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River City Bicycles 2003 Cross Crusade Round 4
Alpenrose Velodrome, Portland, Oregon, October 26, 2003
Wicks wins first of the season while Mazza repeats
By Brian Witty
As summer returned to Oregon for a short, unexpected visit, so too did the 2003 River City Bicycles Cyclo-Cross Crusade to Alpenrose Velodrome on October 26 in order to see both of last season's series winners come out on top in a day of exciting action. Barry Wicks (Kona/Kenwood) and Rhonda Mazza (Team S&M/Sellwood Bicycles) showed that they were both contenders for this season's crowns as they charged away from competitive fields.
The 'Cross Crusade series returned to Alpenrose Dairy, the scene of the opening round, for another record setting day of racing. While the setting was familiar, the weather was a surprise as record temperatures in the mid-70s and brilliantly sunny skies made it seem like June, not late October. No arm or leg warmers required for the 440-plus participants this day.
The course ran in the opposite direction as three weeks ago and was designed for a more open, fast-paced lap. Racers enjoyed the rhythm and speed that was only interrupted by three sets of barriers, including a tricky downhill quad, and the traditional steep run-up that climbed up the backside of the velodrome's 43-degree banking.
Feisty Wicks runs away with a win
Wicks was back on the start line with his only finish of the season occurring at Alpenrose where he placed second to Ryan Trebon. He had pulled out early on the first lap at the second round at Jackson Middle School and missed the Barton race altogether. Wicks was flanked on the front row of the Category A Men's Race by the three points leaders for this season: Shannon Skerritt (Trek/VW/Bike Gallery), Eric Tonkin (Kona/Kenwood) and Mark King (Sunnyside Sports).
Wicks won the hole shot with a surprising King in second, followed by last week's winner Skerritt and the ever-present Tonkin. The opening lap was entertaining as the course was not selective so the entire field was virtually nose-to-tail on the first time into the velodrome where the finish line was located. King's race suffered a blow as his front wheel slid out on a tricky off-camber turn just before coming onto the track. He only dropped from second to fifth, but the tumble took the wind out of his sails.
Starting the second lap, Wicks had opened up a gap on the track, but Skerritt closed right back on him by expertly handling a tough downhill dismount. Tonkin followed suit, and the three leaders started to draw away from the field. John Leonard (Trek/VW/Bike Gallery) was next in line, having a great start in his first 'cross race of the year. Shane Beers (Bike-n-Hike/Presto Velo), Mike Schindler (Sunnyside Sports), King and Chad Swanson (Team S&M) followed.
In a telling moment near the end of the third lap, the leading trio was approaching the run-up with Wicks in the lead just in front of Skerritt. The Trek/VW/Bike Gallery rider stormed up the bank and reached the top first. However, Wicks, only a half-step behind, had the inside line and forced his way back into the lead.
Thirty seconds behind, a battle for fourth was shaping up. Leonard was still ahead, but a group of four had bridged up to him, including Schindler, Beers, Jon Myers (Team S&M), who had jumped an impressive five positions on the third lap, and Swanson. Every member of the group took his shot as the race continued.
Skerritt moved ahead briefly on lap four, then Tonkin took his shot on the fifth lap when he accelerated into the lead across a pasture and stayed on the front for the next lap. All of the in-fighting was playing perfectly into Wicks' hands.
On the sixth lap, with about 20 minutes to go, Wicks lit it up through a criterium-like section on the property. He surged ahead by two seconds immediately, and it grew to six by the end of the lap. It was scintillating racing, as Wicks was absolutely at the limit. With his teammate up the road, Tonkin covered Skerritt.
Meanwhile, Myers had moved all the way up into third, with Leonard and Swanson on his wheel, approximately 90 seconds behind the leaders. Schindler and Chris Brandt (Collin's) were a further 20 seconds back.
Coming into the last two laps, Wicks continued to build his lead by five seconds a lap. Seeing the opportunity for a Kona/Kenwood one-two, Tonkin switched from covering to attacking. Just after crossing the line with one to go, he pushed hard up the run-up. Skerritt clawed his way back, but Tonkin again jumped hard on the infield section and Skerritt couldn't respond.
In the end, Wicks was able to cruise in the last lap and won by 20 seconds over his teammate, with Skerritt another 22 seconds behind. In the race for fourth, Leonard had enough in reserve to pull away from Myers, with Swanson in sixth. Brandt, Schindler, Beers and Mark Madsen (Team S&M) filled out the top 10.
Mazza marches away again
Following her victory by more than two minutes in Barton the week earlier, Mazza would need to rely on her amazing fitness rather than her finesse on a less challenging course. Returning after a week off was T-Mobile's Stacey Peters in her eye-catching flaming pink kit. On the last visit here, Peters placed just behind Mazza in fourth, only 20 seconds behind.
On the opening half lap of the Category A Women's race, Peters showed her grit by sticking to Mazza's wheel, with Brigette Stoick (Velo Shop) chasing hard. It didn't take Mazza long to show herself, as on the second lap she had opened up a gap that kept expanding. Moving into second was Stoick, who looked to be heading to her best-ever finish in the series. At the end of the second lap, Mazza had 30 seconds over Stoick and Peters.
Just as in the men's event, a large group of riders were sticking together to round out the top 10. Sunnyside's Suzanne King was just ahead of Kori Kunz (Sorella Forte), Naomi Gollogly (Trek/VW/Bike Gallery), Shanan Whitlach (Fred Meyer), JoAnne Stevens (Sunnyside Sports), Wendy Williams (River City Bicycles), Tina Reeb and Marjon Walrod (River City Bicycles).
During the third lap, Peters had fought hard to reel in Stoick and push into second, 35 seconds behind the leader. The next lap, Peters came through the finish on the velodrome infield with 20 seconds in hand. Stoick had fallen back and was now in King's sights. Whitlach had taken over in fifth, ahead of Gollogly and Kunz.
On the bell lap, Mazza showed why she is Oregon's top women 'cross rider as she put in another sub-6 minute lap, a feat accomplished by a handful of men, and earned a well deserved victory by 1:40. Peters had her best finish with second, and Stoick held on for third ahead of King. From the large pack, Kunz went ahead with one to go for fifth, followed by Whitlach, Gollogly, Stevens, Walrod and Williams.
Preview of Johnson Farm Round of the 'Cross Crusade
Next week, the River City Bicycles 'Cross Crusade holds its annual Halloween race. The event is always a highlight of the season. The racing begins on Saturday, November 1, with some fun rides followed by a pig roast and potluck. On Sunday, the racers take to the challenging course which is decorated with dozens of jack-o-lanterns.
Category A Men 1 Barry Wicks (Kona/Kenwood) 2 Eric Tonkin (Kona/Kenwood) 3 Shannon Skerritt (Trek/VW/Bike Gallery) 4 John Leonard (Trek/VW/Bike Gallery) 5 Jon Myers (Team S&M) 6 Chad Swanson (Team S&M) 7 Chris Brandt (Collin's) 8 Mike Schindler (Sunnyside Sports) 9 Shane Beers (Bike-n-Hike/Presto Velo) 10 Mark Matson (Team S&M) Category A Women 1 Rhonda Mazza (Team S&M/Sellwood Bicycles) 2 Stacey Peters (Team T-Mobile) 3 Brigette Stoick (River City Bicycles) 4 Suzanne King (Sunnyside Sports) 5 Kori Kunz (Sorella Forte) 6 Shanan Whitlach (Fred Meyer) 7 Naomi Gollogly (Trek/VW/Bike Gallery) 8 JoAnne Stevens (Sunnyside Sports) 9 Marjon Walrod (River City Bicycles) 10 Wendy Williams (River City Bicycles)