Director, River City Bicycles Cross Crusade
// Photo by Joseph Eastburn
What started out more than 20 years ago as a bunch of guys racing bikes around a Portland park on an autumn afternoon has morphed into the largest cyclocross racing series in the U.S. Known since 1994 as Cross Crusade, the series today draws some 1,400 riders to each of its eight fall races — and it’s made Portland the place to be for cyclocross. “We rule the roost in terms of numbers,” says Brad Ross, longtime race director for Cross Crusade. “But I don’t think we’re in competition to be the biggest. It’s neat that we are, but our mission statement is to grow the sport of cyclocross. Period.”
The series has done that not by catering solely to elite racers but instead by welcoming everyone into its ranks. “We were really the first to come along and say no, you don’t have to be an elite,” says Ross. “We are changing the definition of the sport.” Since most racers are local,
Ross says Cross Crusade’s economic impact is less about tourism and more about generating visibility for the city. The scene has also spawned a handful of new cycling businesses.
Having experienced 10% to 15% annual growth, the series is fast approaching capacity. Rather than limit the number of racers, Ross says Cross Crusade has begun looking at a second series as well as a regional one. “The Cross Crusade is
famous now,” Ross says. “Everybody from anywhere knows about Portland and the Crusade.”
“Local bike shops love us. They are now able to stay open and not lay people off during a time of year when normally there’s not much going on.”