The 2010 Oregon Junior & High School Cyclo-cross Series has been a huge success. In only its second year participation numbers have more than doubled and it is possibly the largest attended junior Cyclo-cross Series in the country this year!
Oregon has been known as one of the largest Cross scenes in the country for several years, but not so for juniors, at least until this year. By far the largest Cyclo-cross growth in Oregon has been the beginner and masters categories which is great for the sport but creating challenges for juniors in the more popular races. Race day schedules were so impacted that Oregon Juniors needed to share the race course with sometimes over zealous adults. This combined with a safety rule not permitting juniors below 12 racing with adults left no room for the youngest juniors who are the future of our sport.
This was the motivation for the Oregon Junior Cyclo-cross Series: To create a series of junior only (no adults) events and invest in the future of our sport. With great bicycle industry sponsorship, and support from the local race scene, the series was born in 2009 with a simple goal of encouraging participation, making it fun, and distributing generous sponsor donations broadly across the field. We wanted every kid who participated to walk away with something from the series.
Redline was the first sponsor to jump on board in back in 2009 and has stepped up their support in 2010. Redline has a full suite of Junior sized ‘Cross bikes that makes this a great match. This year we have a Redline Conquest 24” complete bike, and a 52 cm Redline Conquest frame/fork that two lucky kids will walk away with! Redline/SBS have also generously supported our Series Awards distribution.
Finding the passion to start the series was easy for me. In 2009 my daughter at 10, had nowhere to race. With Nationals in Bend I thought this is no good, we have to create an opportunity for Oregon Juniors. I talked my team, Willamette Valley Cycling, and our title sponsor Pacific Power into funding our race budget. I was amazed at the excitement and interest from the bicycle industry. I quickly found out almost everyone shares a passion for junior development. As mentioned Redline was first on board, but, Hammer Nutrition, Castelli, Rolf Prima, and Northwest Multisports were eager to join in and support the effort. I also received great organization, planning, and merchandise support from Kona factory racer, and super nice guy Erik Tonkin. He and Sellwood Cycle Repair were jazzed about creating & supporting this series. I have to thank the Oregon race promoters for giving me the prime mid day Junior only race slot (so parents don’t have to get up too early, or get home too late), and only charge $ 5 entry. Thanks to Sal Collura, Jeff McNamee, Jeff Lorenzen, and Brad Ross for generously hosting our race series. The Oregon Bicycle Racing Association has also discounted fees to these race promoters to help defer costs and keep entry fees down.
I was inspired by the great program up in Washington. Jim Brown, Rad Racing, and the Seattle CX scene has been doing it right for several years and had some impressive junior attendance numbers. Oregon races are often 2 or 3 times larger in total participation numbers, but Washington Junior numbers were nearly twice as large as Oregon. They had made the investment in junior development teams, and junior only race schedules. It was obviously working with average participation numbers around 50 juniors per race in 2009. Nice job Washington!
In 2009 The Oregon Junior CX Series averaged only 27 kids per race. This year we are averaging 67 and broke the 100 mark (104) last weekend at the Hillsboro Cross Crusade. By comparison Washington is averaging around 60* this year and Colorado (Boulder) is averaging about 53*. It looks like the Central, Mid Atlantic, and New Jersey numbers are all a little below that of Oregon, Washington, and Colorado (* numbers captured courtesy of Crossresults.com).
New this year for Oregon is the addition of a High School series run in companion to the age graded junior series. We have 10 regional teams: Corvallis, Bend, Hood River, Eugene, Roseburg, Salem, Mapleton, and three Portland teams. It is a fantastic start. Our long term aspirations are to make Cyclo-cross an official High School Club sport. Could this be the key to the growth this year?
The series wraps up on November 20th. A double point’s race that is sure to make for an exciting finish. Eight Junior age category series championships are on the line along with top three High School individual Male, Female, and Team. The series awards payout is impressive with our great sponsorship going 5 deep in each of the 8 categories. Champion Jerseys for all category winners from Castelli. Plus we have some awesome lottery based grand prizes: 24” Redline Conquest bike, and Conquest Frame/Fork from Redline, a Kona Jake bike from Sellwood Cycle Repair, and a VCX wheelset, from Rolf Prima. There will be some happy juniors on the 20th! We also like to recognize the parents who do such a great job supporting their kids. We will have a special lottery give away for them as well!
Thanks again to all our great sponsors. We could not do this without you!
For more information on junior racing, or racing in Oregon:
Junior Cyclo-cross Series Web Page: http://www.obra.org/junior_cyclocross_series/
The Oregon Bicycle Racing Association Web Page: http://obra.org/