Saturday, April 11, 2009

Bartlett, Turnbull Sieze Kings Valley Crowns

(UPDATE: Complete Kings Valley Road Race photos are now online HERE.)

KINGS VALLEY, Ore. -- On a day when the fields defied a course designed to break up groups and ensure success for small breakaways, Lisa Turnbull and Josh Bartlett outwitted crowded bunches at the finish to take the 2009 Kings Valley Road Race crowns.

Moderate temperatures and light winds prevailed on the 18.6-mile course over agricultural roads near the tiny berg of Kings Valley southwest of Salem and Dallas. The course, ridden on wide well-paved roads, featured a few twists and turns, long straightaways exposed to the winds, a few rollers and a steep climb through the finish area.

WOMEN Pro/1/2/3/4

The large group making up the combined women's field battled for more than 56 miles over two-plus laps, but approached the final hill together after break attempts big and small met with little success.

Lisa Turnbull (Therapeutic Associates Inc.) said the women's field had been neutralized just before it approached the final climb, which caused the group to bunch even tighter as the finishing line approached, making for a crowded, hectic charge to the line.

"I jumped on Kelly Benjamin's wheel when things started taking off," she said. "I used that lead out and then came around her at the line."

Indeed, Turnbull gained a couple of seconds over second-placed Benjamin (Colavita/Sutter Home) and a handful over the sprinting field. Last weekend's Cherry Blossom Classic overall winner Robin Secrist (Veloforma) crossed the line for third ahead of Jen Akeroyd (Team Group Health) and Beth Burns (Veloce/felt).

MEN Pro/1/2

Just like the women's race, the large Men's Pro/1/2 field had its share of adventurers throughout the three-plus-lap race that covered 75 miles. But nothing seemed to stick as the field reeled-in anything that looked dangerous and let small fliers dangle off the front before bringing them back.

Josh Bartlett (Land Rover-Orbea) eventually soloed away from the bunch with one kilometer to go and crossed the line first, seconds ahead of Mark Blackwelder (Gentle Lovers) and the rapidly closing field.

Bartlett finished the race where he started -- in front of the field.

"I tried attacking pretty much from the gun," Bartlett said. "And that didn't really go anywhere. So I spent most of the race sitting in and conserving. I wasn't feeling too snappy today."

Bartlett credited his two Land Rover-Orbea teammates at the race, Logan Hunn and Evan Elken, with attacking and patrolling the front of the race while Bartlett waited in the pack, especially on the frantic last lap.

"We had Logan going off the front toward the end, there, trying to keep the other teams chasing," Bartlett said. "Then Evan had a couple digs. We hit that last corner with a little over one K to go and Chris Sheppard went. I went on his wheel for a little bit and then went around at about one K."

Bartlett just held off Gentle Lovers' quickly closing Mark Blackwelder, who crossed the line second. Brandon Dyer (Therapeutic Associates Inc.) finished third at the front of the main field.

"That was a hard kilometer," Bartlett said. "Two hundred and fifty meters from the line I thought I was gonna die and get caught. I saw (Blackwelder) coming up behind me and I was just hoping that he would die too. The last 200 meters were just a creep."

Junior Joe Prettyman Stays On Winning Track In Senior Men's Cat. 4 Field

Beaverton Bicycle Club's Joe Prettyman, 16, has wasted little time acclimating to the Men's Cat. 4 field after stepping up from the Juniors' races he grew accustomed to winning. Prettyman sprinted to another Cat. 4 win Sunday, just edging a charging field that hung together for much of the race, including the finale. Seventeen-year-old Phelan Kostur (Fred Meyer/Lakside) finished second. Marcus Benton (Pacific Blue Sky) was third.

Earlier this season Prettyman finished first in the Juniors' Cherry Pie race and won the first two Banana Belt Juniors' races. Prettyman went for the double at the last Banana Belt, finishing fourth in the senior Men's Cat. 4 field and finishing fourth again with the Juniors.

Prettyman finished a modest 29th in the Cat. 4 field at the March 29 Piece of Cake Road Race in Woodland, Wash., but struck back hard and fast by snagging the overall GC prize in the Cat. 4 Men's field of the inaugural Cherry Blossom Classic in The Dalles. The Junior finished 20th in the stage one Columbia Hills Road Race. He came back with a fourth-place finish and moved to fourth overall on the strength of his stage two 8-Mile Time Trial. Prettyman dropped to sixth overall after losing time with a 17th place finish in the stage 3 Cherry City Criterium. But the young rider kept his cool, and his sixth-place finish in the challenging stage four Columbia Gorge Road Race propelled him into the top podium spot for the Cat. 4s.

Nigbor Wins Masters At The Line

(UPDATE: Original winner Mike Sheppard, a Masters Cat. 2 who is back racing this year after nearly 20 years away, was not eligible to win the Masters field, which was limited to Cat. 3s, 4s and 5s for this race. Finnegans Toys' Jon Nigbor won the Masters 40+ race).

The Masters race followed the familiar pattern of fruitless attacks that were either quickly swallowed up or were allowed to dangle just off the front. Mike Sheppard outlasted the rest of the field up the finishing hill to take first by a whisker ahead of Jon Nigbor (Finnegans Toys) and Paul Duncan (Hammer Velo).

Two riders made a serious attempt to get away on the first lap and stayed away for the better part of a full go 'round, but those left in the field eventually found their legs and reeled the pair back in with about a lap to go.

Kings Valley galleries from all fields are posted HERE.

Highlights slideshow:

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Portland's Erker, Team Proving Themselves In Thailand

After being denied an invitation to the Tour of California, the Kelly Benefits Strategies team has been taking out its frustration on the competition overseas, with Portland pro Jacob Erker doing a lot of the damage.

Erker was at the top of the leader board all week in the Tour of Thailand until teammate Andrew Bajadali took over today. has the rest of the story.

Random Semi-Bicycling Related Photo

Yes, in fact that is seven dogs and a cat riding on this fellow's bike.
Maybe you saw this rolling spectacle in The Dalles if you raced Cherry Blossom.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Grochau Takes PIR Opener, Benjamin Third

(UPDATE: Corrected version with Kelly Benjamin in third overall and Christian Tresser in second)

Colavita/Sutter Home pro Kelly Benjamin celebrated her first-ever PIR Tuesday with a third-place finish, slipping away from the field on the last lap with John Grochau, an experienced hand on PIR's tarmac who brought home the win for Team Rapha.

Benjamin, a recent transplant to Portland, joined Grochau at the front of the race and the pair built enough of a gap to hold off the charging field by seconds. Benjamin credited Grochau with powering the move.

"He did most of the pulls," she said. "So I just kind of sat back in the finish."

Although Benjamin finished second on the road, Tresser earned some hot spot points which moved him ahead of her on overall points.

Tuesday's race marks the beginning of the Portland International Raceway Tuesday Night tradition that has become a staple of the local racing scene. The races run every Tuesday night through August. Benjamin said she enjoyed the wide-open racing and would definitely be back.

Word-RCB's Randy Word came across the line in fourth. The win is Grochau's best result at PIR since he finished third in July of last year.

Monday Night PIR Series Begins May 4

Beginning May 4 through Aug. 31, hundreds of cyclists will also take over PIR on Monday nights as the River City Bicycles Monday Night Race Series kicks off its 13th season.

There will be separate races for Novice Masters Men (aged 30+), Novice Women, an Open Women category for any age and ability, and two categories for more experienced Masters Men.

"Bicycle racing continues to grow in Oregon, and we see new racers each year trying it out," said race organizer Jim Anderson. "PIR is a great place to learn about racing. We're adding clinics for novice women and men who want to see what the sport is all about in hopes of seeing a growth in the novice category."

Anderson said prizes will be awarded, but the emphasis is always on learning and having fun. The series will expand it's efforts to reach out to new racers with clinics focused on the basics of how to get started racing. Men's clinics will be every first Monday of the month and the women's sessions will be every second Monday. Kendra Wenzel of Wenzel Coaching will run the women's clinic, and the mens clinic will be overseen by Russell Cree of Upper Echelon Fitness. Clinics will run approximately 30 minutes before and after each race.

Entry fee is $13 for women and master men, $5 for women under 18. Racers who avoid traffic on I-5 by bike commuting -- or by taking MAX -- to PIR receive $1 off entry, and race organizers will donate $1 to the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA), a local non-profit working to make Oregon one of the best places in the world to ride a bike.

Top racers win gift certificates from River City Bicycles each night and for the monthly series. Consistent riders in all categories for the season will have a chance to win a Showers Pass jacket. Racing starts at 6:15 p.m.

More information at: or

Monday, April 6, 2009

Cherry Blossom Classic On

(UPDATE: Complete Cherry Blossom Classic Photo Galleries Are Now Posted Online HERE. All Stages include Pro/1/2 Men, Pro/1/2/3 Women and Masters. Stage Three includes Cat. 3 Men. Stage Four includes finishes for Cat. 3 & Cat. 4 Men.)

The complete Gorge Delights Cherry Blossom Cycling Classic wrap-up can now be found at

Cycling Action photo galleries from the 2009 Cherry Blossom Cycling Classic will be posted HERE soon. Due to the obvious time constraints of photographing and reporting three different groups in four races over three days, most galleries are limited to pro/1/2 men, pro/1/2/3 women and masters men. Saturday's Cherry City Criterium also includes the men's Cat. 3 field. Congratulations to Breakaway Promotions and Sorella Forte for an absolutely fantastic inaugural Cherry Blossom Cycling Classic. Hope to see you all there again next year! In the meantime, enjoy this highlights slideshow:

Decker Takes Horning's Hustle; Plews Leads Oregon Series

Oregon's mountain bike scene got a taste of summer Sunday as beautiful, sunny skies and temperatures climbing into the 70s greeted racers at Horning's Hustle, the second stop of the Oregon XC Series.

For the first time in three editions of the event, the course was mostly dry, which meant fast lap times and short races. Each five mile lap consisted of four smaller "loops" that converged at the central part of the venue. This made for great spectating but some confusion as the PRO field began lapping the other categories almost immediately on the second lap.

Fourteen PRO riders took the line for a truncated opening lap, and after the first section of singletrack, Sean Babcock (S&M), Brig Brandt (Rebound), and James Williams (Cannondale) were leading the race with Evan Plews (Capitol Subaru Cycling) and Carl Decker (Giant) some seconds behind. Brandt was the first to fall off the pace, then Babcock. Plews steadily closed the gap with Decker following.

By the halfway point in the lap, Plews had caught and passed Williams and began to open a gap. That's when things got a little crazy. Plews missed a turn and took Williams off course with him. Decker and Babcock caught up during the confusion and the foursome began the second lap together.

Both Williams and Plews were riding singlespeeds, but Plews began to have chain a problem dropping his chain during the second lap and lost more than a minute on the leaders. Meanwhile Babcock seemed to be at his limit and was also losing time. Plews kept his chain problems at bay throughout most of the third lap and was able to again overtake Babcock and hold onto third position for the remainder of the race.

At the front, Williams seemed to be suffering while Decker rode away for the eventual victory.

Ben Thompson (Cannondale) overtook Brandt for fifth place while Brett Luelling (Capitol Subaru Cycling) rounded out the top seven. Plews leads Williams in overall points as the series heads to Mt. Hood for Bear Springs Trap April 25-26.

Check out Oregon Velo for photos.

PRO Men Results

1. Carl Decker (Giant)
2. James Williams (Cannondale)
3. Evan Plews (Capitol Subaru Cycling/ScottUSA)
4. Sean Babcock (S&M)
5. Ben Thompson (Cannondale)
6. Brig Brandt (Rebound)
7. Brett Luelling (Capitol Subaru Cycling)

Pro/Cat 1 Women
1. Alice Pennington
2. Shannon Holden
3. Megan Murray
4. Veronica Vega
5. Lea Julson
6. Sarah Sturdy
7. Susan Grandjean
8. Pamela Archer
9. Anissa Cobb

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Cherry Blossom Classic Stage 4: Hegyvary, Bailey Take Columbia Gorge Road Race; Mach, Secrist Win Overall Crowns

THE DALLES -- Adrian Hegyvary (Hagens Berman) soloed in ahead of Bissell's Paul Mach to win stage four of the Cherry Blossom Classic. Land Rover-Orbea's Evan Elken came across the line for third more than a minute later.

The course sent riders grinding up a long, exposed climb into the Columbia hills, then down a hair-raising descent into the town of Mosier that saw speeds in excess of 50 mph, followed by a technical descent through the Rowena Loops on the Historic Columbia River Highway. Temps pushed 80 and the winds subsided for the second day in a row.

Hegyvary's second stage win -- he also won the stage 2 time trial -- wasn't enough to unseat race leader Mach, who won the General Classification with a time of 7:46:35. Mach's Bissell teammate Jeremy Vennell finished second overall four minutes and 38 seconds down. Hagens Berman's Nick Clayville finished third 06:25 behind Mach.


Patricia Bailey picked off her third win in four stages by out-sprinting a group of seven for the line, finishing in front of Heather Albert (Riverstone Women's Racing Team) and Robin Secrist (Veloforma). Despite Bailey's hat-trick weekend, Secrist's winning time trial effort was the difference in the overall, propelling the Kirkland, Wash., rider into the GC lead where she remained for the rest of the race.

Zimbelman Caps Masters GC Crown With Final Stage Win

ZteaM's Dave Zimbelman added some icing to the cake of his GC win by taking the final stage in a three-up sprint over break-away companions John Browning (Cyclepath) and Mike McManus (Finnegan's Toys). The day's effort helped lift Browning into second overall on GC, McManus finished third overall.