The final words in David Lean's epic, The Bridge on the River Kwai seem an appropriate way to sum up the maniacal spectacle of Saturday night's Rapha RollerCross. The Leftbank building wasn't destroyed in the process, but for a while there it looked possible.
Most of you reading this are probably familiar with Rapha's roller race format. Multiple cyclists saddle fixed, side-by-side roller bikes and sprint flat out for 500 meters (qualifying rounds). Fastest rider wins the heat. Multiple rounds eventually produce mens and womens winners, with the final extending to 1000 meters.
Only this is Portland, and it's cross season and it ain't going to be that easy. On this night, the fastest rider had an advantage, but cinch your shoes a bit too tight, and the dismount would be awkward and someone else would get to the Zoobomb pile (awkward kid's bikes) first and the one-lap obstacle-littered sprint round the room would be lost. And that's exactly how it played out in several heats.
The teams taking to the stage included: Team Beer; Super Relax; The Gentle Lovers; and the Grundlebruisers. Some of their antics would qualify them for carnie life or a B grade porn career but all of them could ride their pants off... and many of them did.
Backed by heavy bass from the DJ stage right contestants paraded into the lions' den in costume, wigs and aerodynamic drag. There was plenty of trash talk, particularly from Team BEEEEEEER! while the ale-fueled crowd held up signs and screamed encouragement.
Return with me to the Zoobomb pile for a moment. These devilish contraptions were the wild card. Sometimes the first bike grabbed broke free cleanly, other times it held fast to its siblings with all the stopping power of a boat anchor. Rider two or three often made a better choice and darted down the ramp in the lead – or two riders grabbed the same Zoobomb and while they battled for the bike an opportunist stole the race. This truly was the roller equivalent of a no-holds-barred, no-quarter-given Stumptown cross race.
It was loud, it was raucous and it was great fun. Slate, Daniel, Carey, Tristan, Brian and the many hands that pitched in hustled all night to keep the racers rolling and the place from exploding. The gallery should give you some idea of the atmosphere. I'm looking forward to Brian's video and Daniel's account later today.
Next up images and impressions from the Oregon Manifest show.