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Epic mud makes for fitting Crusade finale

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on November 19th, 2007 at 8:22 am

Racers slogged through the course at Hillsboro Stadium yesterday.
View slideshow below
(Photos © Jonathan Maus)

Cross Crusade Hillsboro 2007-1.jpg
Cross Crusade Hillsboro 2007-20.jpg
Cross Crusade Hillsboro 2007-22.jpg
Cross Crusade Hillsboro 2007-15.jpg

Just before I left Sunday's Cross Crusade event out at Hillsboro Stadium, race director Brad Ross emerged from his RV and said, "Now this is a real 'cross race!".

All season long, cyclocross purists have grumbled at our unseasonably dry and warm race-day weather. Real 'cross, they would say, happens in the cold and mud.

Yesterday, they got their race.

It was a slog of epic proportions. The mud came in every diabolical variety: soupy, sticky, grassy, slippery, deep, unpredictable. Oh, and there were puddles -- some more like swimming pools, others smaller, but no less tricky to navigate.

And on top of all that, it was cold.

At the start line, racers jumped up-and-down to stay warm, peeling off their jackets at the last possible moment.

Even as a spectator, it was clear the mud took its toll on the racers. Just minutes into their first lap, they looked shell-shocked, crestfallen, and of course, covered in mud.

With those images in my head, I begrudgingly prepared for my race. It's been a long time (over ten years?!) since Id' competed in such adverse conditions. I kept expectations low and just focused on staying upright.

But to my surprise, I actually loved it (despite how I looked). The mud was a fantastic challenge, and each time I rode through a section of it my morale improved.

With extreme focus, I tried to ignore the bits of mud in my eyes, my slimy gloves, and my slowly numbing extremities. In the deep mud sections I tried to be as light in the saddle as possible -- to float through the thick soup while maintaining as much speed and cadence as possible.

It was hard, but it was a good hard, and in the end I couldn't stop smiling.

I can't think of a more fitting end to the 2007 Cross Crusade.

View my Battle at Hillsboro Photo Gallery or sit back and watch the slideshow below:

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

See all my cyclocross coverage here.

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Comments
  • Mmann November 19, 2007 at 10:44 am

    Holy crap - I rode in that?!? I think the cold numbed my brain. I remember feeling kind of shell-shocked after crossing the line, then just shaking so hard I couldn\'t hold the coffee. Being as how this is my first season I hesitated to call it \"epic\" until those with more experience had their say. Everyone who raced yesterday deserves a big hand. And to the organizers - thank you soooooo much!

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  • tonyt November 19, 2007 at 11:01 am

    You said it. Anyone who stepped up to the line deserves credit. Once I crossed the finish line, I rode like a zombie toward my friends, dropped my bike and could barely remove my gloves my hands were so cold. ouch.

    Not as rainy as last years Hillsboro capper, but it was darn cold and obviously as muddy as it can be.

    Overheard one of the organizers talking about seeing drivers pulling up, taking one look at the course and turning around and leaving.

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  • Tony Pereira November 19, 2007 at 1:22 pm

    That was the first race I\'ve ever DNF\'d. Not ready for the cold...not ready for the mud...so spoiled this season. Here\'s to mud in my eye!

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  • Adam November 19, 2007 at 1:28 pm

    Hillsboro was only my second ever Cross race. Seeing as how Barton was my first, yesterday was quite an interesting day. I felt cold throughout the race but it didn\'t fully hit me until after I finished and I got off the bike. My hands were so cold I couldn\'t get my shoes off. Once I finally regained some feeling throughout my body I made my way to the Chris King booth for some of that fantastic coffee. I was still so cold that I couldn\'t hold my coffee without spilling it from shivering. My opinion of Cross after that experience? I freaking love it!

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  • Scott Hillson November 19, 2007 at 4:07 pm

    Being my fifth race, I was completely unprepared for having to run my bike so often through the thick mud! A completely different strategy I hope to tackle better next year!

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  • Tom November 19, 2007 at 5:46 pm

    The most rewarding shower I\'ve ever taken.

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  • f5 November 20, 2007 at 8:43 am

    This was my first race ever. I rode a SS trail bike with 2.4\" tires. Let\'s just say that I secured last place in my category quite early on...an DFF\'d. I\'m hooked and can\'t wait for next season.

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  • Dan Kaufman November 20, 2007 at 1:09 pm

    A video of the race is now available at http://www.crankmychain.com

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