Everyone Loves Molly

I skipped Barton.

In fact, I planned to skip Barton all year. I hate that godforsaken, collar-bone mashing hunk of gravel pit. It never did anything to me personally, but I’ve never had a good race there – and in the third cyclocross race of my life (probably also the third time I’d ever ridden off-road) I had to ride down that steep, slippery drop and make the sharp left-hand turn at the bottom.

I didn’t crash, but I should have. More to the point, I was terrified.

Skipping Barton seemed like the smartest thing I’d done all year until I came back and discovered that I’d missed the race of the century.

Yep. I missed it. Molly on the run-up. The Kona/S&M boys one-two-ing all the way. The thriller. The breath-stealing anticipation of it all. The bittersweet agony of seeing arguably The Nicest Kid in Cyclocross edge out Everyone’s Favorite Super-PRO.

Luckily, this is a blog so I’m allowed to wax philosophical on hearsay and second-hand accounts.

This is a tough one, huh?  I mean, really – Sean Babcock is so insanely lovely its hard to imagine him saying a dirty word. He’s quiet and unassuming and a perfect gentleman. And he’s fast. Fast and talented and hard-working. He deserved everything he got – this post is not intended to take anything away from him. And Tonkin? Everyone loves Tonkin. He’s the Caveman. He rides to races that are 30 miles away. And wins. And then rides home.

He’s 100% pure agave Hardman.

But Molly? Molly is Molly. She’s our Euro correspondent. She goes across the pond and represents the PDX-ness. She’s got fucking sweet tattoos and hot-shit gear. She is more PRO than we will ever be in our lives. She races on fucking D12 for godsake. She is sponsored by Shimano! All by herself!  By Shimano!

Ok, clearly I’m getting worked up. But the bottom line is Molly Cameron is the Portland sweetheart. The Stumptown darling.  A racer that we love and cheer for because of the sheer emotion that she brings to cyclocross. She trains with conviction, she races with her Cyclocross heart on her sleeve. She is unapologetic about her intensity and unflagging in her commitment to the sport.  She’s everything. She’s Molly.

Truth be told, she was 75% of the reason I moved to Portland. I was reading her blog before I started cruising the Real Estate sites. She’s compelling and genuine. I still remember the first day I was introduced to her. [Giddy!]

So, yeah. I wanted Molly to win the Crusade. Really bad. I thought about it while we were out of town. I checked for updates. It was killing me.

And when the bits of news started to trickle in, my heart broke along with hers.  It’s just a race, right? It’s just a series. But the beautiful thing about Molly Cameron is that she pedals every race as if its her last. As if every one were the most important. As if every section were those final feet to the finish.

And when she falls off her bike and crumples to the ground and loses the world’s biggest cyclocross series by the tiniest of margins? She sobs. And then she tells you about sobbing. Because it matters – and she works for it. And she’s not afraid to lay it out – on the course or on the internet. She shoots straight and tells you like it is.

And on Sunday she cried. Hard.

Sal and I shook our heads along with the rest of Portland and said, “Poor Molly!” We were thinking of her when we tucked in at night. We talked about her when we woke up in the morning. We drew breath sharply through our noses when the photo was released on PDXcross. You know the one.

It was a legendary race – one that Portland Crossers won’t soon forget. I can already see the old folk gathered around the fire telling exaggerated versions.

Maybe Molly wasn’t a hero in the classic sense on Sunday. Maybe we didn’t get Disney.  But what is infinitely evident is that – Cross Crusade Crown or no – that little vegan bike racer is loved. By me and by many.

Long live the Molly Cameron.

We love you. More than you might ever know. Chin-up, Buttercup.

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11 comments

  1. I can almost see an ‘ode’ to Molly in there. Love it.

    I saw some of the coverage too. Bad luck comes hard sometimes. Sorry Molly, if only…

  2. Jeebus, Heidi! Trying to eat an english muffin, and now you’ve gone and made me cry.

    Wonderful post.

  3. Nice, thanks for that. I hope she can ease the pain with a little stars and stripes come December.

  4. Thanks for this, and thanks to Sean, Erik and Molly for reminding us that in addition to the costumes, zaniness and fun, Cross Crusade is about great bike racing.

  5. For us not in the PDXosphere, nothing communicates the feelings of Molly’s crushing disappointment or our empathy than that friggin’ awesome photo. You can just feel the weight of the despair, the air gone. Christ, I love that photo and I guess by association therefore, Molly too. Whoever took it, please enter it in some sports photog comps or get that thing in ESPN, the mag.

    • Thanks KSB – you’re right. The guys over at PDXcross are true professionals and some of the best photogs I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. I know which of those wily picture-makers took this one and I’ll pass your thoughts along to him.

  6. That photo is one of the best…. and worst…at the same time. It really captures the moment. It’s amazing. But it’s Molly, so it hurts to look at it. But she accomplished so much this year and we are all so proud of her. Lost the race, but won everyone’s hearts. What would you rather win, really? Hoping for the best for her at nationals!

    RC

  7. Dead right about that photo.

    I posted a link to it on my blog i’ve had so many comments about it. How much disappointment, frustration and sadness it shows…

    A thousand words…

  8. I too missed the race, and what a race to miss, it would have been hard to root for anybody as like you say we love em all! But Molly does share a special place in my heart and has always been such a help to me! The pic is just filled with the painfull emotions so much its almost static.

  9. honestly, you’re all lucky to have missed the race. I was 20 feet away when Molly hit the ground. it was about the most emotionally jarring thing I’ve witnessed in a race… maybe ever. I was introducing my mom to cyclocross that day, and had spent the better part of the whole race explaining racing tactics with Tonkin, Sean and Molly as examples…

    “see how the guy in orange is pulling away? That’s Sean breaking – but watch, Molly will reel him in… see how she’s right back on his wheel?” By the last lap, mom was telling me, “Molly’s going to win! I can feel it – watch!”

    Neither of us could even talk about it on the way home. We were just gutted.

    Sean is, of course, completely deserving, and rode his heart out. I sure would have preferred to see him win it in a two-up sprint though.

  10. We are so lucky to have this caliber of people and competition in Oregon!

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