UPDATE: The complete Cycling Action photo gallery for 2009 Pain on the Peak is now posted online HERE.
HILLSBORO – Ninety-degree heat added a little extra hurt to the second annual Pain on the Peak Saturday.
U.S. National Cyclocross Champion Ryan Trebon (Kona) showed why he wears the stars-and-stripes jersey by riding away from the Men's A field, lapping all but one rider. Portland's Sue Butler (Monavie-Cannondale.com) won the Women's A race ahead of hard-chasing Rhonda Mazza (Team S&M).
The intemperate temps didn’t stop more than 300 competitors from showing up for the first cyclocross race of the season in the Portland Metro area. The 305 riders added up to a 20 percent increase over last year's inaugural Pain on the Peak, held on a 90-acre parcel atop Bald peak south of Hillsboro.
Landowner Bruce Colwell, nephew of Sunset Cycles owner Roger Colwell, opened his property and its panoramic views of the valley below to cycloross for the second year, and the first-ever mountain bike race on the property will be Sunday’s Sufferin’ on the Summit.
But Saturday was all about the ‘cross. The course wound through a recently cut hayfield at the top of the property before swooping into a woods and the welcome relief of its shade. But the climb back out and up featured a sharp right onto a 50-meter jolting ascent, then some false flats and eventually back to the hay to start it all over again.
Trebon’s closest challenge in the 60-minute Men’s A event came from the guy who traveled with him from Bend to the race. Dedicated Athlete’s Cody Peterson was the only rider to finish on the same lap as the national champ, also covering 12 laps of the hilly course.
After Portland Bicycle Studio's Molly Cameron, winner of the Cross Over stage race last Labor Day weekend in Eugene, crashed on the first lap and needed a bike change at the pits, it was left to Vanilla Bicycles’ Kevin Hulick to battle Peterson for second. Although the Bend rider eventually won the second podium spot, Hulick hung on through the dust and heat for third, completing 11 laps. BODE’s Joshua Berry was fourth, and Evan Plews (Capitol Subaru Cycling) was fifth, both with 11 laps.
The tough course and the heat exacted a toll on the riders, even at the front of the race.
“It’s hard, man,” Trebon said. “It’s hilly. It’s always doin’ something up or down. It’s a grind.”
The grind seemed to suit the tall, powerful rider. Trebon’s lap times over the course hovered around five minutes; his slowest was 5:09 compared with six- or seven-minute lap times on most courses he does.
“It just feels like it’s uncomfortably long out there,” he joked. “I like this race. You just suffer for a full-on hour out there.”
Trebon will be heading north next Saturday for the Starcrossed cyclocross race in Seattle and the Rad Racing GP Sunday in Tacoma, the opening salvo of the 2009 North American Cyclocross Trophy and the beginning of a long run of national and international races. He said he’ll probably race Cross Crusade #1 at Alpenrose before leaving Oregon until the USGP finale in Portland and the USA Cycling National Championships in his hometown of Bend. Pain on the Peak’s difficult course provides a good early season jump start.
“It’s good to get ready for the rest of the year by doing this one,” he said. “It’s harder than a lot of races we’ll do. There aren’t as many people that come out to it, but it’s still a hard race even just to finish.”
Sue Butler, winner of the Women’s A race, also got some great racing in her legs ahead of next weekend’s NACT opener in Seattle -- with about 20 minutes of extra fine tuning kicked in for good measure. Racing with the Men’s A and Masters Men A 35+ categories this season instead of the all-women’s field, the A Women got an extra 20 minutes of racing with the bump from 40 minutes to 60.
Butler (Monavie-Cannondale.com), winner of this year’s Canadian Intermontane Challenge in 100-degree heat, set a blistering pace in the opening laps that shattered the field. Team S&M’s Rhonda Mazza, in her first race of the season, led the chase behind. Butler and Mazza each covered 10 laps in the 60-minute event. Gentle Lovers’ Alalia Berry and Team Group Health’s Jen Akeroyd covered nine laps for third and fourth, respectively.
The 60-minute format was a new experience for many of the women.
“It was just demoralizing looking at my watch and seeing 30 minutes, and I’d be, ‘Oh God, I’m only halfway there,’ because usually I’d only have 10 minutes,” Butler said. “That extra 20 minutes is hard. But it’s nice because there were no passing issues. It wasn’t like ‘on your left, on your right, on your left, on your right,’ the whole time.”
Butler said she believes promoters made a good choice when they decided to move the Women’s A category in with the elite men and 35+ in a little reshuffling to try and ease course congestion.
“I think the women will benefit and get faster because they can actually go as fast as they need to go,” she said. “I think when you’re racing with all the women together, you could never go 100 percent. You don’t want to hit anybody, and you want to be courteous. For training purposes I think it will be a lot better.”
Then she thought about it a little more.
“I guess it’s going to be good for me,” she laughed. “It doesn’t feel good. Maybe when it’s 60 degrees it will feel good, but it certainly didn’t feel good today.”
Pain on the Peak (partial)
Hillsboro, Sept. 12
1. Trebon, Ryan (Kona)12
2. Peterson, Cody (Dedicated Athlete)12
3. Hulick, Kevin (Gentle Lovers)11
4. Berry, Joshua (BODE)11
5. Plews, Evan (Capitol Subaru Cycling)11
1. Butler, Sue (Monavie-Cannondale.com)10
2. Mazza, Rhonda (Team S&M)10
3. Berry, Alalia (Gentle Lovers)9
4. Akeroyd, Jen (Team Group Health)9
5. Stoick, Brigett (River City Bicycles)9
1. Fabrizius, Erik (Veloshop)8
2. Bushnell, Spencer (Therapeutic Associates Cycling/GENR8)8
3. Patla, Seth (River City Bicycles)8
4. Dye, Todd (Pacific Power Blue Sky)7
5. Hall, Matthew (IRA Ryan Cycles)
Complete OBRA results are HERE.