Thankful for Mud.

Sunday was epic.  Absolutely, insanely epic.

Rain in sheets, mud in streams, skinny roadie boys shivering post-race. 

It was a day for the books.  Four Portland Velo tents, one tiny heater, a row of trainers.

The course got muddier as the day wore on.  Mitch raced in leg warmers, three pairs of gloves, and full sleeves (and was STILL cold).  Ben Johnson went into a freezing-rain induced stupor after crossing the line, Javad took a bath in a mud-puddle, Ty raced in a rain jacket (sucker), and the moon came out early and brought friends.

I was in my element.

I didn’t race my fastest but I had a blast and pulled down fifth place, just a few spots behind my buddy, Emily Moon, who raced her guts out and saw the podium.  She went off the front like a rocket while I fought my left pedal and watched her go.  Seeing her ahead leading into the first turn of the race was one of the highlights of the day by far.

The course started on a long stretch of flat pavement and then veered off into the mud. The crowds ruled the slippery corners, reacting dramatically to crashes (there were many) and to brave acts of successful navigation and inspiring bike handling.

I followed the Poprad down sketchy, slippery line after sketchy, slippery line. It was a "point the bike and pray" type of day, so that’s what I did.

My buddy and training partner, Heather Gunderson, turned in a seventh place finish, coming in fifth overall for the series.  She is my fucking hero, having moved up to become a top-ten B racer after starting the season in the lowly beginner category with me.  She kills.  Big time.  And I heart her for it.

Kristen got taken out and did a face-plant into the mud, bringing home the "Muddiest PV Racer" award by a narrow margin.  (There was a lot of competition this time around!)

I was so exhausted, so elated, and so sick with cyclocross-love by the end of the day that I could barely hold myself together.

We gathered our wits about us on Sunday night, met Sherry for a celebratory coffee warmer up at our local haunt.  In the morning Sal and I drove a grueling 11 hours to San Jose, California to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with his crazy-assed, pasta-eating Sicilian family. 

I lived with them for two years in the olden days, so going to their house always feels a little like coming home. 

We brought the bikes and the small, handheld digital video camera and I have some killer footage of today’s Thanksgiving Day ride out on Russian Ridge.  These are Sal’s old stomping grounds and it’s fun to chase him around on trails meant for mountain bikes.

Screw suspension, homie.

I’m getting ahead of myself.  For now, enjoy some of my shots from Sunday’s OBRA Championship.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Russ!

 


Sal and Ben warm up.

 


Ty in his pretty little rain jacket. :)

 


Matt – a contender in the Muddiest Racer category (and an impressive 5th place finisher!)

 


Mitch with his heavy-assed bike!

 


Javad "cleans up"

 


Ty!  He’s hot so I’ll forgive him for those gloves. ;)

 


Wash station.

 


The boys.  God, I love these guys.  You don’t even understand.

 


Sherry.  Cold.  Nuff said.

 


Jay.  Cold.  Cute hat, Jay.

 


Me!  Rockin’ the mud!

*

 

 

 

 

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3 comments

  1. Those are some awesome pics!

  2. Yeah, that was a blast. I got caught off guard by the cold. We went from one extreme to another in just a week. Wowwie wow wow!

  3. heather g!

    that was not fun. that was hell. complete and total hell on earth, but i admire you for loving the pain! come back to p-town!

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