When I found out my family wanted to take a trip to Portland, I of course tried to see if there were any bike races that weekend. I pulled up the USAC website to search. Nothing. I thought that was odd, so I searched for races for all of 2016. Nothing. WTF??? I'd always heard Portland was a bike town, but apparently not a competitive bike town. Oh well.
Then, the week before leaving I was chatting with some of my buddies on the team, I mentioned how weird it was that there's no bike racing in Oregon - like, none - and one of them said "Yeah, there's lots, they're just not USAC. They just have their own bike racing organization."
It's true, there's lots of racing in Oregon, and it's organized by the Oregon Bicycle Racing Association. They organized in 1998 after the USCF fired all Regional Representatives. They realized Oregon was sending about $200K to USACF per year. They got their own insurance and that was that.
On the OBRA website I found Ninkrossi, a CX race about 40min from Portland in a MX park.
I also used Spinlister for the first time to rent a CX bike. It was an easy process - it's basically an Airbnb for bikes. I met up with the guy in downtown Portland, and his neighbor was actually at the race, so I was able to drop the bike off with him there. Easy peasy!
It was a huge course. When I prerode the course I found that there were sections that really didn't suit me, and sections that did. There were two decent climbs, and I was thrilled about that. One was particularly steep. SWEEET. There was a fast gravel descent, which I was very unhappy about (both crashes I've had in CX were on gravel), and a fast descent across the field that was very bumpy - I imagine how a mountain bike course might be. BOOOO. I have no experience with that.
They had a legit setup, with lots of tents, lots of people, lots of racers with nice CX bikes. The race was $30, and the OBRA one day license was $5.
This was also my first race as a CX4. The CX4s were the first race of the day, and we were on the course with the Clydesdales and the Athenas. Everyone stood far back from the start line waiting which I thought was odd. I'm accustomed to the elbowing for start line position, and so I stayed as close to the line as I could. Then I found out why no one seems concerned about being on the line - because they were doing call ups. At the time I thought they were just calling up all the local guys, but thinking back on it they may have been calling up racers based on the order of preregistration.
Regardless, pretty much all the CX4s were on the line before the last 4 or 5 of us we told we could move up to the line. So, from the starting line, I was already kinda SOL.
I held my position pretty okay through the beginning, but the front of the field just splintered and went away by the end of the first lap, and there was no chance of catching them. So I just put my head down and went hard, and clawed back racers on the climbs each lap. I ended up 24th/33, and 5 racers didn't finish.
It was a fun experience though, and the backdrop was particularly picturesque. So what I learned is if you're ever going to Portland, find races on the OBRA website and preregister early!