On Sunday in Bend's Old Mill District, superheroes, skeletons and animals of all types were everywhere, either racing their bikes or scattered around the course cheering on others who were competing during the Halloween Cross Crusade cyclocross event.
Of course, those cyclists — about 800 in total — were not literal superheroes, skeletons or animals, but rather part of the menagerie of costumed riders who turned out for the Halloween Cross Crusade, which concluded its two-day run in Central Oregon with its annual costume day. As is customary for the costume day, participants showed up decked out in their Halloween finery. In fact, at least during the afternoon races, it was rare to spot a racer who was not in costume. And to go along with this year's Cyclo du Soleil theme, related to amusement and entertainment, a Ferris wheel camped on the Deschutes Brewery lawn was spinning all day, and nearby, free juggling lessons were available.
“ 'Cross has a real nice community for people who just like to have fun and get out and ride their bikes,” offered Bend resident Ryan Ness, who was 16th in the men's masters 35+ A division on Sunday. “It's competitive, but it's not intimidating competitive like some of the other bicycling racing, like road bike racing.”
Ness, 37, rode dressed as Lance Armstrong, the American cyclist who was stripped of his seven consecutive Tour de France titles earlier this month. Ness wore a replica of Armstrong's 2000 Tour de France yellow leader's jersey from when the Texan rode for the U.S. Postal Service squad, which he bought from a local used gear shop, as well as a syringe — in reference to performance-enhancing drugs — around his neck like a necklace.
“With the whole Lance Armstrong investigation and the doping conspiracies in pro cycling, I've got the perfect jersey to wear ... to make fun of the whole situation,” noted Ness, who was not the only “Armstrong” out racing on Sunday.
When it came to dressing up, even the best cyclists in the bunch tended to play along.
Jade Wilcoxson, of Talent, won the women's Category A division Sunday, her second victory in two days at the Halloween Cross Crusade. The first-year professional road rider for Optum Pro Cycling came dressed as a caterpillar, her costume including brown buggy legs attached to the green skin suit she earned as the top sprinter in the Cascade Cycling Classic this past summer.
“It's a great scene. I love it, I absolutely love it,” Wilcoxson said, referring to the Halloween Cross Crusade. “Actually, my team is racing in Boulder this weekend, Colorado. I was supposed to go up there and do that, but I couldn't pass up this. I knew it wouldn't be as good out there. How could you top this?”
While Bend resident Tracy Miller did not win her own race, in the women's beginner division, her costume was top-notch. Miller, 50, was elaborately dressed in a blue and gold genie costume. She purchased the billowy pants and cropped jacket at a thrift store last year, she said, and she made the gold shoes that fit over her cycling shoes, the cropped top worn inside her jacket, and the turban that swathed her helmet.
“I was a costume contest winner, but I was not a cyclocross winner because I'm slow,” she said.
As far as the actual racing went Wilcoxson, 34, was not the only repeat winner on Sunday. Bend's Chris Sheppard (men's Category A) and Lance Haidet (junior men); Susannah Hart, of Washougal, Wash. (junior women); Russell Thorstrom, of Boise, Idaho (men's masters 50+); Sam Rosenberg, of Eugene (unicycle); and Thomas Joyce (beginner men) all swept their divisions both Saturday and Sunday.
And despite the levity of the atmosphere, the racing included several close finishes. Among them, Portland's Jay Rishel and Rocky Crocker of Wenatchee, Wash., were clocked in the exact same time in the men's masters 35+ B race; Rishel was awarded the win. Bend's Tim Jones defeated Joe Santos, of Portland by one second in the men's masters 35+ A division, and Portland's Amy Rice edged Bend's Sarah Max by the same narrow margin in the women's masters 35+A division race.
But Sunday was a day for the masses, not just those at the front.
Said Miller: “This is really, I think, a chance for adults to be ... really silly and have fun. ... I think people like pushing to see how bizarre they can go.”