Introducing the Splendid Salute

The Splendid Salute:

Recognizing those who show commitment, innovation, and/or resourcefulness in choosing bicycles to move people,  stuff, or both. For now, we've no fame, or fortune, or fabulous trophy to offer, just our admiration and thanks. We thank you; the planet thanks you.

A Great Day for Racing

If you haven't been to a River City Bicycles Cross  Crusade cyclocross race in Oregon, you may not understand how big it is, but if you love bikes and inclusive cycling events you can certainly appreciate what the Crusade organizers have done not just for competitive cycling but for bike culture.

There are lots  of things that makes these events unique:

  1. Incredible quantity of participants. Some of the events have nearly 2000 racers. Not only is that unusual for a bike race, it's REALLY unusual for a cross race. Lots on uncompetitive organized rides have many more than that but, I'm unaware of any other races that do. AND, did I mention how many kids, how many women, how many first time racers?
  2. About those new, cross is not just a winter pastime for the serious shaved-legged velohead. At any given race you'll see a sinewy racer with the latest custom bike, aero wheels, and top-end gear right next to a stoutly built racer with a 15-year old mountain bike. They're all having fun, all being challenged, and all enjoying the camaraderie of the event.
  3. Generosity. Lots of vendors show up to sell food and beverages but there are also folks that show up and just share - friendship, food, beverages, cowbells ringing. At today's event for example, I walked past a pop-up tent and was immediately asked if I was hungry, "we've got PB & J or grilled cheese," chimed a young lad, his team just sharing food with fans and racers and enjoying the day.

  4. Venues.Lots of variety in the courses and always something interesting . Today, Portland International Raceway was host to two race events: Cross Crusade, yes, but also a car race was in progress at the same time on the paved race track. It made for an interesting juxtaposition. All in all, a great way to spend the day as spectator or participant.

But, there is a down side. These races still have a huge carbon footprint. Most of the people attending the race, even this one held in Portland, still drive to the event. Even on a dry and temperate fall day the parking area was packed. I understand that the logistics of getting gear and family to the event can be overwhelming. This is a family event and lots of little kids, moms, and dads spend the day. Serious racers often have a couple of bikes and a couple of sets of wheels, so the need to haul people and gear certainly can justify a car.

How does this all relate to the Splendid Salute?

As I pedaled into the cross venue, I passed fields full of cars. Granted, I'd been passed by several race-bound bike riders as I headed through North Portland, and especially as I neared the event. BUT, those who drove clearly far out-numbered those who rode.  As I said in the last paragraph, it's not easy to tackle race-arrival/departure logistics without a car. But on this glorious, dry, fall day I think I was a bit disappointed to see so many cars. Not surprised, just disappointed.

I had a fabulous day catching up with friends, watching the spectacle, and soaking up the autumn sun and quickly forgot my puzzlement at all of the autos. As I was saying my goodbyes, I spied one racer packing up to head home. He appeared a more serious competitor: sponsored, two bikes, two sets of wheels, etc. What set him apart was his chosen transport: an ingeniously loaded BOB trailer. I was impressed.

So, here's  our ode to your commitment, praise for your cycling savvy, appreciation for your resourcefulness, a round of applause for your plausable solution, here's a big tip of the Splendid cycling cap to Mr. Matt Hall of Ira Ryan Cycles' team. Thanks Matt for showing how it can be done and congratulations for being the first recipient of the Splendid Salute.

Now, all together, one big standing ovation for Matt!