Our trip to Austin, Texas was going great until Sunday morning. I’m sure you heard something about how it unfolded but before we get to that, I want to say thank you to the team, the parents, our local supporters and everyone in Oregon who helped us prepare, fundraise and execute a really fun trip.
To name a few:
- Bart Bowen, Michelle Mercer, everyone who donated at their CXMas Party at Bowen Sports Performance
- Craig Mavis and Deschutes Brewery; Mike Ryan and Kathy Moore with Desert Orthopedics
- Erika Miranda, Adidas Cycling, Castelli
- Brian Nelson and his wife Marny for driving our trailer and shuttling us all over Austin
- Racer-mentors-coaches Steven Beardsley, Damian Schmitt, Brennan Wodtli, Laura Winberry, Tina Brubaker, Carl Decker, Molly Cameron
- “Team Super Awesome Parents:” Mike & Kathy for driving us all over and cooking dinner, Lucian Jones, Marcel Russenberger
- Alaska Airlines for accommodating our last-minute changes
- Huge thanks to Chad “Chainsaw” Cheeney for an entire year of team-building and radness!
- And cheers to all of our racers and the other juniors from OBRA-land who toed the line with the best in the country!
The Bend Endurance Academy’s Junior Cyclocross Riders teamed up with other riders from Eugene, Portland and Vancouver, WA to compete at Cyclocross Nationals in Austin, TX over the past few days. Racing went really well for the juniors on Saturday but Sunday’s entire schedule was initially cancelled, but then rescheduled for Monday in a very confusing turn of events that has left most of the riders, parents and coaches disappointed.
“All of us from Oregon teamed up to make the trip easier logistically,” said Bill Warburton, Cycling Director at the Bend Endurance Academy. “We have very strong juniors, adults and pros from our region and we’ve hosted Nationals multiple times in Oregon so by my count there were almost 100 riders, parents, friends and industry folks who made the trip from here down to Austin.”
The Academy sent three junior women and six junior men along with two coaches and several parents. “There were several groups from Oregon and we all shared transportation, housing and went out for BBQ together,” Warburton said.
Calvin Keane and Elijah Krause raced in the 13-14 Junior Men on Saturday afternoon. While it was quite cold and very slippery mud, the riders managed the course and conditions well to finish 36th and 37th respectively, out of 53 starters. “I ended up riding with Elijah for almost the whole race and I didn’t even know it,” Calvin said. “I was just looking ahead trying not to crash.”
The remaining juniors were supposed to race on Sunday morning so the team arrived at the venue early Sunday morning and was preparing to race at 9AM. Warburton explained, “We dialed in tire pressure, had our spare equipment all ready to go and the riders were doing their warm-ups when people started spreading the word that the Parks and Rec District was stopping the event and closing the park.”
“It felt like the one time that my dad canceled Christmas,” said Chad Cheeney, the Academy’s Competition Coach who was there in the warm up tent with the riders. “Us kids didn’t behave one year so my dad canceled Christmas and we kept thinking it was a joke but it wasn’t. This felt just as bad.”
Over 200 of the best juniors from across the country were standing around in the cold for hours wondering if the race would resume or if they would go home without having the chance to compete. Just before 11AM, word came that the race would be rescheduled for Monday so riders then had to decide if they wanted to stay. “The airline first told us it’d be $650 per person to change our flight,” Warburton said. The coaches and parents presented to the riders that this wasn’t financially possible. Warburton explains, “They all thought we were going to leave, but we called again to explain the situation and the airline reduced the fee to $125 each and we were able to have all the kids stay to race.”
As events unfolded on Sunday, police began turning away people entering the park and told junior riders warming up on the bike paths that they would be arrested if they didn’t leave the park and local news reports explained that the Austin Heritage Tree Foundation filed complaints with the City and Parks and Recreation that the competition was compacting the soil and creating damage that could result in damage to the roots of historic trees. USA Cycling explained they had $100,000 set aside to repair damage that they knew would occur to the turf and they had followed all instructions from the City and Parks and Recreation but it was too late for many riders and they left Zilker Park without ever even racing their event. Due to the added expense and pre-arranged schedules for teams, many packed up and got on the road.
Those who stayed had mixed emotions. Ian Wilson, a junior at Bend High told his coaches at the time, “I don’t know if I even want to race anymore. I can’t afford to change my ticket and even if we stay there are other kids who are leaving so that messes up the race.” Ian did decide to stay and the team but isn’t happy about the additional expenses he incurred.
In Ian’s race report he wrote, “At the end of the day I’m glad I stayed and raced but I’m not very happy about the result. I can’t help but wonder how things would’ve gone if I had went on Sunday, but I didn’t make the best decisions with the conditions I was given so that is my fault. I’m still furious about the whole thing… I think now I’m just going to stick to OBRA racing for cyclocross. USAC stuff already made me mad before this whole thing even happened. While it’s a great experience I think its best for me to just focus on improving my racing as much as I can in Oregon and call it a season in December. Until Sunday it was a great trip!”
Monday’s schedule was condensed in an effort to move the start later in order to let the mud dry out as much as possible. The first race was the 15 – 16 Junior Men at 12:30PM and as the mud dried out, it became thicker and stickier, making conditions terrible for the junior riders. Many riders ended up running the majority of the course either because it was too slick to ride or their bikes became jammed. Henry Jones, an eighth grader at Seven Peaks said, “My wheels wouldn’t even spin. I had to run pretty much everything.”
Next up, USA Cycling’s condensed schedule meant the 15 – 16 and 17 – 18 Junior Women raced on course with the 17 – 18 Junior Men, who started first. As a result, the winner of the junior women’s 15-16 category was removed from the course because she was being lapped by the faster, older boys and she didn’t know she had won until afterward, and many of the girls were only allowed to race one lap, or about ten minutes instead of 30, because officials pull slower riders as not to impede the other race leaders. Emotions were mixed as racers were somewhat glad to have raced but the shortened time and surrounding circumstances lead to a lot of disappointment.
Sophie Russenberger, a senior at Summit High School had the highest finish for the Academy with a 6th place in the 17-18 Junior Women, while Bend Endurance Academy alum, Cameron Beard now riding for Cyclocrossworld.com had the best finish for a Bend junior with an exciting and determined 3rd place finish in the 17 – 18 Junior Men. Another Bend rider, Lance Haidet, now racing for Raleigh Bicycles led that race ahead of Beard for the fist couple laps but dropped back after the thick mud contributed to a mechanical that tore off his rear derailleur, forcing him to run nearly half a lap to get a new bike in the pit.
“We had such a great year with our program, such a great cyclocross season going to some really fun events, and it was a fantastic trip until Sunday morning,” Warburton concludes. “The entire community rallied behind our Oregon juniors and I’m happy they were all able to compete, even though their races might not have all been what we wanted or expected, this was just one day. They race bikes because they love riding so I know they’ll learn some lessons and I’m looking forward to getting next season started.”
The trip to Austin was supported with funds raised by Bart Bowen’s “CXMas Party” in December where over 150 people gathered to raise $3,500 in support of juniors making the trip. According to Warburton, like other junior teams from across the country, the Bend Endurance Academy is now seeking additional donations to help offset the cost of rebooking tickets, meals and other expenses that the unplanned sixth day of the trip incurred. Donations to the 501c3 non-profit are tax-deductible and can be made by mailing a check or using this PayPal button.
- This is a very good article about how Sunday’s events unfolded and shows how the process works between USA Cycling, the parks, the city and the people of the Tree Foundation.
- Here’s Ian, Marcel and Bill on local tv with Lance Armstrong.
- CXMagazine had a few quotes from Katie Ryan in this article.
- Chris King helped host the party on Friday night where all the juniors received goodie bags and free pizza. Here are some of sweet photos.
Coach Bill’s Final Thoughts
- Yes, it was disappointing and yes, the decisions on Sunday did negatively impact our racers. If you as a racer, parent or supporter want to write a letter to USA Cycling, Austin City or Parks or the Heritage Tree people then that’s up to you, but I encourage you to be informed and polite.
- This was only one day of debacle in an otherwise year-long long campaign that we have all waged to get better, faster and have fun!
- Gather your photos, stories, thoughts, etc. and share them with me.
- Know that I am most impressed and happy with how we all trained, traveled, spent time and raced as a team! You guys are awesome and super fun to be with and I’m proud to be a part of your lives as a coach.
- I’ll be in touch with all the BEA Team later this week about how and when we’re getting started with 2015. In the meantime, have fun, take some time off or ride outside when it’s nice. No BEA practice for at least two weeks. Enjoy your break!
OBRA (Oregon and SW Washington) Junior Results: (Name, Team, Age Class, Place)
Max Ritzow, Bicycleway.com, 13-14 JRM, 5th
Nathanael Hart, Hapi-Go!, 13-14 JRM, 29th
Calvin Keane, Bend Endurance Academy, 13-14 JRM, 36th
Elijah Krause, Bend Endurance Academy, 13-14 JRM, 37th
Gabrielle Lehnert, Hutch’s Eugene, 13-14, 3rd
Lauren Ziehnert, Smith & Nephew, 13-14 JRW, 20th
Hannah Mavis, Bend Endurance Academy, 15-16 JRW, 8th
Aunika Miranda, Trusty Switchblade, 15-16 JRW, 9th
Henry Jones, Bend Endurance Academy, 15-16 JRM, 24th
Donovan Birky, Bend Endurance Academy, 15-16 JRM, 23rd
Brian Hart Jr, Hapi-Go!, 15-16 JRM, 36th
Joe Lukens, PDX Devo, 15-16 JRM, 48th
Scotty Wallace, Bend Endurance Academy, 15-16 JRM, 59th
Sophie Russenberger, Bend Endurance Academy, 17-18 JRW, 6th
Katie Ryan, Bend Endurance Academy, 17-18 JRW, 15th
Susannah Hart, Hapi-Go!, 17-18 JRW, 14th
Cameron Beard, Cannondale / Cyclocrossworld.com, 17-18 JRM, 3rd
Lance Haidet, Raleigh, 17-18 JRM, 19th
Ian Wilson, Bend Endurance Academy, 17-18 JRM, 25th