I didn't use the term invasion lightly. When 1200 riders plus supporting family and 'infantry' disembark from landing craft and establish a beach head for a cross race, what else would you call it. Sunday I joined the legions christening a hilly Villebois circuit for race two of the ORBA Cross Crusade Series. Slate had done his best to talk me into riding (next year) but I decided to stick to the sidelines and cover the course with my Canon. Londoners Simon, Rupert and Graeme visiting from Rapha HQ were game though, and with borrowed bikes and new cross kit they enthusiastically took the plunge. Well done lads.
After scouting the 1.6-mile circuit as it wound its way through a two-tiered landscape of berms and basins I decided to set up shop on the high ground. Since I wasn't prepared for slop, I was happy the dry, fast conditions allowed me to move freely over the earthworks looking for the right angles. Over the next six-and-a-half hours I'd shoot more than 2000 raw frames.
It's difficult to sum up the atmosphere. Supporters shouted encouragement at every turn when they weren't jangling their cowbells. For lunch I enjoyed a delicious poke of Fries from a family-operated stand offering a race special – cowbell and chips for $20. The massive fields bantered with each other and the spectators. They raced hard and clean; complimented each other on smooth turns and recoveries; and heaped good-natured abuse when someone they knew screwed up.
Many of the Oregon Manifest builders were representing; racing their own bikes even after two long days of standing and talking. I saw Max of 333Fab pronounced Triple Three Fab, Sean from Vertigo, Chris King's Chris DiStefano and Vanilla's Sacha White on course. Max, Chris and Sacha had ridden Rapha's boisterous Roller Cross the night before too.Chris King himself was manning the CK race tent first thing and he'd been a quiet supportive, presence throughout the weekend celebration. Cool.
Enough talk then. I've broken the photography into two galleries. My picks, a small gallery of the images that tell the story of the day and the BIG BIN (an enormous catalog of everything else). If you raced you're likely to find your image in the BIG BIN, if you've got the patience to look.
The BIG BIN Gallery - all 97 pages