Whipping through downtown on two wheels

Vancouver Courthouse Criterium tests bicycle racers, strategies in short-circuit bursts

By Stevie Mathieu, Columbian assistant metro editor

Published:

 
photoA woman cheers Sunday as cyclists zoom past during one of several races in the Vancouver Courthouse Criterium. The event drew nearly 200 competitors, including beginners and pros.

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As people perused the farmers market or relaxed in the sun in downtown Vancouver, nearby bicycle racers zipped around corners, pedaling furiously.

A cluster of 17 men in brightly colored uniforms maneuvered their bikes past the Clark County courthouse Sunday, leaning into the turn as they headed left on 12th Street.

Many of them traveled within inches of each other, and some shouted warnings at their competitors.

“You gotta watch that!” one man yelled as the group turned the corner. Another shouted: “Hey, on your left up there!”

The cyclists, traveling at about 25 mph, were participating in one of several short-circuit races in the Vancouver Courthouse Criterium, an annual cycling competition in Vancouver. The course, blocked off by yellow caution tape and orange traffic cones, covered about eight blocks.

“Yay, daddy!” 3-year-old Addie Gartland of Hillsboro, Ore., yelled as her father, Jake Gartland, cruised down 12th Street and turned onto Esther Street.

“She’s pretty into it,” her mother, Ashley Gartland, said. Addie’s dad is a firefighter, and when he can find the free time, he’s racing his bike.

“Jake tries to do one (race) a weekend if he can,” his wife said. “He’s doing really well in this one.”

She added that the courses and quality of competitors make each race different. At some events, “he’s in the lead; sometimes he’s getting lapped.”

As the men raced, a bell sounded to signal the final lap.

“Thirty-nine minutes, all coming down to one more time” around the course, the announcer said into a microphone.

Racers completed the lap by taking the hill up Columbia Street and turning left onto 12th. Many kept their heads down as they tried to pick up speed before crossing the finish line at Daniels Street.

After that race finished, other eager cyclists rolled onto the course to get in some practice laps before their races started.

Competitors in the event are divided into groups based on their skill level and gender. There’s a group for beginners, for cyclists good enough to go pro, and for those who fall somewhere in between.

Each group circles the course for a predetermined amount of time — often 30 or 40 minutes — and is alerted by the bell when it’s time for that last go-around.

Some cyclists work in teams during the race, sending one rider in front while others stay back and block competitors. Another race strategy involves improving aerodynamics by riding close behind the rear wheel of another cyclist.

For Chris Soelling of Seattle, racing in the Vancouver Courthouse Criterium was also a homecoming. As the 1972 graduate of Hudson’s Bay High School whipped through the course, his 92-year-old father, who lives in Vancouver, supported him from the sidelines.

Soelling, who said he thinks he finished in about eighth place in his race in a group that’s one tier above the beginners.

“It was fun,” Soelling, 59, said. “It wasn’t too hot. It was a nice-sized field.”

He said he races for many reasons, including camaraderie, fitness and as a way to forget his worries.

“When you’re bike racing, you’re not thinking about anything else but bike racing,” he said. “It just requires 100 percent concentration.”

The Vancouver Courthouse Criterium is in its 10th year, race promoter Charlie Warner said. Nearly 200 cyclists participated Sunday, he said.

Winners in the top tier walked away with cash prizes of up to $150, while racers in the lower levels had a chance to win smaller prizes, including event tickets and merchandise, Warner said.

He added that he’s grateful to local businesses for tolerating the traffic disruptions the event causes.

“We’re excited to have it here,” Warner said. “This is a great community.”

Cyclists on Sunday said that although there were a few bumps and potholes in the road, they appreciated that the course wasn’t too hilly, and that trees along the downtown streets provided plenty of shade.

RESULTS: TOP FINISHERS

Category 3 Men

1, Kyle Ireton, Rapha/River City Bicycles, 26, Portland. 2, Joseph Reynolds, Portland Bicycle Studio, 38, Portland. 3, Logan Evans, GET FIT Cycling, 24, Hillsboro. 4, Keegan O’Neill, PDX Devo Junior Cycling, 17, Portland. 5, Ryan McCracken, HCH-RPM Mortgage Cycling Team, 34, Vancouver. 6, Christopher Connelly, Therapeutic Associates Racing, 31, Portland. 7, Andrew Warren, Team S+M, 21, Portland. 8, Alex Turpin, GET FIT Cycling, 23, Newport. 9, Christopher Bright, Illy Coffee-River City Bicycles, 47, Portland. 10, Erik Bakker, Ironclad Cycling Team, 45, Vancouver.

Category 4 Men

1, Aaron Miller, Upper Echelon Fitness and Rehabilitation, 46, Portland. 2, Bill Dolan, Dr Will Bar, 37, Portland. 3, Nick Manz, 28, Portland. 4, Paul Dinger, Cucina Fresca, 51, Newcastle. 5, Jonathan Nelson, Team ESC Bio Racer, 47, Portland. 6, Jerome Leedy, Soraz Racing p/b CAPA, 32, Battle Ground. 7, Jorge Kaufmann, Team Oregon presented by Laurelwood Brewing, 39, portland. 8, Chris Soelling, Cucina Fresca, 59, Kirkland. 9, Xander Viray, Portland State University, 20, Portland.

Category 4/5 Women

1, Bekah Cohen, Ironclad Cycling Team, 28, Portland. 2, Annie Bertucio, 26, Portland. 3, Hazel Gross, West Coast Women’s Cycling p/b Oakshire Brewing, 38, Portland. 4, Jackie Craver, 48, Seattle. 5, Vicky Hanson, West Coast Women’s Cycling p/b Oakshire Brewing, 34, Portland. 6, Lauren Ziehnert, Beaverton Bicycle Club, 13, Tigard. 7, Christi Kenyon, 57, Seattle. 8, Meghan Fischer, Fred Meyer/Lakeside Cycling Team, 37, Portland. 9, 72, Sue Hanna, Oregon Bike Shop Racing Team, 50, Portland. 10, Kathryn Ragsdale, Fred Meyer/Lakeside Cycling Team, 17, Clackamas

Category 5 Men

1, Jason Clark, Portland Velo Racing Team, 41, Portland. 2, Dan Scofield, 26, Portland. 3, Justin Ziehnert, Beaverton Bicycle Club, 16, Tigard. 4, Aaron McPike, Metropolis Cycle Repair, 29, Portland. 5, Gary O’Connell, Trinity Bikes, 40, Bend. 6, Gregory Kell, 28, Portland. 7, Tom Kelly, Team Planet X USA, 62, Portland. 8, Brian Nelson, TrailRags Cycling Team, 45, Redmond. 9, Michael Grindstaff, Trinity Bikes, 38, Redmond. 10, Kyler Ervin, Beaverton Bicycle Club, 14, Gaston. 11, Bradley Breitner, Camas.

Junior

1, Kent Ross, PDX Devo Junior Cycling, 18, Portland. 2, Keegan O’Neill, PDX Devo Junior Cycling, 17, Portland. 3, Levi Kramer, 16, Clackamas. 4, Peter Newlands, PDX Devo Junior Cycling, 16, Portland. 5, Kyler Ervin, Beaverton Bicycle Club, 14, Gaston. 6, Kathryn Ragsdale, Fred Meyer/Lakeside Cycling Team, 17, Clackamas.

Masters Men 40 and older

1, Mark Crawford, Ironclad Cycling Team, 48, Lake Oswego. 2, Terry McLeod, 46, Sagle. 3, Joseph Holcomb, Smith&Nephew p/b West End Bikes, 43, Portland. 4, William Henterly, Fred Meyer/Lakeside Cycling Team, 48, Portland. 5, Dean Carson, 51, Lake Oswego. 6, 148, Steven R Holland, Illy Coffee-River City Bicycles, 55, Portland. 7, Mike Buechel, 45, Portland. 8, Richard Desmond, Fred Meyer/Lakeside Cycling Team, 55, Portland. 9, Robin Wessel, HCH-RPM Mortgage Cycling Team, 44, Tigard. 10, Paul Dinger, Cucina Fresca, 51, Newcastle.

Also: 14, Erik Bakker, Ironclad Cycling Team, 45, Vancouver. 15, David Root, Therapeutic Associates Racing, 49, Vancouver. 16, John Lance, Guinness Cycling Team, 42, Camas.

Senior Men

1, Harrison Harb, Guinness Cycling Team, 25, Portland. 2, Adam Koble. 3, 793, Joseph Dengel, Dr Will Bar, 31, Portland. 4, Zachary Kovalcik, Black Lodge Cycling, 31, Portland. 5, Dean Russell, Therapeutic Associates Racing, 32, Portland. 6, Eric Gushurst, Team Oregon presented by Laurelwood Brewing, 33, Portland. 7, Grant McElroy, 16, Portland. 8, Martin Acosta, Therapeutic Associates Racing, 26, Portland. 9, Austin Arguello, Team Oregon presented by Laurelwood Brewing, 23, Bend. 10, Jake Perrin, Hutch’s/Bend Dental, 18, Bend. Also: 16, Killian Bailey, West End Jr, 18, Vancouver.

Women Category 1/2

1, Sydney Running, Ironclad Cycling Team, 28, Portland. 2, Lindsay Fox, 31, Phoenix. 3, Shelley Dunlop, Therapeutic Associates Racing, 29, Portland. 4, Jenn Levo, Ironclad Cycling Team, 34, Portland. 5, Bre Rue, Fred Meyer/Lakeside Cycling Team, 42, Portland. 6, Stefanie Bergh, Upper Echelon Fitness and Rehabilitation, 32, Vancouver. 7, Norrene Godfrey, 49, Vancouver

Women Category 3

1, Clara Honsinger, Upper Echelon Fitness and Rehabilitation, 17, Ashland. 2, Deann Garcia, West Coast Women’s Cycling p/b Oakshire Brewing, 32, Beaverton. 3, Courtney Gould, Therapeutic Associates Racing, 32, Portland. 4, Aliza Richman, West Coast Women’s Cycling p/b Oakshire Brewing, 33, Portland.