The Good, The Bad and The Muddy

This weekend’s Menno Cross was without a doubt the most gruelling and filthy sporting event I have ever participated in. It was also one of the most fun and memorable. I’m not sure, but I suspect there are all sorts of ironies in discovering you are a masochist at the Canadian Mennonite University.

The Good
Chris H. and the Good People of the Fort Garry Bike Club sure know how to throw a party. Menno Cross had a lot of pre-race hype and lived up to it in flying, mud spattered colours. 

THE COURSE WAS GOOD – I wouldn’t know a CX course from a Nascar track, but apparently this was a very good course. And if very good means ass-breaking, technical and muddy (more on that later), it was awesome. There were steep hills, barricades, a varitable plethora of terrains, and more twists and turns than a roller coaster.

Kevin B. (Tinker Creek) massacred the men’s B race of 35 riders, then enjoyed faspa
THE FOOD WAS GOOD – Faspa, a traditional light Mennonite meal was served post-race, and consisted of zwiebach, cold meatballs and farmer sausage, cheese, pickles, jam and platz. According to Almighty Google, zwieback is either sweet buns or a Peruvian string theorist and professor at MIT. I am assuming that platz was the yummy looking dessert, which while my mouth was eager to try, my stomach was not. Nonetheless, the food was delish and very much appreciated and served up with warm and friendly smiles by the awesome volunteers.

THE PEOPLE WERE GOOD – From the time we arrived, everybody was smiling and happy. And how could you not be? Kids, food, mud, bikes, and sunshine, all on a beautiful fall afternoon. Thanks, by the way, for introducing yourself. So nice to meet you!! In addition to some new faces, there were many familiar ones. And what a mix! Roadies, mountain bikers, hipsters, kids and parents all united in a common quest for filth and torture.

Post-A Race Chris getting this poor child all muddy!

The Bad
MECHANICAL MALFUNCTIONS – I’ve mentioned my frustration with getting used to these (trying so very hard not to use the word “effing”) SPD pedals. I’ve found them difficult to get into under normal conditions, and when caked with 12 pounds of effing mud they were enough to make me consider riding effing barefoot.

The effing pedals, relatively clean.
About half-way through the race, perhaps on one of my numerous falls, my saddle got knocked out of position, meaning I had to complete the race with my saddle positioned thusly:

I’ll seek my thrills elsewhere, thanks.
Needless to say this was neither comfortable nor efficient.

RIDER MALFUNCTIONS – Oh, there were many, too many to note here, but suffice it to say that as a rider with zero mountain biking experience, this course was the equivalent of bareback bronco riding. BUT, I will say that for every time I fell, there were 10 times I thought I was going to fall, and didn’t. I did, however, fall on the one minuscule section of the course that was paved. On a subsequent fall I managed to pull down a section of the course when my handlebar got tangled in the yellow marker tape.

This is obviously not me. This is the tape I ran into and destroyed.
The offending section of pavement. And The Stones.
THE STONES – Dear God in Heaven. Those damned stones.

The Muddy
I will admit until now I have been disappointed with a conspicuous lack of mud. All the pictures of cyclocross always show copious amounts of it and the worst I had ridden through in my 3 Cross Labs was wet grass (which was, admittedly already pretty hard-core in my books). The mud at Menno Cross was epic. Biblical in fact. Slippery, splashing, deep wet gumbo. I rode through things I wouldn’t take my car through. It was full survival mode just trying to keep the bike upwards and moving forward. By the end I had mud everywhere, including in my ears and up my nose. It was awesome. But don’t tell my kids.
Yes, I am a dirty, dirty girl

Speaking of kids, my first cyclocross race kind of reminds me of giving birth for the first time. It was messy and painful. During both I prayed for a quick, if not painless death and I vowed I would never do it again. At the end, that turned into feelings of exhaustion, relief and incredible pride in my accomplishment. And then love. And it didn’t take long before I couldn’t wait to do it again.

Thanks to Kim and Kevin and FGBC for the great pictures! And thanks to Mom and Dear Old Dad for coming to watch the carnage!