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This will be a slightly truncated report, because my personal results
were not spectacular and because tonight the tank is officially empty. I
left it all out on the course: a very, very hard course, a brutal
course, with mud-cum-paste, sickly slick off-camber switchbacks, and an
absolutely soul-draining run-up (yes, I know, some people rode up it,
but a lot of people did not, could not, and I fell into the latter
group) that makes the Stagecoach Road at the Sherwood short-track course
look like a freaking cakewalk. (If you remember, I rode up that one on
my last lap, in 97-degree heat, after ingesting nearly half a pound of
dust. This run-up was simply stupider, longer and harder.)

So to say that I suffered on this course would be an understatement. I suppose
that, in the world of cyclocross, suffering to the point where your
eyes fall out on the course is sort of the point (for some, it's the
only point, but I digress). And if that was all that had happened it
would've been fine. But on top of that, I came dangerously close to
repeating an experience from my short-track season, where I was the
absolute last person on the course and they were about to send off the
next heat of racers. In this case, I was close enough to the end of my
final lap that they went ahead and sent them off anyway, with two
"sweep" riders (who were there to keep pre-riders from being on the
course while a race was happening) riding behind me shouting
encouragement, yelling at me to push and to keep going.

(A guess as to why this happened: on my second lap, at the top of this stupid,
stupid run-up, I felt suddenly and dangerously short of breath, and was
forced to pull off to one side so I could use my emergency inhaler. It
took me fully three whole minutes to regain enough breath to continue,
and I'm sure that lag-time contributed to my race result along with my
walking sections of the aforementioned stupid, stupid run-up. Excuses?
Sure, I guess. But the reality is that today I was racing at a state
championship, in a category where I was in over my head, on a course
where I was in waaaaaaay over my head. And all of that is probably why
it went down this way.)

On the bright side of things, OBRA did give me credit for all of my laps and did not pull me, allowing me to
finish my race. And although the going was very rough -- there were
boggy sections of Nutella-like mud that gave even technical-loving ME
pause, and would certainly have scared the crap out of someone coming
from, say, southern California -- I managed to handle my bike reasonably
well, not crashing once (though I did come close).

Another bright spot was watching friends race: Mielle, who is a freaking Rock
Goddess on a steep, fast, upward trajectory to Superstardom (from Beginner to Womens' 1/2 in 11 months!) and who
kindly offered to transport me and Stompy to Salem today. (Thanks to
her, I got to see how The Other Half races: a tent, chairs, a portable
power-washer, and a nice comfy place to dump my stuff during the race.
This is living!)
And Kristin, who raced Womens' Singlespeed and finished two spots out of last place,
then immediately turned around and raced with Beginner Women where she
got 8th out of 15 racers there. Ah, youth and strength are beautiful
things to have in tandem and it was so great to see her enjoying the
benefits of both all at once. She truly rocked it.

Finally -- and for me, this was the brightest spot of all -- there were 15 women on
the starting line of the Womens' Singlespeed category today; the largest
number to date and a definite sign that more race promoters really
ought to make room for this category to blossom and grow. The fact that I
got my head handed to me by some well-trained, super-fit, truly fast
women did not bother me in the least; anyone who medaled today earned it
on a crazy-hard course.
Once again I want to say Thank you to all the women who had enough faith to sign up for the category, and to the
race promoter for including the category at the state championship race.
Between today's showing and the fact that there will be National
Champions' jerseys on the line in Bend for Mens' and Womens' Singlespeed
categories, I am hopeful that Cross Crusade can find a way to include
the category in next year's series.

My result: 15th place in a ridiculously talented and strong Womens' Singlespeed field.
I did not get many pictures at all, and few of them worth sharing; but I
am hopeful that eventually some decent photos will surface on the Web
that I might be able to download and share with family and friends.
Tonight, post-shower, dinner, a footrub (thank you, Sweetie!), hot tea and a
teeny-tiny nip of vodka before bedtime, I am utterly completely spent,
having expended a degree of energy and sheer will that I did not know I
possessed.

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Nice Beth! An excellent report and a fantastic effort! I really think that this essay captures the "spirit of 'cross".

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