The Fifth Annual Ochoco Gravel Roubaix was a major success.
The bicycle race, which starts and ends at Good Bike Co. in Prineville, had a record 275 entries as well as the closest finish in race history.
"It's just the beauty of the Ochocos," said James Good, the owner of Good Bike Co., concerning the increased popularity of the race. "I believe we are the latest gravel race in the state so we aren't competing with other races, and then a lot of these cyclists transition into cyclocross. And then, just being the fifth year, we have seen a lot of repeat riders over the year."
Three riders crossed the finish line together in a photo finish at the conclusion of the 80-mile race, while the 45-mile race was just as competitive, with two riders crossing the line together.
Elias Lawson, of Ashland, was the overall winner in the 80-mile race. Competing in the open division, the 20-year-old finished the race with a time of 4:10.22, an average speed of 18 miles an hour over a course which featured 5,683 feet of climbing.
Aris Sophocles, a 39-year-old from Bend, finished in second with the same time.
Also finishing in 4:10.22 was Cody Peterson, a 40-year-old from Bend, who won the masters division.
Both the men's and women's overall winners were slated to win their weight in beer from Deschutes Brewery, while other age group winners won a case of beer.
However, since Lawson is not yet 21, he was unable to claim the prize.
Finishing fourth overall was Benjamin Brainard of Ashland, who placed second to Peterson in the masters division.
The women's open winner was 40-year-old Starla Teddergreen of Vancouver, Washington, who finished in a time of 4:39:32, while the women's masters division winner was 41-year-old Ryan Levering, of Bend, who finished in the same time.
Rory O'Neill, 59, as the first Prineville finisher in the 80-miler with a time of 6:01:45.
The final finisher in the grueling 80-mile race was Dan Freeman, 47, of Portland, who struggled across the finish line with a time of 8:24:36.
Justin Guidroz of Bend and Eric McKinley of Corvallis both finished the 45-mile course in a time of 2:10:22, although the 39-year-old Guidroz was declared the winner, while the 29-year-old McKinley had to settle for second.
Peteer Madsen, 36, from Eugene, was third in 2:12:32.
Sophie Russenberger, 22, from Bend, won the women's 45-mile race with a time of 2:15:52.
Four individuals finished in the same time in the masters division, with James Dayton, Bend, Demian Bailey, Corvallis, Michael Nyberg, Bend, and Ryan Chase, Bend, all finishing in the same time.
Dayton was declared the age group winner, while Sally Pressler of Bend won the women's masters division with a time of 2:41:44.
Seth Reno, 38, was the first Prineville finisher, with a time of 2:57:40, while Trisha Bennett of Portland was the final finisher in the race with a time of 5:45:50.
Turner Greyson won the junior division in the 45-mile race with a time of 2:15:52, while Aaron Bailey was second in a time of 2:22:19.
This year's races also saw a kids bike race, with riders as young as one competing.
Jack Goodman, 1, of Bend won the 1-3 age group, while Layla Good, 2, of Prineville was second.
Four-year-old Evan Lankin of Powell Butte won the 4-5 age group, while Peyton Schess, 5, of Prineville was second.
Konnor Elek, 6, of Bend won the 6-7 age group, while Marshall Rodaell, 6, of Salem was second.
The lone entry in the 8-10 age group was Abby Austin, 10, of Prineville, while Bennie Fall of Prineville beat his brother, Hunter, to win the 11-14 age group.
This year's 80-mile race had some added excitement as Salsa Cycles took over as the primary race sponsor.
Salsa Cycles is internationally known for their Chase the Chaise program.
"They brought their marketing campaign, the Chase the Chaise Lounge," Good said. "They placed the chaise lounge out on the 80-mile course as a little bit of a carrot for those riders. If you get to the lounge and you want your picture taken and you want a patch you stop and get your picture taken. A lot of the lead riders don't stop because they want to win, but some of the riders think this is a consolation for not winning. Everybody wins in this case, so them (Salsa Cycles) promoting our event and being the title sponsor, I think, brought in more riders."
More than 100 of the 136 riders in the 80-mile race stopped to take advantage of the photo opportunity.
Good added that not only is the race well received by the riders he believes that it brings an economic boost to the community.
"I would say a healthy chunk of those 275 riders stayed in Prineville, whether it was camping at the fairgrounds or staying in one of the hotels, and I imagine the majority of those riders brought at least one other person," he said. "So, I would say that we infiltrated Prineville with well over 500 people for the weekend."
Although Good hopes that the event will continue to grow, he recognizes that the growth will be somewhat limited.
"Since we are on Forest Service land, we are capped at 300 or 400, so we are getting pretty close to being maxed out," he said. "Once we reach that point, then we will probably go to a lottery."
In the meantime, Good expects the race to continue to grow.
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