by Sam Boardman
Aug 27 18

Cyclocross Is Coming: Molly Cameron Talks Grassroots Racing in America

Molly Cameron has been an active fixture in cycling for years, not only toeing the line as an athlete, notably in the hardest European cross races, but also working as an active team owner and director for the U.S.-based women’s professional squad Point S Auto-Nokian Tyres, where Molly travels around the U.S. and Canada supporting the team in some of the biggest races both countries have to offer.


Even with a successful season of road racing for the team this year, the conversation inevitably went from addressing road racing to talking about the upcoming fall and the ensuing cyclocross season. For Cameron and the Pacific Northwest cycling scene, ‘cross season is virtually always on its way.

Cameron spends spring and summer months helping support the women on the Point S Auto-Nokian Tyres team. Photo: Brice Hansen

 

“It’s a healthy scene here in Portland,” Cameron explains. “By September we have weekly Tuesday and Wednesday night training races into October. The last weekend of August we already have two ‘cross races. So it’s early.”


Cameron puts faith back in the notion that entry-competitive cycling is still surviving and even managing to thrive in certain pockets of the country as road racing isn’t continuing to attract new riders. The grassroots level in Portland is alive and well, but Cameron expressed concerned that the bottom-up approach for the sport was failing to make any movement upwards.


“We’re really good at getting non-bike racers into bike races”, said Cameron. “So that’s why, in our cyclocross scene, there are 1,500 riders each day. That’s insanely good. But what Oregon has effectively done is mute their production of elite level cyclocross races and athletes. What we’ve done is get really good at getting non-elite, regular folks into a bike race.”

Cameron is at home on the 'cross course. 

Cameron looks to other regions of the country for models on which Portland could base future development programs. “New England has done a really good job at developing riders. That’s why Cannondale-CyclocrossWorld.com and the JAM Fund team are such strong programs. They’re cranking out national champions. And meanwhile, maybe Colorado would be a close second, where you had Boulder Cycle Sport and now they have Boulder Junior Cycling, and they’re developing talented riders. But we’ve not really seen anywhere else that’s really developing talent.”


Getting riders into the sport that will remain there comes down to successful development programs, which Cameron has been a part of over the years in the region. “There’s the Bend Endurance Academy, which is about three hours away and then there’s PDX Devo, which is our junior program here in town. So some of my pro athletes are involved in the devo programs. It’s a pretty healthy scene in Bend and here in Portland. If you’re a kid, you’re going to be able to hang out with other kids, and we’ve got race programs for you, and we’ve got clinics.”


But when asked about own racing goals for the upcoming season, Cameron’s aspirations were modest. “Just racing my bike this fall after this busy summer is going to be a small victory in itself. I am late getting back to hitting it and riding and training.”


“This is going to be my last pro cyclocross season, I’m getting old and maybe it’s time to go ride bikes for fun, not work... I’m looking forward to focusing more energy on my professional and developmental athletes and programs.”


Molly did make a point to say that PR Lotion, for the higher intensity efforts makes a huge difference for her and that the prospect of getting back into a full racing schedule come the beginning of fall no longer seemed that daunting.


“It’s pretty interesting to use in ‘cross and crits where you have an hour-long effort and you have a specific duration and effort, and you are usually going hard the whole time. You can really tell; ‘Wow, I have good legs. I hopped in a Tuesday-night training crit to kick off my training,” Molly explains, “ I used PR Lotion, and, and I was like, ‘None of this hurts. Are you kidding me?’ I felt great, going in moves, able to sprint. This is ridiculous, I’m not even on form yet!”


Follow Molly Cameron on Instagram at @themollycameron