th. She had this to say about Starcrossed: 

” Fun race, amazing atmosphere, such a unique event.  It’s beginning to really look like cross season. I really enjoyed staying with Mary and sleeping on her sofa-bed. 
 
I was at the front of the race with a pack of 5 for the first 4 laps, then sitting 4 with 5-6 and a small gap to 1-3rd for quite a number of laps.  I fumbled a pedal stroke after transitioning and was dropped.  I shrunk the gap by race end, but not enough.  Great race, overall, and many lessons learned.  Very aggressive, fast, and fun.  The number of screaming PDX folks around the velodrome made it a memorable day.”  
The N in Ninkrossi

The N in Ninkrossi

While Beth Ann was off racing with world famous guys and gals in September, us mere mortals were digging in to some serious mud. Jill and Remy took on the pure climbers course at Ninkrossi, part of the Grand Prix Erik Tonkin series Sept. 28th, held at the Washougal Motocross course in Washougal, Wa.
Remy outrunning the pack

Remy outrunning the pack

While I worked for OBRA in the pit, I had a first hand view of our girls in action. 17 A women went shoulder to shoulder on the course built for the mountain biker.
Jill in the switchbacks

Jill in the switchbacks

Long climbs, tricky, off-camber descents and lots of bike handling. In the end, Remy found her way to the front, bringing home her best A result so far with a 4th place.  Jill came in shortly after with an 11th place, admitting she may have been over geared for such a hilly course. 
4th for Remy

4th for Remy

Post Fazio hose down

Post Fazio hose down

I got my chance to get muddy at Fazio Farms on Sept.22nd in NE Portland.  This is the second year for Fazio, hosted by the Ironclad team. Last year it was bone dry and windy.

Mielle at Fazio

Mielle at Fazio

This year, the rain came down in buckets and three huge climbs were added. The farm grounds were a combo of gravel, clay mud and grasses. I decided to race A’s instead of master A’s since the field was smaller.
2 of the 3 Fazio Climbs

2 of the 3 Fazio Climbs

I managed to get the hole shot, and worked on getting a gap.  I slid back to 3rd position with a solid gap. That was until 3 laps to go. Starting the steep climb to the slip-n-slide descent, my derailleur seized up and ripped off my bike, unable to continue functioning with all of the mud and grass gunkedup within it.. I had to run  with my bike on my shoulder up two huge climbs, around the manmade mountain, over the barriers to the middle of the field to get my 29’r. Totally exhausting.
Mielle on her pit bike

Mielle on her pit bike

I finished the race a lap down. Alas, no podium this day. It was still a super fun race but a very expensive day. 
derailleur, hanger and chain destroyed

derailleur, hanger and chain destroyed

Photo Credit to Jacob Tong/www.thewolfsmouth.com
Adam/www.retroshift.com
Matthew Lasala//www.lasalaimages.com

TESTING THE WATERS- Het Meer 9/7/13

Insert your own caption

Insert your own caption

Plotting, watching and assessing. How is this game played in the unfamiliar waters of Vancouver Lake Park? Camping out on a tiny wooden stool someone dubbed my ‘traveling podium’, mental notes were made as I watched strong racers try to escape their pursuers on the long gravel straight, enduring the pain coursing through their bodies from the seemingly harmless uphill run in the sand.  Leaders did not stay leaders for long. The rider that used others to draft from moved into 1st position race after race.  Deviating from my normal ‘hole shot’ mentality, I formed a new plan of attack for my first race of the season.

THE BEACH!!!!!!

THE BEACH!!!!!!

 Het Meer in Vancouver, WA. is fairly new with its inaugural race kicking off in 2011 as part of a new series of Saturday races. This year it continues to gain steam as part of the Grand Prix Erik Tonkin series (GPET).  1.9 mile relatively flat course is off-set by small off-camber turns, sharp corners to pavement transitions, a long road  and…..the SAND. After many face plant photos struck fear in the sand-curious crowd last year, a “raker” was posted at the transition from grass to beach to keep a deep hole from forming at the launch point. Riding the waters edge was the easy part. It’s the run back to dry land that wore down riders.

Heather, Mielle & Amy at line-up

Heather, Mielle & Amy at line-up

Five master A women on the line. My longtime nemesis Amy Rice/ Lazy Tarantulas, sporting her easily-won GPET leaders jersey, is the spider I want to drop in the sand trap today. Heather Vanvalkenburg/Upper Echelon is known for her speed on flat road and track, so who knows if this course will favor her skills.  Racing on a new bike and I’m feeling frisky

Sand Surfing

Sand Surfing

Whistle blows and I have my sights set on “sitting in” and letting our series leader set the pace on the long gravel road.  Left turn on a long, bumpy single-track trail surrounded by bumpier grass and out of sight of any spectators. Following Amy, Heather and new-to-master A’s, Ellen Smith/Lazy Tarantulas with Holly Kotsovos/Tireless Velo behind me and the pace feels slower than normal.  Over barrier #1, around the playground bark chips, our train spins at a moderate pace to the barriers by the finish. Pace myself. That is the plan. Moving ahead of Ellen on the beach I move in behind Heather, still trailing Amy as we shoulder bikes and trudge up the deep sand. Looping back around to the long gravel road I notice Heather is letting a gap open that I am not comfortable with. Hitting the single-track, I make my move into 2nd position to shut down the gap and hit a bump. CLICK-A-DUH,SHHHHHS. My chain popped off my single chain ring (new bike) and slid down the crank  arm. “ ARE YOU KIDDING ME?” I said aloud as Heather rides calmly away.  Ellen finds me trying to unkink my chain, “Mielle are you OK?” to which I reply ‘Yeah’ in a disgrunteled tone.

Laurie at the Barriers

Laurie at the Barriers

CHASE, CHASE, CHASE! Race announcer Luciano makes some comment over the PA system about my current position to the crowd and I tell him I dropped my chain as I ride by. Snaking around the off-camber tree, a group of Team S&M guys are cheering for me and doing THE WAVE.  How do you not smile when people are doing the wave?

Photo courtesy of RetroShift

Photo courtesy of RetroShift

 I catch Ellen quickly and overtake her, eyeing Heather up ahead.  “Hey Mielle, why are you riding like this is a Grand Fondo” yells Sean from Trusty Switchblade, “Go get Heather”.  Oh I plan to do exactly that.  Surfing the shifting sand, Heather is reeled in on the beach. No idea where Amy is now.

Heather and I are together on the road as she tucks in behind me to recover. Single-track is no problem but dismounting for barrier #1 my chain pops off AGAIN. Holy Crap. Really?  “COME ON” yells Heather with encouragement, but like Alberto Contador, she rides away. 

Chain back on, my brain is doing the math. Do I pit and get my other bike with 1 lap to go or chance it? No pit, just CHASE, CHASE, CHASE!  Heather is caught again but my spider is out of sight. Dodging slower girls awkwardly carrying their bikes, I move in front of Heather on the sand run-up which sends my heart rate sky high.  Through the trees to the gravel road and up go my gears. I am suddenly alone to run it home as Heather has given up the chase. DON’T DROP YOUR CHAIN is running through my mind. My stomach tightens powering through the single-track but it is a clean run through all of the barriers and bark, rolling in for 2nd place.

 The good news is I felt super (thanks C-Velo Performance Cycling Studio), and my Sellwood mechanic will make sure I am not dead in the water at the next race.

Remy and Erik at the Sellwood support tent

Remy and Erik at the Sellwood support tent

Les Femmes results for the day:

Audrey earned 9th, Laurie 13th and Remy just wanted everyone to know her new bike was awesome but the rider needed work. 

Photo courtesy of:  Klaus Ochs   http://portfotolio.net/klausochs, 

RichRosko/Hammer Velo

Adam at Retroshift   http://www.retroshift.com/Post race chin wag

Post race chin wag