Ryan Trebon (Kona-FSA) overcame a first-lap mishap and powered his way back to a win at Cross Crusade #3 Sunday in Oregon. In the women’s race, Alice Pennington (Team S&M) took the win and the series lead after just missing the top spot during the first two races.
In just its second year as part of the Crusade repertoire, the course at Sherwood Forest Equestrian Center south west of Portland has built a reputation as a hard slog over unrelenting bumps that dominate the pastures and trails that meander through woods surrounding the center and its (usually) equine inhabitants. More than 1,100 riders hit the trails throughout the picture-perfect fall day that turned the loosened soil into fine dust and the racing into a full-throttle run for the money.
With week one winner Sue Butler (Hudz-Subaru) competing at the World Cup opener in Switzerland, and week two winner Wendy Williams sitting out due to illness, Pennington wasted little time letting the rest of the field know this would be her week, and as usual, her legs did the talking.
River City Bicycles’ Nissy Cobb and Brigette Brown won the hole shot through the S-turns at the top of the course before descending into the woods, but by the time they emerged and hit the long gravel climb to the upper pasture and the start/finish line to start lap two, Pennington had seized control and was making her way through the tail end of Masters Men’s A field that had started minutes before the women.
“It was a lot of pedaling,” Pennington said of the course. “Being a road racer, I kind of had an advantage. I was pedaling through a lot of the bumpy stuff that other people weren’t as comfortable pedaling through.”
Pennington said the water bottle she brought along was another key to performing well during the entire 60-minute event on the hot, dry day.
“I took it every time on the big climb,” she said. “I was really glad that I had water. There wasn’t really any place on this course to take a break, so you couldn’t hide a lack of fitness. I didn’t have Wendy (Williams) for competition out there today, so it’s a little bit hard to gauge how good I was going, but I felt pretty good.”
Brown, fourth last week, rode her way to second, 1:47 behind Pennington. Serena Bishop (Sunnyside Sports) finished third, the same as last week. Brenna Lopez-Otero (Bend Memorial Clinic Total Care) finished fourth ahead of Abby Watson (Embrocation Cycling Journal) in fifth.
In the men’s race, series leader Chris Sheppard (Rocky Mountain Bicycles), winner of the first two races of the 2010 series, battled two-time national champion Ryan Trebon throughout the 10 laps, with both riders overcoming first-lap mechanicals and Trebon eventually coming out on top.
The Kona rider got off to a rough start after getting tangled up with another rider early in the first lap and having to stop to make an on-the-go repair.
“It took out some spokes in my front wheel,” Trebon said. “I didn’t bring a spare bike or anything, so I had to twist the spokes around other spokes so that they’d stop whacking all over the place. Then I just started chasing back.”
While Trebon was correcting his damaged wheel, Sheppard was dealing with his own handlebars, which had been jostled out of place in the same pileup that caused Trebon’s problems. Sheppard, however, was able to nurse his bike to the pit and grab a spare in time to remount the chase. Sheppard caught and passed Babcock, settled in on the front and was joined by Trebon about lap later.
“I was feeling pretty good,” Trebon said of his form after the chase back to the front. “So I was just kind of saving some for the last couple of laps. It’s a hard course. It feels like you’re going really slow. There’s a couple pretty hard sections with climbing, but there’s a lot of really fun, hanging-it-out-fast turns.”
Sheppard stayed with Trebon for the majority of the race before the tall Kona rider put the hammer down on the steepest climb, shaking Sheppard in the process.
“He’s Ryan,” Sheppard said. “Fast racer. I just watch his lines and trust everything he does. When it came down to a lap and half to go, he was riding the climb, and I (uh-hmmm) had to run it. And then that was that.”
Sunday’s win will likely be the only Crusade victory this year for Trebon, who will return his focus to national-level races and the USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championships in his hometown of Bend. Then he’ll head to Europe in December before returning home to prepare for Worlds.
“I was pretty tired this week because we did 10 races last month,” Trebon said. “So I was like, ‘I don’t know if I’m going to come out.’ But this is the only (Cross Crusade) I’ll be able to make this year, and it’s nice to do at least one. I’d like to do more, but the schedule is so busy, you have to pick and choose.”
The Cross Crusade continues next Sunday at the former nationals course behind Portland International Raceway.