The Southern Oregon Competitive Racing Scene
Whether your first time on a bicycle or a seasoned professional, if you’re interested in getting into competitive racing here in the valley here are some people, teams and races you need to know.
South State Cycling Club
“We do this for the mental stimulation and joy of bike racing. We want to get kids out at the races” says Dave Reitz, president of South State Cycling. “Down south here we’re so far away from racing opportunities, we want to support all forms of racing, get kids involved and out having fun. This is a great sport for your entire life, i’ve seen three generations of family all out riding together.” Dave, and his organization does everything they can to support riders here in the region. They do track cleanup days, patch up troublesome potholes, organize speaking events with students and young racers and outside the racing season host regular group rides. “Our next goal is to get cycling clubs into our region’s high schools, but to do that we need a lot of support from students, family and faculty.” If you’re interested, you can find out more on their website (southstatecycling.org)
FlyWheel Bicycle Solutions
One of a couple local bike shops that sponsers ametuer racing teams, owner Ian Bagshaw, gives his riders deep discounts on equipment and service support while the riders pay their travel expenses and entry fees. He says “we’re all hobby riders really, we’re friends and family from our small cycling community who want to get out and have fun. I’ll give anyone a chance but I try and keep the team capped at 10 riders.” And for only 10 riders they sure do make a presence. The Flywheel logo can be seen on banners and riders at almost all local cycling events. Ian says “we’re not a result based team, we just want to get out, have fun and be good ambassadors to the sport and the shop. We do this because we love the sport.”
Cycle Analysis’ Cycle Cross Series
Jana Jensen is the kind of race promoter and shop owner that restores one’s faith in humanity. She says that “a lot of people think us promoters are making a lot of money, but it just isn’t true. I was in debt from hosting the series for a couple years until it got a big enough to support itself”. Now, the first nine races are fundraisers for Josephine County Search and Rescue that have, over the twenty years she’s hosted, generated “around 200,000 dollars worth of equipment and monetary donations”. The charitable beneficiary of the final race changes every year, last season it was for Alex Shepard.
Jana says her series is great because “any skill level can participate, it’s not as serious as road or mountain bike racing, it’s on a closed course and we have a 14 and under category”. The first part of the series is hosted at the Frau Kemmling Schoolhaus Brewhaus in Jacksonville which is great because “people are lined up around the course, cheering, heckling and ringing cowbells while eating brats and drinking beer. It’s a community experience, whole families are out having a great time”.
If you’re interested, the best way to get involved is to cruise by the Cycle Analysis shop or their website (cycleanalysis.net). You can also join them for their Wednesday night mountain bike rides or their Sunday morning road rides.
If you are interested in road bike frames then you’ve probably heard whispers, rumors, perhaps even caught a glimpse of these rare and majestic creatures. Ok, they are just bike frames but look at one and you’ll realize they’re so much more than that. Built here in the Rogue Valley since the 80’s, owner John Slawta custom fabricates each and every “dream machine” and even paints them himself. These bikes, more works of art than tools of transportation, unfortunately come attached to a hefty price tag but come with pedigree attached. Cycling great, Andy Hampsten won the Giro d’Italia riding his Landshark. Other owners include famous actors such as Harrison Ford, Woody Harrelson and Michael Nouri. While John might be as elusive as his legendary frames, the local cycling community has benefited from his expertise and the exposure he has brought to our area.
Some other races and events to keep in mind:
Thursday Night Road Racing at the Speedway– Time trials and group racing on a closed circuit coarse. Bring out your aero helmet to reduce drag.
Ride the Rogue– Every September this event follows the roadways of Southern Oregon in more of a group ride style than a race. With 25, 40, 70 and 100 mile options if you’re into the competing don’t fret, they still keep track of your time.
Ashland Hill Climb– With 4’600 feet of net elevation gain the Mt. Ashland Hill climb is a straight uphill race that starts at Ashland’s plaza and ends at Mt. Ashland Ski area. Hosted in August, who will be faster, Mountain Bikes or Road Cycles?
The Spring Thaw– Featuring a Cross Country Race and two Downhill events every spring in Ashland’s watershed this is Southern Oregon’s quintessential mountain biker’s extravaganza.