The costumes came out for the traditional Cross Crusade Halloween race Sunday in Astoria and the second act of the weekend doubleheader at the Oregon coast. Saturday winners Shannon Skerritt and Wendy Williams reprised their performances from Saturday in the men’s and women’s A races.
The rain that began at the end of the first day picked up and poured it on throughout the night, but by the time daylight started creeping across the mouth of the mighty Columbia River in Astoria Sunday morning, the skies cleared and stayed that way for the Crusade’s costumed round-6 action.
The Halloween race has grown into a full-blown celebration, with no expense spared and no creative stone left unturned in the competition for each race’s best costume. But as the day goes on and the races become more serious, the costumes get lighter, more aerodynamic and less restricting for both vision and bodies.
Brigette Brown (River City Bicycles) started the fireworks in the women’s A race with a hole-shot advantage that she held for six of the race’s seven laps, eventually giving way to teammate and Saturday winner Williams.
Although organizers had altered sections of the course, the all-night pounding and the Crusade’s always well-stocked fields quickly tore the new sections into slip-and-slides. But Brown had the lines figured out, sailing over the difficult parts of the course as Williams trailed by a handful of seconds for much of the race.
With less than 10 minutes to go, Williams surged just as Brown faded. The 2008 masters national champion seized her familiar spot at the front of the race and built a small gap over the last lap, finishing comfortably ahead of Brown for her third win of the series and pulling closer to overall leader Alice Pennington (Team S&M), who missed both weekend races. Serena Bishop kept her string of podium appearances alive with a third-place finish.
In the men’s race, Skerritt defied convention and wore his team kit despite the crowd’s displeasure, collecting a few heckles and another win while closing on overall series leader Chris Sheppard, who missed both weekend races and will also miss next week’s round 7 because of a conflict with Canadian nationals.
Skerritt, the 2005 masters national champion, employed the same tactic Sunday that he used to win Saturday’s race: taking the lead almost immediately and cruising to a comfortable win, this time about 30 seconds ahead of Idaho’s Brett Nichols (Scott USA) and about a minute ahead of third-placed Ian Brown (River City Bicycles).
“I was a little cautious in the first lap, lap and half,” Skerritt said. “I was just taking the lines at full speed and didn’t want to crash. I was also a little leery of how my legs would be after yesterday’s cramping. But I started feeling really good and nailing all the lines and really punching it.”
Nichols said Skerritt’s ability to punch it out of the many tricky multiple tight corners allowed him to pull a little further away at each choke point. Nichols also brought in a good finish at just his second series race this year, hanging on for second in front of Crusade regular Brown in third.
- 1. Shannon Skerritt, Corsa Concepts
- 2. Brett Nichols, Scott USA
- 3. Ian Brown, River City Bicycles
- 4. Damian Schmitt, Sunnyside Sports
- 5. Michael Gallagher, Cyclocross Racing
- 1. Wendy Williams, River City Bicycles
- 2. Brigette Brown, River City Bicycles
- 3. Serena Bishop, Sunnyside Sports
- 4. Abby Watson, Embrocation Cycling Journal
- 5. Megan Chinburg, Veloforma